Category Archives: Networking

6th WREIN Meet Up: Urban Revitalization

Our 6th Meet Up of WREIN (Women Real Estate Investors Network) gathered at Justine Colan’s beautiful home and one of the first Silver Bow County community development package recipients in 2005.  The “package” is now a beautiful 3 bedroom home overlooking the lights of Butte and the Continental Divide. Our speaker for the night, Karen Byrnes, the Butte Silver Bow, Director of Community Development and  Urban Revitalization Agency (URA) remembered assessing the blighted property for the CD package and thinking, “No one will buy this”.   Luckily, the opportunity was put out there. This vision for community development has allowed for slow sustained growth: Justine’s property is one successful example.

Karen was asked to explain the URA and community development planning programs and how real estate investors can access them.  Karen encourages investors struggling to put together proposals to come to see her. She knows how to get things done. Here is an excerpt from the Community Development website explaining the goals of the program:

The Community Development Department leads community and economic development efforts for the City-County of Butte-Silver Bow.

The Community Development Department’s mission is to promote, grow and preserve the assets of Butte-Silver Bow related to both economic and community development. It is responsible for addressing pressing community needs through the preparation and administration of grant applications and the implementation of programs.

The Community Development Department oversees the functions of three Tax-Increment Financing Development Districts; the Urban Revitalization Agency (URA), the East Butte Renovation and Rehabilitation Agency (RRA), and the Montana Connections Business Development Park, an industrial development district, often referred to as the TIFID.

The Department administers the Business Development CenterUrban Revitalization Agency (URA), and Greenway Service District.

For more information on community development in and around Butte, refer to the Butte-Silver Bow Community & Business Development website and the Montana Connections Business Development Park website.

So, what are our community’s pressing needs? We talked about this. We are an urban/rural place where 2 interstates intersect. We have been able to avoid the box store trend (the narrow platting out our main business street may be the reason for this). Sometimes, a community which has been “left behind” can actually be ahead if the last trend would have left yet more vacant buildings. Are we prepared for the next step for goods distribution and complementary industries? Would other disruptive technologies benefit us? To address these concerns, our meeting was also benefited by Krista Rosa: Community Development,  TIFID Administrator.

Taken from the TIFID web site: “Montana law enables local governments to use tax revenue in designated districts (Tax Increment Financing Districts, or TIFs) for development and redevelopment activities and to pay for public infrastructure needs of projects. The Butte Tax Increment Financing Industrial District (TIFID) focuses on the Montana Connections Business Development Park, providing financial support to help with adding capacity, building facilities, and site development. Funds are available to help qualified candidates. Assistance levels are based on total project investment and job creation”.

Karen and Krista brought to the meeting, years of community development planning experience. Investors were able to ask about trends of investment and goals of the government. This stimulated funding and strategy ideas for property procurement and business development. Loved talking about developing businesses which complement the successful ones already in the area. Once again, I am so grateful to this group for coming together! Thanks to all who attended.

This is how to connect with our featured guests for the 6th WREIN Meet-Up:

Karen Byrnes

Director of Community Development/Urban Revitalization Agency (URA)
155 W. Granite St.
Room 115
Butte, MT 59701
Fax: 406-497-6248

Ph: 406-497-6467

Kristen Rosa

Community Development,
TIFID Administrator
Ph: 406-497-6470

155 W. Granite St.
Room 115
Butte, MT 59701
Fax: 406-497-6248

5th Women Real Estate Investors Network Meet Up: Toured 2 Uptown Buildings

The 5th Women RE Investors Network Meet Up was hostessed by Cari Cox, in her new building and home, 101 E. Broadway. Last night’s meet-up welcomed seasoned and new investors. Conversations clicked, the group broke up at 10pm. Times flies when your’re in a beautiful building talking real estate!

This meet up included a tale of 2 buildings located on the 100 block of East Broadway.  Cari’s building (in great shape and fully occupied!) and the Salvation Army building 3 doors down (vacant and needing all systems!).

1st building: Cari moved back to Butte from Portland with the goal of investing in real estate. She found her building pre-market by networking with her real estate agent, working with the URA and a local bank.  In the last few months, she has secured her anchor renter, Kinetic Fitness. This fills out her “commercial house hack” investment. She lives in her apartment upstairs while renting the other 4 apartments with a variety of short term/long term contracts.

