Starting out in married life together, Florence and I were both working regular jobs, so we were fairly comfortable. We moved into a one-bedroom apartment in a nice building at 10th Avenue and 47th Street in Borough Park. Florence was earning $60 a week as a secretary and I brought home a little more than that from my roofing job. We continued to follow our practice of saving money each week...
Quotes from this chapter
Fortunately, after that first breakdown, the truck ran fine for the next couple of years, and proved to be a workhorse for carrying tools and materials to my roofing jobs.
Our second building was also not a big money-maker but it gave me an education about managing residential properties. Any work that was necessary—plumbing, plaster, paint—I did it all myself.
I learned my cunning in the bunkers in Ukraine where you needed quick wits to survive. Now I meant to use my street smarts to overcome any barriers to success that I encountered in this free and wonderful country.
I started my career as a roofer with a $200 loan to buy a beat-up panel truck. Twenty years later, I was now embarking a new phase of life as a full-time real-estate operator with a portfolio of properties already worth in the millions.
Abe and I looked at a few buildings and eventually decided to go in together on what was called a “taxpayer”—a one story commercial building with a row of stores.
Dunning delinquent customers wasn’t fun, but either we nudged people to pay what they owed or I would have to go back to being a wage slave.
After my split with Abe, I proceeded on my own as an Edelstein family enterprise, buying real estate for Florence and my children as well as for myself.
If you drive around the neighborhoods of Brooklyn today you can still see some Edelstein & Sons Roofing signs in various places.
Another problem, as my former boss had predicted, was getting customers to pay what they owed us. This was so especially with some of the Orthodox Jewish building owners.
It was hard to make money in areas with stable populations. You needed to be in neighborhoods where apartments were changing hands—with older residents moving out and new people coming in.
We would do one job for a customer, and that turned into additional work on the customer’s other buildings. One owner would refer us to another, and that one would tell two more.
Book excerpts about the people, places and events mentioned in the book
Michael's early partner in real estate investment
Some catchy teaser text for this featured person.
First building Michael owned in Washington Heights
Edelstein & Sons signage in the Ditmas Park neighborhood
First property co-owned and managed by the author
Jewish residents were moving to the suburbs or Florida. In their place came upwardly mobile immigrants
A breakdown in Brooklyn tested Michael's mechanics skill