Friday, October 5, 2007

The Only Constant In Life Is Change: I Have A New Blog!

For those of you who read me I thank you - and I have birthed a new blog where I will be doing all my musings and postings:

Cleveland Real Estate News

It is my Word Press Blog baby . No, it's not just about real estate, and no, it's not finished - tweaking will continue...probably forever! I will keep this blog up, but all new posting will occur on the new blog .

Every time I move in real life (as opposed to virtual life lol) I say 'I'm never doing this again' I probably will move again in real life but I am thinking this new blog may be my new virtual home for decades. See you on line!

Peace Out - 3C

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Diane Rehm Lecturing at Trinity Cathedral

What could be better than Diane Rehm (of NPR fame) and a chance to be in Trinity Cathedral? It doesn't get much better than that! Oh, and two famous ladies (Jill Zimon and Wendy Hoke ) and myself.

Email me if you would like to join us.

When: October 30th 7:30 PM
Where: Trinity Cathedral
Speaker: Diane Rehm

Peace Out - 3C

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New Show On WKYC Will Highlight Ohio Manufacturing

I'm almost always booked on Thursday evenings, but if you aren't.....there is a new show called Ohio Made at 7 PM on Thursdays on WKYC. Tim White sounds like he will be the host, but I am not positive. Maybe some of you have seen the commercials?

It sounds like it could be very interesting! Makes me want to fix my VCR :-) Peace Out - 3C

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Las Vegas Mortgage Lender Calls Other Lenders To Action: Help With Note Modification

Aaron Gordon is a mortgage lender in Las Vegas. I don't know him, but I just read one of his posts and it inspired me to link to it. He is asking all mortgage lenders to do some pro bono work and help people who might be upside down in their mortgages by calling their lenders for them and asking for a note modification. Aaron's post is here. I found out about it through a post I wrote asking if the recent efforts by Save The American Dream could actually help (they are calling for a 2 year ARM moratorium).

Lou Tisler of NHSGC pointed out that people are reluctant to do it on their own. Aaron points out that instead of calling their original lenders, they are calling him and others like him to refinance. So he helps them. For free.

Read Aaron's post! I plan on calling all the lenders I know personally tomorrow and asking them if they are doing this. Peace Out - 3C

Cuyahoga County Economic News: A Medina Valpak Entrepreneur

Back when I was living in Maryland and working three different part time jobs at a time, one was for a coupon book similar to Val Pak. I enjoyed it because I was able to focus on local businesses and meet some darn good entrepreneurs. We had stiff competition from Val Pak.

I saw this article on about ValPak and thought about why a local Medina gentleman has decided to buy a Val Pak franchise. He said his prior company had good client response from ValPak and they were a long standing company - two reasons why he 'bought in.' Reminds me of the Norelco commercials (I think it was Norelco!) where the guy would say I liked the product so much I bought the company. I'm wondering what our Franchise King Joel would say about this? I have to admit it's been almost two decades since I was in the coupon business -it was interesting to get an update on how it's working. According to the Crains article written by Marilyn Miller, Valpak is the sixth largest media company in the U.S. Well what she really says is they call themselves the sixth largest lol. If you are looking for a job, maybe the new Medina franchisor is looking for sales reps?

Peace Out - 3C

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Maryland's Ambitious Plan to Improve Their Railways Should Inspire Us

Yes, Maryland starts from a position of a solid and always improving job base, but the plan outlined by Maryland's Governor should inspire us to be vigilant (imho) about our own 3C Corridor Plan. The Washington Post article about it is here. They are running a bit on faith:

"....This is a very ambitious concept, and we don't have money in the bank to pay for it. But we have a reasonable expectation that these are cost-effective ideas that would bring a lot of transportation benefit, and we'll find the money as the years go by,..." but it's a thirty year plan to better connect Baltimore and Washington and turn the Rail System into a full fledged service, not one that enhances the rush hour commute (although there are only a few hours when it's not rush hour there, but I digress).

Henry Kay is an administrator with the MD Transit Authority and this quote interested me too:

"....Kay said the state is considering private development of stations and parking lots to generate revenue for the expansion...." - Something that could definitely help us with the 3C Corridor Plan, privatizing the Stations. Please contact your Senators, we need support for SB294 to keep our own economic future moving ahead. I am not always on my soapbox but this issue seems so important to our economy. And this article on Maryland's plan is a good read. Peace Out - 3C

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cleveland Home Owners In a Bind Take Note: Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland Can Help

Lou Tisler of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHSGC) made an important point on my latest post on short sales. Many of us know we should 'call our lenders' before it's too late but we are still too timid or worried to do that. NHSGC can do the legwork for you.

His second important point was that you should never pay anyone to be the intermediary, to help you with your mortgage issues. Lou has sent me a press release on NHSGC and I'm going to post it here in it's entirety. Please call your lenders. Or please call Lou at NHSGC.

Ohio Housing Finance Agency Adds $3.1 Million
to Ohio NeighborWorks® Foreclosure Prevention Tool Box

New Fund is to Assist Middle Income Homeowners
Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland Creates New Loan Product to Fight Foreclosures in Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio – Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHSGC), part of the Ohio NeighborWorks® Foreclosure Prevention Initiative, will distribute $3.1 million in flexible grants from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). In combination with an investment of over $3 million from NeighborWorks® America, this is a much-needed foreclosure prevention boost in Ohio.
The OHFA grant will assist middle income homeowners and provide up to $3,000 in a zero percent deferred soft second loans to borrowers facing foreclosure, with a possibility of going up to $5,000 depending on the amount of the mortgage payment. Overall 12 organizations throughout Ohio will use the funds.
The OHFA funds, together with the previous award of $1.5 million from the Office of Housing and Community Partnerships (OHCP) and the NeighborWorks grants, are expected to enable the Ohio NeighborWorks® organizations to assist over 1,500 Ohio families avoid foreclosure.

“This is another tool in the toolbox that will help us rebuild Cleveland communities,” said Lou Tisler, executive director of NHSGC, the organization administering the OHFA funds. “We were missing a way to help people who are just getting by but are behind on their mortgage and on the verge of getting into trouble. Now NeighborWorks organizations can help more low- and middle-income borrowers, which is important because this problem is spreading into middle-income neighborhoods.”

NHSGC educates homeowners through financial literacy, homeownership education and counseling, working with the Homeowner’s™ HOPE Hotline -- 888-995-HOPE (4673) -- to connect homeowners at risk of foreclosure with HUD-certified counselors.

“OHFA generally focuses on first-time homebuyer products, so this is one of their first sustainability-focused products,” said Tisler. “Coupled with a refinance product they recently made available, OHFA is enabling NeighborWorks organizations in Ohio to develop the cutting edge products that will help all levels of homebuyers get out of this crisis.”

Sparked by 1978 legislation, NeighborWorks America created the NeighborWorks network of community development nonprofits charged with closing the homeownership gap; improving financial literacy; rebuilding and repairing properties; developing affordable multifamily units; and, using community development strategies to improve safety and build wealth. In 2007, NeighborWorks America will provide over $75 million in grants to its national network of 244 nonprofit organizations operating in nearly 4,500 communities.

The need for NeighborWorks organizations has never been greater. High quality, affordable rental housing is needed to build healthy and sustainable communities. Personal debt is rising among consumers. Mortgages are becoming increasingly complex and risky, which means homeowners are becoming progressively more susceptible to foreclosure. And, stubborn wealth gaps persist.
“As stewards of taxpayer dollars, NeighborWorks ensures our investments are working in ways that truly make a difference,” said NeighborWorks America Great Lakes District Director Paul Poston. “We thank Congress and our other private, philanthropic and public funders who make our work to empower consumers and strengthen neighborhoods possible.”
About Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland
Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland is not-for-profit community development corporation incorporated in 1975 to promote investment and revitalization of communities in Northeast Ohio As one of the original chartered members of NeighborWorks® America, a network of over 230 organizations working in nearly 4,400 urban, suburban and rural communities nationwide, the mission of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland is to provide ongoing programs and services for achieving, preserving and sustaining the American dream of homeownership.


