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Can she buy without having to go to the boondocks?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis October 7, 2011 06:24 AM

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Allison Oropallo may be poised to make a big splash this Sunday during the season finale of HGTV’s “All American Handyman.”

An Arlington middle school teacher, she is the only woman in the show’s seven year run to make it to the last stage of a grueling, months-long competition that involves, among other things, building an Adirondack Chair in 90 minutes.

And if she can smoke the show's other three male finalists in the last big challenge - building a shed, followed by redoing a kitchen in five hours - then HGTV should rename the show, which does seem a bit dated.

“It’s absolutely insane,” Allison says of the challenges she faces on the show.

But in real life, she faces an equally daunting task ahead as she contemplates someday buying a home in still ultra pricey Greater Boston on a teacher’s salary.

With a median sale price of $525,000, Arlington is out of consideration. And Stoneham, where she currently rents, is no slouch either, with a median price of $317,000, though Allison notes she has seen aging few colonials and capes that would sparkle with new quick overhaul.

Her dream is to buy a worn out home with potential and then fix it up and live in it a couple years before moving on to the next renovation challenge.

Still, I’d argue Allison is uniquely positioned to go the fixer-upper route, with hard-won handywoman skills that put armchair renovation types like me, and even my much more hands-on wife Karen, to shame.

Allison started learning how to fix things at an early age, following her Dad around the house. She kept on learning and now can do just about anything on her own, from putting in pipes to hardwood floors.

It’s a skill that has come in handy – she’s managed to save lots of rent money over the years doing work for various landlords.

“I am on a mission to prove anybody can do anything,” she said.

Allison also likes to check out open houses on her spare time, a hobby for years now, so she’s well aware of what’s out there – and what it takes to buy a home in this area.
Still, while Arlington could be tough,she should not have to settle for a 90 minute commute from Central Massachusetts in order to buy. (Though, let’s be clear, she is not actively looking right now, but rather doing market research.)

There are a growing number of foreclosure specials in the suburbs – I’ve got one a few houses down from me here in Natick – that could provide an opportunity for a handywoman like Allison.

Anyway, good luck to Allison – both on HGTV and out in the real estate market.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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