It’s been a few days now since I did my PDI at West Side Lofts, and I think I’ve actually cooled off a bit.
I’ve rid myself of all the negative energy, and I’ve formulated a plan to move forward.
Hey – at least I have a nice kitchen, right?
Prepares to type.
I’ve enjoyed reading all the reader-comments from the last few days, and although they all come from the perspective of the cautious consumer, I feel a lot better to see that not a single person has said something to the extent of, “That is a work-loft in an artist’s area – it fits with the area and it’s all that should be built.”
Because I started to wonder if there is any way that Urban Corp can try and pass off this project as some sort of musty, hard-ass loft for brush-wielding hippies……who happen to have $350,000.
I do have to say “thanks” to my reader, Kyle, who cracked me up with this comment:
“I actually thought the finishes were quite nice. Most parking garages that I’ve seen, don’t have windows, doors and a nice kitchen.”
In the past few days, I’ve ranted, raved, screamed and yelled.
My whole office knows about my West Side Woes, and I’m starting to get a LOT of emails from concerned buyers at West Side or other projects.
But just like a heartbroken girl who sits in front of the TV eating Hagen-Daaz from the container and watching Bachelor Pad, you can only sulk for so long.
“You catch more bees with honey,” but I’m still not sure if I’m going to try and reason with the developer or if I’m going to have my lawyer start sending nasty, threatening letters. I come from the Jim Fleming School of Negotiating, where you threaten, name-call, finger-point, and do anything you can to get what you want – and you always get what you want.
In the interim, however, I have to do something with this condo.
Here is my plan.
1. Forego October’s Rent
I’m what you might call “a numbers guy,” and I think it’s an incredible waste to have this condo sit vacant for a month.
Having said that, there are thousands of investors (mostly International investors who never set foot on Canadian soil, let alone inside the condo), that leave the condo vacant for 6-8 months until the building is registered and they can sell it.
But that ain’t me, babe. No, no, no…
I’m going to stick with “plan-a” and find a tenant, although I’m not going to show this condo in its current form. I’m going to take possession on September 28th, and I’m going to renovate the unit for the better part of a month. If I can get everything done in a few days and try and find a tenant for October 15th, then I only lose a half-month’s rent.
But I’m not going to rush into this. I just can’t. With projects in the past, I would take possession of a turn-key property and find a tenant for the day after I was handed the keys! It’s just not going to happen this time around.
2. Hire an Interior Designer
I’m a real estate agent, not a professional designer. I know what looks good when I see it in its completed form, but I can’t take a blank canvas and turn it into art.
Before I throw caution to the wind and throw money at the problem, I want to be told what to do, where, how, and when…..just like in a marriage…
Sure, I have some ideas of my own, but I need a professional eye.
3. Turn 8-foot Walls into 10-foot Walls
The most rental income will come from renting to two people, likely two young girls (I don’t rent to guys) who are new to the city and are looking for their first condo – to share. Two girls will pay $1,000 each, and I can deal with a rental income of $2,000 for a property that will cost me about $1,600 per month to carry until the building is registered and I can secure an interest rate that isn’t on par with loan-sharking…
But two girls, guys, or pet rattlesnakes will NOT live in two bedrooms where the walls don’t go up to the ceiling!
There’s absolutely ZERO privacy between the two bedrooms, or the bedroom and the living room for that matter.
It’s bad enough that the two bedrooms share a single wall – one with only drywall and 2 x 4. I’m positive that if one tenant’s alarm clock goes off, the other will hear it. And that’s not the worst sound that can be coming from one’s bedroom…
I’m going to try and get the developer to perform this work, whether I can claim it should have been done in the first place and it was a major variance from the original plans, or whether I have to pay for the work myself.
But it has to be done before I can ever entertain getting two tenants.
Otherwise, I’m looking at about $1750/month in rent for the proverbial “mature couple.”
4. Hardwood Flooring
I need to minimize the concrete look of this awful, awful decor, and it starts with the flooring.
My pregnant friend told me, “Concrete floors would absolutely kill my back!”
I said, “Why, because your pregnant?” And she said, “No, just in general…”
The reason I didn’t pay to “upgrade” to hardwood flooring was because the developer wanted about a 200% markup on retail value. And everybody knows somebody who can install hardwood for less than retail, so really, I would be paying about $2,800 versus about $6,500 that the developer wanted.
But I also didn’t trust the quality of workmanship that we would come to expect from the developer, and I think evidence would show that I was right not to do so!
I’ve also seen hardwood flooring in one-year-old buildings after the building has “settled” a little bit, and it usually creates a few gaps in the floorboards. My original plan was to install hardwood when I was ready to sell, but now I realize that I have to bite the bullet and get this done as soon as humanly possible.
My “floor guy” is ready and waiting, and it’s going to cost me about $2,800 for a mid-quality engineered hardwood. I thought about putting carpet in the bedrooms, but everybody has a serious love for hardwood these days…
This is a major, major issue, and something that won’t be easy to fix.
There is only ONE light in the living space of the condo and it’s a small track light in the kitchen.
I’ll have to find a way to run a second conduit to the ceiling over the living room, and I guess one light-switch will control the kitchen/living together.
And I’ll have to get some 5-foot IKEA standing lights and put them in each corner of the living room.
There is a second light, but it’s right next to the door in the front hallway.
The hallway is long, and it is incredibly dark! I’ll have to replace that cheap, $10 fixture with a long, LONG track light that extends halfway down the hall.
I’ll likely have to put a small table by that outlet on the left, and have a lamp on the table, but temporary lighting isn’t a solution. For staging purposes when I show the unit to rent in October or to sell in 2011-12, it will only go so far. Buyers are savvy, and they’ll notice that there are no fixed lights!
If any of you think, “Who cares – it’s only lighting,” then you haven’t been around real estate long enough…
I have to do something about the look of the south wall.
The hallway from the front hall is so long, and so bare, and it’s the first thing you see when you walk inside.
I’m afraid that despite the new hardwood, the lighting, the beautiful upgraded kitchen, and the floor-to-ceiling windows, renters and buyers will be turned off as soon as they open the front door.
I need to drywall the entire south wall – the one to the right in the photo.
Again – I’m going to hire an interior designer, and if she tells me to paint it, glaze it, or put a goddam happy face on it – I’ll do whatever she says!
But something has to be done about that wall, and I’m thinking drywall is the best course of action. That way a buyer/renter can paint it whatever colour he or she so desires.
7. Involve the Developer
The more I do on my own, the more it’s going to cost me.
But, the more I do on my own, the fewer headaches there will be.
I’ve already been told that my last two blog posts – the photos and the video, have “gone viral.” It’s just a matter of time before somebody at Urban Corp wises up to the fact that video evidence of their incompetence is circling around on the Internet.
Rumor has it that there were lawsuits-galore with some of their other projects (119-139 Merton comes to mind…) and with the number of developers and developments in the city of Toronto these days, I would think that any developer would be worried about their reputation!
I hope that the developer will fix all the issues I’ve outlined in my PDI (even though I noted things like, “I want the entire laundry room floor re-tiled!”), and that they’ll acknowledge there is a difference between “the unfinished look” and “unfinished.”
If not, I will sue them.
I have a bevy of lawyers at my disposal, and I don’t mind signing a few pieces of paper to try and cause them headaches – the way that they have caused me headaches in only three days of being involved with this condo.
I’ll be sure to update you all on the progress.
Rest assured – this will not be the last post on my trials and tribulations at The West Side Lofts…
Have a great weekend, everybody! 🙂