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 ☺

 

 

General Contractors and Investors, What The Heck Are You Doing!?!

I wander the landscape of NE Ohio, showing any variety of homes to buyers or listing homes for sellers. Some of those homes (more than you may think) were rehabbed by investors. Investors who, by the way, helped our area out during the recession when they were still willing to purchase homes in bad shape and fix them up so they didn’t wind up on the demolition list. I love seeing the creative floor plans designed for the rehabs in many cases (and yes, sometimes those are odd but not usually!) None of this is what I’m going to rant about but I wanted to start out on a positive note! Our vast, older housing stock is much better off because there are people willing to invest in them, give them love and make them livable again. Now to drop the other shoe….

Investors  plunk down a large amount of money to rehab a house. Usually included is a big expense towards a remodeled kitchen. Once you’ve done all that, with beautiful new counter tops and shiny new sinks, why oh WHY would you or your contractors use those sinks as your slop sinks for the completion of the work on the rest of the house? I would say one out of five homes I go to that were rehabbed by people not living in the home do not treat it with much thought to what they are doing to the new materials. If you have spent a ton of money on a marble counter top and your contractor is setting his brush and slop can ON THE NEW COUNTERTOP  while applying polyurethane? You just might now have a permanent stain on that white marble (single slab custom cut mind you!) counter top. By the way, I’ve now seen this several times in the past year. One time it was not polyurethane but some black tar like substance.

1) Investors: do you tell this contractor who costs you extra money due to laziness that their services are no longer required? I sure hope so. I know for a fact, as inconvenient as it might be, I would never let them back in my house again.

2) If you are a contractor: get a clue. Someone (not you!) is spending a fortune on materials to rehab a house but you feel too lazy to go to the basement or better yet outside and instead use the new kitchen sink to do your clean ups? Do you cut wood and pipes (yes, I said pipes! I saw this in action in person last winter) on the new counter tops? Do you even put a work top over the counter tops before doing this? Nope, you do not.   What on earth is wrong with you?

Last year I listed a home that was 95% finished over 5 yrs, lovingly, by the owners. The guy was an amazing craftsman and the work was beautiful with great attention to detail. The kitchen featured a deep farm style black Corian sink. They wound up having to move two weeks before we listed and one small job needed to be painted. So for the first time in all of this rehabbing, the owner (now out of state) turned a small job over to a local contractor. Who used white paint which got onto the kitchen sink when cleaning brushes with oil based paint on them. Paint did not want to come out so he bought something abrasive to try to clean it. Two weeks later, not only was the paint still in the sink but now the entire sink finish was ruined.

I know, Mr/Ms contractor, you do not live in that home. But part of your job as a professional should be to make sure a place looks as good or better than it did when you got there.  Why is this so hard?

The home owners with the black ruined sink put a new one in (flew in from across the country to do so). But investors don’t always seem to want to make it right because understandably, now they have to spend more money again. It’s really simple. Don’t use living space sinks or counters as a work area!

And if you think buyers won’t notice, you are sadly mistaken.

☺Rant over. I really needed to get that off my chest.

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?

 

Yo Yo Ma’s Identifiable Community May Be The World of Music & The Cello But In Chicago It’s So Much More

Yo Yo Ma has played music all over the World. He makes a cello sound better than any other musician I’ve heard in my lifetime. For the last several years he’s been involved in community building in Chicago. Yes, this all started with him accepting a position through The Chicago Symphony. He became a creative consultant to work with schools, music programs and others to expose young people to the joys of classical music and playing an instrument. It became so much more than that (as if that wasn’t enough of a responsibility!)

How well liked is he in Chicago? Check out a recent article in Crain’s Chicago. It was titled Can Yo Yo Ma Save Chicago? He’s Certainly Trying.  A quote:

“I am particularly interested in this third of the country because I think that third has a deep soul, and the soul of the country in many ways stems from what happens here,” he says.

