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Old 01-03-2012, 12:53 PM
 
1,091 posts, read 1,038,944 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
Where is the business district of Allentown? East Warrington @ Arlington?
It starts there, and goes to Beltzhoover Ave (about 3 blocks). It's not so bad, in terms of having a surprising amount of stuff in a (commonly considered) "declining" neighborhood...Not sure if the grocery store is still open there, but one did exist at least 2-3 years ago, there's a nice/cheap diner, some restaurants (including the bizarrely expensive and fancy Alla Famiglia), etc. Also very easy access to Downtown, the South Side, etc.
Moderator cut: personal Growing up in Mt. Oliver, I always thought of Arlington as the boring and dying little brother of Mt. Oliver, completely lacking in amenities, etc....

...But over last summer when I lived in Mt. Oliver during an internship, I walked through Arlington frequently and found that things are really improving there. Just from an anecdotal standpoint, I saw many more young working families, grad students, etc. there than ever before in my lifetime. It's convenient to the South Side and Downtown...And my realtor friends agree that it will probably become much more expensive and desirable in the next 5-10 years as a result of the Slopes creeping up.

If I had any interest in living in the South Hilltop, I would probably want to buy in Arlington right now.

Last edited by Yac; 01-04-2012 at 04:32 AM..
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,555 posts, read 47,267,732 times
Reputation: 11434
Quote:
Originally Posted by ML North View Post
I don't really have a strong opinion on the neighborhoods in question, but just a few things to keep in mind.

I obviously don't know anything about your credit history, but an easy way for a young person to drastically improve his credit score is to get your balance below 30% of the available credit. During college I had one credit card with a balance of about 50% of the limit. I paid it off after graduation, and my score went from 620 to 700 within one or two credit cycles. I have found, however, that the short credit history of most people our age constrains scores on the upper end to around 740ish.

On a different note, in the declining neighborhoods, people have a lot of reasons to complain, feel down, complain, be paranoid, and complain. Some people can definitely be affected by being immersed in negativity. Of course there are always the optimistic community-focused types, who are certainly a breath of fresh air, but unfortunately they are outnumbered in a lot of places. Also though, buying a home in a really gritty area can make one feel that they are helping to improve an area, and that can definitely be a source of pride -- AA comes to mind.

To me, the real "return" of purchasing a home is the amount of money that you save relative to the cost of renting elsewhere. So I wouldn't (and I don't think you are) looking for a lot of "appreciation" but you may want to at least do some calculations to determine if you can realize a relative benefit by purchasing rather than renting. You'll want to consider principal, interest, taxes, closing costs, maintenance, and utilities.

And finally, Brookline is really nice, too!
Thanks for this very informative reply!

1.) While you may not be an authorative source on the neighborhoods in question, I am also potentially considering a very inexpensive 1-BR home on East Jefferson Street on the corner of Arch Street in the Central North Side (just a few blocks north of the traditional boundaries of the Mexican War Streets). I know you live not far from here, and I was just wondering what sorts of impressions you have about the overall safety of this immediate part of the Central North Side and its chances of being absorbed by gentrification should the Mexican War Streets push further north in terms of footprint?

2.) In regards to the tangential issue of my credit score I'd probably be well-versed to hold off another year before buying and use all of 2012 to live frugally, pay down debt, and improve my credit score potentially closer to 700. I suppose my "rush" to buy is seeing just how quickly housing prices are truly appreciating here in the core of the metro area and my fear that if I don't buy into it sooner rather than later I'll never be able to afford my first home. AlleghenyAngel echoed this concern in another thread. It probably wasn't all that long ago that a nice home could be had in Bloomfield for $60,000-$70,000. Now just about every home I see listed on Howard Hanna is $100,000-$115,000, and some of those need updating. Here in Polish Hill a 1-BR house behind my apartment flew off the market, even though it was on a very busy road, required updating, had a tiny lot, and was priced near $50,000. AlleghenyAngel bought his very livable rowhome in Stowe Township for $10,000 just a few years ago. Such deals aren't available anymore, and I agree with BrianTH, Gnutella, and our other sub-forum resident demographics junkies that our metropolitan area's core population has just begun to grow again in the past couple of years, which will only heighten the rate of our housing appreciation over the next few years. Since you only need a credit score of 620 to qualify for a mortgage with FHA-backing I foresee this as being a viable option for me at this time to buy in quickly.

