Investors spending millions buying up Buffalo properties

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo housing market is hot, especially for rental properties.

Readers who have scanned the real estate transactions lately will have seen Buffalo Student Housing LLC buying up houses all around UB’s Main Street campus. They’ve bought 42 houses on streets like Winspear, Highgate, and Lisbon, most of them just since last summer.

“They came out of basically nowhere,” said City Housing Court Liason, Fred Brace. “They’ve got a lot invested and obviously, they want a return on that investment.”

Brace is nervous about the fact that Buffalo Student Housing LLC actually traces back to an office in Hicksville, Long Island.INTERACTIVE MAP | At the bottom of this story find a map of dozens of homes purchased by investors

“We’re not going to allow him to be an absentee landlord,” said University District Common Council Member Rasheed Wyatt. “It just seems as though we have these situations where out-of-towners purchase property in our community. It just seems like it never turns out well, so we’re very concerned.”

News 4 spoke with four different tenants of Buffalo Student Housing LLC. None had any real complaints about their Long Island landlord. Buffalo Student Housing now has 190 tenants, and News 4 spoke to one of the LLC’s partners, Ricky Spike, by phone.

“While we are investors, we have a full time property manager who lives up in the area there where all of the houses are located, who’s available to our tenants on a 24-7, 365 day a year basis,” Spike said.

Buffalo realtor Renee Moran isn’t surprised that these University District houses are being snatched up for an average of about $80,000. “Investors can rent their properties out room-by-room and sometimes get four, or five, or six hundred dollars a door, or a room. There’s so much competition right now in the city, you know we’ve got multiple offers, things selling 20, 30, 40 thousand dollars over asking price. It’s just a real exciting time to be in Buffalo.”

“I’m bullish on Buffalo!” said Nick Sinatra, owner of Sinatra & Company Real Estate which also owns the Market Arcade building downtown. A company he’s a part of spent $36 million in one day last month, just on Buffalo apartment buildings.

“I think it’s a community on the upswing. Born and raised here, a lot of roots here, and I love the community. So, we’ve made over $75 million investment in the city of Buffalo in the last five years and we’re going to continue to do more.”

Sinatra now has 900 tenants in Buffalo, many of them under Better Buffalo Housing LLC. His main investment partner is Karen Pritzker whose family founded the Hyatt Hotel chain. Sinatra has recently renovated the old Fenton Hotel on West Ferry St. near Main St. He just bought most of the block along Elmwood near North Street.

Sinatra’s focus is the Elmwood Village and the the medical corridor. “People want to live in the city. It’s a national trend that has really taken ground here in Buffalo. You have people, millennials and empty-nesters now want to live in the city, where they where they can walk and bike to work.”

“I think he’s ahead of the game. I think he’s a very smart guy and think he’s making very aggressive smart moves,” said realtor Renee Moran. “So, it’s bumping up all the values in those neighborhoods too. I think it’s a great thing. I don’t see any real red flags with what these people are doing.”

Sinatra believes the best is yet to come, “I believe the brightest years are ahead of us.”

Explore some of the properties recently purchased by Better Buffalo Housing LLC and Buffalo Student Housing LLCAPP USERS | Tap here to explore the map

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