Students leasing rental properties on the West Side of Binghamton have seen a trend of out-of-town investors as property owners and landlords.
According to Broome County property records, about one-third of the properties on Walnut Street on the West Side are owned by remote investors located in Long Island, New York City, Westchester County, Orange County, Rockland County and even different states.
Eduardo Gomez, a junior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, has an out-of-town property owner. He said having an owner who lives in New Jersey is doable, but sometimes inconvenient.
“I’ve never met him in person; we just communicate over the phone and email,” Gomez said. “It hasn’t really been a problem, but when I’m sending a check every month, putting a face to the name would give me some peace of mind.”
Ben Locke, a New Jersey resident, owns eight rental properties on the West Side through his business, L&R Management Partners, LLC. After Locke graduated from Rutgers University in 2013, one of his real estate colleagues who owned property in Binghamton convinced him to start business in the area.
“I’ve been [renting] for about four years now and it is definitely a challenge being out-of-town,” Locke said. “But I found a local handyman who has become my property manager. He is my eyes and ears — every single day he is working for me full-time. I have a group chat with my tenants in whatever apartment they live in, and you can ask any of them: I am there to answer whenever they text.”
Locke said he has learned that the best way for his business to succeed is to treat his tenants well and with respect.
Rob Szpak, a first-year graduate student studying mechanical engineering, lives on the West Side and has a local property manager. Szpak said while he does not know where the owner of his property is from, having a local property manager has worked out for him.
“He is around to fix things in a timely manner, and we mail our rent to our landlord, so that is never an issue,” Szpak said. “To me, it’s all about how easy it is to get in contact and get living stuff taken care of. If someone is here, that’s great; if it were to take a while to get stuff done, that would suck.”
Szpak also said he and his housemates chose this property because they already had connections to the property manager.
“When looking for our property, one of my housemate’s older sisters used our landlord when she went to Binghamton,” Szpak said. “We used him because we knew him and that he was reliable.”
Szpak’s property manager is Steve Lysczek, owner of Distinctive Homes by S & D, LLC. He manages 28 rental properties in Binghamton. Lysczek said he does not mind where the property owners are from, as long as they do their job.
“The out-of-town investors are fine with me as long as they are taking care of the properties and are honest and responsive to their tenants,” Lysczek said.
Lysczek has resided in Vestal for 28 years after being transferred to the area from Virginia by his employer, IBM. One advantage of being local, according to Lysczek, is making connections with the students he rents property to.
“Some of my prior students now work for me in the business,” Lysczek said. “Many students who graduated now own rental units, which we help with.”
Jake Kerr contributed reporting to this article.