Opportunities In Urban Real Estate, With Sonya Rocvil

Multifamily plays a critical role in urban real estate by both delivering much needed housing supply and shaping urban communities. After an exodus from some population centers in the midst of COVID-19, many are turning their attention back to cities. Meanwhile, urban real estate in Sun Belt cities continues to be in high demand.

Sonya Rocvil, Principal and Founder of Bedrock Real Estate Investors, joins the show to explore opportunities in urban real estate for passive multifamily investors.

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Episode Highlights

  • Why multifamily properties are so critical to urban real estate.
  • How multifamily investors and developers can help foster urban communities while also
  • Unique challenges facing multifamily projects in urban areas versus more suburban and rural areas.
  • Where urban real estate, and multifamily specifically are headed after many left cities in the wake of COVID-19.
  • Challenges and keys to success for investing in multifamily projects located out of state.
  • Strategic considerations for exit timelines on multifamily deals.

Featured On This Episode

Today’s Guest: Sonya Rocvil, Bedrock Real Estate Investors

About The Multifamily Investor Podcast

The Multifamily Investor Podcast covers trends and opportunities in the multifamily real estate universe. Host Scott Hawksworth discusses passive investment offerings in the space, including direct investments, DSTs, opportunity zones, REITs, and more.

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Show Transcript

Scott Hawksworth: Hello, and welcome to the Multifamily Investor Podcast. I’m your host Scott Hawksworth. Today we’re going to be talking, well, multifamily, of course, but we’re also going to be talking about urban real estate and housing in urban areas as well. And joining me to offer her insights and her expertise is Sonya Rocvil, who is the founder and principal at Bedrock Eeal Estate Investors. Sonya, welcome to the show.

Sonya Rocvil: Hi Scott. Thank you so much for having me on.

Scott Hawksworth: Absolutely, thank you for being here I’m really excited to dive into a topic that I think really deserves a lot of attention and a lot of passive multifamily investors should really understand more about urban real estate, but you know before diving into all of that, I have it here, you know, you have a unique background, you began your career as an auditor.

And then you later moved to finance working in finance at a fortune 500 company. What lessons and skill did you take in during your time there that have helped you in your real estate career?

Sonya Rocvil: Yeah well thanks for asking that question, you know financial statement audit, it’s tough, you know you’re constantly on the go. I remember sometimes walking in the office and then notification that you have to fly out to do an audit somewhere else.

Next day, but one of the things is that you’re always looking for supporting evidence for the companies that you’re reviewing so.

It really requires you to have a very methodical and very backs based approach to how you’re evaluating information.

And, and then that really puts you a lot in the weeds, and so what that does, for me, is it given me.

The patience to to kind of stick with a lot of the granularity that that often occurs with everything you know, they say, the devil is in the details and sometimes you.

You need that patients to kind of weed through things and and sometimes you know for the people around me they’re like what are you doing but.

Sometimes you do have to get.

Pretty granular to to understand things, so I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways that I have from audit I think first is, you know understanding, you do have to understand the bigger picture.

But then you’re you’re always trying to find out why something is happening like why Why is this happening sweet, this is supposed to be how.

The process works like why didn’t it work in this case and then and then that causes you to kind of go to the next level and.

And I think about that in terms of when we do due diligence and when we’re bringing on a new property or even when we have the property.

And we’re trying to figure out what’s happening with our operations, you always have to ask that question why to get to get you to the plate, so that you can you can fix the problem, so I think that’s I think that’s what audit gave me.

And then, in terms of working at a you know, a larger company looking at a fortune 500 and the finance, one of the things that’s definitely part of any large.

organization successful organization is the need for processes and systems.

And that was that is something that you get sort of ingrained in you, as you work at a company, because you understand the culture and some of the things that.

that need to be in place to make things to execute and it’s working as you’re working as an especially in a finance role, you know the you know, depending on on what your company’s doing but for for this particular company, a lot of it is marketing and market facing and.

You know, under knowing that you have to work in lockstep with all of the other people that are part of that process so even though you’re sort of.

Your sort of like in your own group, like your finance group or your marketing group or whatever.

Whatever it is you do have to work in concert with other people, and so one of the challenges I think going from a such a large company to startups like starting on my own, is that you don’t have all of those things.

It laid out your your.

Scott Hawksworth: processes that are like yep this is how we do it.

Sonya Rocvil: Right right and and you don’t have all of those people to do the things like you’re the CEO you’re the chief information officer you’re also the CFO your chief marketing officer so you’re doing all of those things and then it’s not until you kind of realize okay.