He’s working on revitalizing music programs in the city schools; he’s concerned and involved with programs to present alternatives to gun violence. He even reaches out to prisoners. By visiting with them and their families and playing music for them. How cool is that? He also does concerts as fundraisers for organizations that work with at risk youth.

Read the article and see just what community means to Yo Yo Ma. And if you get a chance to listen to his music, oh my goodness do not pass that up. Here is a two minute snippet from youtube.

 

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.

Metroparks Towpath Tremont Entrance Is A Work of Art and History

I can’t remember exactly when this section of the Towpath opened. A month ago? I do know this past Thursday was my first chance to get there. Work was progressing in April when Steven Litt wrote about it.  The road winds past Sokolowski’s Inn and you find yourself at W 13th and University Road. The first thing you see is an expanse of iron bridges (the best thing about Cleveland, if you ask me, which you did not!). And when you peer over the edge, you see a beautiful array of native grasses and newer plants. The textures are wonderful. Walk down the path a bit till you get to the bridge underpass. The Cleveland Metroparks did a brilliant job. When I saw the sculptured design of walls of granite and brick my immediate thought was  how that truly represented Cleveland’s industrial history: Iron, granite quarrying and brick/masonry. Over the weekend I was hell bent on finding out about the design and who designed it, worked on it etc. Yes, I was that impressed. It turns out this industrial history is exactly what Metroparks designer Richard Kerber had in mind. The display walls, works of art, are literally enmeshed. Chicken wire style but a higher grade of metal is used. The photos give you an idea but it’s much more expansive and beautiful in person. You can do the Flats/Downtown/Tremont trail yourself. About 1.2 miles.

They’ve been planning and then working on this since 2014. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) did a beautiful job with the construction. The other actors in this besides ODOT and Metroparks: Cuyahoga County and Canal Way PartnersBrowse their site and learn about the next (and maybe final?) stage of the Towpath completion. I can’t tell if ‘already completed 85 miles’ was before the 1.2 mile section was done, but close enough either way.  When totally done, it’s to be 110 miles.

I’m often complaining about the slowness or ineptness or lack of transparency regarding local bureaucracy and government and that won’t change. But The Cleveland Metroparks? I keep having reason to say to anyone who will listen, The Metroparks should just run everything around here. Kudos!

Are you out of state and planning a visit? A job induced move here? Are you a biker or hiker? Besides the above Towpath, This area has been known for the park system we call The Emerald Necklace. I don’t know when this site was last updated. It claims 61 continuous miles of biking. One of the longest routes in the state of Ohio. Ohio Bikeways website gives you some great information about biking, The Emerald Necklace included.

 

 

 

What Does Community Mean To You?

I read an article earlier this week that stayed with me, bouncing around in my brain, encouraging me to rehash my definition of community and   how others see it. How do you define it?

Veronica Harris plants the seeds, literally and figuratively, of micro community: on her street. She became active in the type of community I spend most of my time pondering: people who live in a specific place, bound by geography. She lives on a street in the Mt Pleasant neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side. If you are trying to acclimate yourself about where it is: Union Avenue is the main street that cuts through this neighborhood with Shaker Square a bit north, The Van Aken transit line bordering it, barely, on the north east, and the Cleveland Clinic to the north west. Veronica Harris kept pondering, apparently for years, about the vacant home across the street which was finally taken over by the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and demolished. She wove so many things into her plan: planting a garden but having her day care kids and other kids help. The neighbors helped. There is education involved about plants and growing and agriculture. It’s inter-generational.  You can read Veronica Harris’ story here. The entire wonderful story!

There are various opinions on housing demolition and land banks in our neck of the woods, which is our overall NE Ohio community.  Foreclosures and predatory lending left us with a boat load of vacant properties. Our population isn’t growing by much percentage wise although it hasn’t gone down in the last couple of years. Too many houses? Is the City too quick to want everything demolished? Is it better to do something else with that land?  In this case, land banking seems to have worked wonders. Rather, land banking helped the community work wonders.