Fixing up Hillcrest was quite a chore, but, because of my large down payment (the $91,000 house trade), I had enough equity to borrow all the fix-up money. A local real estate lender appraised the property and loaned me $51,000 to do the fix-up work. Since I did most of the fix-up myself, except for hiring an electrical contractor, I ended up with about $20,000 left over.
I worked for nearly two years getting Hillcrest fixed up and running smoothly. I filled in the ugly swimming pool and completely replaced most of the electrical wiring. I repaired sagging carports, built new floors, and replaced nearly half the plumbing fixtures. I also spent considerable time watering and restoring almost two acres of lawns, trees, and shrubs. Naturally, I painted the property inside and out. I built a white picket fence around the front lawn area.
Finally, the work was done and the property was beautiful. I had absolutely no trouble renting the cottages to good paying tenants. The fact is, I started keeping a waiting list. Needless to say, when I filled the place up, I had excellent monthly cash flow. Even with high interest payments on my fix-up loan, I was still making a nice profit every month.
Hillcrest was located along a major thoroughfare, where hundreds of cars passed by daily. People would slow down and stare at the property. I could see they were very impressed. Sometimes they would walk up to me and tell me what a wonderful job I had done. They couldn't believe how such a filthy, rundown property inhabited by winos and deadbeats could change so quickly. Of course, the answer was a bit more obvious to me. I spent at least three or four days every week working on the property. Later on, after I sold Hillcrest, I estimated that if I had worked 40 hours a week for two years, my earnings would have been something in the neighborhood of $300 an hour. I can tell you, I've worked at many jobs during my lifetime that paid a whole lot less.
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