Lou Tisler
Lou Tisler, Executive Director
Neighborhood Housing Services
of Greater Cleveland
5700 Broadway Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44127
216.458.HOME (4663) ext. 12
216.458.4672 fax

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cleveland Neighborhood News: The Warehouse District Scheduled For Some Changes

My open house did not turn out as planned today.....the keys didn't work! And my client is in California so......time to read up on the news. Turns out The Planning Commission approved some upgrades for The Warehouse District. The change that should appeal the most to District residents are the parks being created including South of Lakeside -- always exciting when we start utilizing our key natural resource...The Lake. Another change is to add taxi stands to the District. Now to get taxis there. Cleveland needs to be more proactive about taxis - we all have horror stories about them not showing up, even if we try to call for one. Anyway, here is the newsnet5 blurb about it.

And here is fellow blogger Tom Breckenridge's post about it. For the first time since I lived in Maryland I've actually hear a design plan talk about a sense of place. There truly is a vibrancy to the entire Downtown area these past six months. Now we need a bookstore :=) Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cleveland Housing News: Lead Paint Abatement Important, Especially For Children

It's become easier, as a Realtor®, to recognize homes that might need to get rid of lead paint. Normally our homes have been painted, layer upon layer, so the original lead paint job on a 1920 Era home is sealed safely away. But what if the paint in the room is peeling? Alternatively, if you have older double hung windows that get opened and shut every day as the temperatures rise and fall, the original paint jobs could be peeling against the friction of the opening and closing of these windows. Kids love to look out the window and the youngest ones love to eat whatever is not nailed down. Including paint chips. Another problem area can be a closest or storage area under the eaves in an attic. Sometimes these areas have clearly not been painted for decades. It's a good idea to put a few coats of paint on a closet or attic storage area just to be safe.

The Cuyahoga Co. Board of Health reports that they have received a $7 million grant from HUD to take care of already identified lead paint issues in NE Ohio. About 1300 Cuyahoga County children experienced lead poisoning in 2005. This grant will allow you to apply for monies to repair your home and you can read about the criteria to get the money here.

Sellers of homes in Ohio are required to fill out a Lead Paint Disclosure form to alert prospective buyers of any lead issues that may exist before they purchase. Buyers also have the right to a lead paint inspection prior to purchasing, in addition to a general home inspection. I have to admit, I have never had a buyer opt to get that inspection.

The City of Lakewood First Time Home Buyer Program utilizes a HUD inspection as part of their mortgage lending and purchase process. Peeling paint must be scraped/patched and repainted before their inspectors will sign off on the inspection. I had a home buyer purchasing a Lakewood home with this program and the house was neat as a pin and very well cared for. But there were porch railings and garage walls that were peeling. We had to get that corrected.

If you are buying a home and you will have young children inside the home when you move in, do you have newer windows? Do you have the older double hung rope/sash windows? Please be sure to look at the condition of the window sashes so you will know what you are dealing with when you move into your new home.

You can also go here to the HUD website and read more about keeping your home safe from lead paint poisoning issues. Peace Out-3C

Friday, September 21, 2007

The chair for the argumentative side in all of us

It's been a long week. I was trying to find a Thermador oven I saw advertised in a magazine at work today for almost 7 grand; to show it to a friend of mine on AOL. Long story short, I wound up on a site called Born Rich. It fascinated me. And you have to see the entire write up about the Argument Chair pictured here - maybe we need one in our office for buyers and sellers who can't come to terms! :-) Peace out 3C

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Short Sale Could Save You From Foreclosure

Short Sales are a valid alternative to getting completely mired in the foreclosure process. The important thing is to not ignore notices from your bank or lender; call their collections department immediately and see what kind of alternatives you have.

I love it when someone explains the process so well that I don't have to. One of my favorite bloggers is a Realtor® in Minnesota and she explains the short sale issue perfectly here. Read what Bonnie Erickson has to say; it might help you avoid getting into a real mortgage fix. Peace Out-3C

Rail Freight Enhancement Could Alleviate Traffic Congestion

The Heartland Institute did a report on traffic, freight and otherwise. They are a group that focuses on transportation issues. In this report they outline the value of increasing rail usage for freight carriers nationwide. One of the benefits is traffic congestion. Another one is wear and tear on the highways.

How many times have you been on a highway to find that 18-wheelers are slowing traffic considerably? They need to be on the roads (I tell myself), because we all need our goods and services. But it can get aggravating. When I lived in the DC area there were almost daily gridlock situations due to heavy truck traffic. The NJ Turnpike even has separate lanes for trucks for this reason.

They point out that a National focus should be improved rail quality because......

".... there are signs the growth cannot continue with the nation's current rail infrastructure. Freight train average operating speeds dropped from 24 miles per hour in 1990 to 21 miles per hour in 2000, reflecting at least in part constrained capacity, according to Cox. The problem is especially bad in the Chicago and Los Angeles areas and along the East and West Coasts...."

They also discuss the advantage to passenger rail service...but Wendell Cox, a Senior spokesperson for the Heartland Institute, feels that without continued new rail services, a concentrated effort should be made to at least improve the rail services from a freight carrying perspective. The article is really worth a read. Peace Out - 3C

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cleveland Real Estate Trends: More Stats on the West Side

Two more 'computer listing oriented areas' meaning they combine communities like Clifton Park and Bellaire Puritas. These stats are for tge number of homes sold between April and August for 2000 through 2007. The dollar amount is the average sale price during these months.

Bellaire Puritas, Westtown, Clifton Park

209 Total homes sold during those months
$77,439 Average Sale Price








Bellaire Puritas,West Park









Peace Out - 3C

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cleveland Housing Sale Trends 2000 to 2007

The last seven years have seen spikes in sale prices and declines on Cleveland's West Side. Some of the stats are interesting. In the area that includes Ohio City and Tremont, there were more sales in 2007 than any of the other years; the amount of money on average that sellers got for these homes was less than any other time. In general, bank owned/foreclosed properties play a part in these statistics because in each of these areas, there are homes selling for prices way below normal market prices. Anyway, here are the stats, and again, they include all homes sold with area brokerages. These are numbers of homes sold and the average sale prices for April through August of each of these years.

Old Brooklyn/Archwood Denison/Memphis

163 Homes Sold
$85,460 Average Sale Price








Ohio City/Tremont/Clark Metro/Detroit Shoreway









Peace Out - 3C

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cleveland Economic News: A Ferry to Ontario

You've probably been following this idea. The Plain Dealer's Maggi Martin reports today that an ombudsman group of NE Ohioans were in Canada this week and that Ontario has agreed to fund a rather expensive study regarding the validity of a ferry (cargo and passenger) from our Lake Erie shores to Ontario. Places like Ashtabula, Cleveland and Mentor are vying for the honor. The article says Ashtabula is ahead of the game because they already have the proper docking system. Cleveland's Port Authority is lobbying heavily. You can read about it here.

Maybe it's just me, but I say let the Ferry go to whomever can do it most cost effectively. It will help our Cleveland economy no matter where it is, imho. We can host the 3C Corridor rail plan!
Peace Out -3C

Cuyahoga County Real Estate 'Season' Sales Trends 2000-2007

We all wonder about housing sales trends since the turn of the century. As a Realtor® I can get those stats. Real estate 'season' is typically thought to begin in April and go through August. So those are the months I've picked to study during the past seven years. Here are three neighboring communities; I'm listing total number of single family homes sold and the average selling price. (Stats from homes listed with area brokerages)

2000 206 $168,103
2001 214 $153,146
2002 184 $148,887
2003 226 $161,878
2004 203 $164,912
2005 209 $176,748
2006 211 $178,010
2007 173 $171,071

Rocky River

2000 101 $203,169
2001 110 $227,596
2002 95 $283,983
2003 128 $260,710
2004 108 $301,587
2005 103 $303,567
2006 102 $304,165
2007 100 $266,933


2000 135 $288,175
2001 148 $279,843
2002 139 $283,267
2003 173 $325,431
2004 147 $320,681
2005 157 $363,994
2006 136 $336,279
2007 115 $347,144

Angie Lau did a report a few months back for News Channel Five about hot and not so hot housing markets. She said Westlake homes were a great investment and did not follow the trend of lower prices for homeowners. These stats seem to back her up. While the 2005 average sales price was higher for Westlake ($363,994), it's clear that prices basically rose over the past seven years.

