Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn Neighborhood: Affordable Housing and Community Amenities

Old Brooklyn covers a very large area of Cleveland, bordering Brooklyn on the north and west and Parma to the south. It’s also become a popular place to buy a home. It appeals to people who like long standing amenities like diners, bakeries, community gardens and The Metro Park Zoo. It also appeals to new residents who want affordable housing choices, it’s 10 minutes from Downtown Cleveland, 5 minutes to the Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods, a very short drive via I 480 to Hopkins Airport. And a lot of organic entrepreneurial spirit happening here. There is not much a person needs that doesn’t already exist somewhere in Old Brooklyn.

I have a new listing on Flowerdale.  This is a street very close to the City of Brooklyn border and Ridge Road. I’d like to highlight a few of the features:

A cape cod home with 3 bedrooms, two with newly refinished wood floors; the roof is about 10 years old; it has an environmentally friendly permeable driveway; it’s been waterproofed and has a transferable warranty; new blinds; newly refinished living room floor;very large dining room, freshly painted interior and a low maintenance exterior. Close to Fulton and Brookpark Rd.

The home sits on a pretty brick street and is a 4 minute walk to Ridge Park Square for AMC movies, food shopping, several full service plus other eateries (including a Starbucks) and shops where you can buy everything from eye glasses to pet supplies and clothing. All this in walking distance!
A big local feature is Jack Frost which many Clevelanders consider the best doughnut shop in town. Two minute walk from the house!

Old Brooklyn has a farmers market, festivals, and a new local business buzz is happening. Entrepreneurs are setting up shop. For instance, Sixth City Cycles is a bike shop but wait, it’s also a coffee house, making it a great place to feel that community spirit. A few other examples are The Sausage Shoppe and Old Brooklyn Cheese Company.

In fact, Old Brooklyn is the perfect place to satisfy anyone’s eclectic tastebuds.  Sabor Miami Cafe and Gallery has (and it’s not just my opinion) a kick butt Cuban Sandwich and I love the coffee. Bite Buff did a review last year when the Cafe was very new. (click link above). There is an old fashioned wonderful bakery called Michael’s.  Terrific fresh bread and mouth watering pastries plus a few noshable lunch items as well. The best part is, it’s not a New Age priced place and has all sorts of pastries/cookies, including some your parents and grand parents probably smile about and wish they had in their hands right now! Yes they have a stall at the West Side Market but guess what, the prices are better  here and there is a wider selection of goodies.

It’s also home to one of my favorite places to eat: Wexler’s Tavern. There is so much more here, so this list is just a good starting point.

If you are moving to Cleveland and looking for affordable housing to purchase, Old Brooklyn is a great community to consider.

Some stats on home sale activity in Old Brooklyn within the last six months:

18 single family homes are more recently under contract, listed as contingent.  They could be waiting for preliminary loan approval or inspections to be done. But 18 buyers most recently are under contract with 18 sellers to buy their homes. 30 homes are ‘pending’ meaning they have passed the contingency phase and are now deep into the closing process and awaiting title transfer.  Translation: most recently, 48 homes had buyers for them.

Within the last six months, 198 homes have sold in Old Brooklyn.  The average sale price on these 198 homes was $80,261. The average number of days each of these homes was on the market before going under contract was 74.

The highest sale price within the last six months was for a 4 bedroom, 2 full, two half bath home on Broadale Avenue with just under 3000 sq. ft. of living space. It sold for $236,000. There were 13 homes that sold for more than $140k. 38 homes sold between $100k and $139k; 23 homes sold between $99k and $90k; 44 homes between the prices of $79k and $88,000. This breakdown covers both zip codes in Old Brooklyn (44109 and 44144).

So as you can see, the Old Brooklyn housing market is active and vital. To check out my listing at 5908 Flowerdale in more depth, go here.

 

Cleveland’s Little Italy

Previewed a house in South Euclid on a recent Friday which required disembarking from the Red Line in Little Italy and picking up a #9 bus for the rest of the trek. As I waited for the bus, here was my view:

You may not know that one of the new construction properties planned for Little Italy is in the works and is this apartment building. I know when it was first presented to the Planning Dept. it was a 40 unit building with an estimated average rental price of $1600/month. They broke ground at the beginning of September and are, seemingly, making good progress.

The second thing to notice, if you’ve not been there in a while or are not living in the area: the Rapid Stop is new, moved essentially one street over from where it used to be. I have to say it makes sense and looks pretty darn good. I particularly liked this view because it shows Transit Oriented Development making a difference in Little Italy. $1600/month has been totally supportable over the last few years in University Circle (which is literally just past the new building and maybe one more block down the hill.  I say supportable rental pricing but obviously only certain economic brackets can support it. More people fit into that category, however, than you might have imagined.

You want to live in Little Italy and not rent? Not as easy as what’s considered normal in most neighborhoods. Unless you want (and can afford) new construction. Little Italy lore has it as a tight-knit community with long roots to the area. I was wondering if this was still true so I did some digging on home title transfers over the last few years. I looked up homes on E 120th, E 123rd and Coltman. (I did not include new construction from the last decade or so).  Yes, most of the transfers of ownership occurred between people with the same last names, so handing down your home ownership to your children is still very popular. Word of mouth sales to people with not the same but similar last names are 2nd most popular method. Some of those surnames could belong to a married child of course.  There is also a smattering of LLC ownerships of single and multi-family older homes. A long time owner could be preparing to sell thus the LLC name as owner, but I do think some of the homes have been purchased by individuals or partnerships looking to rehab and resell or rehab and rent.

There is a two family home on W 126th for sale. Over 2500 sq feet, a back yard patio. Price? Just over $300k.  Not necessarily a price point for a wide variety of buyers but there you have it. There is also a condo project going up on the old Murray Hill School site. I believe I saw one of the units for sale (1200 sq feet, 2 bedrooms) for $250k. There is also a huge town home for sale on E 123rd. 3400 sq ft, 3brs, 4 baths and listed at $789,000. If you are looking to live right in the core of Little Italy and buy a resale home closer to a more average sale price (under $200k) you might be waiting a while or out of luck.

Little Italy is an historic district so when new construction is proposed there are additional guidelines over a non-historic area. As I was typing this I checked and found an article written almost a year ago by Michelle Jarboe of the Plain Dealer. The article can shed more insight into one of the newer buildings. Also, at 123rd and Mayfield is another proposed new construction project and you can read about that one here. It’s called The Hemingway Project with rents starting at $2000/month.  How did they get the land for this project right in the heart of it all?  It used to be a restaurant, a developer bought it a few yrs ago for a half million dollars and then sold it to this development partnership more recently. I will keep you posted on this one.

If you come to visit from out of town? Take the Red Line Rapid from the airport, get off at the Little Italy stop. Art Galleries, shops, food and great walking make it a great place to visit. Mamma Santa’s restaurant opened sometime in the sixties and some people still swear it’s their favorite pizza in the City.  Corbo’s and Presti’s Bakery which has been around since 1903. Believe me, there is a lot more food to eat and more to the story of Little Italy but that awaits future posting.

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?

 

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!

 

 

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.