Hi, I'm martial arts master Bill FitzPatrick and this is Real Estate Investing Mistakes #4
Don't piss off the building inspector
In my investment area, there was a building inspector and he was a jerk
No one like him,
still HE was the building inspector and I tried to be friendly
But, this guy WASN 'T friendly
So I tried to stay out of his way
This was NOT always possible
I owned a 5 family house and received a letter from the building inspector - his name was FRED
The letter said that according to town records
my building was only a legal 3 -family
What could I do? Take out two apartments - that was NUTS
I went to the building inspector, Fred,
and argued that my property had been 5 units for many years.
Fred shrugged. He didn't care.
Fred only cared what his DAMN paperwork
My lawyer told me that I could present two letters from senior citizens who would swear that the building was a 5-family before 1957 - the first year of town zoning
I had to find really, really old citizens to sign my affidavits
I bought a couple of boxes of candy and got my signatures.
I went back to the Fred - thinking he'd be happy
He looked at the letters
Steam was coming out of his ears
He didn't say a word or look at me
He threw the letters on his secretary's desk and shouted, "Files these."
OK, I won
Well, at least temporarily,
Again, if you are a LOCAL real estate investor,
you DON 'T want to piss off the LOCAL building inspector.
Don't piss off, Fred
OK, I won. Again, Bill, SHUT UP
I heard of several other landlords who had received similar letters from the building inspector.
I told them about getting signatures from senior citizens and they did the same thing -
Candy to seniors for signatures
These other landlords loved me - I was a savior - a genius
Of course, I also heard that I had made myself a mortal ENEMY of Fred.
I was young - I guess the word is "arrogant" -
I won - he lost -
But, I didn't get the last laugh
A year later, I had the opportunity to buy a large commercial property
It was an older three-story building
with good tenants on the first and second floor.
The third floor was abandoned.
In fact, the abandoned third floor was NOT rentable -
it needed new floors, windows, electrical, plumbing, everything
Repairing and upgrading the third floor would cost a LOT of money -
much MORE than I had or could borrow.
I went to Fred to ask for a reasonable amount of time.
Without a smile,
Fred told me that if I planned on buying the property that I'd better plan on getting an architect
AND plan on getting ALL - ALL - ALL of the work done.
Was he kidding?
The third floor had been vacant for years - what was the rush?
But, I couldn't take the risk -
having to do that work immediately would sink me
I couldn't AFFORD to call Fred's bluff
Which in my case probably wasn't a bluff
Someone else bought the property -
collecting rents for years from the first and second floors
and to up to TODAY
The work on the third floor has NEVER been done
Fred had the last laugh.