Tag Archives: Boston

Matt Javitch on Networking in Boston and the Mathematics of Real Estate Investing

Listen to this episode of Hacker Practice on iTunes.

You know those people that everybody seems to like? They have charisma. They’re affable. Like Jeff Daniels on the Newsroom.

That’s Matt Javitch.

Matt has been taking a barbell-approach to investing in Boston real estate and startups. He’s my go-to resource for investment advice because, unlike some advisors who try to sell me their advice, he makes a living off his investment thesis. Also, he’s never tried to sell me a thing.

I invited Matt on the show to give me a deep dive into real estate investing fundamentals, quitting corporate life for startup investing and more.

We talk about

  • The networking scene in Boston
  • How to quit your job and start a business
  • The real estate investment market
  • How real estate investing is different and complementary to startup investing
  • How to get started in real estate investing
  • How to be successful in real estate investing

Please enjoy this episode of Hacker Practice with Matt Javitch:


[00:00] How Justus and Matt met

[01:00] Networking in Boston

  • Events are becoming more and more niche-specific
  • You know what you’re getting when the event is very specific

[5:00] Matt’s background in finance

  • Financial advising and real estate investment

[7:00] Why small networking events can be super valuable

  • Most events are really hit or miss
  • Networking is a numbers game

[10:00] What Matt did to prepare to leave

  • Saved capital
  • Built a network
  • Honed a valuable skill set as a real estate investment analyst

[14:45] Specific numbers around how to leave your job and get into real estate investing

  • Matt had 3-4 months of living expenses saved
  • $300-400k pledged from investment partners

[16:30] To be successful in real estate investing

  • Have a long term vision
  • Understand the financial risks
  • Have a safety net or “plan B”

[19:00] What would Matt do different if he started over

  • Would have been more aggressive buying properties while at his job

[20:30] What is Matt doing to mitigate risk of negative macro economic conditions

  • Invest in “primary” markets (cities etc.)
  • Some factors can’t be controlled but should be understood

[23:45] The dumbbell strategy and Matt’s investment in startups

  • Real estate is somewhat predictable compared to startups

[27:00] Angel investing in Boston vs. Silicon Valley

  • Boston has a conservative social and financial culture

[30:00] How to get started real estate investing without any debt

  • It’s challenging.
  • Usually you make more money when you favor debt over equity
  • Start with as little as $150-250k
  • Start in a secondary, suburban market. Matt gets specific in greater Boston area
  • Renovate, then rent or sell
  • Can also experiment in other markets like San Antonio, Texas
  • Southern markets are usually less expensive

[34:00] Different geographic regions have different risk factors

[37:00] Have $250k, bought a property, need to renovate, where do I start?

  • Everything is quantified on a per foot basis
  • Market research is critical. Different locations have different /sq ft costs. Understand the local housing market
  • Look at last 6 months and what prices local homes have sold at vs. your prospective investment
  • Brokers and legal costs often add up to around 5%+ of the cost

[42:30] How much money do you budget for renovation?

  • Again: focus on cost per square foot
  • P = initial cost / sq ft
  • R = cost of renovation / sq ft
  • C = P + R
  • F = price you sell the property at / sq ft
  • PROFIT = F – C

[46:00] Working with many contractors and sub-contractors

[47:15] Selling the property

  • Matt often lists and sells the house himself if it’s local (saves 2.5% commission)
  • Real estate agents have less incentive to negotiate on your behalf than you (Freakonomics)

[50:00] The most challenging part of real estate investing for Matt

  • Inspectors vs contractor drama
  • Local politics often play a role in inspection

[56:00] A big part of Matt’s success can be attributed to his likability and how he incentivizes contractors to do quality work

  • EQ is valuable in this regard

[59:00] Final requests and contact info

  • Do your homework and know your risks
  • Matt is happy to talk to any aspiring investors (startup or real estate)
  • Axilon Capital Partners
  • 973.788.9333

What else?

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Tips for Traveling to Boston

I lived in Boston for three years, and during that time I ate every single cheeseburger the city had to offer. I’m kind of a foodie. People know this about me.

So when a Dutch friend was going to Boston for a visit, they asked me if I would write some tips for them. I was glad to oblige. Here is what I sent to them:

First of all, the best coffee can be found at one of three places:
  1. Nero on Washington. Go here if you want to sit down and work in a comfortable atmosphere.
  2. Gracenote. Zen. Fast. Quality. Get the Nitro Cold Brew in the summer or the Mocha in the winter.
  3. Wired Puppy. Get anything here. Talk to the Baristas. They know the deal. Perfect for taking a break from your Newbury St. shopping spree.
The best cheap Chinese restaurant is called The Gourmet Dumpling House. It’s in Chinatown. There are pictures of Michael Douglas on the wall.
The best food in Chinatown is found at a restaurant called Shojo. They do fusion American-Asian served tapas style. They play hip hop and have graffiti on the walls. Its fucking awesome. The shojonator burger is incredible.
The best burger in the city is at a cocktail bar called Drink in the seaport. Get there between 5-6pm or you’ll have to wait in line or worse: they’ll run out of the incredible Colorado Wagyu they import just for that burger.
The best brunch is at The Paramount on Charles street. Get there around eight in the morning to avoid an hour or longer wait. It’s very reasonably priced and worth the wait.
Another great brunch option is at Back Bay Social Club. I think they have dollar oysters on Sunday.
Also, try the lemon ricotta French toast at Trident Café. It’s to die for. Trident is an awesome café-bookstore. They even serve wine until midnight on the weekends.
The best Irish meal is the full Irish breakfast at Emmets.
If you like shopping: Charles Street, Newbury Street, Boyleston street, and the prudential center are all hot spots and fairly expensive.
If you like Art, the Museum of Fine Arts is reasonably priced and big enough to take a full day or more to see.
Personally I like the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum even more. Its collection is frozen in time, its story is eccentric, and the building is completely out of place: an old
Italian villa in downtown Boston. So dope.
Visit Harvard and MIT if you want. I don’t think they are that interesting. Unless you go to the MIT museum. I recommend the MIT museum while tripping on some hallucinogenic drug.
Just kidding. Don’t do that. You’ll have a bad time.
If you like karaoke: go to Wild Rover on Friday or Saturday ($10 cover). Or go to Osaka in Brookline for hibachi, sushi, and karaoke. What a great combination.
For a cheap day: walk along the esplanade. Its beautiful and you could sit out with a picnic. Not advisable in the winter.
If you’re in Boston in the winter: sucks to be you.

