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!

 

 

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.

 

What’s The Skinny on Housing Sales This 2017 Season In Kamm’s Corners?

Cleveland is divided into development corporation neighborhoods. There are over 30 neighborhoods, in a broad sense, within the City of Cleveland. The home stats I’m going to be discussing are under the auspices of Kamm’s Corner Development Corporation. Kamms is located at the northwestern end of the Cleveland. For those of you reading this who are not in Ohio currently, Kamm’s western border is Fairview Park and Fairview Hospital (which is part of The Cleveland Clinic) employees, among many others, enjoy living in Kamm’s.  Kamm’s Plaza for shopping, very close to the entrance of the Cleveland Metroparks, easy access to Big Met for golfing and just a general nice place to live.  Added good weather bonus: Kamm’s Farmers Market and every year,  The Hooley ! It’s so popular now, thousands of people come to enjoy the festivities.

How much would it cost you to live here and take advantage of all of the above and more? Prices, like most other neighborhood housing markets, are all over the map. Let’s examine the most popular purchases of late.

One thing has been true since I started in this business almost 15 years ago: Every time I do one of these analyses, I notice that 95% of the homes have shiny wood floors and have been nicely cleaned up for showings. Definitely worth remembering if you are thinking of selling your home!

What’s happening with housing in Kamms 2017? It’s barely the beginning of August so we are still in the traditional home buying season. Let’s start with stats which are most current:

The Past Ten Days  Yes, let’s start there because it’s the most current information.  8 homes had activity during the past ten days. Four homes went under contract and are listed as ‘contingent.’ This means the buyers and sellers agreed on a price, went under official contract and are now waiting for either a mortgage loan commitment or an inspection result and agreement, or both. Initial stages of the contract. These four homes averaged 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, were built between 1940 and 1951. They averaged about 1200 sq. ft. of living space. Their listing prices (we don’t know final sale prices till they change ownership) were: $55k, $94,900, $129,900 and $137,500. Each of the four was on the market less than 45 days prior to going under contract.

There is one house listed as ‘pending sale’ which means it’s not waiting for a loan commitment or an inspection. It’s either been through the ‘contingency’ phase already or it was a cash purchase without an inspection. This home is listed for $63,000 and has 1,120 sq ft and 3 bedrooms/one bath. It was only on the market for 9 days before it went under contract.

Three homes closed, sold or transferred ownership at the courthouse, whichever way you want to look at it! I sold a home on Ferndale. The sale price was $117,500. It has 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a fenced yard, is a brick bungalow and sold a bit less than it could have due to it needing a more updated kitchen.  It was on the market for 86 days before we had an agreed upon contract between buyer and seller. One home sold on W. 142nd St for $143,000. This home has 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths 1617 sq. ft. of living space. It was on the market for 46 days before being under contract.  The third one sold is on Edgecliff Ave. It sold for $169,833. It has 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, 2,468 sq. ft. of living space and was on the market just over two months.

How about the past three months? Pretty active time! 141 homes sold with the maximum sale price of $281,000 for a home on Scullin Drive. One of the most important stats, since it covers 90 days, is how many days on the market (DOM) were these homes listed before they had an offer accepted by both buyer and seller?  Average days on the market was 51 days.

Kamm’s is close to the City of Lakewood border, 10 minutes to Edgewater Park,  walking distance from most places to bus or rapid transit service,

15 minutes to Downtown Cleveland by car and 10-15 minutes from Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Last but not least, Kamm’s Plaza  It has a grocer, hardware store, Red Lantern (my favorite neighborhood place to eat, yes I live close by!) one of the last shoe repair places you can find in the Cleveland area and is only five minutes east of Weber’s Ice Cream shop… Important detail I think ☺

 

 

Western Lakewood Colonial Open House Tomorrow July 30th 1-3pm

I’m holding an open house tomorrow at 1326 Bonnieview Ave 44107
This is Western Lakewood, South of Clifton, North of Detroit.

This is a three Story colonial with 4 brs, 3 baths, central air, all the beautiful woodwork you’d expect in a home built in 1908. The owners added a crisp, white & stainless steel kitchen remodel.

  

Lots of other updates like refinished floors, HVAC, electrical and a beautifully finished 3 floor.
The private yard is deep (142′) and walking distance to things like  the Lakewood Family YMCA, El Carnicero, Lakewood’s Antique District and Game on Lakewood, a super cool bar/eatery. Residents and real estate peeps all joke there is a bar, a restaurant, a funeral home and a church on almost every corner. A slight exaggeration but we say it with love and admiration!  If you like living somewhere with a lot of brick and mortar entertainment value close by, Lakewood could be for you.

 

Offered at $189,000.

It’s going to be a day, so if you are in the market for a home, stop by from 1 to 3!

Video Coverage: Shaker Square: Past Present and Future From 7/25/17

The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland sponsored the event Tuesday.  I mentioned it in my 7.24 post, thought this was a good update to that in case you were not able to attend. Well worth the time, so grab a cup of coffee.  It was so well attended, standing room only at the Shaker Library.  Enjoy

 

 

Wander to Lake Erie in Avon Lake This Weekend for Your Chance to Shop The Wandering Wardrobe

It’s Summer, right? How many times have you been on or near the Lake this year? Great chance to step it up this weekend. Avon Lake is holding their Summer Market. It’s a grand event at Veteran’s Memorial Park. The best part to me (okay, besides, food, The Lake, music and other festivities) is the Wandering Wardrobe Truck – it’ll be there Friday and Saturday.

