The Most Lucrative Business Deal Isn’t Always the Right Deal

I recently read a post by Jamie Anderson, Why Surrounding Yourself with Positive People Isn’t Always the Best Choice, and the piece spoke right to my soul.  Anderson argues against the idea that we are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. Studies often suggest that we are wise to select our friend group based on what they can provide for us; social status, professional status, positive attitudes and the like.  Anderson counters this idea, asserting that there is nothing wrong with being the positive force when others are weak, inspiring others and building them up instead of expecting them to always do so for you.  I think her ideals are commendable.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but see a likeness in Anderson’s ideas about friendship and my own ideas about my business.  I find myself having to constantly defend some of my business motives and decisions, to people who have no vested interest in my business. It’s hard to explain to money minded people that maybe always doing the thing that makes the most money, solely because it is the thing that makes me the most money, isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. 

I feel very fortunate to have found a brokerage to partner with which shares my values. Doing the right thing, not the easy thing, and serving remarkably is the foundation of everything that we do.

The right thing for me, is doing what is going to have the most positive impact on the largest number of people and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices supports that.  Maybe that “‘thing” is personally financing a property for someone who has tried to save up a down payment their whole life to no avail, due to circumstances out of their control.  Maybe it looks like paying for a client’s home inspection, so they don’t have to put the charge on their credit card, or buying a distressed property and putting enough money into it to change the course of an entire neighborhood.  It may not be the most immediately lucrative financial decision, but whether or not it’s the right decision is for me to decide.

So much of the downtown area in Reno is owned by faraway landlords.  Of the properties I look into that are vacant, in disrepair, or condemned in the downtown Reno area, I would put a number of around 75% being owned by people all over California. Many of these out of state owned buildings have the highest calls for police services in the city.  These are disinterested investors, sitting on these properties waiting for them to increase in value enough to turn a decent profit, then they sell.  Often times another investor is the buyer, who then sits on the property for years, again waiting for it to appreciate in value only to be resold as is. Sometimes they use the properties as “weeklies” and rent the rooms out to fixed income individuals.

The craziest thing about these run down motels in Reno is this; they’re bringing in $300 per week per room. In the case of a 40 room motel, like the Desert Sunset on 4th street, that amounts to over $600,000 per year to the owner; for people to live in a filthy motel room without a kitchen, linens, or cleaning service.

The problem in Reno is not just out of state investors.  I tried to buy the Desert Sunset Motel in 2017.  The place was a disaster; mold, squatters, hypodermic needles everywhere, boarded up and condemned. I wanted to buy the Desert Sunset and fix it up so badly. At the time, I intended to clean up the property, modify it for ADA compliance, and provide housing through HUD for senior citizens who were being displaced by the expansion of the Sand’s Casino.

But it was bought, for double fair market value, by a local politician’s son.  The buildings are still boarded up to this day.

My hope is that more people who care will start buying these properties and rebuilding the character of the areas surrounding downtown Reno.  If they do, it may not be the most immediately lucrative business decision they ever make, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do.  It is easy to see that these investors don’t care about our city. But if they don’t, and we don’t, then who will?

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