Myron Robbins came back to Buffalo 38 years ago with a degree in industrial engineering and management. Unsatisfied with what the rest of the world had to offer, he came back home to find his fit. He found it in a 6 unit building on West Delavan. Myron is what we at Greco Real Estate consider a multifamily investment success story. He listened to his broker’s advice and his instincts, and has built a wildly successful business outfitting Western New York’s multifamily dwellers. I spoke to Myron recently about his multifamily investment property strategy and his impression of the rental market. This is what he shared with me.
When I moved back into the area, I met someone who rented me an apartment. It was a nice place with fair rent in a nice area. The man told me he made good money doing little work and I thought I could do that. I had some money saved up so I bought a place. He lied. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. Property management is a lot of work.
My view of investment property, particularly multifamily properties, is it’s money you use to buy a job and you decide what kind of job you want to do. When you decide to buy a building you look at the profit and loss statement, but you don’t inherit it. You determine how successful your investment is. It’s one of those situations that if you have the money and you can get a mortgage you can do it. Not everyone is successful at it because they don’t want to do the work that needs to be done. You don’t need a degree or a license you just need to know how to deal with people. You are dealing with their safety, their comfort. It requires attention, decision making, knowing how to do the work or hiring people to do it. You need to know the market like how to get good rents and good tenants. We look at our tenants as partners with us. We have a no smoking rule, no party rule. That works for our tenants. We like when our tenants call. We see ourselves as problem solvers. I have observed that most people don’t take great care of their property. Putting your money in multifamily, you need to be committed to what you’re doing. You are going to get calls when it’s not convenient. You’re like a volunteer fireman. You need to have the right people in place to respond.
My strategy is to concentrate on buying property that is in a good neighborhood, meaning the quality of life is there- short drive or walk to the grocery store, mix of houses and apartments, activities like restaurants and shops. It’s got to be where people want to live. People ask me to manage their property all the time. What we do is very special. I couldn’t manage a property for 5-10% of the income. It would be more like 25% because we put so much back into the property. I don’t think most multifamily investment property owners feel the same way about it as I do. It is so important that the people who work with you feel the same way about management that you do.
I see Buffalo as a work in progress. Most middle end tenants are professionals or semi-professionals who are educated and may only be here for short term so they aren’t looking to buy. The low interest rates and the price of homes hurt us because more people buy. It slows down the rental market, but never halts it. The rental market is very stable. A gradual increase in rents and good supply keep us healthy. There aren’t too many new developments. Just enough to keep up with demand. There hasn’t been a lot of change in the market until recently since the Buffalo Medical Campus, Roswell Park and UB moving into the area. It will be interesting to see where it goes.
Anyone who is familiar with Buffalo Management Group can see the pride that Myron takes in his work. They get the job done and done right. He has grown his 6 units (which he still lives in today) to almost 1,000. He has clearly made Buffalo a more beautiful place to live.