This is, this is not really sustainable, you have to start building out your team, and so that, and you know that’s one of the things I really took took away from that is that.

def definitely that the team aspect of it is really so so so important to success, especially in real estate and then knowing and knowing how to find those people to help fill in the areas where you need you need additional help that’s really important.

Scott Hawksworth: I mean I couldn’t agree more, I think those are such great points to make, and.

And it makes sense that you know coming from your experiences there that you kind of realize hey hey the devils in the details, you have to focus on the details side of things, you have to have a great team.

And you have to, of course, have processes as well, whether you know you build them yourself or or the team works on them and then you know follows that, especially when you’re looking at just general.

deal flow and.

And those opportunities right.

Sonya Rocvil: By absolutely you know you summarize it perfectly and then, but then with that because they’re smaller you have more flexibility so that that’s a good thing, because you.

can be a little bit more nimble you don’t have to get approvals from 10 different people to decide to move forward, you can make that decision on a more in a flatter basis which is, which is great, but that’s even why you kind of need the processes even more to keep you focused.

Scott Hawksworth: hundred percent you know i’ve been an entrepreneur for well over a decade now, and i’ve had a lot of opportunities to you know, maybe go into larger organizations and one of the things that has held me back.

from making that kind of choice career wise is is realizing I do like to have the flexibility and and go in a direction and have all of that right so.

So that’s great I want to shift gears a little bit and and talk.

About you know urban real estate in urban housing, you are the treasurer of the Council of urban real estate, can you speak to multi families role in urban real estate and why it’s.

So critical.

Sonya Rocvil: Yes, yeah so just just a little bit of background on sure because it’s a not for profit organization.

In New York and it’s focused on diversity in commercial real estate industry and.

You know some of the things that we’re doing is just pulling in people from various aspects of of commercial real estate overall but, but of course in in cities multifamily is it’s such an important thing because, especially in New York, you have such a high concentration of people.

That are living in the same place, and so.

It makes you It makes you really have to consider how do you how do you really accommodate all the all of these people in some dense pockets, because also it’s.

it’s their pockets of density it’s not all across the city that’s extremely dense there’s certain areas.

Where there’s more building than you know in other areas like there’s zoning that’s kind of protective of certain areas in the city, so you could have a certain type of housing stock there, but you may not have the large you know.

The large you know hundreds units type properties in those same areas so it’s it’s really important to you know to on so many levels you’re thinking about like zoning you’re thinking about infrastructure as well, because some of the things is.

Our New York City is very transportation focused public transportation focused and so, once you have people that are just concentrated on like.

Two particular subway stops, then you wonder like okay I are there enough is does the platform as a platform going to actually be able to hold all these people in rush hour do we have enough trains to.

manage like the the higher concentration of folks that are that are living in the areas you know just even like do we have the the electricity, water, all of those things that were built based on a certain level of density or are we keeping up with that.

And Those are some of the questions that that we’re always thinking about and and and also you know, in terms of development to planning development.

Are are there enough green spaces, because you have so many people, but you really you really do need to have those outlets where it’s it’s it’s recreational space, and you know we saw that during Colbert and people left the city as a result of that.

Scott Hawksworth: Absolutely, will speak to a bit of that in a bit here, but I think you make some great points about.

When you look at urban real estate and thinking a lot larger than just Okay, we need the housing, but what is the area around it, where the green spaces, the public transit.

You know i’ve been to New York, a number of times, of course, central park is is you know the the the beacon there of green space in New York, so I think that shows you the importance of it and and even here in Chicago things are a little more spread out, we have alleys.


We have lots of green space here, and I think that is something.

To really.

keep in mind and also when you’re talking about multifamily there’s this idea of community.

i’ve interviewed so many folks on this show and developers when they are trying to you know.

build a place where folks want to live and they can be in a community and you’ve spoken on multi families role.

In having and fostering diverse communities and especially when we’re talking urban real estate, I think that just goes not you know, without saying that the diverse communities are critical.

Can you I guess speak to that role that multifamily has because, especially on the show as well, we talked about doing well, by doing good and how.

You know if you’ve developed multifamily properties, you can foster yes community and diverse communities, so can you speak a bit too I guess multi families role in that.

Sonya Rocvil: Yes, yeah so I mean just the fact that you have so many people living together and so many different you’re going to it really lends itself to to diversity, because you’re going to have.

People from different backgrounds and income levels and and family situations that you know really provide different perspective and and I think.

One of the things that makes New York and neighborhoods I should say you know so unique are really the people that live it.

