1624 Holman (56 unit)

1624 Holman

Location: 1624 Holman St, Houston TX 77004
Availability: Typically full, with units coming up at various times as we get them ready.
Price: $700 (Studios) + utilities (we offer an all bills paid option for $100/month to cover gas, water, trash, electricity, wifi internet, etc.)

About: Our largest property to date is in Midtown.  A very cool vintage 1930’s building.  It consists of 56 studio / efficiency units.  Each unit has been upgraded to expose the original refinished hardwood floors (which still look great after 75 years!).  We’ve also cleaned up some of the original octagon tile on the bathroom floor and kitchen countertops. While we wanted to keep as much of the original 30’s charm as possible, we also wanted to modernize a bit.  Each unit has as lot of “new”.  New items include: light fixtures, ceiling fans, bathroom vanity,  toilet, refrigerator, stove, AC, front door, Windows (in some units).  As well as some remodeling to open up the floorplan.

Fun fact:  Holman, the street this property is on, is named after James S. Holman who was the first Mayor of Houston.  He won in a close race against Francis Lubbbock and Thomas Ward..  James Holman received 12 votes while Lubbock received 11 and Ward received 10. Talk about a close vote!

These units are very reasonably priced at about $700/month.  We offer an all-bills-paid option for an extra $100/month that covers all utilities such as water, trash, gas, electricity, wifi, etc. This allows tenants to quickly and easily move in and not have to hassle with getting services turned on — and save a bit of money from what those utilities would normally cost.

Fun Fact #2: We recently had a tenant move over from a building that’s less than a mile away.  It’s the Camden building on Travis.  That building is very new and we must say, it’s very nice.  Their studio units start at about $1,200 and go to almost $1,500 a month. So if you’re looking for something much newer and much nicer, you have options very close. However given that ours are less than 1/2 the price and in the same area, we offer a value for Midtown that can’t be matched.

We have a lot of people asking how they can view a unit.

From our application page: We typically require a potential tenant to have applied in advance before we can schedule a viewing with our property or leasing managers. Why require an application in advance?  That’s addressed in our FAQ but the short answer is this: We get 100+ people asking to view our various properties every week. While we’d love to setup a showing time with everyone, it would be impossible for our leasing and property managers to do so.  By requiring an application in advance, we lower the number of showings down to a more manageable amount (as not everyone will apply first, and of those that do, not everyone is qualified or is requesting a unit we’ll have available in their time-frame).

We’ve tried to address all the concerns that someone might have about applying in advance:  We do NOT run your credit.  We do NOT charge an application fee unless you’re approved. We do NOT charge an application fee unless we have something to offer you.  And finally, if you do not like the unit you’re shown, then the application works for all of our properties (400+ units in the area) — so depending on what you didn’t like, we can try to find something that is a fit.

We do know that this is a bit different from most apartment owners, however we’ve seen that in hot market areas, an owner will list their property for rent, have 20+ people view the unit, have half of them apply (and pay a fee to do so), and then only rent to one.

We think our way is better.  You’re only charged if approved and offered a place, and if you don’t like it we’ll help find you something that is a fit.  If you have any questions about a property that you’d like answered to make you feel comfortable about applying first, we’re happy to help (as if we can determine that a property isn’t a fit for you BEFORE a showing, then everyone saves time)

There are exceptions: If we happen to be at a property, we’re fine to have people come down.  Applying in advance is just to set an appointment.  We won’t turn someone away who shows up to view if we happen to be there. If you’re asking about a property we’re currently working at, we can often have people drop by and call us when there. If this is an option, it’ll normally be communicated in response by the person who listed the unit for rent.

PS: Our payment processing for tenants (paying rent, paying deposit, or applying) is done via a secured third party.  Your data is safe.  We won’t and can’t make payments on your behalf using your info.  If you want to view the secured https website in it’s own page vs. in our page, it’s available here

10/23/2013: Holman celebrates it’s 1st Birthday (with us)

We’ve now owned Holman for about a year and plan on having a “1st birthday” party on November 9th, 2013.  All Midtown/Montrose tenants are welcome to attend (we’ll e-mail out invite).

