Friday, November 28, 2008

Touring Baltimore Rehab Houses - Photos

I've been dreaming about houses. It's a mystery how many beautiful old victorians stand vacant in Baltimore when it lies just an hour up the road from Washington DC. Sure this is an old rust belt city but it's not like Detroit, it's close to Philadelphia and New York, there's a lot going on. We have Michael Phelps and Ace of Cakes, a symphony, opera, and one of the biggest ports in the USA. So how come there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of vacant houses in Baltimore?

I explored a few rehabs last weekend in an attempt to learn if they are worth it, I'm sharing some thoughts and photos here with you. I looked at 10 different houses from a 7 bedroom mansion-townhouse in Reservoir Hill (for $200k) to a small but charming house actually in a good neighborhood, Mount Vernon (also for 200k). These homes however are in fairly bad neighborhoods and are as cheap as it gets.

North Avenue Nomansland for $60k
From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1


From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1
For seemingly nothing, $60,000, you can be the proud owner of a four bedroom row house right across the street from Greenmount cemetary. Actually, we saw two townhouses, right next door to each other, and they are not as terrible as you might think, but after you sunk another $200,000 in rehabing this place, you would be lucky to sell it for a loss. I LOVE the 3 story townhouse, but I love having neighbors even more. This is one of the worst neighborhoods in Baltimore, it's a shame, there are so many potentially great houses. There's so much potential.

Another Neighborhood with Few Neighbors for $90k
From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

This 4 bedroom townhouse (the red one in the first photo) is in pretty good shape! It is very similar to the North Ave. houses, but better. Still it needs at least $100k in work including a new kitchen, 2+ new bathrooms, roof, windows, and who knows what else. But for $90k it's a big, beautiful house the likes of which never gets built any more. One major problem (see last pic) most of the neighbors are vacant buildings and shells.


Bolton Hill Beauty Past Her Prime for $160k
From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

From Baltimore Rehabs Pt.1

Even bigger and more fabulous than any other townhouses we saw that day, this house is seriously worth buying, if you can afford it. This is the worst house in the "best" neighborhood we saw, Bolton Hill. However it will take at least $150k just to fix the damage of time and water. Similar to the other townhouses pictured but even bigger, this place had been subdivided into apartments in the past.


Competing Against Time & Newer Homes in the Suburbs with Parking
I concluded at the end of my tour-de-rehab that the problem with Baltimore is the suburbs. Why would anybody abandon such nice architecture? Because they want to eat fast food all the time and shop at chains? No, because people are lazy and houses need money & maintenance all the time. All the places we saw lacked modern features, they all had oil heat (or nothing , horrible), and they lacked garages. They were all an efficiency nightmare. But all this stuff can be corrected. Another huge problem is the neighborhoods. To make buying a Baltimore rehab worth it, there needs to be a LOT of people interested in living in those neighborhoods. Nobody wants to go to sleep every night on a block of abandoned homes. Even still, it's not too late for a lot of really interesting people to take control of their city lives. Buy a rediculously affordable house, spread out and make a dream a reality.

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