You know a lot of times it’s like you want to live in that neighborhood because of you know just the fabric that.

they’ve already created a fabric, for that Community and sometimes some of those people that are the fabric they’re not owner and the area, so they are more subject the subject to.

Higher prices and having to move and leave, and I think these are some of the biggest challenges.

That you know, investors and developers face when they come into new areas because all the time, there may be there are there change needed, you know, bringing in the those new condos or those new buildings.

you’re going to get your racing sometimes some of that that initial fabric that was there and the people who really built to build that community, but you know, one of one of the things I was mentioning earlier is just that.

You know a lot of times like investors and developers are they’re building in areas that.

That have that give them the permission to be able to build their and you know, and so that that means that.

Like I was saying you just get this high concentration in certain areas and and then it does end up forcing people out so you know how do you provide housing.

That is inclusive of the people that are that are in the area and and provide them, you know clean newer places to live.

But at the same time, does it remove everybody that’s in there doesn’t remove like the fabric of that.

Those societies, and I think that’s that’s one of the challenges that that’s facing, and I know that.

affordable housing developments, you know they look to try to do that because they’re providing some of the housing at lower costs.

And, especially in cities like New York, you know you’re you’re seeing some times that incomes are not rising at the same level as rents are.

And so you have that huge gap and disconnect and that’s really important, I think, for private private and public partnerships to work together to to solve because I don’t think either can do it on their own.

Scott Hawksworth: Right and and I guess speaking to that you know if there’s developers out there, or.

or folks you know looking to invest in multifamily projects let’s say in a New York City, what are the things, maybe that they can do Okay, they they may be partner with the public.

But if they’re you know going in and they’re doing rhinos Is that the kind of thing where it’s as simple as you know what maybe not the Granite countertops maybe something you know a little less expensive.

You know, so we can then not you know not have to almost charge those higher premiums.

As a result, isn’t that kind of thing is that.

Is that OK we’ll we’ll section off certain you know units were okay we’re going to really try to make it so folks from many different income levels can afford to be in this building, I guess, could you speak to a bit of some of the where the rubber meets the road.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah yeah and those are those are all really great.

Points and and sometimes they people do that when they’re when they’re creating these new developments they’ll look at the units and say Okay, maybe we can have 10% of the units before people have a certain income level.

And, and then you know with that.

That means that this will be what the would be for those people if we’re looking at affordability and what makes what makes sense for them so they’re not spending 50 or 60% of their take home pay or their.

salary on housing because that’s not you know it’s not sustainable, because there are other things that you have to buy.

Sometimes it’s also the design of the buildings.

And you know, are there ways to make it more energy efficient in some places, so that may be electricity bills are not as high maybe there are other things that within the operations of the property itself.

Or the appliances that you have so that so that they’re dead we’re not you know people’s money to where they have to decorate their money is lessons, you know when it comes to like their their home and that they don’t have to spend extra money goes.

And, and so I think those are you know those are Those are some of the some of the things that people can can do and developers can do, and I think it’s also understanding also your your.

Your resident base and understanding, like to your to your point about you know what kind of appliances Do I really need in here, are you know we do this, all the time when were you know investing.

In our properties that are that are actually outside of New York.

But you know what is the level of upgrade that you need to do, are you over improving the property for the people that that live there, because you’ve been very happy with still high quality things.

That may not be as expensive, so you know Those are some of the trade offs that.

I think you can you can you can factor, but at the same time, there you know, prices have gone up and there’s really high inflation right now let’s look materials and Labor So do you know, there are rising, there is the reality of the rising prices.

Scott Hawksworth: Right, exactly, and I think.

kind of navigating that you know as long as you sort of have that eye on hey here’s our goal we want to maybe preserve some affordability.

We want to you know, have a diverse Community there I think that’s where you sort of can navigate some of those challenges, as long as your your eyes on the ball, so to speak, right.

yeah now you mentioned.

Some properties that are out of state and you’ve spoken before on you know, out of state multifamily investing.

Could you speak to maybe some of the challenges and keys to success because there’s a lot of folks who you know they are looking at at deals and opportunities in states they’ve never been to.

So what are, maybe some of the challenges and keys there to getting it right.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah yeah so, so I would say, you know, one of the things that I knew living in New York, that it was going to be a challenge for me to invest in New York.

Just that they’re just higher and higher barriers of entry, the pricing, the you know favor ability to work less towards landlords and and sometimes it’s warranted, I have to say, but.

