Part of the reason that the city is experiencing a renaissance is that property ownership groups of all sizes are doing their part to renovate houses that are in disrepair. One of those property owners is Daniel Boland, who has renovated a number of homes, taking the eyesores and fully restoring them in order to turn them over to new homeowners. “Our most recent project was at 428 Norwood Avenue, where we are painstakingly renovating and modernizing a 3,000 square foot, 3 unit home in the heart of the Elmwood Village,” said Boland.
Boland and his team specialize in complete gut renovations. They also donate to the local charity Say Yes each time they rehab and rent a unit. By restoring neglected properties Boland feels as if he is giving back to the community, while performing a job that he loves.
When did you start renovating “zombie houses”?
First house renovation was in 2013, the year I relocated back to the area. 405 Westgate Road in Kenmore. A vacant foreclosed duplex in very bad shape on an otherwise nice street.
Next was 35 Gary Lane in Cheektowaga. A vacant foreclosed single family house in Cheektowaga. This actually made the news due to the terrible condition and its impact on the neighborhood.
How many have you renovated?
I have done deep renovations on 8 properties in WNY since 2013.
Which one was your favorite so far, and why?
My most recent renovation at 428 Norwood (see photos). The house already had great bones and was in a great location, so we could justify making a huge investment to renovate all 3,000 + square feet of the house. It is very gratifying to bring a neglected house built over 100 years ago back to life. We modernized the kitchens, baths, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems while still retaining the historic character of the house.
Exterior was in good shape – new roof, nice three color paint job and a couple high efficiency furnaces. Everything else was a mess. Knob and tube wiring, crumbling plaster on the ceilings and walls, leaking plumbing throughout the house, antiquated kitchens and baths, etc.
How long was it on the market?
Only a couple weeks due the in demand location in the heart of the Elmwood Village.
Did you enter into a bidding war to purchase the property?
Initially there were multiple offers, but the other potential buyers eventually dropped out. Most likely due to the scope of work needed.
Was this considered a “zombie property”?
This was not quite a zombie property but it was definitely neglected.
My first two renovations – 405 Westgate and 35 Gary – were zombie properties. They were vacant for a long time and plant and animal life was starting to enter the house. Like what you would see on the Walking Dead.
What drew you to this particular house?
I had wanted to do an extensive renovation in the Elmwood Village area for a long time but hadn’t found the right one until this (428 Norwood). The EV is one of a handful of places in WNY where investors and developers can do renovations the right way and not cut corners, because the rents justify the investment.
People have had many complaints recently about local rents creeping up towards national averages, but real estate investors and developers often have no choice due to the very high costs of construction. No investor or developer takes on such a big risk to lose money. There has to be some return on investment and people would probably be surprised at how moderate those returns can be.
It is getting more difficult, which is a great sign for WNY. There are many people flipping houses, upgrading rental properties or doing conversion projects supported by historic tax credits. WNYs housing stock was in need of serious attention and over the past few years it is getting that due to the improving economy, Buffalo Billion infusion, etc.
What areas of Buffalo are you working in?
All over – my company owns properties in West Seneca, Tonawanda, Depew and the city of Buffalo.
How big is your team?
I am the sole employee of the company but I work with a network of local contractors to complete our various renovations and maintain our rental properties.
Do you ever sell after the job is finished, or just lease?
Yes, I’ve sold 3 properties since 2013 and the rest I’ve kept as rental properties.
When did you start dedicating 1% of all rental income to the Say Yes initiative?
We just started making contributions in May 2017 at a rate of 1% of our total rental revenue. My company, Boland & Partners Real Estate LLC, was growing rapidly and reinvesting all of our cash so we were not in a position to do so until this spring.
Why “Say Yes”?
It’s a great program that encourages high school students to attend college regardless of their family’s financial situation. The city of Buffalo schools have the most room for improvement of all the local districts, so contributing to this program seemed like a no brainer. Our company has been able to succeed in WNY and myself and my business partners wanted to give back to the community.
How did you get your start in all of this?
I had moved to San Diego shortly after graduating from UB in 2007, and I had a couple friends that were real estate investors back in Buffalo. When the market crashed out there in 2008, I thought there was an opportunity to buy foreclosures out there and hold until the market recovered. I convinced my friend back here to split an investment on a foreclosed condo out in SD, and it led to two more investments after that, and couple more on my own.
Luckily, the market out there recovered quickly and strongly. I sold all of my property out there in 2013, when I decided to move home to be closer to family, with my wife Melissa. I used the proceeds along with some other investors funds to launch my company here.
What’s in store for 2018?
Looking to add a few more multi family properties in 2018 and keep growing the company, and also our contributions to Say Yes. I am grateful for the opportunities our fine city has presented me with and I hope to continue to make a small contribution to the renaissance it is currently going through.