Bertha’s inspiration for getting into the apartment business was her children and the knowledge that she was not meant to work for someone else her whole life. She chose to become a landlord because she felt that she could own this business, work full-time until it took a foothold, and still devote time to her three children.
Bertha realized she wanted to own rental property while sitting on the porch of her rented apartment in Houston, Texas. As she looked at the ugly façade of her complex, she began to visualize the numerous ways in which the building could be improved. After a short time, she says, she had a crystal clear idea of how to turn the run-down complex into a beautiful, flourishing community.
With this dream as her motivation, Bertha decided to take a courageous leap. With only her experience as a renter as her guide, she called her landlord to discuss purchasing the complex. Six months later, Bertha was the owner of Bertha’s Homes and landlord of a newly purchased community of apartments. The first thing she attended to, she says, were the immediate, smaller repairs needed on the five units in her complex. Now, she is beginning to hire companies to repair the larger, structural issues with the building such as the weak foundations and old windows.
Raising a family, learning the ins and outs of a new business, and working a full-time job hasn’t been easy. Bertha has had to grapple with a system of building permits and city officials, which, at one point, threatened to condemn her buildings and bankrupt her business. She says that her biggest business success to date was convincing the city that she would make the needed repairs to bring the buildings up to code.
With this loan, Bertha will pay for the repairs to the major structural problems with her building. Without it, she says, she would have lost her business because, though she had enough saved for the minor repairs, she could not afford to pay the companies she hired to do the larger, most necessary ones.
Though she says that every cent from her day job as a cook at a restaurant turns into a new investment in her business, Bertha remains satisfied and happy with her decision to become a landlord. She advises others to not get discouraged and to keep on trying until you have reached your goals. Getting started is the most difficult part, she says, and “if a door doesn’t open, it is because it’s not the one that will lead you to success. That’s the way I look at it.”
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.