Renting or Owning, What Amenities Do You Want Close To Home?

We’re used to the standard way of looking at this, right?  What do you want near your home? You want sidewalks  or you want lots of land. You want to be within a certain distance from your workplace. You want to be able to walk to (insert grocer, bar, transit or bus stop, etc).  When you are renting, what’s on your wish list over and above either in unit or on each floor laundry facilities?

Cleveland is having a building boom for renters. Supply is alleged to be way below the demand. So for several years now there has been planning, digging and building.  Many people prefer to rent because they don’t want the responsibility of keeping up a house and property. As a home owner I can certainly understand that at times, believe me!

University Circle is awash in new apartments; one place scheduled to open in 2018 (Spring?) is called One University Circle.  Views of University Circle are a great amenity. They also list:

  • Large Ft fitness center
  • Indoor & Outdoor Wellness Studios
  • 5th-floor rooftop deck with swimming pool, outdoor kitchens, community garden, private cabanas, and fire pits
  • Views of University Circle
  • Resident mail room with 24/7 smart package locker system
  • Business Lab with professional conference room
  • 24-hour Concierge services
  • Pet wash station
  • Bicycle storage

Downtown on St. Clair with a projected opening of December 2017 unless that has changed, is The Standard. Yes, the iconic Standard Building built in the 1920s which started out as one of or THE oldest labor union buildings in the Country.  Among other things, it’s going to have a community room and what they call a 2-story Collaboration Room with a demonstration kitchen.  Are you allowed to use it if you are not collaborating? ☺ I suspect yes. There will also be first floor retail, a gym, in suite laundry, etc.

I noticed when browsing the One University Circle site, a common room with a fireplace and bookshelves on either side of it! That would be one of my wish list items. A shared library. I know we are reading more books on devices but there is something about looking at shelves of books and seeing one you never would’ve thought about.  My way of thinking is that every place should have a library and the stocking of that library doesn’t have to be on the rental management company or office building. We all just need to keep reading and why not share/exchange books?

The two examples I gave are obviously great public transit locations. And believe me when I say, there are many other places being built with good access to bus or transit. I picked these two because it seems they are close to completion. What’s on your amenity list?

 

Can A Web Browser Help Students Learn Writing Skills? Firefox Can

Now that all students are pretty much back in school, writing assignments will be coming due. Whether you are in sixth grade or a junior in high school!  I use Firefox as a web browser and they have this ‘Add On’ page to help students.  It is all free, includes things like grammar help, translation (looks easier to me than Google translate), and my favorite: UnPay Wall. A free add on that allows students to read through research papers (they have millions to choose from, no lie).  And this is free, no payment to download the papers.  I read two papers on the Middle East last month and it cost me almost $40.  Here is the link to check out the Firefox Un Pay Wall add on and other writing skill add ons.   I know there are separate sites that offer similar learning assistance and that’s great, but if you already use Firefox, check it out.

Point of Sale Inspections, Certificates of Occupancy and Home Inspections

Quite often I get phone calls from potential home sellers asking for advice. One common question is ‘should I get a home inspection prior to selling?‘ There is no right or wrong way to answer this. The person who buys your home will most likely get a home inspection. It’s always recommended by me, as a part of a buyer’s due diligence process. Once in a while they say no inspection but 95% DO get them. This would be done once you and the buyer have agreed upon other details and the contract between you both is fully accepted. Inspections, depending on a few things including how large is your home, can run between $300-$450 on average. It might give you peace of mind, it might allow you to get the inspection, do any needed repairs, and allow you to adjust your listing price more to your satisfaction. Just know that a buyer’s inspection could show items your own inspector did not mention. Meaning, you still may have to negotiate through inspection results to move forward on the sale. The buyers pay for their own inspections but these are all things to consider when deciding if you should get one. If you’ve lived in a home for 20 years without having done a lot of regular maintenance, painting or repairs, it might be a good idea. Or not! ☺ Nothing is etched in stone here.

There is an area where I make an exception: you may live in a community that requires a point of sale inspection or certificate of occupancy if your house has been rented out. I lived in Lakewood, owned a two family, people before me had utilized the entire house for decades. I did the same. No renters. So no point of sale/cert of occupancy required. If you do not occupy your Lakewood home and renters do, then you need an inspection. Besides Lakewood (and off the top of my head) there are other communities with inspection requirements upon sale of your home: City of Cleveland (if rented, not owned), Cleveland Heights, Berea, Shaker Heights and the City of Brooklyn. There are more, these are the ones I can rattle off. Why am I not looking all of the communities up and posting them here? Because you need to call your municipality’s building department.