3.) I'm not worried about living in a sea of Debbie Downers. I've met more people here in Pittsburgh who think the city is going to Hell in a handbasket than think we're on the verge of a tremendous upswing. I'd rather just stay silent and then be able to shake my derriere back and forth as I chant "Told ya so, told ya so, told ya so!" to them.

4.) The way I see things is right now I'm throwing away $550 each month in rent. I'm not sure what sort of interest rate I'll qualify for when I do receive mortgage pre-approval; however, methinks my monthly obligation for principal, interest, insurance, and property taxes should be equal (or more likely much less than) that $550 figure for a home in the $25,000-$35,000 range, and at least part of my monthly obligation will be contributing towards building equity in an asset. I just paid my landlady my 14th $550 rent check ($7,700 since moving in) this morning. In contrast that nearly $8,000 could have instead been going towards paying off my very own home. I'm comfortably affording my $550 rent payment right now, so I should be okay even if my monthly obligations are higher than $550 for my full housing costs. One of my aspirations is to be debt-free by my 30th birthday on November 2, 2016. With a lot of hard work I can pay off my student loans, the $9,000 remaining on my new car, and my impending home by then. As far as closing costs are concerned if a seller is desperate enough I could probably make them a full-price offer if they contributed 50% towards the seller's closing costs, so that's not a concern to me. Approximately how much would the closing costs be on a $30,000 transacation, anyways? I thought they were only around 6%, so that would only be $1,800, correct?

5.) As I said I would love to find a cozy place in my budget in Brookline or Beechview. That's about as likely as Rick Santorum becoming the next U.S. president.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goinback2011 View Post
Steelcityrising, I'd wait until the fallout of the reassessments begins to be felt. There will be elderly/lower income residents all over the city who are forced to put their homes up for sale due to rising taxes.

You might not have to choose a really bad neighborhood in which to locate.
Quote:
Originally Posted by h_curtis View Post
This is quite possibly true! There are lots of fixed income folks that are toast. Many no doubt have lived in their homes for decades and are going to be on the street. You can scoop up their homes cheap as soon as all the real estate signs pop up like mushrooms and prices fall like crazy because the demand will be so low.
Quote:
Originally Posted by robrobrob View Post
I believe that this is really only going to happen within the city. Most suburban homeowners have had their assessments challenged by their school district. In the city, the PPSD only challenges the big ticket ones. This permits inaccurate assessments to continue. Seriously, a house should never be assessed at less than a recent sale price. In the city this has been fairly common and from my understanding is going to continue because PPSD is not going to challenge most of the smaller cases.
In regards to the reassessment quandary I really don't know if I'd feel comfortable morally or ethically buying a home from someone who was under extreme financial duress. I'd feel like I'd be "profiting" off of someone else's misfortune. Whenever I watch "Storage Wars" on A&E I always envision a bankrupt widow watching through tears as her prized belongings are auctioned off to a Mercedes-Benz-driving guy screaming "Yupppp".

I looked at a home in Mt. Washington over a year ago before deciding to rent in Polish Hill. The homeowner was an elderly widower who was moving out because he was caring for his physically-disabled adult son who could not visit him in this home due to its location up a steep flight of stairs. This story broke my heart. The interior walls and carpeting on the first-floor were pink. While I was naturally considering tearing up the carpeting to refinish the hardwood flooring and repainting the walls to a more pleasant neutral tone if I were to submit an offer I also thought to myself how horrible it would be if the elderly man paid me a visit a year later to see his former homestead and endure his late-wife's memories just one final time before passing on only to see I had removed all of the elements he cherished.

I know it sounds insane, but to me a house is an inaminate object that holds a little piece of the soul of everyone who has dwelt within her walls over the course of generations. There's a story behind that nick in the chair rail and there's a reason why there's an area rug covering a certain stain on hardwood flooring in the dining room. Even though most people feel sorry for the way I currently live I feel very happy because I can close my eyes and pretend it's still 1905, and I'm sleeping in a bed that's positioned in the same fashion as the original owners' bed was also positioned.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:20 PM
gg
 
Location: Pittsburgh
11,664 posts, read 8,009,293 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
In regards to the reassessment quandary I really don't know if I'd feel comfortable morally or ethically buying a home from someone who was under extreme financial duress. I'd feel like I'd be "profiting" off of someone else's misfortune.
If someone is selling, they will be happy someone else buys their home. Do you think they want to hang onto it and keep paying taxes they can't afford? They want offers and to move out of the county. Don't feel bad, feel good you are there to help them get on with life.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:20 PM
 
6,009 posts, read 2,002,937 times
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SCR, those residents would probably be happier to sell than to keep on living in places they can't afford or children can't access.

