Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cuyahoga County Home Sales: Old Brooklyn

This is my last update of home sales for the day. It covers zip code 44109. It includes the portion of Old Brooklyn near State and Broadview Roads as well as the area near Spring Road and route 176:

22 Single Family Homes sold in March between the prices of $19,900 and $140,000. They were on the market an average of 74 days -- again, not long, just a bit over two months. The average Ask Price was $79,093 and the average Sale Price was $74,583. The average amenities for the sold homes were: 3brs, one bath and a two car garage. There were no condo sales in March.

On the market now: 179 Single Family Homes and 5 Condos (and one two family home misplaced in the condo section!)

***NOTE: if only five homes sold and there are 179 on the market with owners wanting to sell, there are things to take into consideration. A Realtor® colleague in Michigan came up with a terrific list of things that might be hard to hear, but if your home is up for sale, it's worth a read. I'm going to re-link it again here. Peace Out - 3C

Cuyahoga County Home Sales: Cleveland's West Side

Here are statistics for March 2007 home sales for zip codes 44102 (near the City of Brooklyn) and 44111 (including Westtown) and 44135 (Bellaire Puritas and Westpark):

44102: 5 Single Family Homes sold in March between the prices of $9,000 and $200,000. The average number of days on the market for these listings was 74. The average Ask Price was $51,750 and the average Sale Price was $46,733. Amenities? On average, 3Brs, one bath and a two car garage.

One condo sold; the asking price was $298,000 and it sold for $265,000.

What's still on the market? no condominiums, but 47 Single Family Homes.

44111: 18 Single Family Homes sold in March between the prices of $26,544 and $120,000. The average time on the market for these homes was 119 days. The average Ask Price was $66,388 and the average Sale Price was $63,444. Amenities? 3Br, one bath and a one car garage. No condos sold in March.

What's on the market? One condo and 123 Single Family Homes.

44135: 18 Single Family Homes sold between the prices of $45,000 and $155,000. They were on the market about 53 days, or less than two months. (This tells me they were priced right because there is plenty of competition). The average Ask Price was $87,250 and the average Sale Price was $83,995. Amenities? 3 Brs, one bath and a two car garage. No condos sold in March.

What's on the market right now? Four condominiums and 174 Single Family Homes.

Peace Out - 3C

Ohio City, Tremont Homes Sold in March 2007

This is for all of zip code 44113. The single family homes that sold were town homes (single family because they are owned in full by the owners, and are not condominium complexes). One was in Clarence Court and four were in Bergen Village.

There were Five single family town homes sold between the prices of $218,233 and $$465,873. The average length of time they were on the market was 187 days. The average Ask Price was $348,360 and the average Sale Price was $375,173 (new construction, so with add-ons or upgrades, the prices can go up). The five town homes averaged 2 Brs, 2 Baths and a 2 car garage.

There were two condominiums sold in March between the prices of $107,000 (for one in Grove Court, near the West Side Market) and $547,500 (in Stonebridge). They were on the market for 91 days or three months.

To put things in a bit of perspective: there are 70 condos for sale in zip code 44113 and 92 single family homes.

Peace Out - 3C

Lakewood, Rocky River Homes/Condos Sold March 2007

It's Saturday and the end of March, so it's time for housing sales information. Here is what sold in these two communities this month:

Lakewood: 33 Single Family Homes sold between the prices of $50,000 and $855,000. The average number of days these listings were on the market was 94, or just over three months. The average Ask Price was $ $176,484 and the average Sale Price was $155,721. Average amenities? 3 Br's, 2 Baths and a 2 car garage.

10 Condominiums sold between the prices of $39,500 and $300,000. The average number of days these condos were on the market was 142 (condos take a bit longer to sell in general, especially in a city like Lakewood where there are a lot of condo complexes). The average Ask Price was $143,410 and the average Sale Price was $132,990. Average amenities? 2 Br's, 2Baths and parking/garage for one car.

Rocky River: 17 Single Family Homes sold between the prices of $137,000 and $400,000. The average number of days these homes were on the market was 96 or again, just over three months. The average Ask Price was $246,182 and the average Sale Price was $231,764. Amenities? 4 Br's, 2 Baths and a 2 car garage.

5 Condominiums sold between the prices of $55,260 and $232,000. They were on the market about 130 days. The average Ask Price was $ $134,860 and the average Sale Price was $123,152. Amenities? 2 Br's, 2 Baths and parking for one car.