The total number of homes didn't vary much in Rocky River over the seven year period. And Lakewood sales seemed to be the flatest during that time frame. The lows are not drastic in any of these communities. I'll do Cleveland's West Side tomorrow (Friday). Peace Out - 3C

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Bratenahl Housing Market in 2007

Yes, this is a serene way to wait for a bus; the gorgeous tiling and textured surfaces are part of a gate surrounding one of the many gated homes in Bratenahl. I showed a few condominiums in Bratenahl Place yesterday and was impressed. First, it's not easy to purchase a home for under $150k in Bratenahl, yet these condos are just short of 1600 square feet of living space and are priced well under $150,000. The maintenance fees might give us all pause.......the three I showed were approximately $950/month. That does cover all your utilities. To find out what else is covered, you can check the Bratenahl Place website here. One cool feature at this complex is a 17 acre hiking trail. Not to mention the view of Lake Erie.

So how have homes been selling in Bratenahl? Here are stats from January 2007 until today. Once again, these stats relate to homes listed with area brokers on the Multiple Listing (computer) Service:

Five single family homes have sold between the prices of $157,500 and 1.5 million dollars. The two homes sold for less than $160k were on the market for less than a month; not surprising! The average amenities were: 3,612 square feet of living space, and $139/sq foot to purchase. They also averaged four bedrooms and four bathrooms.

The condos? Eight sold since January between $120k (one condo) and $500k. This time, the home that sold for $500,000 was on market only five days.

You can read about the Village of Bratenahl here. The Village's recreation center offers things like kick boxing and Pilates; and they apparently opened up an outdoor coffee shop on the premises. Very cool. If you have never driven through Bratenahl, take a gander. It's lush and green (at least until Winter!) and the architecture on the homes may just blow you away. Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Consumers are Speaking! Check out 'Bring Back Doubles' Web Site

I was tracking a link to my blog post, and something miraculous occurred. 'Loyal Giant Eagle shoppers' (their words) bought a domain name and established a grassroots website called 'Bring Back Doubles.'

They detail several points about why they are upset with G-Eagle. Here is one excerpt:

".... We are not convinced that manufacturers are "moving toward the trends of lower coupon usage."Coupons are the manufacturers bread and butter. They are incentives to get consumers to try new products and fall in love with old ones. Even if coupons from Sunday papers are not redeemed, they serve as a means of product advertisement for the Sunday paper. Also, over the past few years, internet sites such as, and others have popped up. The Internet has also brought about coupon coordinating sites such as and NorthEast Ohio Couponers which help consumers make the best use of their coupons. These types of sites are gaining momentum. The Grocery Game, a paid subscription coordinating service, had sales of over 6 million dollars in 2006 and recently branched out to offer coupon services to people living in the United Kingdom. Giant Eagle claims that consumers have lost interest in redeeming coupons. This is interesting because while the grocery chain has ended double coupons in the Akron/Canton/Cleveland areas, Giant Eagle actively allows coupon doubling in regions such as their Columbus area stores...."

This is not just a slapped up website I am truly impressed. Please give it a read.

And I would be remiss if I didn't send you to their 'what you can do to help' section.

A big hat tip to the group! Peace Out - 3C

Giant Eagle Reverses Their Decision To Eliminate Double Coupons...But Don't Get Too Excited

I wrote here about their plan to eliminate the double coupons. Sometimes it pays to stay up late -- WKYC reporter Dick Russ writes that Giant Eagle came to their senses and as of tomorrow (well, today), you can double your coupons again!

This is not a permanent reversal however.

Store executives claim to be responding to customer complaints that there wasn't enough notice. So now you can double through September 30th. Would love to know the know, numbers of coupons actually redeemed for double discounts on a weekly basis.

In any case, you still only have a few weeks to do it, then I guess Giant Eagle will revert back to their original, non-consumer friendly plan. Peace Out - 3C

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Somewhat Housing Related But Not Really.....'Little Boxes'

Apparently the show Weeds has decided the song 'Little Boxes' is their theme song and they invite different artists to sing it. Here are eight different versions. For those of you old enough to remember the song (or maybe you heard your parents sing it lol), it's a hoot! I like all of them but maybe The Shins win. Not sure. What do you think? :-) See, I couldn't just rant and leave it at that could I?

A hat tip to for this delightful entry. Oh, and on the same page you can watch the You Tube video of our own Devo's first new song in 17 years. Night!

Peace Out - 3C

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cleveland Economic News: Giant Eagle Does it Again reports that Giant Eagle is ending their double coupon program in the Cleveland and Akron areas. They claim it's what consumers want. I seem to be on a constant Giant-Eagle rant, but I can't help myself. It's what the consumers want? Must be a response to the fact that we moved from first poorest city to the rich ranks of fourth poorest city.

I guess they need all that extra money they save by not paying out for double coupons to build the new Giant Eagle at W. 117th and I-90; you know, the one no one will be able to walk to?
Peace Out - 3C

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Housing Trends: A Serious 2006 Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland Study on Home Sales Trends

My last 12 months in real estate have been like a roller coaster: frustrating, sad, satisfying and busy year, all wrapped up in month-to-month cycles. I was aggravated at the media talk about housing bubbles and now declining prices. I got sad about the number of people contacting me, trying to get help with a home sale when their mortgage was not being met, and frustrated at how long they waited to get help...meaning, it was not possible for me to list their home and have them make enough money to save themselves. I was delighted to see so many young people and other first time home buyers saving money and coming in with an ethic of fiscal responsibility. It is what makes my chosen profession the best for me; never dull and different almost every day.

Some of my real estate colleagues, in the business for decades, told me that real estate is always cyclical. My own personal experience from home purchases in the '80s and then trying to sell a condo in the '90s, showed me first hand this was true. And my experiences now as a real estate professional back up these opinions.

Foreclosures and extremely high numbers of listings do have an effect on sale prices in our area. But here is a study pointed out to me on the University of Wisconsin-Madison site. They talk about two studies, but one is more recent. It was completed in 2006 by The Federal Reserve in Cleveland and talks about cycles. Here is an excerpt:

"....To understand changes in house prices, it is necessary to study the price of residential land. Data indicate that the real price of land has been marching steadily upward since 1950. If the 1998–2006 boom to house prices reflects demand for housing-related amenities, then the data on land prices argue that this boom is a continuation of earlier trends.
Relaxed credit constraints could explain the outpacing of house price appreciation to incomes. House prices can and should be expected to surge if credit constraints are unexpectedly relaxed for first-time home buyers who are credit or down-payment constrained. This surge can occur even when incomes remain constant; when credit constraints change over time, incomes and house prices should not be expected to increase at the same rate. ..."

This is a long dissertation, so you might want to grab a cup of java before you read. It's a very good read, however, for anyone who owns a home, is interested in how real estate works.

I'm never going to discount our foreclosure issues, or the change in (for the better) home sale prices sellers experienced for a few years running. The old saying is that 'real estate is local' and it surely is that. But this is a 'non-chicken little' approach...statistics! Let me know what you think. Peace Out - 3C

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Avenue District: Progress!

Check out the Avenue District Blog - they have photos of the construction site, via a webcam they installed. I wish all the projects had webcams! You can subscribe to their newsletter as well, by going to their website. Peace Out - 3C

Does the United States Make More Manufactured Goods Than Ever Before?

Peter Goodman writes in the Washington Post that in fact, The United States "....makes more manufactured goods today than at any time in history, as measured by the dollar value of production adjusted for inflation -- three times as much as in the mid-1950s, the supposed heyday of American industry. Between 1977 and 2005, the value of American manufacturing swelled from $1.3 trillion to an all-time record $4.5 trillion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis...."