Commercial storefront space is intimidating for many owners in our Butte, Montana market, Cari is making it work. She benefited from partnering her need for a commercial renter with the BLDC start-up program in Butte. The BLDC asked potential start-up applicants to check out her retail space. Start-up Kinetic Fitness found its dream space


Next building! The Salvation Army building is listed with Russ O-Leary and needs love from bottom to top. This historic building needs a group of investors to turn it into a community benefiting business and soon! We thought a theater downstairs with restaurant upstairs? Contact Russ O’Leary with Harrison Realty: 494-2200 ext 14.

Inside scoop, one of our investors tells us that the lot with the tree and the parking lot in the photo are not part of the sale. This brings up access issues if the building is to be used as a business. Surely, someone has worked on this problem and thought of solutions? Please comment with your ideas!

What I learned from the group while touring these beauties…

Recommendations from owners with low-income tenants on how to improve your buildings. One downfall of having low-income tenants is generating enough income to pay for upgrades.

Here are 2 strategies.

  • If your low-income renter requests heater replacement through the Lieap Program, (,  your building may get new heating updates at no cost to you!
  • If you inherit a low-income tenant and are patient, the tenant can apply for section 8 and you may be able to make a building work without evicting a good tenant just to make financials work.

Enjoyed talking to investors who are looking and finding win/win-landlord/tenant relationships!

One meet-up participant was wondering about meeting the needs of about 5 short term temporary Federal employees who flux to the Butte area in summer. The needed time is also the hottest AirBNB time so, the rental hunters are finding rents high. Would be a good fit for owners with Tech attrition in June. This market prefers furnished. To learn more, contact Scott Haight or Mary Lou Zimmerman of the BLM: or

And on the continual search for a deal; strategic buyers learn what the needs of the sellers are. “There are many ways to make money”. Don’t stop your negotiations when the strategy of buy-low, sell-high doesn’t pan out for the seller. Selling low may benefit the seller. If your RE Agent won’t make low ball offers for you, find one who will. There are always deals out there; if your original strategy is not working, talk with those who are making something else work.

Ideas for the next meet-up were thrown about: Landlord/Tenant relationships and laws, RichDad/Poor Dad game, invite Karen Byrnes of the URA. Great questions came up regarding tax strategies for when your building is paid off, need to invite an accountant and a banker. What about an exit strategy??

Come to the next meet-up! Monday, October 23rd at 6pm

Listen to Cari Cox’s interviews of investors on Fridays at 5pm MST!

3rd Women REI Network Meet Up: Financing Options

file (2).jpegMet at 827 W. Park, Butte Montana at the “Buttification” home featured in HGTV pilot, July 26th  6:00 to 7:30.  Thank you Kathleen for hostessing! Topic for the evening was “financing options”. The group consisted of investors experienced in financing with other people’s money including investing with: family, a contractor to decrease amount for construction loan, traditional bank loans, lines of credit, solo 401k, solicited investors for down payments. Presented basic information on difference between recourse and non-recourse loans. There was also experience in the group with buyers using owner financing and suggested terms to use when owner is elderly.

Attendees touched on the difference between self-employment income tax and passive income tax. S-corp formation suggested as a way to stratify taxation of income generated by a sole-proprietor business. Presented rationale for WREIN being set up as an S-corp.

We talked about the difficulty of “hospice” properties. Properties which have been vacant  a long time due to difficult owner relationships. Approaching the owners requires investment in patience, time and focus on win/win. 30% vacancy rate in housing stock in uptown Butte means opportunity for those skilled in difficult conversations with owners.

At each WREIN Meet Up, I ask each person for an “ask”. Asks from this group included: rehab estimation cost calculator, carport strategy solutions, how to monetize WREIN, certified historic brick repair contractors and what was the last…a request for the next group meet up! Feeling that this group is very well appreciated and will continue.

Next meet-up is: August 8th at 6 pm located at Sage Mountain Retreat:

Will be looking to car pool!

Address79 Sage Mountain Trail, Whitehall, MT 59759