Here are a few more statistics to keep in mind. It is definitely still a buyers market. What's listed for sale now?

Rocky River: 116 Single Family Homes and 109 Condominiums
Lakewood: 288 Single Family Homes and 117 Condominiums

Peace Out - 3C

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Want To Sell Your Home? This is Good Advice

I already have a link to her blog but, this post is so good, I'm not even going to add anything myself, just say, if you want to list your home this Spring, read this list of things not to's great advice from Maureen in Michigan.

Peace Out - 3C

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ohio Floating Bonds to Assist Refinancing Of Homes and Helping to Prevent Foreclosures

This was worth a separate post to me. The State of Ohio is getting ready to float bonds that will allow them to get into the refinancing arena...helping people NOT foreclose and lose their homes. This is an interview conducted by MSNBC television.

Now I have tried to get the link to take you directly to the video. Instead, I can take you here - then scroll down to videos on the right and 'Foreclosures In Ohio' is the first one. There is more than one way to skin a cat LOL

This is worth watching if you are

a) worried about your own mortgage issues
b) interested in our State Economy

I don't have an opinion yet. More research to follow Peace Out - 3C

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ohio's 2006 Foreclosure Rates Jump 24% in One Year

The stats are "in" for 2006 on foreclosures and they are not going to make you happy. Depending on whether or not you use the measure of the Mortgage Bankers Assn. (which says we are first in foreclosures for 2006) or RealtyTrac (which says Ohio is 8th), the rise in precentages is mind blowing. The number of new cases rose 24% in one year. Policy Matters released their figures this week and in Cuyahoga County alone, there were 13,610 new foreclosures.

I was alerted to this in an article on, written by Plain Dealer reporter Thomas Ott. I blogged before about the NeighborWorks program, and this article talks about a case involving Adjustable Rate (ARM) mortgages. A few years ago, while interest rates were about 5.5% on the National Level, people were getting ARMs for 10-14% interest rates.

Cuyahoga County Commissioners Dimora, Hagan and Jones issued a report (in pdf here) based on calls, meetings, public meetings and discussions. It's worth a read.

Folks, all I can say is, please contact one of these programs before it gets to the critical stage! It only takes about three months of missed payments for things to spiral out of control. And I have to say again, if the only way you can buy a home is to pay 13% interest rates when the going rate is 6.06)% (as of today), please wait until you can qualify for a much lower rate. The County Program is called 'Don't Borrow Trouble,' and if you have any inkling that you might have difficulty making your payments in the future, even for a few months, please call them at: 216-436-2000. There is also a United Way hot line and you can reach it by simply dialing 211.

Other relevant posts:
Professor Kathleen Engel discusses predatory lending
What to Look Out For: Avoid Predatory Lending

March 28th Follow Up: PD Reporter Ott has a very interesting follow up article you can read on It deals with a law proposed in Ohio to require lenders who foreclose on homes to file their deeds - maybe I am naive, I didn't know this was not required! I know Title technically does not transfer to new owners until the title is filed at the Court least for us 'regular' people. This is a great article dealing with the thorny issue Cleveland has had to deal with, tracking down owners of long abandoned buildings, collecting taxes, etc.

Peace Out - 3C

Monday, March 26, 2007

Buckeye Savers Bonds: Help Build Parts of I-71 or I-90?

Watching the news on WKYC tonight I was intrigued at the story about a new plan set up by the State of Ohio. Buckeye Savers Bonds can be bought for as little as $5000. Treasurer Richard Cordray has information on his website. It includes replacement of bridges (I-90) in Lake County - a total of 24 highway improvement programs. (note: the previous link is pdf) The WKYC story said 100 million dollars worth of bonds was needed; the website says the entire highway program costs $190 million.

Supposedly, they are estimating these Series K Bonds will reap 'buyers' with a 3 1/2 to 4 percent interest on their investment...and that interest is tax free, both State and Federal. What do you think?

How about also floating bonds to fund the 3C Corridor Program? Peace Out - 3C
April 1, 2007: Here is an update to this post, also from The Plain Dealer under their Business Diary section from March 27th:
Highway bonds are triple tax-free

"Individual investors next week will have an opportunity to buy state bonds that are exempt from federal, state and local income taxes. Through the Buckeye Savers program, the state is issuing $190 million in Series K highway capital improvement bonds. The state set the minimum purchase - $5,000 - low enough to be affordable to individual investors, said Holly Hollingsworth, spokeswoman for Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray. Investors can place orders now through brokers. The sale will be April 3. The bonds will be backed by the state of Ohio and highway receipts. Among the Cuyahoga County projects the bonds will pay for: an upgrade of U.S. 322/Mayfield Road and the installation of an "intelligent transportation system" on parts of Interstates 90 and 71. The system will help provide road weather information to drivers. "

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Do's And Don'ts: Are Granite Counter Tops So 'Yesterday?'