Launch Academy Wraps Up

I removed TurboLinks from my default rails template. Just to see what would happen. I call it launch_rails_new in homage to where I’ve developed my skills, Launch Academy, and the people there that have taught me.

I don’t just mean Experience Engineers, students too!

Everybody taught each other.The reversed classroom was the most productive learning environment I’ve ever seen.  It gives me faith in the technological community and it gives me hope for the future of education in America.

They thought MOOCS would be the most significant innovation in education that the internet has made possible. They were wrong.

Software bootcamps are an agile model of classroom instruction that is efficient. They are testament to immersive and concentrated learning. I’d be interested to hear from my classmates if they think it’s dollar-for-dollar the most valuable educational experience they’ve ever had.

The last five weeks have been the most intellectually stimulating period of my life. Programming really changes how you think about things: you realize less is more and that routines are key. Even my writing has become shorter (you may have seen my haikus).

Friday night and most of Saturday I spent as a teaching assistant at RailsBridge Boston. It was an amazing experience to see so many people install and learn a language in a day and a half. There must have been a couple dozen Launch Academy alumni volunteering at the event. Students teaching students: simply inspiring. Here’s a quick excerpt from the RailsBridge Boston about page:

Empowering Women with Ruby

Do you dream of someday writing software that helps people and improves the world?

Led by an all-volunteer team of seasoned, enthusiastic Ruby and Rails developers, the workshop introduces women of all backgrounds to the concepts, tools, and techniques of Ruby and Rails development. Our audience is those with no or little programming experience.

We welcome you to the Boston Ruby community. Whatever your goal is in learning to program, we hope to connect you with the tools to take the next step.

If you are at all considering learning Ruby and Rails, I highly suggest you consider getting your feet wet at this workshop. If you’re an established member in the Ruby community and you’d like to enjoy the honor of teaching others, they would appreciate your time as well. It was certainly an honor and pleasure for me, and I hope to volunteer there again in the future.

Speaking of the future, it’s about time I finish polishing this template so I can get started on my next project: a voting application. It’s gonna be pretty sweet,but I shouldn’t give away too much. For now enjoy this #launch_academy_selfie from the last day of class:

Last Day of Launch

An initial reaction to Boston: A Class Act

Boston Commons near Beacon Hill

This past Friday was mostly beautiful, the seven hour drive from Bel Air to Boston was mostly pleasant, and I am mostly impressed by this iconic American city.

Firstly, the vast majority of people I’ve encountered here are extraordinarily kind.

Lastly, the tap water is really delicious.

If you’ve had the privilege of reading my last piece, you know that tomorrow (Monday) is my first day of learning at Mission Control as a part of Launch  Academy. You’d also know that Launch Academy is a 10-week web development boot camp.

What you might not know, are the specifics of my living arrangement, which turn out to be pretty sweet.

I’ll be staying in the beautiful and historic neighborhood of Beacon Hill, at a Quaker meeting house that doubles as housing for more than 20 individuals from diverse backgrounds. I’ve only been here two full days, but I’m certain I will like it.

My parents and I actually arrived in Boston Friday afternoon. We stopped at Mission Control in Chinatown for a quick peek at the Launch Academy location, then we headed to the Beacon Hill Friends House. Firstly, I was taken on a tour of the gigantic, four (5?) story Victorian. Ben, our host, was incredibly gracious and welcoming. In fact, every single person I spoke that day was most courteous, including more than a dozen people visiting different residents of the house.

We didn’t have much time to visit though, because Launch Academy was throwing the cohort a kickoff mixer, and none of us had had dinner. We walked over to Chinatown and had  a fine meal at the Gourmet Dumpling House (aka: The Chinese Restaurant that Michael Douglas frequents).

On a busy street, in a city like Boston, you’re unlikely to interact with everybody you meet. But you will inevitably find a driver who tactfully waves you across the street. I’ve sniffed out more than a few random acts of kindness. Visiting a CVS and a Wholefoods revealed polite and helpful staff. Holding a door open for ladies tends to earn you a thank you.

All of these behaviors do not go unnoticed.

Dinner at the restaurant ran a little late, then walking my parents back to their vehicles, and kissing them goodbye; it all took a bit longer than I expected. I wasn’t able to return to Mission Control until about half an hour into the party.

This didn’t pose a problem in any case, because guess what, EVERYBODY THERE WAS NICE TOO.

I expected this, but it still bears mentioning. I’ve yet to meet someone in Boston that I didn’t like.

The cashier at Whole Foods had an awesome accent. The lady in front of me in line smiled at me.

And yes, the tap water is incredible. Really amazing. How do they make it like that?

Boston, this is coming from a Giants and a Yankees fan: