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Old 01-14-2011, 11:54 PM
 
253 posts, read 387,638 times
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A lot of the really cheap, under $20k homes are in places where an entire block is vacant and boarded up. This vacant block will be surrounded by drug users, which surprisingly makes them less safe than if they were surrounded by dealers. Dealers leave you alone if you don't interfere with their customers, the users are the ones that break into your house to boost any valuables. The houses themselves will have been vacant for over a decade and full of rats. They need completely new electrical, plumbing, and HVAC before they are habitable. Structural stability may very well be an issue. Health concerns like mold, asbestos, and lead paint are alos things to look out for. These cheap house will often need to be repaired at cost several times the price of the home. And once you have spent all this money to make the place livable it will still be in a terrible location with a low chance to be sold. Intending to "flip" these "fixer uppers" is a foolish prospect.

That said, young singles who intens to stay in the city for a couple decades would be the ideal people to invest time, money, and energy into old homes.
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Old 01-15-2011, 08:16 PM
 
Location: moving again
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brother's keeper View Post
Okay that nice to hear.. the number of bathrooms wouldn't be the make or break for me(if I ever considered buying a Baltimore rowhouse) but atleast one more would be a bonus....2-3 bedrooms would be fine too since atleast for now i'm a single guy without a big family.

My bad...don't mean to generalize but Baltimore doesn't have the best image....I'm sure it has it's decent and rough areas like most cities but i'm concerned that some of the unbelievably too good to be true discounted rowhouses the guy mentioned earlier are probably more than likely in a sketchy sections of the city.
...as i already said, "location location location" and that these houses need obvious renovations - that doesn't mean paint. that means gutting it often. They are typically in sketchy areas. But you can easily buy one in improving and up and coming neighborhoods like Reservoir Hill or Pigtown for real low prices.
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Old 01-15-2011, 10:53 PM
 
Location: New England
7,045 posts, read 4,497,262 times
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I feel like an intruder in this thread because I have only been to Baltimore once--it was last week.

We were driving from the north to visit relatives in VA and got lost and ended up in the most scary, creepy, eerie, ugly place I have ever been. It was the middle of the night and we rolled the windows up, locked the car doors and prayed.

It went on and on and I don't understand what "it" was. Miles and miles of nice looking (at least from the outside) old rowhouses all abandoned and many boarded up. The sidewalks were piled with trash and some places were piled high with broken glass.

It was mostly deserted but once in a while we'd encounter a group of people walking down the middle of the street.

After we got through it I kept thinking--housing shortages everywhere and here are all these rowhouses going to waste!

I wondered about who owns them? And can't the city claim them and fix them up. Can't SOMEONE buy them and make that area into the nice place that it should be. Those are beautiful buildings of the kind that they don't even make anymore.

In England they gut and renovate rowhouses and it makes for good, low to medium income housing. Buy cheap-fix it up, continue to live there or sell it for a profit.

So I just don't get it and I'm asking WHY? Why is all that housing just allowed to rot and go to waste? Block after block after endless block. Isn't there anyone who can do something about it?

Those buildings have lots of potential.
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Old 01-16-2011, 06:46 AM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
6,476 posts, read 5,339,789 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post
Can't SOMEONE buy them and make that area into the nice place that it should be. .
There is plenty of this that goes on. However the city has lost 40% of its population since those houses you saw were built; the demand just isn't there to renovate every single blighted block in town in an expeditious manner.

There are an infinite number of grants and incentives to an urban pioneer who wants to buy and renovate the houses. There is also miles of red tape.

What do you think - would you buy there? It sounds to me you wouldn't even stop your car there. So why does it shock you that there isn't a rush to invest on North Ave or wherever you were driving?

We are working on becoming a more attractive place. People from all over the world here all the time for jobs at our hospitals, universities, businesses, etc. Believe me - there is more to Baltimore than what you saw. Come try us again sometime.
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:45 AM
 
Location: moving again
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Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post

In England they gut and renovate rowhouses and it makes for good, low to medium income housing. Buy cheap-fix it up, continue to live there or sell it for a profit.
Are you sure? Liverpool might have a different take on that.
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Old 01-16-2011, 09:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post
After we got through it I kept thinking--housing shortages everywhere and here are all these rowhouses going to waste!
There may be an affordable housing shortage, but there's certainly no housing shortage in this country. Nationwide, there are currently a record number of vacant houses, and the inventory of unsold houses is in uncharted territory. This huge supply and demand imbalance just exacerbates the vacant housing problem in Baltimore.