So I discovered's real estate section today for the first time. Maybe I'm a tad late to the party on this one. Anyway, they had an article about trends that work and don't work if you are planning on putting your house on the market. I'm re - printing them here verbatim and of course adding my comments in red because I can't help myself lol:

1. Avoid installing bowl-shape, above-the-counter bathroom sinks. They look pretty but have proved to be harder to maintain and keep clean. This is a no-brainer. I could tell by looking at them this would happen! I agree with this one.

2. Use engineered stone compound for kitchen countertops. The material is less expensive than granite and is expected to be the trend this year. Hmm. My buyer clients are still asking for granite - maybe Cleveland is behind the curve on this. I DO however agree, they don't hold up as well as engineered countertops.

3.Don't install too many glass cabinet doors in your kitchen. They look better in magazines than they do in real life, where homeowners must keep their cabinets in perfect order or suffer embarrassment. Yes. One or two for 'accent' but the rest of your cabinets are containers of your life you may not want buyers to see! Or relatives over for dinner, for that matter.

4. Consider replacing a wooden or chain-link fence with a wrought-iron one. Wrought-iron fences portray a look of luxury. Maybe they look luxurious but unless your dog is a mastiff or Burmese mountain dog, they can get through the bars. My experience is that people want fences. And they want them for pets as much as they do kids. Or privacy. Ohio City is a great place for wrought iron. But in general, I don't find it as practical except maybe as a front decorative fence. Just my two cents.

5. When repainting trim for shutters, doors and window frames, go with bold and deep colors. And don't get rid of the trim around interior window openings -- it only looks cheap. People actually take out this trim?

6.If replacing floors, avoid bamboo. This flooring was popular when it debuted, but now users are saying it is easily dented and scratched. It is also more likely to warp due to weather and humidity. I don't think this was ever a big trend in Cleveland.

7.If you're adding new construction, don't employ concrete blocks in exterior walls. They are not attractive and are more likely to leak moisture if not properly installed.

8. If you're redoing a kitchen or bathroom, consider using glass tiles instead of ceramic ones. They're gaining popularity again because of reflective qualities. This is not a bad idea; already popular in places like downtown condominium complexes. But consider your budget and remember that good taste in colors and styles chosen is probably much more important than if they are glass or ceramic.

Personally, I like this list of five projects on Money Magazine's website written by Arianne Cohen. Things like new shower doors, painting kitchen cabinets to freshen them up, these are inexpensive and probably produce as good results as glass tiles instead of ceramic. Just my humble opinion! Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Predatory Lending: What to Look Out For As You Search for a Home

The weather is better, more people are looking to buy homes. Caution please, about the type of loan you get. Specifically, avoid predatory lenders. Here are some tips about what to watch out for:

*Someone tries to get you to buy a home for more than it is worth based upon an inflated or false appraisal. You can help avoid this by working with a real estate professional who can provide you with real comps. Not to downplay the Internet appraisal models like Zillow, but, a Realtor® in the trenches can get you the best, updated information about home sales in a particular area.

*A lender is a predator if they are knowingly lending more money to you than you can repay, lending more than 100% of the value of the loan, or charging high fees in connection with a loan. You can help ensure you make a wise loan decision by talking to at least three mortgage lenders. You can weigh what all three tell you. And keep in mind, going with the one that seems to promise you the moon may not be wise: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

*If a mortgage lender encourages you to falsify any information (yearly salary, etc) in order to qualify for the loan, be wary and seek another lender. Mortgage fraud is not good. Note: do you look good in prison orange?

*The home you want to buy looks a lot like others sold in the area, in similar condition, but someone wants you to pay a lot more for the home than the others. This may sound like the first point, but it's a tad different. There may not be an appraisal involved. Make sure a qualified professional advises you on home sales so you can make a wise decision.

*You are asked to sign blank documents, with people telling you the details will be filled in later. This may sound like a no brainer, but believe me, it happens.

*Someone writes up a purchase agreement for a home, and it has an addendum stating that the Seller will be holding a second mortgage which will be 'forgiven' by the Seller immediately upon your taking Title to the home. This is a big red flag. It means someone is inflating the price of the house - and someone is getting the difference in the real price of the house and the inflated price - that someone should not be you, a broker, a lender or an appraiser. It's fraud.

