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The Multi-Family Ecosystem of Real Estate
Owning or living in a multi-family property like a duplex or four-plex involves a unique set of issues specific to putting very different families in relative close proximity to each other. The multi-family properties that see the most stability are those that build a sense of community over time. Though there may only be a handful of people in the property, the cohesiveness of those people will go a long way towards determining the financial future of the property for the landlord and the residential stability for the people living there.
There are a number of things a landlord or a tenant in a multi-family property can do to take part in that ecosystem and while some things may seem silly, getting a working community going where you aren’t afraid to ask for a jump for your car in the morning or an extra cup of flour for dinner is an excellent goal. Building that kind of camaraderie isn’t necessarily easy, but the payoff can be tremendous, especially if it’s your car that won’t start on a cold winter morning.
Plan a Low Pressure Event
The best way to involve an entire group of people in an event is to make it as low stress as possible. If someone is already on the fence about getting involved in a social event, putting an extra burden on that person will probably cement their decision to stay at home. Obviously, that would not be conducive to developing a friendly multi-family ecosystem, so that should be a prime concern if you are looking at planning an event to get everyone out of their living spaces and talking.
Events like barbecues or a simple congregation around a table in the yard with a few beers can be enough to draw people out of their homes and into the social space. You can certainly ask people to bring something to the event, but don’t place big restrictions on who is allowed to come, what is going to be done and how it is going to proceed. Instead, leave it open ended and instead make it clear that you’re just looking to chat a bit and get to know one another.
It is a common mistake for people to immediately assume that just because someone is a neighbor, they would be willing to do rather involved tasks like watching a pet for an afternoon or hitching a ride to the store. Don’t go straight into best friend mode after a few beers or a few polite conversations in the hall. Instead, think about following up an initial event with something small like dinner in your home or something simple along those lines.
Though your end goal might be developing a friendship with your neighbor, going into the process assuming that your neighbor might be skeptical can help you curtail some of the extravagant gestures you might have in mind. You will certainly get to a place where it might be acceptable to bum a ride or pawn off a pet for the weekend, but a few hamburgers at an initial barbecue is not quite enough to cement a friendship on day one.
While there is always the possibility that these kinds of efforts won’t result in the kind of relationships you might be looking for with your fellow neighbors in a multi-family home, getting the ball rolling and opening up communication is important. Whether you are in it to have a friend in the building or someone you can go to with a problem, simply making the effort to create a better ecosystem in your multi-family property is worth the time.
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