Laws and practices can change every year. My suggestion is, as soon as you begin thinking about selling your home within a year, give City Hall a call and ask for the building department. They can tell you how much it costs, approximately how long it takes for them to schedule an inspection once you make the call to schedule one, how long you have to make repairs once one is completed, can the repairs be transferred to a buyer,etc. It’s important, really, that you know this as you start preparing to sell.

By the way, some places call these inspections certificate of occupancy not point of sale.

To sum up: a regular home inspection is not mandatory, you can decide to get one or not. Or we can decide together if you invite me to come for a consult. However, a point of sale inspection should be completed and available for a prospective buyer to view prior to us posting your listing on line. You can be working on the repairs, but they need to know the information as part of a disclosure process. That’s my two cents on the subject!

 

 

All NE Ohio LEGO® and NINJAGO® Fans

Do you know kids (maybe even your own) who are obsessed with Lloyd, Nya and Master Wu? These three movie characters will be east side, west side and downtown for Labor Day Weekend.

Here is the schedule. A link to a really good Ohio blog, by the way, called One Momma Saving Money.  Lots of good posts! A hint: if one of your normal Labor Day Weekend events is attending the Air Show, one of those days features these characters.

Whatever you do this weekend, enjoy!

Buying a Multi Family Home In The City of Cleveland

The City of Cleveland does not have a Point of Sale inspection requirement, but if you are purchasing a property as an investment, whether you will be living in it or not, there are things you need to know.

  1. Depending on the neighborhood or even the street your potential purchase is on, the house could be in an Historic District. You would have to make any changes (exterior mostly) based on this fact. It would be good for you to get the details prior to purchasing so you know the facts before it’s yours.
  2. There are zoning requirements for each home in the City. A house you buy could be used, currently, as a three unit rental. Maybe that house is actually zoned two unit. Depending on whether the people in charge of these decisions are looking for more density in the neighborhood or adhering to existing zoning will determine if you need to take one unit off the rental radar, so to speak. This might require taking out a kitchen, for example, if the City/CDC wants it converted back to original zoning usage.

Numbers one and two are good reasons to use a professional Realtor® when looking at and purchasing an investment home. Less surprises (and maybe costs!) to you when all of a sudden you own a home and the City knocks on your door, literally or figuratively.

3. Again, no  Point of Sale inspection on homes in Cleveland but if you rent out a room or a unit in a home (or buy an apartment building) you need to have an Occupancy Permit updated every year. If you own a two family, live in one unit and never rent out the second unit it’s possible you will not have to get a permit. But you need to get that official waiver. Here are two useful links from the City of Cleveland website (which needs updating to make it easier to use and find information, but I digress…)

City of Cleveland Rental Inspection Process  and yes, an inspection to make sure safety for tenants is up to par.

City of Cleveland Rental Application Process

Hope this is useful to you!

Comparing Three Month 2016 & 2017 Home Sale Stats for Zip Code 44113

One of the areas in Cleveland not to suffer as much during the recession is Zip Code 44113. This encompasses homes in both Ohio City and Tremont. If you are not from here, these neighborhoods are the near west side, just west of Downtown Cleveland. These statistics cover single family homes.  These stats are derived from home sales listed with area brokers, meaning there is a record on our computer listing service, allowing me to provide stats.

Let’s start off with interesting findings: Most homes/town homes sold were built after the year 2000. Most of the sold homes had tax abatement – which covers new construction homes and older rehabbed homes – homes that were improved enough to qualify for City tax abatement.  Most interesting to me was that within the time frame I analyzed, 31 homes sold. ‘Sold’ means they filed at the court house and transferred ownership. That was 31 homes for each year during this three month period.

I chose May 16 2016 through August 16 2016 and then May 16 2017 through August 2017. Side by side comparisons. The questions I had: did more homes sell this year, did prices go up or down, and how long did homes  sit on the market, on average, prior to going under contract? Let’s find out.

2016: May 16th through August 16th

31 single family homes sold in 2016 Lowest sale price ($15,000) was same for two homes, one on Seymour Avenue in Ohio City and one on Orchard Park (near W. 41st) in Ohio City.  Highest sale price ($448,895) went to a Bergen Village town home in Tremont.  There were eight homes sold at $300k or more. Seven were in Tremont, one in Ohio City.