You didn't create the reassessments or other issues.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:24 PM
gg
 
Location: Pittsburgh
11,664 posts, read 8,009,293 times
Reputation: 4234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goinback2011 View Post
SCR, those residents would probably be happier to sell than to keep on living in places they can't afford or whose children can't access.

You didn't create the reassessments.
I agree. The biggest problem will always be the school districts and their millage rates to try and sustain the unsustainable. Now that state funding is shut down the mess is going to escalate to the breaking point.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:32 PM
 
Location: ELFS
5,029 posts, read 3,395,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
I would love to find a cozy place in my budget in Brookline or Beechview. That's about as likely as Rick Santorum becoming the next U.S. president.
Bite your tongue.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,555 posts, read 47,267,732 times
Reputation: 11434
Quote:
Originally Posted by h_curtis View Post
If someone is selling, they will be happy someone else buys their home. Do you think they want to hang onto it and keep paying taxes they can't afford? They want offers and to move out of the county. Don't feel bad, feel good you are there to help them get on with life.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goinback2011 View Post
SCR, those residents would probably be happier to sell than to keep on living in places they can't afford or children can't access.

You didn't create the reassessments or other issues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by h_curtis View Post
I agree. The biggest problem will always be the school districts and their millage rates to try and sustain the unsustainable. Now that state funding is shut down the mess is going to escalate to the breaking point.
I guess you two are right. It would be better for these homeowners to sell rather than be forced into foreclosure and/or bankruptcy, and they could probably have their emotional wounds salved to know that the new homeowner wanted to lovingly care for their property. I just remember reading squarian's very emotionally-charged post in one of the reassessment threads, and it broke my heart.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:33 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,555 posts, read 47,267,732 times
Reputation: 11434
Quote:
Originally Posted by jay5835 View Post
Bite your tongue.
If that actually happens I really AM moving to Canada before he sends all gays and working women to concentration camps!
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:34 PM
 
Location: ELFS
5,029 posts, read 3,395,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
If that actually happens I really AM moving to Canada before he sends all gays and working women to concentration camps!
Which he will organize using Facebook.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Mexican War Streets
1,361 posts, read 919,246 times
Reputation: 998
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post

1.) While you may not be an authorative source on the neighborhoods in question, I am also potentially considering a very inexpensive 1-BR home on East Jefferson Street on the corner of Arch Street in the Central North Side (just a few blocks north of the traditional boundaries of the Mexican War Streets). I know you live not far from here, and I was just wondering what sorts of impressions you have about the overall safety of this immediate part of the Central North Side and its chances of being absorbed by gentrification should the Mexican War Streets push further north in terms of footprint?
I've not heard too much negative about Jefferson and honestly, where that house is you'll probably be a bit out of the way and off by yourself which in terms of crime, might not be a bad thing. Since Arch stops right there you won't be subjected to too much traffic going up the hill. Traditionally, the marker was always Jacksonia, everything to the north of which got sketchier, but I think that's slowly changing for the better; but it's still hit and miss. The biggest problem, violence-wise, will be related to the Allegheny Dwellings on the other side of Federal and up the hill a little bit. That's where 90% of the problems in the lower Northside take place.

You'd only be a couple of blocks from Randy-Land (Arch & Jacksonia), so that is certainly a selling point. Doug's Market, a small corner grocery which is a staple of the neighborhood is on Arch as well. Arch is a good street in that it's not too narrow and being only a couple of blocks from Federal you'll have good bus access to downtown, the 8-Perrysville runs every 15 mins or so and there are a bunch more if you want to walk down to North. The Library is on Federal and there are now three full blocks of new town-homes finished on Federal, the latest between Jacksonia and Alpine, which could only be a positive.
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