Over this first year, almost all the work we’ve done has been getting units ready for new tenants. Or doing a lot of ‘unsexy’ upgrades like plumbing/electrical that are never seen.  The whole time we’ve been working on the property we’ve wanted to make the place actually LOOK better from the exterior.  However each time we’d start, our team would be pulled away to get more units ready.  Now that most of the units have been upgraded, we’ve finally had a chance to get back to our exterior projects.  They include:

Gating the entry to the property (done)
Gating the courtyard (done)
Cleaning out the old courtyard area and installing nice path and landscaping (done)
Painting the steps that go up to each building entry (done)
Painting/repairing all the old railing (done)
Taking out the driveway entry between the buildings and planting new trees in that space (done)
Installing new sidewalks that lead up to the 1624/1630 steps (done)
Planting new plants — lots of them (done)

We still have some projects to finish up, including new lighting in the courtyard, sound system in the courtyard, and outdoor seating.  We’ve started the laundry room for the property as well as some of the surrounding landscaping.  Google Street view has some funny shots of what the exterior used to look like.  Here are some new ones (we’re not 100% done but we were anxious to get *something* posted as people who are interested in renting often look at the street view and believe that’s what it looks like today)

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0181aa973bd3914399dd1f080190435f6076643e49 (Medium)      019059fc069bcbb6f5df1294d789919bd0b8e04ec3 (Medium)

4/2/2013: Holman “after” updates

No one is going to accuse us of being professionals when it comes to staging (what’s that?), photographing our properties/units (done with cell phone cameras), or advertising in general (thankfully we’re in Montrose).

At our 56 unit Holman property, one of the units was used as our on-site office.  Of the 30+ units we’ve upgraded for new tenants, the office was not one of them.  This created a problem for prospective tenants that wanted to see what a ‘finished’ unit looks like.  When someone comes by, normally any finished units have people in them so they’re hard to show.  The other empty units are all being worked on so we end up showing someone a “UIP” (Unit in Progress).

So solve the issue, we decided to actually upgrade the office unit.  That was easy enough as our guys have done over 30 of these same units so far.  However, this time we decided to have it staged.  We got the guys at Showcase Staging to help us.  We’re happy with their work.  Not only does our on-site team have a nice place to work in, but we now have a unit we can always (and easily) show prospective tenants who want to see what an upcoming unit will look like.

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We made a post after owning the property for 4 months.  It goes into some of the specific work done in the short time we’ve had the property.  Fun reading if you’re curious how the property was last year and want to see the direction it’s going in.   A copy is below:

As we celebrate 4 months with the property, we thought we’d share a bit of what’s been done.  Our accounting is normally done on the trailing month, so we don’t have February numbers yet. This will be from October 15th to Feb 1.  So 3 and a 1/2 months.  Less than 16 weeks, but we’ll round up.

While we haven’t been able to do as much “prettying up” on the outside, there has been much more ‘under the hood’ work to do that anyone realized.  Once we got our hands on the property and started to dig in, we got to see just how big of a project it was.  Each time we try to pull guys off to do “pretty-up” projects, they get pulled to upgrade a unit for a new tenant, or troubleshoot an electrical issue, or fix a leaking pipe, or to replace a window, or to toss someone out (kidding about that last one… Maybe… :)

After four “short” months, we feel we’re over the hump.  We have many of the units upgraded and a stable tenant base to move forward   We can finally hit some projects we’ve been dying to do like landscaping, exterior paint, windows, and more.  But before we get into what we still want to do, let’s look at some fun numbers of what’s been done:

Trash:  If we tried to explain the amount of trash generated from the building upgrade, or what we’ve had to disposed from previous tenants, you’d think we were lying.  To date, we’ve gotten rid of an estimated  200 yards of trash.  To put that in perspective, that would fill a box that was over a MILE LONG by a MILE WIDE and a foot tall!  Math geeks: Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.  And to our neighbors: We realize there is still trash outside.  We’re getting rid of it as fast as those roll off containers can come.