But, but sometimes it can be very onerous on you know, on smaller groups, especially and you really need those deeper pockets So for me.

I just thought that it would be great to look at other markets where there were there was more return so.

One of the one of the things that you have to do for that, though, is you really have to have a strong property management team.

that’s going to be your your face every day, you know with your resident base there they’re the people who.

you’re relying on their a lot of their operations to ensure that that you are going to be able to.

provide the housing that you need for for the individuals in your community and then that is that you’ll also be able to collect the rent and be able to.

And to get the income for providing those services, so it did, that is so critical and it’s and it’s even better if you have other.

touch points other people that you know within the market because one of the things that that really, really was came to light, particularly with coven being here in New York, having our properties in Georgia, there were travel there were travel challenges we.

Scott Hawksworth: run into challenges just getting down there.

Sonya Rocvil: Down there, but what was very fortunate for us is that we have people that live in the market that we’re very.

Close to that could go by and just you know just check to make sure that things are going Okay, or just to just do a drive by make sure the property still have.

Some of the things that we would have done anyway, you know, during during our trip.

Down there to see the property and so though that is very important to you because you do have to have that some boots on the ground perspective, and you can build that up over time so let’s say you don’t know anybody you’re going into a new market you don’t know anyone.

it’s going to be it’s just going to take you a longer time to really have that graph.

You have to go to the market, though, you have to see what’s happening in the market, and you have to understand you know the context of that particular property that you’re looking at and and the city overall that’s really important, and then you build those relationships over time.

Scott Hawksworth: Right and then that makes you know the next deal deal number two or three much easier because you’ve already established those relationships and you yourself I would I would think that, over time, you start to learn that market market yourself well.

Sonya Rocvil: Absolutely absolutely but you know it’s hard for people, especially if you’re looking at you know.

You know the other or you know if you feel like I.

I can’t touch it I can’t go and just see you know what’s happening and and that that is a challenge that’s The biggest challenge that you feel that you don’t have.

That direct, you know that direct control but, but there are other things that you can do that, you can work out with the property manager and.

Having weekly meetings, and you know they can send you pictures of how things look and then again going to the market visiting and establishing your own contacts, so that you can have other other people there in the market that can help you.

Scott Hawksworth: Absolutely, you were talking a bit.

Sonya Rocvil: ago about the.

Scott Hawksworth: You know, larger economic landscape we’re seeing we’ve got inflation we’ve got supply chain challenges material costs going up.

You know now we have interest rates going up as well kind of trying to combat inflation what’s the impact, you have seen on multifamily, especially when we talk about urban real estate and and urban areas.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah so I mean with the with the overall the higher costs, I mean what what you’re seeing is definitely when you have turn or turnover there’s definitely just higher higher.

costs to renovate apartments to get your apartments ready for the next resident and and with that that you know the challenges is you know are your.

Your rents, in line with the cost that it takes to maintain and manage.

The property and so you know, making sure that that you that you are in a place where you can attract the resident base that you need to be able to provide those services so that’s really important, and when we talked about.

it’s even further highlighted, because you have to you know you have to feel that you’re in a place where you’ll be able to get the residents who can’t afford.

The properties that you’re and and the the units that you’re that you’re selling that you’re that you’re renting to them, so I think that’s a really important thing and.

Just in terms of the you know overall and inflation and you know rising interest rates, I think it also lends itself to a to.

A shift in the in the in the environment, I know, last year was very competitive and some of the markets that were and where you had like you know 2030 people bidding on deals.

Right, you know it’s that that was such a challenge to do that, and then you know, but because of the lower interest rates.

I guess, they could kind of make some of the deals make sense for us a lot of them still did not make any sense but with, and you know, there could be like a little bit of forgiveness with that, but.

Not not too much, but now, with the higher interest rates it’s it’s not the same environment, and I think right now there is definitely like this delta between you know sellers who you know saw properties being sold, you know eight months ago.

Scott Hawksworth: Like right and they’re like this is the.

Sonya Rocvil: Price yeah This is the price and it’s like this, this is not the price anymore, because some things have changed and and so you know.

you’re you’re buying the property at a higher amount and you as a result, have to have the income to support that you knew or price that you’re that you’re purchasing at.

And we, if you have no debt services service that’s like 200 basis points higher like it’s not it doesn’t work it just doesn’t work.

And I think it’s you know with that there’s there’s some people who kind of jumped into multifamily because.

There was some opportunities there last last year, I think you may be seeing some of those people kind of pull back a little bit because they may be going back to the different asset classes, that they were in previously.

