Analyzing a Value Add Duplex in Athmar Park
In this Deal Analysis, Lauren and Chris talk to Alex Cowan, a young investor who just purchased his first pure investment property–a duplex in Athmar Park. Even though the duplex required extensive repairs, he is poised to see great returns. Listen to the episode to learn how he got the property and learn about his long-term plans for it.

In this deal analysis, Alex Cowan joined me to talk about the duplex he purchased with a partnership in west Denver.  He put a considerable amount of money into repairs and upgrades, but now he has a lot of options for his exit strategy. 

Three Learning Options!
  1. Listen to the podcast “#337: Analyzing a Value Add Duplex in Athmar Park” on the Denver Real Estate Investing Podcast
  2. Watch the YouTube video (at the bottom).
  3. Read the blog post. Note, the blog is an executive summary. Get the in-depth breakdown from the podcast or video.

Investor Profile

Alex Cowan is a young investor who bought his first house hack a year ago.  This duplex is his first pure investment property, which he bought with some partners. While his partners are based in Florida, he lives in the Denver area.

Investment Property Details

This is a duplex in the Athmar Park neighborhood of Denver.  I found this off-market property through the brokerage network; the owner was selling two of their properties as a package deal.  I racked my brain to think of clients who would want to buy and realized one of the duplexes would be a great fit for Alex. 

Appealing Features of the Property

This duplex has 2 bed/1 bath units that needed a significant amount of work.  The previous owner passed away and there was a lot of deferred maintenance that caused issues.  However, this allowed Alex to get a good deal on the property because other buyers were deterred by the amount of repairs needed. 

Property Contract Details

Contract

Alex got the property for $420K, which is a great deal in this market.  We were even able to get some concessions from the seller because the property needed so much work. 

Inspection Issues

We brought in a great inspector who I work with regularly.  He found issues with water damage that spread to the subfloor under the kitchen sink and bathroom toilet.  The water heater also leaked and created mold. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when there are a lot of repairs that need to be made, but we made a list, brought in contractors, and got two separate quotes.  I could see how Alex would still be able to make money with this property. 

Before photo of the duplex
A leaky water heater created mold that required mitigation

Property Financing Details

I used the Rental Property Analysis spreadsheet to run the numbers with Alex.

Spreadsheet Analysis

Athmar Park Duplex Property Overview spreadsheet

The estimated repair costs were $15K for one unit and $20K for the other.  In total, the repairs ended up costing a little more at $40K.  In the first unit, he redid the entire kitchen, bathroom, and subfloor; installed new flooring throughout the home; and painted and patched holes.   He paid contractors to do this work because he wanted it to be done quickly and at a high level. 

He was able to keep the current renters in place and increase their rent.  At the end of the day, Alex knows he’s providing housing for people and their comfort and well-being comes first.  He offered to put them in a hotel while the work was being done, but they preferred to stay in their home. 

Alex didn’t charge his tenants during the construction period, and they ended up with an entirely renovated home.  He increased their rent from $1000 a month to $1500, which they were ok with since the home is in considerably better condition and that’s still under-market rent.  The contractor acted as a translator for them, since he and the renters both speak Spanish, so everything was clearly communicated ahead of time. 

The tenants have lived in the home for a long time and are near family, work, and school, so the hope is they will continue to live in the property long-term. 

Property Operating Expenses

Athmar Park Duplex Monthly Operating Expenses spreadsheet

Even though the property was recently renovated, Alex is still running his reserves at 8% because of the age of the building.  It doesn’t hurt to have a little extra cash set aside in case anything major happens. 

First Year Returns

Athmar Park Duplex First Year Returns spreadsheet

With the new rents in place, Alex is cash flowing $6K a year.  Even though he spent $40K in repairs, he’ll make that money back in a few years and has a great appreciating asset. 

Kitchen after renovation
Newly renovated kitchen

Long-Term Plans for the Property

Alex has a few different options of what to do with the property in the long-term.  The duplex is located in an opportunity zone neighborhood that is likely to continue being developed. 

The first option, which is probably a long-shot, is to scrape the lot and build something new on it.  The duplex is located on a corner lot, which is bigger and gives him some flexibility.  The owners of the duplex next door are also investors and are interested in developing their property down the line if the numbers support it. 

Another option is to do some extensive upgrades to the units and cash flow heavily from rent.  He would need to wait until the current tenants leave, but the property’s location supports this plan. 

Finally, he can rezone the property and sell the units individually as starter homes.  It’s likely he could sell them for over $300K each. 

Depending on the market, he could also pull out some equity in the mean time and redeploy it into another property.  He has the option to do a cash out refinance or a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) depending on how the property appraises. 

We advise our clients to do a yearly check in with our portfolio analysis division. This service allows clients to see what options they have for strengthening their portfolio and achieving their long-term goals.

Conclusion

Alex’s advice for anyone his age interested in real estate investing is to start with house hacking now.  The interest rates and down payment thresholds are low, making it a good time to get started.  It’s a great long-term way to help you build financial stability as you get older. 

When it comes to partnerships, he tries to find people who have different strengths than him.  His partners include a mortgage banker and financial whiz so loans and underwriting are covered.  His strength is coordinating all of the moving pieces and handling operations.  Together, they make a solid team. 

Connect with Alex

If you want to get in touch with Alex, you can reach him via LinkedIn or email at Alex.cowan0130@gmail.com.  He would love to chat with other investors and gets excited when he’s able to help others. 

Connect with Us

The most important advice I have is to educate yourself and surround yourself with individuals are who like-minded.  Everyone in the real estate industry isn’t the first one to do something, so get involved in the community and learn from them. 

If you have questions about investing or want to get started, reach out and I’ll be happy to help. 

YouTube Video

Analyzing a Value Add Duplex in Athmar Park

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Rental Property Spreadsheet • House Hacking Spreadsheet BRRRR Calculator Spreadsheet • Fix and Flip Deal Analyzer Investing Maps • Rehab Pricing Estimator
Authors
Lauren Valinoti
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