Talk of the Town - Paint job February 12 2003

A pair of two-bedroom homes in Ormewood Park

Amy Macklin is splattered with paint. It's a beautiful, sunny Sunday in February, but she's spending it indoors — sanding, painting, hammering and ripping up kitchen countertops in the house next door.

Macklin has lived in her two-bedroom Ormewood Park bungalow for close to five years. Recently she bought her next-door neighbor's house, another two-bedroom, to renovate and rent. She's paying both mortgages and hoping that her investment will pay off one day. As a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity, she's done her fair share of volunteer projects. But this weekend, her mission is close to home.

Creative Loafing: We're just a couple of blocks from Grant Park, in this cute little neighborhood. I can hear the kids outside playing and birds chirping. It's hard to believe it's February. But you're cooped up inside with an air compressor, paint chips and a brand new sink.

Macklin: I've been painting for days. I can paint by myself, but I need help with other stuff. So my friend is here today helping me rip out these countertops. We're putting in a new sink that I bought at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for just 60 bucks.

So you're doing this all by yourself?

No way. I have help from lots of friends. But my favorite current quote is from Renovating Woman. How's it go? Ummm ... "If another human being can do it, so can I."

What possessed you to buy the place next door and become a landlord. Isn't that going to be a big headache?

You want to know why I bought this place? Look at the land. My property line runs diagonal to this piece of land, and then this yard runs all the way back. All of a sudden, I have a half-acre of land. There are no fences around anyone's yard. The story of this property is pretty interesting. The guy a house over was a contractor; after he built his house, he built these other houses on his property for his family. The family occupied all these houses for years. And hopefully I'll get great people to live next to. I don't think bad tenants would want to live next door to their landlord.

Did you ever think you'd own a house — let alone two houses?

You don't get rich working for a nonprofit. With the economy the way it is, real estate is a sure thing. I think this neighborhood is a sure thing; Atlanta is a sure thing. I hope, eventually, once I get this place renovated and rented, it will turn a profit.

There weren't any fears when you bought the second house?

Oh, of course there were. But then I thought through it. What's the worst thing that could happen? I could lose that house; I could lose this house. My station wagon is already paid for. I have friends. The worst is that I could start all over again financially. I got over it.

So you don't need one of those half-million-dollar homes?

I'd rather have my little house and my five-minute commute from work.