I think that you’re seeing that you know people are just feeling like okay I don’t have the low interest rates anymore so i’m not going to play in this game, so they say they kind of shifted out right and then.

Scott Hawksworth: Cash yeah.

Sonya Rocvil: Right right and then also you know it, then it kind of opens the opportunity potentially for people to be really creative.

And how they’re they’re setting up their financing with with deals, and I think those are that’s some of the uniqueness in in what’s happening now.

Or at least this part of the cycle that’s what’s happening now, you know and try to narrow that gap some some sellers are okay, you know they’re kind of getting there.

But it’s that’s the biggest thing that now that there’s that delta because we’re not in the same environment that we were 12 months ago, or even 10 months ago.

Scott Hawksworth: Right right and really getting folks to realize it is not the same environment, but then I would say yeah challenge does create opportunity and that’s.

Where you know, maybe folks where there was just you know so much CAP rate compression going on and and folks just saying okay we’re just going to pay it.

Now, maybe the folks that have stuck it out and they’re still kind of looking through deals, there can be opportunities if they keep looking right.

Sonya Rocvil: absolutely agree absolutely agree so I feel like now is the time to keep looking at more deals keep you know.

Looking at it, because then you’ll be able to actually see what’s happening in the market, you you’re not going to know what’s happening unless you’re actually in it, and you can see, the price changes, you can see.

You know some of some of the creative things that are happening and but you only it’s such a game real estate that you, you got to be I guess it’s like the water right you got to be in it to win it, you have to be you have to be.

So honored to get the benefits of it so i’d say keep looking keep looking at deals.


Scott Hawksworth: we’re talking about you know urban real estate.

You mentioned it closer to the top you talked about kovats impact and and kovats impact on cities was pretty significant and I speak from you know what I saw here in Chicago.

A lot of cities lost a lot of people there was a lot of migration out, and I think some of that has returned but depending on the market, we still have seen you know, maybe some cities.

Trying to recover a bit in terms of their their populations and the folks that want to live there.

what’s the I guess what’s your sense of how recovery has gone are our people returning will it continue the other way in terms of people saying i’m going to move out of these urban areas and what might multi families role be within that.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah I mean such a such a great question I I think what some of the things that that we’re seeing is you know, some people there, there were some people who are probably going to be leaving the cities, anyway, so what I did was that just helped to exacerbate that that just to name.

Scott Hawksworth: The timeline.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah absolutely because they were planning on leaving they stand for families, they bought it more space, you know, whatever their their situation was Cobra just kind of push them further to that so so that happened I think what also happened was you know.

With with a lot of the entertainment centers of particularly New York just being shut down, I mean so.


Sonya Rocvil: broadway just going to like bars and restaurants and just being able to have that social that social interaction because that’s so much a part of what New York is just having that.

Scott Hawksworth: ability reasons you want to live in New York yeah that access to all of these different things.

Sonya Rocvil: And so, when that was gone people also left, especially people who came from out of state and they’re like Why am I paying again $5,000.

To the like not be able to have access to the things I want to to work from home, you know so that.

didn’t really that doesn’t that you know that that was also a group that laughed and I, and I think that we, we definitely saw that we saw.

I remember seeing a perfectly distinct a lot of moving trucks like more than usual, you know over those over those past two years and then.

There were some rent risk concessions that did come so there were apartment brand new developments that you know they were you know people were getting some good rents at that time.

But then it was just as this was like 2020 but then things started shifting back in 2021 with being able to build out.

restaurants, like so some of the sidewalks have been built out now in in the city.

it’s really amazing what some of the restaurants, have done to kind of create that outdoor space and and.

In some cases, double you know their their footprint from what they had inside to like being able to build out outside and having those that restaurant having the restaurants have that space.

On sidewalks has really helped that industry quite a lot and you’re seeing now you know people people you know coming back people our tours coming back i’ve seen I saw so many tour buses.

A couple of days ago, when I was when I was actually in in Manhattan and you know that is coming back, so I think, depending on the city, I think it’s so markets specific, but I think really depending on the city, I think that.

That some cities will have that appeal to keep like pulling people back in, and I think you will see some migration back into this into the city, you know people come here.

For like to meet other people to experience what it’s like to live in New York and I, and I feel like some of those things so completely go away and and and you’ll get some return back in and and also rents have kind of gone back up to in relation to that.

Scott Hawksworth: Right right, and I think that’s I think that does sort of make the point in the sense of well rents are going back up because that demand is also returning.

