Today, I write about what the houses looked like in that in an urban neighborhood. What a buyer should be looking for are signs that the neighborhood are doing their best to take care of their property.
Exterior condition says a lot about a homeowner. Generally, the most expensive repairs are on the outside. So, people will delay repainting, deck repair, and window replacement as long as they can. The cosmetic look of a house fails long before the exterior begins to functionally fail, in most cases. So, deferred maintenance on the outside means that the sellers either don’t care how it looks or don’t have the money to repair simply because it looks worn.
Paint: In this location, exterior upkeep was spotty. Some houses had mono-colored exteriors with no shutters or contrasting trim. Others had high-end 3-5 color custom paint jobs. One custom paint job was peeling; many simpler paint jobs were peeling, too. About three-quarters of the exteriors had paint that looked recent-enough.
Wood and decks: We saw fancy Japanese-style decks, old porches, and wooden archways. Again repair ranged from recent to falling apart. Recent and acceptable were the norm.
Windows: there were high numbers of double-pane replacement windows on the block.
Other things we noticed was how many mailboxes were visible. That indicates how many units the building has. Most were two, three, and four unit buildings. The multi-family buildings looked big enough to have two-bedroom apartments, or bigger, inside.
There were a couple of seriously neglected houses, including the one right next to the one for sale. (The neighbor told us that a 90-something year old woman lived there.) About halfway down the block was another house that hadn’t seen paint in 20 years or more. The wood trim was dark and rotted. The siding was asbestos and the paint was faded, but mostly intact. There were vines growing up the siding. There was a safety gate on an upstairs low window. It looked uninhabited. “It looks like a haunted house where someone was held prisoner in the attic,” said my buyer… Old houses get that Goth look about them when the exterior wood is neglected. Have you seen that?
Would you buy a house in a neighborhood where there are neglected houses? Is it less of a problem if an old person -- who has been a stable owner for a long time -- owns it?
If my clients had been more interested in the property, my next step would be to find out how many of the multi-unit buildings are condos and how many are rentals. I would check the ownership of the two “haunted” places. But my clients moved on. Would you have done the same?
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