He highlights a former mill in South Carolina that is now a new home to an entrepreneurial high tech company.

As we all observe the increase in high technology companies here, like the ones moving in Downtown, we have to realize we are part of that manufacturing base. It's changing but it still exists. Good stuff. Read Peter's article here.

Read more:
NorTech talks about Akron's Innovation Campus

Peace Out - 3C

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Forbes Includes Cleveland Real Estate on Their Affordability List

There was a very good article in Forbes this week. Matt Woolsey reports about the affordability of housing stock in certain areas of the Country; and more specifically, certain cities. His description of affordability makes sense. The short version is, the median price matches the medium income. He points out that even if you don't have any money saved this year, would take just two years of gross salary to become a homeowner...."

That means two years of saving for a home, which is reasonable and matches what my mortgage 'peeps' tell me. He was referring to Indianapolis at the time, but here are the other cities he included on the list for affordable homes:

Cleveland, Ohio
Indianapolis, Indiana
Detroit, Michigan
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Atlanta, Georgia (this one surprises me, their salaries must be high enough to fit the criterion)
Greensboro, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
St. Louis, Missouri
Dallas, Texas
Austin, Texas

Our median income is somewhere around $57k -- according to the article. Does anyone have stats to back this up or corroborate? It sounds high to me. They list the median sales price of homes here as $122,900. That does sound about right. While it is not the best time to list a home for sale right now, it sure is a good time to buy one in the Cleveland area.

Forbes on line has a slide show that also includes the median home prices for each community, along with photos.

The more I think about it, I thought our median income was below $30k, otherwise how would we have been voted one of the poorest cities? Sometimes (!!!) when you read an article you just can't take it on face value, I know, you all already know that!

Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Cleveland Neighborhood News:Food Finds! New York Style Pizza May Be Best Pizza on Cleveland's West Side

New York Style Pizza is my favorite West Side pizzeria. (I included the link even though their website is still under construction in the hopes it is up and running soon.) They used to be located at Lorain and W. 150th and it was a treat to indulge in their white pizza with eggplant topping. Now they are on Triskett at W. 150th -- how lucky am I to be on their delivery path now!

They offer a nice selection of toppings, they even advertise The Largest Pizza in Ohio (36" hand tossed). All their pizzas are baked in a stone oven. They make their own yummy dough and sauces. A few weeks ago, I ordered a Hawaiian pizza without ham. You could be saying to yourself, self, she is odd...or, you could try it, and have a wonderful juxtaposition of flavors on a meatless pizza: the sweetness of the cooked pineapple on a killer pizza with a to die for sauce. Yum!

Their menu is actually broader than pizza: killer chicken wings....salads, burgers, ribs, etc. The place is always spiffy clean; there are a few tables to dine-in if you choose. Or, just walk in and order and then sit and chat with the friendly staff or others waiting for their pizza.

I sat with rapt attention a few days ago as I listened to Peter explain to a newer employee what went into the making of a calzone; as he detailed the process I was hungrier than ever. Peter is of course one of the local heroes to me since he is the pizza maker! The crust and sauces are (as they say on the BBC), absolutely fabulous. Check them out! (In case you are wondering, Geraci's pizza is my favorite East Side pizza... you were wondering weren't you? lol) Peace Out - 3C

New York Style Pizza, 15233 Triskett Road, near the corner of Triskett and W. 150th. 216-941-2500

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cleveland Neighborhood News: Does Anyone Care What Residents Think?

Are you surprised that the new Giant Eagle proposed for W. 117th near Target is moving forward? I'm not. Because of course it still makes no sense to have a store where there are no residents when five or six groceries already exist IN neighborhoods. Anyway, you can read about it here. Grrrrr. Peace Out - 3C

Can We Keep City Buddha In Ohio City?

I was almost bereft walking to work yesterday. As I passed City Buddha, there was a 'store closing clearance' sale banner out front. I immediately went in to see what was going on....they are not closing the Cleveland Heights location -but I am hoping they don't have to leave Ohio City either!

Obviously I'm not privy to the financials.....maybe they need a new location that does not cost as much to rent per square foot of any event, Ohio City needs City Buddha! I have friends who don't even live near the place who frequent it on a regular basis...we all do, I'm sure! Are chain stores and restaurants the only ones who will be around in ten years? How do we keep the local, signature stores afloat? By spending money there please! Let's not let this happen at another local establishment, when you have the opportunity, please frequent a local shop.

Can you email Larry the owner ( and ask him to find another Ohio City location please! Peace Out - 3C

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cleveland News: Mayor Frank Jackson on The Cleveland Schools and the Medical Mart

In Cleveland news today, Mayor Jackson's comments on the Medical Mart and improving Cleveland's schools. His comments are covered in an article on Newsnet5's website. He explains why he feels the Med Mart will bring on a spin off in manufacturing jobs. Again, I don't think any of us were questioning the positives of a Med Mart, just how it was going to be funded. Peace Out - 3C

Cleveland Transportation News: The Ohio Hub and The Nashville Connection

For now, the Ohio Hub plan promises to hook us up with high speed rail to places like Detroit and Columbus and Pittsburgh and Buffalo. Ohio is of course not the only state vying for Federal money for high speed train routes. I found this article interesting; it talks about the proposed Atlanta to Chattanooga rail route. They seem to be in the same holding pattern we are in Ohio: they have the money for the environmental study and then plan on being ready to apply for the Federal money when it becomes available.

What makes so much sense to me: once The Hub is in place, we can work on connecting the entire country with viable high speed train service. How can this not help our economy?

Here is another article, this one about light rail in Washington D.C. A Purple Line was proposed to add to DC's Metro system; one comment in the article is that it's harder to get monies for hard rail lines but light rail is easier......they are still not sure the Purple Line will move ahead. Read it for yourself...I plan on ferreting out all the articles I can find on a continual basis so we can see what others are doing in addition to our own progress on the Three C Corridor Plan.

I hate when this happens, but for some reason The Post article won't link here...they may be working on a new page location for it on their site. I'll check back in the morning and see if it has landed somewhere else on the site. Peace Out - 3C

Okay, here is an excerpt, in case the article enters the Bermuda Triangle:

"....The Federal Transit Administration, which helped sink plans for a tunnel through Tysons Corner and is demanding further cost accounting for the proposed Metro line through Dulles International Airport, will likewise dictate what any new transit line through suburban Maryland would look like and when -- or whether -- there will be money to build it.
"It's the driving force behind the planning process," Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari said of the competition for federal money. "You can have the best conceived transit project in the world, and it's not going forward if it doesn't qualify for federal funding."
Toward that end, Porcari delayed consideration of the Purple Line for another year after deciding that the rider estimates were too crude to impress the federal officials in charge of doling out critical funding. Analysts are now recalculating ridership predictions using more sophisticated forecasting models.
Concerns about federal guidelines also led local officials to quickly rule out heavy rail -- the type of trains used on Metro -- in favor of slower, but far cheaper, light-rail trains or express buses. State officials have also rejected calls to run the line under the popular Capital Crescent Trail, saying it would be too expensive without saving travel time -- another effort to satisfy federal criteria.
The concessions show just how focused planners are on pleasing officials at the federal agency. ..." (written by Katherine Shaver and Amy Gardner of The Post)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Grand Opening of Planet Donuts Sweetens Up Westtown

I approached it with glee today, total glee! We have a new retail establishment in my neighborhood and to sweeten the pot, it's a donut/ice cream shop! Planet Donut and Ice Cream, at 119th and Lorain, opened for business on Thursday. The Grand Opening weekend is featuring a car show, live music and a much appreciated sun-filled sky.

The owners, Mike and Angie, decided on this location because, according to Angie, "they wanted to bring some life back to the neighborhood." Amen to that! Mike is from the neighborhood, Angie grew up in Parma. They are personable people and I say welcome to the neighborhood!
At one point this building was a used car lot; Angie and Mike said it was a temporary service more recently. The East side of the building is a spacious dining area with cable TV and wi-fi service. I can see myself frequenting it on my way to or from work.