And and folks are coming back into the cities, of course, again, depending on the market, but you are seeing that and kind of to your point, you know Chicago here.

You know i’ve walked around in the city and and you’re just seeing a lot more of that returning a lot more people going to the restaurants, the tourism is coming back.

All of this, so I think that that does speak to you know, a positive outlook on multifamily in urban areas, from the sort of investment standpoint right.

Sonya Rocvil: I definitely agree with you, I think that you know the cities have that that magnetism and there, there is that demand still that’s for sure, and you know people feel the.

I know that I don’t know I know that i’m not only speaking for myself, but I know that people really like convenience.

Just the ability to you know that’s one of the things that I find very appealing, where I live.

Just being able to just jump on the subway or you know walk across to the inside the park or quickly move and get this or that and not have to drive all the time to get somewhere.

And those are just you know lifestyle conveniences that I think other cities are picking up on to and trying to create more you know.

Trying to be more expansive and creating those lower commute type situations and planning.

Scott Hawksworth: What are some of the maybe unique challenges that multifamily projects and deals face when they’re in an urban area versus a more suburban or rural area that investors should be aware of.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah I mean I think when you’re in more of the urban areas, I think there there, there are a couple of things and again this is just so it’s very specific on the market, so I will.

You know, definitely urge people to to look and see you know their own specific markets but.

One of the things that you, you have in in like more and dense areas is that you just have less you just have less free.

Space you’d have less space right so when you’re thinking about you know people having to shift into working from home and wanting to work from home.

But then your your home is you know 400 square feet it’s it’s tough to to to stay in that space for you know, five days a week, and it begins at all day in in there, so when.

Smaller footprint smaller size properties which is very common and not all not all apartments in New York, are 400 square feet, you have some very, very large.

Part prop apartments, but you will you have a number of them that are definitely compared compared to other to other areas, and definitely compared to their suburban counterparts are smaller footprints and so you know that’s I think that’s one of the.

Just the space and then with that.

You may have you know people that that move quite frequently so so because of that, you have to factor that as an operator.

That you’re going to have higher term costs, because if you have a space where you can have a limited number of people in that space.

Then, that means if I expand my family in any way I can’t live there anymore, so I have to move, unless I have other departments within the complex that have more space.

i’ll have to look for someplace else to live, because my family situation has changed and or my needs have changed and I need more space, so that, so I mean Those are some of the things if you’re in dense areas that have.

That you have to take into consideration, you know, and whereas with your and more suburban areas you definitely.

Have hopefully you have you do have some of that space accommodation, you may you may have.

properties that are that are located also close to the parks or just or being able to have like dog runs or things like that, as well, like on on the grounds that are that are actual grass customer we have dog runs two in the city, but they’re they’re different they’re not a.

Scott Hawksworth: Little different yeah.


Sonya Rocvil: There are some of them are self cleaning like you know spaces, which can be helpful, but it’s it’s a different it’s just a different it’s a different dynamic so but I also feel that that that some of the appeal in the urban areas and in the cities is really accessibility to transit.

And you know, I have to say, though.

For coven transit took a hit, because nobody wanted to be.

An acquired subway.

at all, but that that too has has come back and I, and I feel that we’re we’re we’re just from an observer, and not with actual data from from mta or anything but, but you know it feels like people are are coming back a whole lot and.

Scott Hawksworth: I think so so to prevent that.

yeah I actually I was just reading an article here about cta chicago’s public transit and the numbers, they are not completely back, but they are close to pre pandemic numbers.

In terms of ridership I think it was focused on weekends.

So I mean so clearly there is that return that’s that we’re seeing.

Now I want to shift, because I feel like we haven’t talked that much about bedrock and and all the great things you guys are doing, I noticed, as I was looking through your properties that you had a number of properties that you sold in 2021.

Can you speak a bit to sort of the impetus on that the sort of strategy there and and what I guess was going on in that environment.

Sonya Rocvil: Yes, yeah so for for one of our properties, the largest that we had we had.

In Georgia, at that time we had acquired it and 2019 I think right at the end of 20 2018 right at the end of 2018 so during 2019 we were doing some of the larger projects.

Like value add projects on the on the exterior of the property to get it ready, because our whole business strategy was that we were going to do some.

Some renovations that we thought were sustainable for the for the for the environment for the for our market, and we would have an opportunity to improve this.

This complex and building and create some spaces, that that we thought would be great for residents, so we were we were ready to pull the trigger on that, I would say.

