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Old 01-03-2012, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,438 posts, read 70,429,646 times
Reputation: 17144

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One of my numerous resolutions for 2012 is to finally buy my first home! I've been doing a lot of online research and have found quite a few liveable homes in South Hills neighborhoods that have somewhat nefarious reputations, such as Mt. Oliver, Knoxville, Allentown, Bon Air, Beltzhoover, and Carrick. I know Aqua Teen Carl is our sub-forum's resident Carrick expert, but I was wondering if anyone else on here could provide me with some insight as well? Public schools are unimportant to me. I'm also not looking to make a quick buck. I don't view a home as an investment as much as a home. Ideally I wouldn't mind if I just broke even if and when I decided to sell a home I bought in one of these neighborhoods in 5-10 years to upgrade to something better as my income permitted.

One street that has a few listings that have particularly piqued my curiosity is Onyx Avenue in Mt. Oliver, near to Transverse Park. I have a co-worker who lives on Giffin Avenue, not far away, and he seems to be raising his child with no issues. A few more homes interest me. These are located along Eureka Street and Iberia Street near where Mt. Washington, Allentown, and Beltzhoover all meet. I actually looked at a home there when I first moved to Pittsburgh over a year ago (yes, it's still on the market).

I'm active, gay, liberal, young, and educated, but I personally don't feel as if that means my demographic should be exclusively relegated to the East End. I have no need for Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. I don't drink coffee. I don't do yoga. I don't frequent the gay bars. All I'd need would be decent proximity to the core of the city for commuting purposes, a grocery store (Foodland? Giant Eagle?) within 5-10 minutes, and, most importantly, safety from random violent crime. I've lived in the city for over a year, and I don't mind dealing with quality-of-life issues including but not limited to urban rednecks yelling slurs out their windows at 3 AM, loud music, occasional vandalism, theft, etc. I just don't want to fear having my life jeopardized every time I open my front door to retrieve my mail or while I'm brushing snow off my car.

Anyhow, please provide me with any and all opinions about these (and neighboring) neighborhoods. My budget is restrictive. My credit score isn't great---all three bureaus report a score just below the minimum 620 threshold I'd need to qualify for an FHA-backed mortgage with a 3.5% down payment. I'm doing everything I can to get that up closer to 650 by the end of Spring 2012 by paying down revolving balances ahead of schedule and making other early payments and/or double-payments. I would ideally like to spend no more than $3,000 for the down payment and closing costs combined. There's a tiny 1-BR home right now I LOVE on Onyx Avenue in Mt. Oliver listed for $29,500. While I realize some of you may recommend Beechview or Brookline to me if I'm now exploring the urban South Hills neighborhoods I figured for full disclosure I'd toss that vignette out there so you could see I would be unable to afford those neighborhoods.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:25 AM
 
1,714 posts, read 2,091,396 times
Reputation: 1259
You might want to check out Duquense Heights. And of course, Mt. Wash can't be beat for connectivity purposes.

All I can really say about Allentown is that the one time I took a walk through the neighborhood, a group of kids threw a shoe at me and told me to get off of their street. So, you know, first impressions weren't that great . . .
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:27 AM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,438 posts, read 70,429,646 times
Reputation: 17144
Quote:
Originally Posted by SammyKhalifa View Post
You might want to check out Duquense Heights. And of course, Mt. Wash can't be beat for connectivity purposes.
Thanks, Sammy! To clarify given my less-than-stellar fiscal situation currently I'm looking to buy as inexpensively as possible, and there aren't many listings in either Duquesne Heights or Mt. Washington for sub-$50,000.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:31 AM
 
1,714 posts, read 2,091,396 times
Reputation: 1259
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
Thanks, Sammy! To clarify given my less-than-stellar fiscal situation currently I'm looking to buy as inexpensively as possible, and there aren't many listings in either Duquesne Heights or Mt. Washington for sub-$50,000.

I'm thinking that further away from Grandview there could be some more affordable options. I don't know. Of course, the Mt Washington/Allentown/Southside borders kind of blur to me a bit too.
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:55 AM
 
Location: ɥbɹnqsʇʇıd
4,601 posts, read 6,044,765 times
Reputation: 3516
Mt. Oliver, Carrick, Knoxville, Beltzhoover are all hood. But you can get a great home in Carrick for $80k if you want to deal with the riff raff. My parents place has hard wood floors, 2 bedrooms, an office, a sun room, finished basement, a 1 car garage, and a small yard and their 2012 property assessment actually went down. It's so friggin cheap to live here for what you get, it's amazing.

Beechview would be pretty good for you in my opinion too. Much safer and more amenities, but higher in price.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:03 PM
 
6,381 posts, read 7,505,418 times
Reputation: 4312
Was leaving out Arlington intentional, or just an oversight?

Some of the homes in Beechview may be in your price range, as well. I know you already said you can't afford it, but I wouldn't discount the entire neighborhood from your search just yet.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:07 PM
 
Location: O'Hara Twp.
4,336 posts, read 6,468,512 times
Reputation: 1602
I realize that you don't expect to make money when you sell but I think you should at least consider the ability to resell the house. Thus, I would run away from a 1 bedroom and avoid a 2 bedroom if possible. Not too mention that both places are going to appear pretty small pretty quick. In my opinion, when you buy a house you suddenly you get more stuff and keep more stuff.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:09 PM
 
Location: ɥbɹnqsʇʇıd
4,601 posts, read 6,044,765 times
Reputation: 3516
Quote:
Originally Posted by ferrarisnowday View Post
Was leaving out Arlington intentional, or just an oversight?
I dated a girl from Arlington when I was in high school. I hate that neighborhood, that's the last place you'd want to be as a gay dude. Everyone knows everyone else's business somehow and the place was filled with judgmental white trash.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Kittanning
4,656 posts, read 7,950,004 times
Reputation: 3614
I have a fondness for Allentown. I think you could make it work there. The business district is pretty cool.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
1,661 posts, read 2,449,002 times
Reputation: 991
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!

Last edited by ML North; 01-03-2012 at 12:31 PM..
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