Average List price for these 31 homes was $226,857 and average sale price not too far off from that: $223,599. The average number of days on the market for these 31 homes was 97, or just over three months. Average Square foot sale price was $137.42.

2017: May 16th through August 16th

31 single family homes sold during this period in 2017. Lowest sale price was $28,000 for a home on W. 44th Street in Ohio City. Highest sale price of $725,000 was for a stately, beautifully renovated and remodeled home on Clinton Avenue in Ohio City. There were 18 homes sold for $300,000 or higher. 4 were in Ohio City and 14 in Tremont.

Average listing price for these 31 homes was $313,870 and the average sale price was $308,764. Similar to 2016 in that the listing and sale prices were not that far apart. The homes averaged being listed for sale for 87 days prior to going under contract. So just shy of three months.  Average sale price per square foot was $162.01 (compared to ’16 at about $137/per). The average square footage for both three month periods in these sold homes was approximately 1900.

Total sales prices for this 3 month period in 2016 was $6,931,584 and the total for 2017 was $9,571,681. So yes, sales prices went up between this year and last year.

 

 

 

Looking At Actual Sales To Determine Home Improvement Value

Would it be helpful to have a few tips about return on investment for house repair/remodel projects related to future sales of your home? If you said yes, are not alone. It’s such a hot topic (and has been for many years). I’m going to link one article because it’s one of the few that actually mention that there are other factors regarding a sale price (not list price) for your home, besides what you’ve remodeled or enhanced. It’s from the HGTV websiteI caution everyone about trying to attach specific percentage values to upgrades. Yes, basic upgrades like a roof and furnace or upgraded electrical will almost always give you a percentage return on those upgrades. But they are not a guarantee of a certain price!  I’m only going to focus on a few things in this post.  Two things I know to be true, without assigning a percentage value to a home repair/improvement.

If your home is a resale with wood floors, I feel comfortable saying that shiny, clean wood floors are involved in the majority of home sales within the City of Cleveland. Younger buyers are not crazy about wall to wall carpeting and if they are looking at a 1920s Arts and Crafts style home, well they probably want wood floors. Of those 56 homes sold in my last post? 90% of them had floors like the ones in the above photo. They are refinished, clean and shiny. Yes, it may have cost $2500 (what I was told) to refinish the living room, foyer and dining room at the home in the photo but buyers might move on to another home to purchase, one that already has shiny wood floors, if you don’t do it.

An example of a house that sold for more than normal market value in 2017. This house sits on W. 122nd street. Maybe you’ve walked these blocks south of Lorain. To me, these blocks are fantastic. Pretty, well kept homes, yards, flowers.  Still, we’ve just come out of a recession, right? During that time, there weren’t a lot of homes sold.  The above house is special because it’s ‘energy efficient.’ So much so that it has  certification paperwork to prove it. Newer windows, HVAC, insulation, you name it. This makes the house much, much less expensive to operate per month. Lower heating and cooling bills. They DID open up one wall, 1/2 way. So you still did not lose the separation to the dining room but you can talk to people in there.

What’s unusual? Two other homes that sold on this street in 2017, one was a 3br 1 1/2 bath home for $33,500 and one was a 4 bedroom one bath home for $45,000. This house once went into foreclosure, the Land Bank (discussed in an earlier post on here!) took it over, a housing non-profit took it over and here it is. Also, remember how many bedrooms in the other two homes sold? This home has 2 bedrooms and one bath. The first two sales on W 122nd had about the same square footage, in the 1200 sq ft range. This home? 1,089. And yet it was listed at $99,000 and sold for $97,000. Cash deal? I don’t know but not necessarily because this house, via tax auditor’s info, is ‘tax’ valued to sell between $86,000 and $108,000.

Why the heck am I telling you all this? Because getting an energy efficient home is one thing you can do to garner more money When you sell it. Get it upgraded with an energy efficiency certification.

By the way, there is a true market for 2 bedroom one bath homes. (More reasonable than a 500 sq ft rolling tiny home, right?).  But this one’s true value is total upgrading and upgrading to a terrific energy savings level. Which by the way also gave this house a tax abatement (yes, you can get this for your home too) which still has 5 yrs ish to go on it. Currently paying around $400/yr on taxes. Plus the savings on utility bills. So on a  street where a normal, pretty or upgraded home might go for 65 to 79k, this house with really good amenities to offer to garner a sale price almost 20k more.

