Max Wolf — DayRise Residential LLC
Where Max Wolf grew up in Hanover, Germany, multifamily housing communities with gyms, pools, dog parks and build-in barbeques weren’t exactly the norm. Today, these concepts are at the core of the multifamily industry in Texas—and Wolf is right in the thick of it.
Since joining the Houston-based DayRise Residential LLC two years ago, Wolf, as vice president of construction, has put his background in real estate and investment to work in a new country. To date, he’s helped secure seven property acquisitions, with another one in the process.
The goal, he says, is to breathe new life into tired properties, upgrading each location with energy-efficiency measures, SmartHome features and new amenities.
It’s not just about bolstering the company’s portfolio, he says. It’s also creating a desirable place to live and offering the latest amenities—among them virtual fitness classes, dog salons, valet services and co-working spaces.
“Of course, a goal is growth and keeping investors happy, but we have a saying in Germany—which, when translated, means ‘a healthy growth,’” Wolf says. “It involves managing each property well, delivering what we promise and doing this in a sustainable way.”
Trifecta of transactions
Founded a decade ago in Houston, DayRise Residential LLC—a growing player in the multifamily housing market—manages more than 50 high-end housing communities in Texas, Georgia, Arizona and Illinois.
Late last year, DayRise added to its portfolio with the acquisition of three in Dallas and Atlanta. Ranging in size from 210 to 460 units, these garden-style units can be one, two or three stories high and surrounded by lawns, trees, shrubbery and gardens. They are now one of DayRise’s top-selling models.
Wolf’s job is to shepherd these acquisitions through the entire process—from due diligence to closing. Once a property is acquired, it’s a multi-stage process to bring it up to grade, involving everything from managing exterior rehabs to improving interiors with such amenities as plank flooring, energy- and water-efficient appliances, and LED lighting. Currently DayRise is rebuilding more than 20 units damaged by the elements.
The company recently completed work on a Dallas project, culminating in extensive upgrades to the leasing office and the construction of a new gym. With the two other properties, ongoing work includes redoing roofs, resurfacing pools, remodeling gyms, LED lighting upgrades, façade repairs, paint, landscaping, building-out offices and bringing everything up to code.
“We typically buy B category properties with the intent to remodel the units to a B+ or A- level,” he says. “A lot of these real estate opportunities are to find in sub-markets, where we still see an opportunity for development and growth.”
Getting down to business
To command top dollar, the facilities must look the part.
Typically, exterior upgrades include landscaping, painting and roofing. From there, DayRise builds out the amenities: upgrades to gyms (including virtual facilities); dog parks with wash areas; pools; playgrounds; laundries; tennis courts and soccer fields; outdoor seating and barbeque areas. The communities might even include a movie theater, indoor pools, bowling alley or a putting green.
“Exterior projects can take up to a year, and interior upgrades are carried out over multiple years, typically in between tenants,” he says.
Inside the units, DayRise will tackle a list of upgrades: smart lock and thermostat, new floors, fresh paint, updated faucets and appliances, washer and dryer, LED lighting, granite or quartz countertops, and water-saving showerheads, aerators and toilets—just to name a few.
“Our goal is to bring it up to the next level, to achieve an upgrade premium,” he says.
To do that, Wolf says each community must be treated like its own hospitality business, with personnel including onsite management teams and a maintenance staff to take care of resident needs. These days that might include different valet services and package lockers for deliveries with 24/7 notification capabilities.
“Potential tenants are looking for a variety of amenities—ones they are willing to pay for—and it’s up to us to anticipate those needs in a competitive market,” he says.
Tapping into technologies
To meet these evolving needs, Wolf is working with a new in-house group to look at adding new technologies to DayRise properties—in part to attract prospective tenants.
“Our clients are looking at everything from gaining energy efficiencies, such as regulating the apartment temperature from their phones, remote access control, to setting alarms,” Wolf says. “Our company wants to be more tech-savvy and up to speed with the industry’s latest developments.”
Smart technology is used everywhere, he says. Smart locks can access the apartments or provide onsite maintenance and contractors with an entry code. Smart laundry equipment can be controlled by an app. Residents can even monitor the time spent by someone entrusted to walk their dog with time stamps based on e access codes.
“Residents in each community are pushing this technology further. They want to control everything from their phone,” he says. “This is something that will develop more and more.”
Land of opportunity
When his wife got a chance to start a new job in Houston’s ever-booming oil and gas industry, Wolf saw it as an opportunity to dial up a new adventure of his own—one a world away from where he’d been before.
Earning his degree in engineering at Germany’s Cologne University of Applied Sciences in 2009, Wolf had been working in residential and commercial real estate development in Europe for six years following his schooling. In 2015, he ventured to London to work for the private equity real estate fund manager Benson Elliot Capital Management LLP, with a focus on real estate development. Along the way, he acquired a slew of certifications.
Coming stateside in 2017, he spent a year building his own construction consultancy, before a former colleague connected him to the opportunity at DayRise.
As it turned out, DayRise is the property manager for InterCapital Group, a privately held real estate investment firm specializing in multifamily acquisitions and asset management. Hired in 2018, he was tasked with managing 16 properties in DayRise’s German portfolio and handling investor relations.
“The work connects really well with my past experiences and feeds into my new role here, where I can use those skills I gained in London and Germany and incorporate them into this new model,” he says.
Working with international partners helped prepare Wolf for his new role—one that required working with investors from across the industry spectrum.
Today, Wolf regularly takes new and existing investors around to the properties to show them the business model or how the properties perform. Once committed, investors usually hold onto and develop the properties for more than five years.
“Every investor’s strategy is different,” Wolf says. “They’re interested in what’s taking place here because there’s really nothing quite like this— multifamily soft-contained communities—in Germany.”
Balancing his time between relationship-management and the nitty gritty of construction, Wolf says the major directive he gets from investors is that they want to see the properties in good shape and managed effectively.
“That’s easy for me since I find great pleasure in the design and realization of projects,” he says. “There’s no greater joy than to see the transformation from old to modernized properties and to see the positive changes that we at DayRise helped to create.”
Even better, he says, are the partnerships with people.
“It’s rewarding to cultivate trust,” Wolf says. “It builds the foundation in the course of developing long-term relationships.”
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