Rehabbing Historic Apartments and Mixed Use Commercial Buildings

Mixed Use Building Apartments over Retail, built 1904
The Daylight Building, built in 1904. Apartments over retail/office. Photo Credit: Western Washington University

Developer Bob Hall got his start buying an old building in a deteriorating downtown to house his import business. He didn’t know about due diligence, deferred maintenance or building codes and after refinancing then selling his house to fund the required repairs swore he’d never buy another building… until he looked at his tax return. He was making more money renting out the extra space than the import business was pulling in… and he was hooked.

At the time a new regional mall had just opened outside of town and the long-time retailers were abandoning the downtown like it was a sinking ship. Hall looked around at all the empty buildings that had been built in the late 1800s through the early 1900s and saw the structural integrity as well as the beauty* of these historic properties selling for less than replacement cost. *Often covered up by later ‘modernizations’.

how to acquire, rehab and operate historic apartment buildings
The Hotel Laube/Windsor Hotel Buildings, both built in 1900. Apartments over retail. Photo Credit: WWU

Fast forward some thirty years and he now owns almost thirty historic commercial and mixed use properties throughout the Northwest. At acquisition, many if they were being maintained at all were kept just barely standing until someone bought and/or condemned them to move in with the wrecking ball. Leaking roofs, worn out plumbing, outdated electrical systems and those ‘modernizations’ were the rule rather than the exception. Plus there were the  uninvited guests of various biological classes; hominid, avian and other.

How to buy, renovate and run historic apartment buildings
The St Helens Apartments, built 1917-1921. Apartments over retail. Photo credit: TJ Guyer Property Management;


How to buy, restore and manage historic commercial buildings

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Bellingham Apartment Market Report

The Bellingham Apartment Market Report keeps subscribers up to date on the critical market information needed to make good decisions. Whether you are an owner, broker, property manager, builder, lender or investor having access to the Report will help you do what you do best. In today’s competitive apartment market the Bellingham Apartment Market Report will provide an advantage over others by allowing you to occupy the informational high ground.

The Report covers planning, permitting and construction data as well as a look at properties that are ‘in the pipeline’; future projects not yet in the permitting phase (See the construction chart sample above).

Bellingham Apartment Vacancy

The Bellingham Apartment Market Report also tracks vacancy (above) and rent growth (below).

Bellingham Apartment Rent Growth

The Report also has the sales database:

Bellingham Apartment Sales Year Over Year

And a complete database of all 5+ unit properties and owners in Bellingham:

Bellingham Apartment Property List

Not shown (above) the database includes owners and their mailing addresses.

Using Dealizer for Rental Analysis

Dealizer Version 5.5 Now Available

Thanks to great input from our Early Adopters, users and a lot of hard work by the development team we’ve releasing a new version of The Dealizer. V5.5 has many  features that will help investors and real estate pros be more efficient, more effective and more profitable. Click on the links below to explore V5.5’s expanded capabilities:

  • Printable/Sharable Reports
  • Loan Fees Calculated
  • More detail on Refinance
  • More Measures of Performance
  • Help Tab
  • Plus Even More

As real estate investors and consultants, we look at hundreds of deals and our biggest challenge is to focus just on the properties that have real potential. In our search for a tool to quickly separate the diamonds from the duds when looking at properties, we couldn’t find anything that would quickly answer the question: Is this a potential deal or not?

After wrestling with most of the commercially available real estate products including some costing thousands of dollars and still requiring too much time to get an answer, we developed a simple tool to do just that. Now we are sharing it so that you too can focus on the diamonds and not the duds.

We use the Dealizer on every property we look at and so this tool gets daily use.  While it’s called version 5.5 it’s really at least the 30th iteration because we’ve been using it for almost 10 years, honing and refining it to give us the most useful numbers and best results.

The Dealizer analysis tool is designed to quickly determine whether a real estate project is worthy of further investigation. In just one page (the dashboard) it will display the measures needed to decide whether to pursue the deal or not. With a minimum of data entry it will generate:

Dealizer income property analysis tool
Dealizer Dashboard: The Numbers Section
Click for full size image.
    • The Dealizer will break these numbers out by percent of Gross Operating Income, per unit and per square foot and allow you to compare Current to Proforma numbers.

    • With the Dealizer you can compare different financing alternatives and different Debt Coverage Ratios.

    • You can test the values at different Cap Rates and determine the value-add of different turnaround or repositioning strategies.

    • The Dealizer is built for income properties like apartments, self-storage as well as office, retail and industrial properties.