Probably the beginning of 2020 just before the pandemic, and so our strategy was going to be to in to increase, you know do these larger value add deals that would then like a lot of larger value add.

updates to to increase the rents and in that environment with the uncertainty of collections, we were still in a workforce area.

We just didn’t think that that was the best strategy timing wise to execute for that for that for that for that property, so what we ended up doing was we really focused on.

The operations of the property doing updates, but not to the level that we thought that we were going to do before.

And, as a result, we weren’t going to be able to get or charge the rent that we were planning on charging and our business plan.

So you know, with some a lot of thought to this, you know we were thinking about.

The execution or business plan when would we be able to do that and we had lost some time because of the fact that we were not executing in the way that we had planned on doing.

In the very beginning, so it was really a thought of Okay, we do have some runway left in in you know in in the in the loan that could be assumed.

Assuming alone at that time was actually really good, because you didn’t have to have those large reserves, because you were taking the.

The loan in place, and so we felt that we had a unique period where know another operator could still have a good amount of upside to execute on a plan like this and.

And then, for us, we we thought we’d be better able to deploy that capital and other.

In other places, so we was really because we thought you know the execution of our business plan was going to be delayed at that point and for our investors, it probably.

There were better ways for them to to get better returns for their money so that’s why we decided.

to sell that property and then we had another property that was about two hours away from there, and since we were in the larger market with the larger property and we were also just coming out of a very.

Heavy value add deal, there were there was bridge financing and we were just at the point where we have to make a decision.

Or you know we could keep it and refinance it or we could we could sell and since we were already going to be exiting one property it really made sense that probably you know, for us to exit both of them.

Because the other, the other property was was further away was further outside of the main city so.

So so Those were some of the things that deck and then with that you know, there was a good.

There was there was just a good timing, overall, because there was still a demand strong demand for multifamily so it was it was a few things that kind of.

we’re at we’re not exactly how we expected the business plan to execute but then, at the same time lined up well with what was happening in the external environment.

And I think that’s like one of the important things with having that flexibility in your plan to make the shifts when you see that things are shifting.

You need to be able to move with those shifts and I think that you know we i’m really happy that we were able to do that on behalf of our investors for that.

Scott Hawksworth: Absolutely, I mean again that that flexibility aspect it’s something i’ve heard a number of folks on this show talk about.

And really lean into it, because you can go in and you have an idea of what your business plan is what your strategy is, but if the if the environment shifts you need to be able to shift with it and and and do what’s best for your investors right.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah absolutely absolutely and that’s something that we’re constantly looking at and then that’s why sometimes we’ve sold.

much faster than we thought we did, because we were able to get the returns that we were projecting you know years down the line, so you know this, while sometimes it’s an asset like wow if we still have that today, what would we you know.

Scott Hawksworth: Every day.

Sonya Rocvil: But you know in this business is doing syndications you’re looking to really maximize return for your for your investors so that’s you know you have to think about what’s happening now, and are you making the best decision based on what you what’s in front of you, and now.

Scott Hawksworth: i’m going to talk about markets really quick here, because you know you, you have properties both current and former that have been you know across the sun belt and then there’s there’s two areas here, it was.

yeah Birmingham and Atlanta, so there was Alabama and Georgia, what do you like about Birmingham and Atlanta from a multi family perspective.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah so so enter them Atlanta market, a few years ago and, more recently, it actually ended last year, the Birmingham market.

But some of the things that really drove me to Atlanta we’re what we’re seeing in terms of population growth in terms of job growth and job centers.

The expansion of the airport in in in the city, those are things when you see cities, investing in themselves and investing in their own infrastructure, these are things that.

That, I think are very positive signs, because they’re they’re investing for what they believe to be new growth and they’re they’re you know they have skin in the game for that as well, so.

I really like to see that happening in cities and and so, for me, when when I was looking and seeing.

The competition that we had in Atlanta, you know it did to have me take a step back and just think about you know what are other other surrounding markets that could also be viable as well that that he or not I don’t have a spotlight on them.

To say yeah.

yeah yeah yes and so.

While Birmingham is not the same good at all as as Atlanta, there were some really positive things that that I saw that were happening so first of all.

Last year I found out that Birmingham was going to be hosting the the the World Games and I didn’t know what the World Games were but I.

soon found out they actually just ended earlier this July, and it was really in hosting like some some type of it was almost like a the the sports that are not officially now in the Olympics, but are looking to be in the Olympics.

Scott Hawksworth: Right, like a hopeful.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah yeah yeah so with still brought an international audience to the Birmingham market which I do you know they had just recently.

done a lot of investment and some of their their stadiums and they were going to they’ve been able to host this fantastic showing to the city, so I thought that was something that was that was impressive The other thing that I saw on you know was just the from an economic perspective.