Familiar with them? If not, you are missing out and in for a treat when you go this weekend. Caroline Dengel is the fashionista founder of Wandering Wardrobe.  They were at The Cleveland Flea earlier this month and  were quite a hit, which I suspect is true everywhere they turn up over NE Ohio during the 2017 season. The clothing is creative, with fun styles, covering accessories like clutches and jewelry as well. Check out their site & take a peek  and then go buy a thing or two this weekend.

The Avon Lake Summer Market: 32756 Lake Rd Avon Lake 44012 (Veteran’s Memorial Park)  The Wandering Wardrobe will be there Saturday July 27th starting at 3pm and Sunday July 28th bright and early at 9am. Vendors, food, music and so far the weather forecast is ☼ belissimo 

 

Is Cleveland Embracing Transit Oriented Development?

In 2008, five years after getting into real estate, I wrote about the Shaker Rapid and Transit Oriented Development (TOD).  When I lived in Maryland, TOD was all the talk. Here? People might discuss RTA and the Rapid Transit or the Green Line Shaker Rapid. But transit oriented development did not roll off the tongue.

The Shaker Rapid was one of the first U.S. transit lines. The Van Sweringens are local icons for the Terminal Tower, the City of Shaker and the Shaker Rapid. In the infant days of the 1900’s, the Van Sweringens started building houses in Shaker Heights. Now everyone loves Shaker Heights, the beautiful architecture, Shaker Lakes, and yes, the amazing access to the Rapid. Back then? Not so much. People were reluctant to buy a home so far away from the City of Cleveland’s center because that was where most of them worked.  The Van Sweringens decided to build a transit line that could get people to and from.  I wrote about it in 2008 on a site called Active Rain. Just think how long that Rapid line has been running! And Shaker Heights DID become one of the first communities with Transit Oriented Development in mind.  The Shaker Rapid line is so extensive, you can live in hundreds of homes or apartments within a one or two block walk to a Train. If you are reading this and you are not from or in Cleveland? You would be amazed at how wonderful that line is for the Shaker Community.

Now people are on board with TOD.  Not necessarily because it helps people get to and from their jobs without driving (though that would be my favorite reason, but this is Cleveland).  The newer city planning buzzword around the country is density. Loosely translated: the more people you can pack into a neighborhood the more they support local businesses, more tax money, etc. Regardless of why it’s taken seed here, it’s not a bad thing. W. 25th St is seeing development near that Rapid station and more is planned.

We have a boat load of newer development, in new home and apartment rental form, in University Circle. Much more planned but the Rapid stop was even changed recently to make it more accessible to students at Case, workers at the Clinic, Severance Hall, the Museums, etc.  It’s even closer now to Little Italy for those important Corbo Bakery runs.

Talk has now to The West Blvd. Rapid Station area. This one excites me, as long as it’s done well.  There is land adjacent to the Station,  land nearby without existing homes, unused commercial properties (and some well established working ones!) Also walking distance to several well established residential communities. The Plain Press did an article this month about transit oriented development in Cudell and the West Blvd. Rapid Station. Read the article, there is more than one planning proposal being considered which deals with where things like homes, offices, apartment buildings are located, what kind and how many. Would be curious to know what you think. Here’s a quote from the article:

“Sislak said the area around the Rapid Station at West Boulevard and Detroit showed potential for development of 380-600 new homes by 2026; 1.2 million in new office space by 2025 and had untapped retail space demand. The area was deemed to be the most-ready for investment when compared to the other top sites E. 116th and Shaker Blvd and Slavic Village.”

Which brings us back to Shaker Heights. The focal point of the Shaker Line is Shaker Square. A hub, borders Shaker and Cleveland, has had it’s ups and downs over the last few decades figuring out what kinds of businesses will thrive at that location.  And maybe what else is needed to help it thrive?

There is a forum being held on the Future of Shaker Square:  TOMORROW July 25th at the Shaker Library located on Van Aken Blvd. It will be from 7pm to about 8:30pm, will be moderated by long time Plain Dealer journalist Steven Litt with a panel discussion and it says public forum so maybe a public questions period?

 

How Do You Stabilize a Neighborhood After a Recession? Cleveland Fed Discussed That Today

I wrote about Vickie Harris and her one woman initiative to revitalize her street. It involved taking a vacant lot and making it work for the neighborhood.  The Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank has a really great on line presence, just FYI. Today’s article shows why. We have had 10 years to recover from the recession and all the foreclosures (due to predatory lending and otherwise) that made housing sale prices fall and destabilize neighborhoods. Because vacant houses, especially in multiples on some streets, are about more than just sale prices. Fewer people to support local businesses and service industries, homes used by squatters for criminal activity, etc. No one likes it when it happens in their neighborhood and the discussion becomes: do we tear these homes down and repurpose the land or do we rehab them? Many neighborhoods have found rehabbing costs exceed the sale prices. Not optimal for private purchase or non profit redevelopment efforts. But this is not universal. In most neighborhoods, there are streets (after ten long years!) that are seeing stabilization. Home prices rising being an important indicator. In those areas or on those specific streets, rehabbing makes sense.

Below is a chart from a really good explanation of pros and cons to demolition vs rehabbing a vacant home. It was published by The Cleveland Federal Reserve today. (Chart is from their page)

Read the entire Blight Elimination article here.

What people in the neighborhoods, in city planning, in real estate etc worry about is demolition being so wide spread that it begins to change the make up of the neighborhood. I’ve lived in various states and believe me, the Cleveland area is very fortunate to have such a diverse, architecturally rich old housing stock. In some cities it’s hard to find homes built before 1970! The existing neighborhood and her people, you know, the ones who live and work there already, are why the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) was established in 2010 to set aside Federal monies to help keep neighborhoods stable.  I lean on the side of caution; on the side of every year having land banks and local governments WITH community input look at their strategies and see if an adjustment is needed.

Read the article and let me know what you think.