Today I purchased some ice cream (which I sampled already: raspberry!). It's Hershey's ice cream, and they offer a nice selection.

The bakery was a surprise. Owner Mike says he has a bakery off premises. I brought home two different types of jelly roll: one chocolate and one 'regular' sprinkled with crushed pistachios. There were many other items to try but let's face it, I have to fit into my clothes. So the bottom line is, it's a bakery too! They offer shakes, banana splits (!!), cappuccino, cakes, bagels, etc.

We chatted about the fact that the Variety Theatre will eventually be reopened and that will also bring life (and customers for them) to the neighborhood. This is a great start.

I'm posting this early enough so that you still have time to visit this afternoon, check out the antique cars at the car show, take in a little music, and meet Owners Mike and Angie on Grand Opening Weekend. Peace Out - 3C

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Do you read the newspaper on the porch or on line? Do you read it at all?

The future of newspapers in print form is much discussed, but when someone as insightful as Joel Achenbach tackles the issue I take note. Have to love the title: I Really Need You To Read This.

I still read the paper but I do it on line. I admit, I do not read the PD regularly; many of my fellow bloggers remind me weekly why I don't by some of their, uh, colorful nicknames for it. But I do read the WS Journal and the Washington Post is my home page. What do you read? Do you agree with Joel?

He asks at the end of the article to comment on his blog. You can, that would be great....the POST also allows comments on articles...I find myself doing that often as well....

What's wrong with the PD? How can they sit back and look at the POST and the WSJ, and just about any other newspaper from an area with a population larger than 100k and their on-line presence is fabulous...compared to the PD, especially.

There are some great Plain Dealer reporters -- I'd read them more regularly if it was on line, because I'm just not liking the print version....what do you think? Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cleveland Real Estate News: Yearly Comparisons For Homes Sold, Lakewood and Rocky River

I have been crazy busy this week, but promised more stats and thought this might be useful. I picked two communities with sold housing stocks and thriving business communities: Lakewood and Rocky River. These are going to be statistics of homes sold for each year 2004-2007 (again, home stats cover homes listed with area brokerages). These combine single family homes, town homes, condos; these stats cover January through August 17th of each year.

Rocky River:

2007 188 Homes Sold
Average Sale Price was $244,002

2006 194 Homes Sold
Average Sale Price was $241,095

2005 189 Homes Sold
Average Sale Price was $231,815

2004 205 Homes Sold
Average Sale Price $245,043


2007 84 Homes Sold
Average Sale Price was $281,433

2006 87 Homes Sold
Average Sale Price was $255,672

2005 344 Homes Sold
Average Sale Price was $185,018

2004 327 Homes Sold
Average Sale Price was $182,533

In both communities the sale prices are higher but the numbers of homes sold are lower. Lakewood has quite a jump in average sale prices. I'll be very curious to see what the stats look like for the next six months; will the volatility in the lending market affect these communities? What about foreclosure rates? I guess we can stay tuned.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cleveland Real Estate News: Getting A Mortgage Safely

You've all heard the news (since it's all over the media) about Countrywide, one of the Country's largest providers of mortgages. They are scrambling to avoid bankruptcy. I have to tell you, it is still possible to get a safe mortgage loan and that is the only good news in this mess. Brian Brady is one of the top thinkers, in my opinion, in the mortgage industry. I'll let him tell you about this. Here are solid points of advice from America's Most Opinionated Mortgage Broker. I am dead serious, this is great advice. He's writing it for Realtors® but it can tell you what to look for as you search for your loan. Peace Out - 3C

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Real Estate News: Brecksville and Independence Half Year Sale Statistics

Independence and Brecksville are adjacent communities so it seemed appropriate to do a comparison of home sales since January of this year; six months of stats for homes sold by area brokerages:

81 single family homes sold
23 condos sold

The homes sold ranged in sale prices from $78,000 for a bank owned home to $1,375,000.00 for a new construction luxury home. The averages look like this:

  • 2,906 square feet
  • 4 BRs, 2 Baths and 2 car garage
  • Average sale price was $310,649
  • The average amount of days on the market for these homes was 71
  • Average cost per square feet was $110

***There are 77 single family homes on the market as of today, in Brecksville, and 34 condominiums.


20 single family homes sold

They ranged in price from an estate sale at $142,507 to $650,000. The averages:

  • 2,399 square feet of living space
  • 3 BRs, 2 Baths and a two car garage
  • The average sale price was $285,047
  • The average number of days these homes were on the market was 94
  • The average cost per square foot was $119

There are 48 single family homes listed for sale currently, with area brokerages. (There are no condo stats for Independence)

Independence had a smaller inventory of homes for sale than Brecksville, and traditionally Independence is a popular designation neighborhood for home sales (lower taxes). These first six months did see Brecksville with a higher average sale price; the price per square foot was higher in Independence, but close. Peace Out- 3C

Monday, August 13, 2007

Don't Buy Anything If You Don't Have Money -- What a Concept!

Big hats off to fellow Active Rainer Cheryl Johnson for digging up this SNL video.....I remember it, I laughed, poignantly. You really need to watch this for the perfect financial philosophy! Thanks, Cheryl. Peace Out-3C

Cleveland Real Estate:Two Good Reads From Other Bloggers

I read two posts this weekend that I definitely want to pass on to everyone....the posters are not in NE Ohio but what they have to say applies to every state and all of us. Both of these bloggers are real estate professionals whom I respect tremendously and whose work I follow.

First, George Souto is a mortgage lender from Connecticut He wrote a post on zero down mortgages and what is fact and what is fiction about them in our current market. I definitely suggest you read this.

Next, Linda Davis (coincidentally, also from Connecticut!) has a story about a listing she had that just went under contract. She understands about pricing listings; she understands a lot because she is a broker who has been in business for about 30 years. So check out her post to get some great insight into what is important when you want to sell your home. Peace Out - 3C

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cleveland Real Estate News: Ohio City & Tremont Housing Sales

This covers zip code 44113, which includes Ohio City and Tremont. These 'first six months of 2007' stats represent homes listed with area brokerages.

  • There are 93 single family homes for sale in zip code 44113
  • There are 74 condos listed for sale in this zip code
  • One condo and 4 single family homes are 'contingent' and waiting to go pending to close
  • 21 single family homes are under contract and waiting to close
  • 51 condos are pending as well, and waiting to transfer title and close

Sold since January:

  • 22 condos
  • 46 single family homes
  • The average time on the market for these homes was 108 days
  • Average Ask Price was $194,425
  • Average Sale Price was $192,967
  • Average cost per square foot was $92

**There are 93 homes and 74 condos listed for sale right now, as I stated; that is quite a bit less than the West Town and West Park area stats showed in my previous post. Zip code 44113 has not seen the huge wave of listings (and maybe less foreclosures?) than some other areas.

Peace Out - 3C Copyright 2007

Cleveland Real Estate: Housing Sales West Park/West Town

These are statistics for home sale activity for the first six months of this year. This post covers Westpark/Westtown, and as always, includes all home activity for homes listed with area brokerages.

  • There are 423 homes on the market as of today
  • 133 of them are 3 BR, one car garage single family homes
  • Two homes are 'contingent' but under contract
  • 80 homes have sold since January

The Averages:

  • 1,276 square feet of living space
  • The 80 homes were on the market an average of 72 days
  • Average Ask Price was $101,334
  • Average Sale Price was $97,103

**The least expensive home that sold ($18,500) and the most expensive one ($156,000) were both bank owned/foreclosure homes.

Let me repeat: there are 423 homes listed for sale with area brokerages in this neighborhood. I would say if you do not have to sell your home right now, now would not be a good time to test the waters!

Peace Out - copyright 3C 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Cleveland Real Estate: The Skinny on Lakewood and Rocky River Home Sales

Six months of statistics are available for home sales in and around Cleveland so I'm going to be posting these off and on over the next week. Today it's Lakewood and Rocky River. These stats, as usual, cover homes sold by brokerages in NE Ohio. All stats cover January to the present.