You will spend money to do the energy efficiency update, no question! But if you bought the house a long time ago and don’t have a mortgage on it, or if you bought it more recently at a below market rate price, I swear this is the way to go. And depending  where your home is located, a lack of  those first two things may not hinder you from making money on your sale.

I suggest everyone: check out an energy efficiency certified upgrade before you do any renovations on your home. It doesn’t cost you anything and gives you something to consider. Both for your own value (less taxes, utility bills) or a future buyer for your home.

Let me know if you have questions or would like me to preview your home to discuss the above suggestions further.

 

 

Jefferson West Park Recent Real Estate Stats

I’m going with the most recent information for the most part, and for a reason. For about 5 years Jefferson’s ‘selling’ season seemed to end around June 30th. But 2017 activity and sales in the Jefferson area of West Park are showing me that the ‘selling season’ has not stopped. In fact it’s still going pretty strong this 2nd week of August.

For those not familiar with it: Jefferson is an area with parks. Jefferson Park, which is on Lorain avenue between W. 132nd and W. 133rd. It’s about the size (and shape) of Lincoln Park in Tremont. A little over 3 acres. There are also tennis courts, a play ground and basketball courts.

Mohican Park is north of Lorain Avenue.  It borders Triskett between W. 140th and Berea Road. It’s larger, suitable for running, biking or walking on the outer trail which is just around 3/4 of a mile. The whole park has a bit over 7 acres of land.  Playground, ball fields and soccer games, both scheduled and extemporaneous. It’s fun to see kids walking to the park to enjoy it.  Life for a kid was meant to be that way!

So when you find yourself at either of these parks you will be in Jefferson!

Housing info for Jefferson…

There are 12 homes waiting for inspections to be done or loans to be approved, so they are ‘contingent’ and under contract.  There are 17 homes ‘pending sale’ so farther along in the process but still not filed at the court house. For both of the above stats, we don’t know sale prices until they file/transfer ownership. So 29 homes, within the last two weeks mind you, have gone under contract or changed contract status. That is how we can determine the most recent activity.

The best news? In the last three months, 56 homes have already sold. Examples: 3451 W. 136th sold for $99,500 (it was listed at $109,000). 3788 W. 139th sold for $95,000 and that was it’s list price.

The average minimum square feet for a sold home among these 56 houses was 888 sq. feet; the maximum square footage for a sold home was 2,485 sq. ft.  The average square footage (not all that surprising for the area unless you’ve added on or finished an attic or basement) was 1,312 sq. ft of living space.

The highest sale price was for a home on Warren Road. It sold  for $192,000. There was also a home sold on W. 140th for $162,500.

And yes, we still have foreclosures so the lowest sale price was $20,000.  What’s nice though: appraisers have adjusted over the years (!) so market value homes, not foreclosures, are more normally used to determine the appraised value for a loan.

The average sale price for the 56 homes sold in the last three months was $81,960.

One other interesting fact: The number of days on the market, on average, for all these homes prior to their going under contract and waiting to transfer ownership? 62 days.

 

Car Free Streets! Street Festival August 20th on Cleveland’s West Side!

Bike & play in car-free streets! CiCLEvia, an event inspired by the ciclovias of Latin American cities where over 70 miles of streets are open to people every Sunday and holiday, closes major streets and allows Clevelanders to enjoy the spaces without automobile traffic for one day. The CiCLEvia team will be taking over Detroit Ave. from Ohio City to Detroit Shoreway on August 20th. Come out for some free fun in the street! For more information about the event, visit ciclevia.com.

Date: August 20th – 1-5pm

Location: Detroit Ave. between Detroit Ave & @. 67th St. 

 

New Concepts In Housing: Buy Once, Take It With You Wherever You Move?

And no, not an RV, nor a tiny house on wheels. Tenfold Engineering and G3 Industries have developed a house that unfolds in ten minutes. Well, that’s what they say! So even three hours would be remarkable yes?

I first read about this a bit over a year ago. They were going to unveil pricing in July of 2017 – I don’t see the pricing on the website yet but they seem to be touting one particular model now-though technically, they’ll be models for apartment buildings along with various style homes and other structures. Check out the video below ☺