Anatomy of a Full-Cycle Deal
Updated: Aug 8
I think most people would agree - we'd all like to see this check in our mailbox. Full disclosure, the check arrived at my partner's house and that's his thumb in the picture... Regardless, I'm going to break it down by the numbers.
This particular apartment complex is in Central, South Carolina. You've probably never heard of Central, but I bet you've heard of Clemson University. The city of Central is adjacent to Clemson, South Carolina, and this property is less than three miles from the Clemson Campus
The property itself is 82 units built in 1970 on one of the major highways - Old Greenville Highway. Its location gives the property great visibility and the residents easy access to the rest of the city.
Like most properties, we found this through a broker. The owners had planned on bulldozing the property and building A-class student housing; however, after they purchased it, the county enacted a moratorium on new construction to allow the city's utilities to be updated. The owners became reluctant landlords and after two years of holding, decided to cut their losses and sell. Since their plan was to bulldoze the property, they did not put a lot of effort into maintaining the property or keeping it full.
When we first looked at this property, it was at 75% occupancy with average rents at $595. The property across the street, which was also C-class, 1970s-vintage, was at near-100% occupancy with rents close to $800. We saw an opportunity, so in March 2020, we put in an offer at $3.5 million, or about $43k per unit.
Little did we know, the world would shut down a week after we had a signed LOI, and with the closures, commercial lending came to a near standstill. We explained to the owner that we couldn't purchase it without a loan and fortunately, the owner agreed to extend the LOI for several months... By June 2020, we had a purchase and sale agreement (PSA) on the property.
This deal had value-add written all over it. We came in with a $1.2 million renovation budget, which included updating the interiors with LVP flooring and renovated kitchens and bathrooms; converting the mansard roofs to a more modern look; repairing roofs; rebranding the property; adding amenities including a sand volleyball court and a dog park; and finding and plugging hundreds of leaks that put the property's water bill at 3x the normal level. We figured that, after we finished with the renovations, we could increase rents to roughly $800 per unit over a 3-year period, and increase the property value substantially.
We obtained a loan that would provide $2.8 million at closing and an extra $500k for renovations at 4% APR with 2 years interest only payments. It was a recourse loan, but we were certainly confident with the business plan. The loan was contingent on the appraisal, and that came through to our benefit. The as-is appraisal price was $3.7 million with the stabilized market value at $6.5 million.
With the purchase price, capital expense budget, closing costs, and operating reserves, we raised $1.5 million in private capital. Our biggest struggle was it was so soon after the COVID shut downs that many investors were playing it safe with their money. We were still able to raise the funds and purchase the property. We closed in October 2020.
Taking over a property at 75% occupancy right after COVID is not an easy thing to do... especially when you're also trying to renovate units with significant price volatility in materials. We started the value-add plan immediately by checking every single unit for leaks, installing low-flow fixtures, and repairing numerous slab leaks (where copper waterlines went through the concrete slab) to reduce the water consumption.
Our occupancy graph was not a pretty picture. We inherited a tenant base that was not properly screened and it showed. After several months of the COVID moratorium on evictions, we ended up with a lot of bad debt and non-paying tenants (partially due to a poor-performing property management company). When evictions opened back up again in this area, we started filing at the rapid-rate. Good news, we got rid of almost two dozen non-paying tenants. The bad news - our occupancy dipped into the 50s and we had to climb out of a hole. We used the low occupancy to our advantage, found a general contractor that could bring in several crews, and started spending our Capex budget as fast as we could.
Over the next several months as we brought renovated units online, our occupancy kept improving and we ended up at roughly 90% when we sold the property.
In early 2022, we decided to list the property for sale. We have often told our investors that our goal is to maximize their returns - with the market uncertainty and fast-rising interest rates, there was some uncertainty as to whether or not the prices would remain high. Since we were far ahead of our value-add schedule and with prices as high as they were at the time, we decided to sell.
We listed with a broker who quickly found a buyer that wanted to do a 1031 exchange. We got a contract at $5.9 million and shortly thereafter, sold the property.
Overall, we were able to give our investors a 24% average annual return on their capital, which is a huge success.
Our offering started with an 80/20 split between investors and general partners. We set a 12% AAR hurdle after which the proceeds were distributed 50/50.
Rough numbers with lots of 0s
Net to Seller
Add our Reserves and Operating Account Balance
Total to Distribute
Return of Investor Capital
Proceeds to Investors
Proceeds to General Partners
Momentum... next step is taking the next step and maintaining the momentum. For me personally, I'm looking to raise capital for experienced operators and partner and mentor with aspiring investors.