105 total homes sold. 66 were BR single family homes; the rest were condos. The lowest sale price was $55,000 and the highest was $223,000.

All 105 averaged 94 days on the market before selling. The average 'sold' dwelling had 3BRs, 1BA and a one car garage. Average asking price was $120,096. The average sale price was $115,574.

There are 168 Single Family Homes for sale currently in Lakewood.
There are 138 condominiums for sale.

12 homes are currently under contract and waiting for inspections and mortgages to be finalized; 36 homes are 'pending' or waiting to close.

Rocky River:

182 total homes sold since January.
137 were single family homes
45 were condominiums

They ranged in price from $127,000 to @262,000. The average ask price was @178,060 and the average sale price was $171,747. These homes were on the market an average of 88 days.

There are 4 'contingent' offers, meaning waiting for inspections and mortgage approvals.
There are 37 homes pending, or waiting to close.

Rocky River currently has 171 condos listed for sale ; 182 single family homes are listed for sale.

Still more available homes than there are buyers. Peace Out - 3C

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sales Tax Monies....Better Use?

Hmmm, thinking that our infrastructure might be better served by that increase in sales tax monies. A day like today that saw most of NE Ohio flooded due to sewers that are tied into each other in ways that encourage flooding.....couldn't they use that money to take care of this issue instead? I'd love to know if this is realistic. Peace Out-3C

I did not have three minutes to myself today so no calls to the sewer peeps etc. But, turns out today's newsnet5 website has an article. It's slightly tabloid in nature (quel surpris) but I will let you read and decide for yourself. Now, this really IS my next week's cause. 8/9/07

Cleveland Housing News: Ohio's Homestead Exemption Tax Has Expanded

Governor Strickland and The Ohio General Assembly have expanded the Homestead Exemption Tax. You may not have been eligible before but may now meet the requirements.

Are you 65 ?

Are you disabled?

If you answer yes to either question, you may now qualify. Because the income limits have been eliminated.

It could reduce your property taxes up to $400 a year.

I mention this now because the deadline for applying for a Homestead Tax Exemption is October 1, 2007. Believe it or not, October is not that far away. You will ultimately be applying through your local county auditor. There is a directory of all county auditors and forms you can download at the Ohio Department of Taxation website.

If you already qualify, no worries, the new rules will automatically keep you in the program.

You can find out more information two ways -

On line at Ohio Department of Taxation or by calling them at 800-282-1780.

In Cuyahoga County, you can contact the Auditor's Office on line or by calling 216-443-7010

Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cleveland Retail Economic News: My Grocery Store Rant - What are They Thinking?

I'm not my usual positive self; been sitting on this issue for two days and finally have to blog about it. The PD will tell you more but....... Giant Eagle is planning on a store on W. 117th at the new Target location. On face value, everyone might say great! Here's some food for thought:

1. Lorain at Rocky River Drive: Rego's Market replete with Corbo's bakery

2. Lakewood Heights Blvd at Lewis: Rego's Market at first Rego's location ever

3. Lorain Road at W. 139th: Giant Eagle Super Market

4. Lorain Road at W. 104th: Giant Eagle Super Market

5. Montrose at Warren Road: Giant Eagle Super Market

All five stores reside in areas heavily populated with homes. All are within I bet, two miles of each other. Yes, there are some residential streets close to the new Target on W. 117th but wouldn't different types of retail be better there? If I am going to Target, I'm NOT going to the grocery store! Yes, I know, private ownership and all. But really guys! Put a retail operation there that will bring more retail jobs to the neighborhoods, NOT robots!

And my pet peeve: Giant Eagle cannot keep cash registers open at the stores they already have. This was a conversation I had last evening at the one on Lorain Road...ten people in line, one cashier. It makes no difference what time of the day you go, there are NEVER enough people cashiering at a Giant Eagle. At least not any of the ones I have mentioned. And they are moving towards the self-scanning machines anyway (which are never manned either I might add). Let's put more people out of business and just have us do our own check out - kind of like having to pump your own gas only with groceries.

Why spend money on a new store when you can't even service the ones you have?

Closing down more grocery stores in our neighborhoods while promoting driving a car to one on W. 117th seems like insanity to me.

Someone explain to me why this is getting a go ahead. The people who make these decisions must not shop at local grocery stores. Someone please explain to me why this is a good idea!

Bah humbug. Peace Out - 3C

How would you feel about an 'air rights' cap over the Innerbelt that included housing?

It's hard to weigh in on this idea fully, but there are aspects to it that sound feasible and economically forward thinking. What am I talking about? Well you will have to read an article in the Plain Dealer by Steven Litt. A non profit group called Quadrangle Inc. is suggesting we follow the path taken in places like Boston and making sense out of concrete barrier areas established during the Federal money heyday. Barriers that have cut off neighborhoods from the rest of the world (i.e. highway exit ramps) in cities all over this Country. That part sounds good so far.

I get a bit nervous about two things. Have you ever read about Boston's Big Dig? That was so expensive it made everyone's blood go cold. Secondly, there is money for the Innerbelt Plan (Federal) but no money would exist for the Capping Plan (Federal).

It would be a ten block area that would connect CSU with CCC and St. Vincent's Charity Hospital. It would be called the 'University Circle West.' I can't believe they have a name for it already. It would create 23 acres of housing, retail and parks. Above ground parks like the High Line in NYC?

As usual there is discord not discourse. The peeps and non-profit groups supporting The Innerbelt Plan are saying that this will circumvent the existing plan for the Carnegie exit ramp and that it will delay the project, make it more expensive. Make it more expensive makes sense; the delay part, well, to me a plan should move ahead only when it's absolutely determined that it is the best one.

This quote from Hunter Morrison, a former area planner, is worth repeating because this is for sure what happened all over the Country: (this is right out of the PD article)

"Morrison said city planners in the 1950s intentionally ran the highway between downtown and the Woodland and Central neighborhoods to create a barrier. Capping the freeway in the future would heal an urban scar, he said. "

But, and a big but, they don't know who would fund this project.

You can go to Quadrangle Inc. website and see a map of the District and find a bit more about them. The name quadrangle and it's association for college life is not lost on me. This has not been on my radar before has it been on yours? Let's hope we can find out more about this.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Cleveland Economic News -Summer In The City Program Shows Off Cleveland

This made my heart beat faster....and yes I realize 30 people do not a 'reverse brain drain' make. But it is in line with what I am hearing and seeing from rental and buyer clients moving into the area. Read this article by Amanda Teuscher (wonder if she is related to Fred) of the PD.

It's a good story - the first person who is interviewed is a Berkeley California gal who wound up here for grad school after her 'internship' showed her what Cleveland had to offer. It's a start. If we keep having lots of these starts, maybe it will amount to good things.

Last year I had one client move out of Ohio (to Tennessee for a job). This year I had a Philly native/resident who was part timing here for job purposes give up his condo. That is it, all the rest of my relocation clients have been moving here, not leaving.

How about this statistic from the article: 630 students applied for 75 spots/internships; the program was originally just for Yalies but employers became so enthusiastic about the program they opened it up to other schools.

This program sounds so much better than any expensive marketing campaign we've tried in the past. Peace out - 3C

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Cleveland Housing News: Multi-family (Doubles) Stats For Zipcode 44111

There are currently 63 two family homes for sale in zipcode 44111. 64 if you count a new one listed on Bellaire for $240k (built in 2006).
The average Ask Price is $93,712. The average square footage is decent, 2,033 sf, or about 1,000 a unit per home.

Since January 2007, here are sales stats for two family homes in zip code 44111:

  • 27 Doubles Sold
  • Average Ask Price was $82,300
  • Average Sale Price was $78,488
  • Average number of days these sold doubles were on the market is 91
  • average square footage was 2,049

There are foreclosure homes represented here, that is the sobering news. The better news if there is any, is there are not hundreds of them on the market right now (which is true for single family homes in this zip code, see post from earlier this week). Peace Out- 3C

Ohio Transportation News: Trains are Safer Than Cars

The PD has an article (if you can call two paragraphs an article) about train track deaths - four people have died in Lorain County on train tracks this Summer. Just thought, to put it in perspective, I'd throw in an automobile stat.