One of the reasons for Baltimore's blighted neighborhoods -- which you'll find in most urban centers and increasingly in the older suburbs -- is shortsighted policies that encourage suburban sprawl over improving existing neighborhoods. There have been decades of disinvestment in cities, and I don't see any easy solution. Government doesn't have money to knock the properties down, let alone rehab them, and financing for private developers is scarce.

I agree that there is potential in these houses, but many have been allowed to deteriorate to the point where there isn't much left to save. Baltimore does have many neighborhoods that have been revitalized after being left for dead. Hopefully you'll get a chance to see them if you ever return.
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Old 01-16-2011, 10:41 AM
 
Location: New England
7,045 posts, read 4,497,262 times
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In England they gut and renovate rowhouses and it makes for good, low to medium income housing. Buy cheap-fix it up, continue to live there or sell it for a profit.
I would like to return sometime, thank you, and I do understand the reason for the situation now.


"In England they gut and renovate rowhouses and it makes for good, low to
medium income housing. Buy cheap-fix it up, continue to live there or sell it for a profit."

"Are you sure? Liverpool might have a different take on that."

THAT comment cracked me up LOL. My dh is a Brit and when I was saying that I had never seen anything like this he said --"there IS worse." I said, Worse than this?" And he said "Liverpool and parts of Manchester."

I can't picture worse. dh was living in a nice rowhouse over there and after he sold it, the person who bought it knocked down walls, made a nice kitchen, restored the hardwood floors. A few doors down from him, someone had renovated two adjacent houses and combined and modernized them into one good house.

I hope someone figures out a good solution for those blighted rowhouses -- if they're too far gone, maybe tear them down. If they could be renovated for mixed housing, might be good. I don't know. It's a shame that an otherwise nice city has to harbor such decay.
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Old 01-16-2011, 01:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by rudy_d View Post

One of the reasons for Baltimore's blighted neighborhoods -- which you'll find in most urban centers and increasingly in the older suburbs -- is shortsighted policies that encourage suburban sprawl over improving existing neighborhoods.
I recall that the City of Baltimore itself had no policy which encouraged sprawl. As most people who frequent this forum probably know, the City is a separate political entity from the counties. In the growing affluence following WWII, many middle class families wanted two or more cars per residence, central air conditioning, green yards, trees, some measure of tranquility, and so forth. This lifestyle was generally not available in the City due to the City's natural constraints. So people moved en mass to the suburbs, and voted for improvements in their new habitat. Further compounding the problem were the complete collapse of the City school system and the base of industrial employment, strained race relations, blockbusting, a mean-spirited police force, and so on. It was not a pretty picture. This is why I left.
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Old 01-16-2011, 01:52 PM
 
Location: moving again
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But this doesn't explain the blight. It was in the 1980s that blight spread so quickly, correct? If your information was true, i think the blight and abandonment would have started right after the war into the 50s but that is not how it happened. It was the 70s when the population began to decline.
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Old 01-16-2011, 02:06 PM
 
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I think that you (Bill) are pretty much right concerning the timing. However, baltimore of the 1950's was a very, very strong city, and decay to the point of collapse takes time. The final nail probably was, at least in my opinion, the loss of the industrial base. I remember when just about every Fortune 500 company had a good-sized presence in Baltimore. But the more general point is: What could the City have done? Due to a lot of factors out of its control, it became (again, just my opinion) a hateful place to live in the late 1960's. Neighbors fighting with each other (sometimes literally) over parking, noise, pollution of all kinds, crime, yuck. Many middle-class people moved out as they were able.

I need to say that I did not witness the state of things in the 1980's, as I was busy elsewhere by then. So I am not able to comment on the acceleration of the decline at that time. You may very well be right about when the blight really set in. I just remember the first stages of collapse from greatness.
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