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.

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.