The University of Birmingham and Alabama about an Alabama so the University of Alabama Birmingham was actually.

You people are talking about this a lot knows like Oh, is it just the university but it’s really not just the university it’s the research centers and it’s those the heavy focus on medical research.

That that that’s concentrated there, and you know the strength of their that’s one of the main centers of the children, like the children’s hospital that’s like the Center one of the key centers of the south east.

in Birmingham, so they were you know that that those were things that I found to be very attractive, in addition to some of the some of the financial institutions in there, and some of the.

Other companies that had recently located shift is actually relocated their headquarters to there.

And then, when i’ve gone to visit and all visits and i’ve gone to our just seen so much improvement and an investment in the city and one of the things i’ll just tell you from my recent trip.

was in preparation for the Games, they had really transformed the underpasses and in the city to to make these phenomenal bright light places because.

Coming from others last month most places underpasses under the the highways.

Not attractive.

Scott Hawksworth: Like hang out.

Sonya Rocvil: Very scary places but they’ve transformed it into like parks walking areas is like a skateboard area they’re really, really bright lights and, and so it makes it very friendly friendly very visitor friendly.

And I thought that was very, very like very thoughtful for thinking so so i’m excited about the city.

Scott Hawksworth: Absolutely, and I just I think that’s such a you’ve done a great job there i’ve just really breaking down the kinds of considerations that I think any passive investor.

Anyone interested in multifamily should have when they are looking at markets, you know, are there, specific events are there, you know.

Is their investment from the public.

into the into the city itself, you know what is the, what are the regulators and the government decision makers doing there to really invest in that, and I think that it all feeds into itself and makes it an attractive spot for multifamily deals right.

Sonya Rocvil: yeah absolutely absolutely yeah those Those are some of the things that we look at all the time in cities.

Scott Hawksworth: As we wind down here, I have this question i’ve been asking you know later guests that i’ve had, and what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received for success in real estate and from home.

Sonya Rocvil: So um.

When I think about that, I think I think i’d have to say they’re they’re actually to the lift that chair and the two for two different mentors but both within real estate.

And the first one is you know you have to have a strategy, like you, you have to know when you’re getting in and then how you’re going to get out what what are your exit trigger is like understanding that is very important.

to your to your property as well, and just not to saying okay i’m just gonna buy this property and but just really having a thoughtful strategy and then with that what i’ve learned is that you also have to be flexible with that strategy, because things.


Sonya Rocvil: And we were discussing earlier yeah but it’s so important to have that in the beginning, because then you know.

Because we had that strategy and we knew that things were not turning like changing the things were changing in the environment, we knew that that was going to be a challenge and executing it and to them, yet to make that pivot so you know, we were able to make that shift.

And then the other one is also from a commercial one of my commercial real estate mentors and like you know multifamily mentor the first one, I had.

And you know his comment was sometimes the best deals are the ones that you don’t do.

So it’s like all you know, yes it’s it’s important to kind of hang in there there’s nothing there’s no such thing as like an easy deal like oh yeah we’re just able to buy it no problems there were no hiccups.

there’s always going to be a challenge there’s always going to be something, but then sometimes you just have to like use the spidey senses.

I could think okay does this does this really make sense or am I trying to force something to work that that doesn’t work.

And you know that was like you know we’ve walked away from deals, where we knew we were moving forward with we just feel it’s going to all work out and then.

We got some information back and due diligence and really like this is this doesn’t make any sense for our investors and we can’t take this risk, and so you know that’s part of the business too, and you know, sometimes you come out of pocket for that, but that’s part of the business.

Scott Hawksworth: There’s a great power and being able to just say no.

Sonya, thank you so much for joining me on the show today sharing your perspective on multifamily urban real estate and all the exciting things going on at bedrock real estate investors.

And for folks who want to connect find out more maybe maybe be in touch on what your latest deals might be where can they do that, where, should they go to connect with you.

Sonya Rocvil: Well, thanks Scott, and you know anybody, you can go to that website, bedrockreinvestors.com and sign up for my newsletter.

And then that will keep you informed you can also reach out to me on linkedin, but please reference to this podcast so I know that you’re that you’ve heard me speak here, so I would appreciate that.

Scott Hawksworth: Absolutely, and we will of course have links to all of that, on our show notes on multifamilyinvestor.com. Thanks again.

Sonya Rocvil: Thank you.