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!

 

 

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