In 2006, posted on and according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, 1,239 people died in Ohio as a result of a car crash. The good news is, that is quite an improvement over traditional stats for previous years (they say 2005 was a turning point and attribute it to seat belts).

Just had to put that into perspective. Peace Out - 3C

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cleveland Economic and Housing News: Advance NE Ohio Asks: Are You Optimistic?

I added my two cents, but more importantly, they want input and that means you. Advance NE Ohio wants to know three reasons why you are optimistic about our future. If you provide your thoughts there just might be a great dialogue. Peace Out - 3C

Cleveland News: Sheryl Crow Concert a Perfect Ending to July

After a full day of work in real estate, the last thing I could have imagined was going to a concert at the Scene Pavilion. Okay, the PD Pavilion. Had an unexpected invitation to see Sheryl Crow perform there and that was an offer I could not possibly refuse. Thank you Mark and Cyril for the invitation.

Sheryl Crow still inspires, still sings with that smoky, lush voice that hasn't lost it's luster. She seemed wonderfully healthy after her 2006 bout with cancer. And her band is phenomenal. Due to the wonders of the Internet, you can see photos from tonight's (okay, last night's) concert on her official website here.

I fantasize about still going to concerts when I am 85. As I gazed at the Bingham and the Federal Court House, the River and the beautiful moon tonight, I wondered at how fabulous our City's resources are; the natural beauty, the man made wonders that are the iron bridges and the architecture. I hope we never squander those resources for any reason. Peace Out - 3C

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cleveland Real Estate: Zip Code 44111 Housing Stats

We are halfway through the year 2007, which is hard to believe no? Cleveland real estate in zip code 44111 is selling, but there are some shocking stats.

These figures - as always - cover homes listed on the real estate computer listing site, NORMLS, for homes sold through brokerages who list there:

Zip Code 44111: 114 Single Family Homes sold since January 2007

Here are the averages for those homes: 1,327 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and a two car garage. Okay so far. The average asking price was $69,547. The average sale price was $66,837. That comes out to about $52 a square foot. The average number of days on the market for these homes was 84.

The other stark news is that the first 35 homes out of these 114 sold for under 50k -- and the first 46 homes were bank owned. Yes, there is a correlation. It's also sad because it affects the market values.

And btw, there are still 370 single family homes on the market in this zip code -- and that is only for the homes with 3 or more bedrooms. This puts a stark reality to the foreclosure issue. And sometimes reality bites. Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Today Is Cal Ripken Jr. Day at Cooperstown

I try not to have heroes; it's counter productive. But baseball is part of my soul and Cal Ripken is at the top of my roster of favorite players...and human beings I don't know but admire. Today he will be at Cooperstown getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, and here is a Washington Post article to start your day with a smile....who doesn't like Cal? Not many people.

I lived in Maryland for 19 years and treasure my VHS copy of the final game in his Streak....complete with the lap and the applause. It's not so much about the final day, the final game, the Iron Man title; it's about the seemingly great work ethic and consistency. That's what 'almost heroes' are for in my life, for inspiration to keep doing the best I can, keep learning, keep trying to be a better human being.

So today is Cal Ripken Jr. day in my heart and that makes me smile. Peace Out - 3C

Downtown Cleveland Housing: Euclid Avenue Corridor Update

First let me say how happy I am to utilize a PR newswire report since they moved so many of their workers to Cleveland a few months back! Now the news:

1. Paul Volpe and City Architecture have been given the bid for the Streetscaping for the Euclid Avenue Corridor project. The first leg of this project will start in September of this year. It is, according to plans, to be a walkable neighborhood and will tie in to and be in partnership with the Zaremba Development of the Avenue District.

2. The Avenue District construction is already underway - 78 units at are you ready? Good price points! For 1200 square feet the price is expected to be around $235,000. For the usual $300k and up, you will actually get good square footage for your buck: how does a $370k 2100 sq foot town home sound? The prices can go even higher of course but it sounds like good variety in the floor plans and styles.

One of the descriptions of the Streetscaping Plan intrigued me a lot; they called for 'outdoor living rooms' called 'area rugs' by using different colors and textures.....and there will be benches and public art and more. Btw, the Streetscaping project costs some bucks...approximately $7 mil.

Have to admit it sounds like it could really provide a sense of place for Euclid Avenue.

(above is a photo I took on E. 9th Street-multiply that 100 times and there is a 'wow' factor in my head about the EA Streetscaping) Peace Out - 3C

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cleveland Real Estate News: New Town Home/Condo Projects

New Cleveland Condominium Projects: Where are the price points going to be? Only some of them are below $300k. And you guys know my mantra, we need lower price points.

Anyway, the PD's Henry Gomez wrote an article and there is a great pdf file of proposed projects - every now and then the PD gets it right, this is a useful reference for anyone who might want to purchase a condo. Some of the projects sound really good, like the condos on Columbus Avenue -- after all, they are near RTA so perfect location. I do not know anything about the price points yet and this article did not have that information either. They may still be deciding. I might have to call and lobby for good prices!

Gomez talks about the 15 year tax abatement keeping the $300k and up price points going strong. What do you think? Wouldn't a 15 year tax abatement on a town house that was $200k be even more attractive? How about $179k like the ones at Tremont's Starkweather Place? Stay tuned for more information on that one soon. Great exterior design, really true to the character of Tremont.

Peace Out - 3C

Cleveland Economic News: Be Smart, Drive Smart?

This car amazed me when I was in London two winters ago. WKYC reports that it is now going to be sold here. Watch this cool video from the WKYC website :-) Peace Out - 3C

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Housing Trends: Maybe We Can Make Saving Money to Buy A Home Sexy

I saw it in the faces of some of my clients; it may have seemed exciting to be a part of the 'gold rush mentality' of no money down purchases: ' why wait and miss the boat, buy a house now.' Meaning, why wait until you have money saved for a down payment or even closing costs!

The truth is always much less sexy, taking the form of foreclosures and sherrif sales at the bleakest end of the spectrum; and too much financial stress even at it's best. You can read a few past posts on the foreclosure issues here and here and here. You can also follow Callahan's Cleveland Diary, since Bill is keeping track, seemingly weekly, of new foreclosures filed.

Out of these dark clouds may be some better news for the future. At least that is what is being reported in Crain's Cleveland this week. Shawn Turner wrote about banks/lenders seeing an increase in the number of fixed rate and conventional loans filed, with a downturn in ARMs and No Interest, and subprime loans. The banking officials interviewed said some key things, at least according to this article:

1) People are taking to heart the negative press about sub prime loans. The good news is that people are learning they "...need to read the fine print..." (quote from Cindy Balser of KeyCorp)

2) Fifth Third Bank says it's conventional loan applications are up to 74% of all loans written, compared to conventional loans encompassing 63% for all of 2006.

Another aspect of mortgage loans to consider: if you don't put 20% down, you will be spending money that does not count towards your Principal or Interest on the loan, but will still have to come out of your pocket. This is because of PMI (Mortgage Insurance) that is 'tacked on' to your monthly loan amount if you provide a down payment of less than 20%. I looked around and of all places found an article on MSN Money. But the source is fairly good: Kiplinger. A question and answer session from a consumer looking to buy a home and get a mortgage led to a pretty concise discussion of what PMI is all about.

I am not saying no one should get a sub prime loan. But it has to be better if more people are focused on actually saving money before they decide to purchase.