Units: The building consists of 56 units.  At this point, we’ve upgraded 30 of them.  And by “upgrade” that includes: Taking out the carpet, which is over the original hardwood floors, taking off the paneling on the walls, which is over the drywall (you can start to see where the trash comes from).  Sanding and refinishing the wood floors (not easy, the floors are beautiful, but they’re 75 years old). Painting the whole unit. New toilets, new vanity, new light fixtures, outlets, switches. New front doors, new window blinds, and more.  Upgrading a unit normally takes a good amount of time.  We’ve been upgrading units at a pace of about 2 a week since we’ve owned the place.  And this has to be coordinated with new leases to minimize downtime to help fund these upgrades.   It’s a balancing act: The manager gets yelled at by the owner if a unit is ready but not leased.  The manager gets yelled at by a tenant if the unit is leased and not ready.  Poor guy :)

Building interior:  It was, quite frankly, disgusting.  There is a lot of common area interior space (large open hallways). We thank our first “pioneer” tenants who moved in before this was addressed (they’ve been rewarded by lower rent. As the building gets better, rents go up. So bravery has it’s rewards).   In the last few months we’ve ripped out all the carpet in all of the common area hallways.  We’ve peeled up all the plywood and linoleum tile that was stuck over the entry and exists.  We’re in the process of cleaning and sanding the wood floors that were underneath.   We’ve fixed countless holes in the drywall.  Cleaned and painted most of the walls.  Removed dozens of signs that are, thankfully, no longer applicable (“No sleeping in hallways!”).   Each unit has a few windows looking into the hallway, each with several glass panes.  16 panes of glass per unit.  I’d estimate that half were broken and boarded up.  That’s almost 500 panes of glass that had to be replaced just in the interior units (we’re not done with this, but we’ve got most!).  The interior has also received new lighting: 16 recessed high end, low power, LED lights per building; 48 total.  This replaces the old florescent tube lights.  Also 20 hanging pendant lights per building; 60 total.   So over 100 new lights and lighting fixtures between the three building interior hallways to add safety and style.

Outside:  This is where we haven’t done as much as we’d like.  We’ve been primarily focused on units, and getting them ready for new tenants.  Each time we’re ready to tackle some “outside’ projects, our team gets called in to get a new unit ready, put in some new lighting, do the floors, or any number of the above listed projects.  That’s not to say nothing has been done.   We’ve ripped out most of the concrete in the center courtyard area to prep for our new landscaping   We’ve taken off the old ugly awnings (and put one new one on to see what we thought of it).  We’ve started some painting of the exterior non-brick surfaces.  We’ve put on a few black solar screens to help with energy efficiency but also the look of the property.   With the property better stabilized, this will be our next big effort. We’ve recently pulled permits to replace and fix bad fascia and soffits, after which all will be repainted along with all window trim.  After landscaping, we’ll be adding gated entry and perhaps replacing the railing work that exists now.  If there are any exterior / landscape designers that would like to volunteer their time, we’re open to it.  As we’ve mentioned many times: Design is NOT our strong suite :)

Cost: We debated sharing this, but figured why not.  As of Feb 1, there has been:

  • $87,000 in labor
  • $100,000 in materials
  • $12,000 in misc costs and credits for cleaning
  • Note this doesn’t include costs after Feb 1.

So about $200,000 spent so far in the 16 weeks we’ve owned the property, just under $2,000 a day.

We’re excited to have given this building a new life.  We still have a LOT of work to do but we feel the winds at our back now and the rest is stuff that’s more along the lines of “nice to do” vs. the other stuff that was critical to the property running correctly at all.