Some of my 2007 clients have talked about not being sure if they will be able to stay in Cleveland and put down roots....maybe they are recently out of grad school; maybe they have moved here to accept a job transfer. Could be a lot of reasons. I encourage them to talk to their mortgage lenders about the advantages of a 20 pecent down loan, helping to build equity more quickly. It's been gratifying that a few of my clients were already doing this on their own, planning for their home purchases, saving money. The Kiplinger discussion in Money puts it this way:

"In the early years, you aren't building any equity with the mortgage payment," Eisenberg says. "If the market changes or your personal circumstances change and you're forced to sell, you could lose money" if you made little or no down payment. The equity in your home can also give you an extra source of cash in an emergency."

Peace Out - 3C

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Life as a Cleveland Realtor® is Good

I may not be the richest of people (uh, no), but frequently I find myself thinking I have the best job in the world. Today was a perfect example: my client and I walked from my office to tour the new phase of the Fries and Schuele condominium project - unveiled at a brokers open today. We saw a handful of units already available. It's always fun to see the interest and excitement on someone's face when they catch a great view from a living room window there. One of my favorites overlooks W. 26th, the Great Lakes Brewery, St. Ignatius' spire and more. It's especially satisfying to show our City to people who are relocating here, or have only lived in the Cleveland area for a while, hailing from some other larger city around the Country. Today was one of those days. I've said it before but here I go again: people do want to move here! We just need more of them.

To cap it off, we wound up at Public Square for a peek at The Park Building condominiums. It's not often you can stand in a residential space and dream about overlooking the Soldiers and Sailor's Monument on Public Square. Of course I wait with anticipation for the completion of the Euclid Avenue Corridor/Silver Line project (it IS going to be completed yes?) These two condo projects, IMHO, are very well done (F & Scheule and Park Bldg). There are others worthy of a gander and a consideration, but the views these two offer are personal favorites.

Seriously, sometimes I want to pinch myself. I get to travel all over the City, more frequently by foot or RTA, and show it off to people who were not born here. Life is good! Peace Out-3C

Monday, July 23, 2007

Drew Carey Rocks Just Like Cleveland

I was trying to watch the YouTube/CNN Presidential debate.....all I kept thinking of, where is that episode of a good debate from the West Wing? Sigh. I gave up on the debate and went looking for Cleveland news and here it is: Drew Carey has been picked to replace Bob Barker on the Price is Right. I didn't have to go far to look, it was on the CNN website :-)

Now this good news is still not wiping away the images in my head of a bunch of talking heads, er candidates giving sound bytes and not saying anything real. Is that ever going to change? Jill of Writes Like She Talks had a good discussion going for a bit on new political parties or no parties, etc. I admit I cannot find that entry, but since we need some cheer after that debate, here is her current entry on three top employers making a 50 Best List for Small and Medium Employers.

Bob Barker was gracious about Drew taking over. Told him to be himself. "Go out there and do that show the way you think it should be done. Don't imitate me and don't imitate anyone else."

Drew Carey Rocks Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Transportation: Maine to Boston's 'Downeaster' Hits Paydirt

This is why The Ohio Hub and the 3C Corridor is the best idea since sliced bread. Watch this video and see what the Downeaster Railroad Line has done for people in the Maine to Boston corridor. No really, please watch it!

I also have a link here to the May 2007 financial report regarding the Downeaster. Ridership is up, they had over 28k riders in May of this year. They are getting ready to add a new daily round trip to their service schedule.

One of the guys interviewed in the above video talks about housing. He said it used to be if you were putting up a 1,000 sq ft. dwelling, the mantra was 'you need a two car garage.' Now that is not necessary!

We need this kind of economic boost in Ohio and Cleveland, don't you think? Peace Out-3C

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cleveland News: Panel Discussion Today at Levin College on Marketing and Improving Our Neighborhoods

Jeff Kipp of Living in Cleveland hosted a lively panel discussion this morning at the Levin College of Urban Studies on marketing and improving Cleveland's neighborhoods. It was the quality of the participants that enticed me although I admit, it was hard not to roll my eyes and say 'oh lordy another attempt to market the City, what will they come up with THIS time.'

Luckily, they dispelled my worries early on by agreeing with Paul Volpe who said he is tired of videos that feature Tower City and the Cleveland Orchestra....and a bunch of 'happy people' who don't really say what is important enough to out-of -towners to bring them here. I breathed a sigh of relief.

I'm going to put out what I thought were the highlights of the discussion:

Paul Volpe's comment that 'culture' and not 'sprawl' are the issues in flight from our city. His (my) generation and earlier thought the signs that you succeeded in life had you progressing from growing up in the City and then moving out to the 'burbs to show you were a productive member of society. He commented that the younger generations seem to be thinking differently and are embracing a life within the City limits. (My clients certainly seem to fit this category.)

David Goldberg says the book The Creative Class should be required reading for everyone, and that personal responsibility NOT marketing is the driving force. He used environmental issues as an example around the Country. The environmental issue is taking off because of a grassroots effort not because of an expensive marketing campaign.

He feels this personal responsibility on all our parts is what will make the difference, not huge money spent on a media campaign. I have to agree. I remember reading Bob Dylan's comment in Rolling Stone recently; leave it to Bob to be on the philosophical cutting edge as always. He said we can't expect our politicians to do what we need to do. It's our fault if things aren't the way we want them, not our political leaders fault. I couldn't help think of this as David Goldberg was talking.

Vickie Johnson exemplified personal responsibility with a great personal story. She of course lives in the Fairfax neighborhood. Her husband is a Cleveland Police Officer with a residency requirement. For years he would lament that they were not able to move anywhere else. She kept quiet, waiting until or if she would have to tackle this issue with him. She never wanted to leave. Then a few years ago, he started talking and thinking differently. Now he does not want to move either.

She also recounted how she felt it was important that her son attend the local public high school. She said she knew him, that he was a good student and would be good for the school and that is what is needed by residents in our neighborhoods. She made some excellent and thought provoking points about this.

She talked about 20 Case Students walking her neighborhood with her. They were mostly from the suburbs or out of town, never having been in that part of the City before. She said that the weekend was full of talking with neighbors and visiting establishments in the neighborhood. That Sunday night the director of the program at Case that brought these students to her for the weekend called: she said they were so impressed with the residents and the neighborhood.

In my opinion, It's all about letting people see the truth of how they live so others don't have to hold onto perceptions from others or from years past.

They all agreed that we, in each of our neighborhoods need to figure out two things: a plan and who is going to be the driving force in facilitating the plan. So it's not all talk. And they also commented on how it needs to be a realistic plan that the City can get behind.

Paul Volpe talked about the work on Prospect he was involved in, taking it, with grassroots efforts by others as well, from a six lane highway to what it is now so that it's a destination and livable and inviting. I don't know if the pretty sight I saw last week was the result of the same kind of effort or a general City plan, but the streetscaping, flowers and guitar art all give the block of East 9th near Huron and Prospect a sense of place in the most inviting way.

India Lee talked about not reinventing the wheel; that our City is divided up into CDCs and that the CDCs would need to be involved in theses grassroots efforts, leading the way in fact, with Living In Cleveland overseeing all of it. Ken Laurie of Rysar mentioned that he also wanted to see entrepreneurial work going on in the neighborhoods.

One part I really got excited about. Apparently (and only recently) The Clinic has been promoting the neighborhoods around it on their website as a way to entice their workers, especially new ones coming into the City, into living there. This is a new trend and shift in thinking. This is what we are looking for yes?

So the conclusion of the panelists was, if major Cleveland employers like the Clinic are promoting a neighborhood on their own, then that is a neighborhood the City should get behind. We cannot afford (they seemed to all agree) to try to promote every neighborhood in the City. We need to be smart about it. And the HR person from the Clinic said there have been quite a few 'hits' on the website about the neighborhood living possibilities.

Ken Laurie brought up an excellent point: Don't spend marketing money until there is a solid plan.

And they asked us to fill out a form if we were willing and able to roll up our sleeves and keep participating along with them and others.

David Goldberg also said he felt the Medical Mart was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we should not give short shrift to (I am paraphrasing). I thought that was interesting.
I'll be sure to let you know when the next panel discussion is scheduled. Or if anything else transpires about all this in the meantime. Peace Out - 3C