*You are told that your only chance of getting a loan will be through this one lender. Now I know the American Dream is to own a home. But, if only one mortgage lender in the World will qualify you to get a probably should make you think: is this really the right time for me to buy, or should I wait and save money, clear up my credit, first? And of course if you have checked with other mortgage lenders as I stated above, you will have a better idea about whether now is the right time for you to consider buying a home.

I may be a Realtor® and yes I only make money if people buy or sell homes. However, I need to be able to sleep at night! Those of us who are true professionals only want you to buy a home when you are ready, willing and able. On that note, if you have concerns and know you cannot buy a home now, but want to figure out a strategy so that sometime in the future you CAN buy a home, let me know. There are financial counselors, free of charge, who will work with you for a year (in the mortgage 'arm' of my company) so that you can begin to get your finances on track. Here is an article from The New Standard written by Michelle Chen, about Ohio's Predatory Lending Laws. Peace Out - 3C

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Euclid Corridor Project Discussed at Cleveland's City Hall Today

The Euclid Corridor Project was analyzed today at City Hall; progress was discussed. Did you know that the Silver Line Transportation Plan of RTA is expected to entice 56,000 new jobs to Cleveland - there will be 36 stops, sidewalks, trees; you can check out the Silver Line Plans. What do you think? Construction begins between E 55th and E. 83rd street this Thursday. This is the Cleve. State Univ. report on the project and the fact that the Corridor is one of the Oral History Art Project sites to be developed. These are all of the sites for 'audio' oral histories: Public Square; E. 9th; Playhouse Square; E. 19th; E. 40th; E. 59th; between E. 60th and E. 90th (TBD); E. 93rd; Adelbert Road – University Circle; Ford-Euclid – University Circle.

This has been in the works for a while. Here is a press release issued by Senator Voinovich in 2003.

Here are some maps/renderings of the Project from the Silver Line (RTA) site.

Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Walmart Withdraws Banking Idea....Do We Have a Double Standard or Not?

I've written a few posts on Walmart and Steelyard Commons. One of the posts led to comments on Walmart's efforts to get further into the banking business. (you will have to read the comments to get this banking thread)

I'm not a huge Walmart fan, I think it's great that they are not taking the tax abatement for their Steelyard Commons location; I think it's great they are doing some community (commercial) programs in several states (including Ohio) that will supposedly help small businesses near Walmart. But getting into banking - other than providing ATM services or check cashing as other retailers do, seemed like the fox guarding the chicken coop to me. I do have a slight twist on this thought though. Apparently Target already has similar banking services to the type of service Walmart sought.

Pat Combs, President of the National Assn of Realtors® had an official comment on Walmart's withdrawal of it's efforts to increase it's banking services. She talks about how mixing finance and commerce is a bad idea for our country. I can't help but feel that even though Target and Lowe's may be 'better neighbors' (and I agree), it's still a double standard no?! I suspect Walmart would have had a strong case if they had continued in this effort, or, that Target and others with the increased banking items, might have lost theirs?

Someone may be able to help me understand why there is a difference here. Peace Out - 3C

Helpful Phone Numbers?

Browsing through any of the neighborhood redevelopment corporation websites is uesful. Today I was on the Kamms Corner site. They have a terrific list of useful telephone numbers -

Kind of a timely link here, since we have talked about predatory lending which can lead to foreclosures.

And maybe the best link; if you are worried about making your mortgage payments, DO NOT WAIT until it's too late to try to resolve the issue. Two things to do.

Peace Out - 3C

Cuyahoga County: West Side Condo/Town House Sales for March 2007

My last post dealt with single family home sale activity in March 2007. This is the condo side of the report, for the same zip code areas:
  • Data includes condo sale activity through local brokerages and our computer system (MLS)

  • Data covers condo sales from March 1, 2007 to the present

Rocky River 44116:

2 condos under contract

1 sold

Lakewood 44107:

1 condo under contract

1 sold

Cleveland's West Side 44135 none under contract, none sold

Cleveland's West Side 44111 none under contract, none sold

*Note: there are fewer condo communities in both of the two above zip codes

Cleveland's West Side: 44102:

1 condo under contract

1 condo sold

Cleveland's West Side: 44113:

3 condos under contract

1 condo sold

Peace Out - 3C

Single Family Home Sales: Cleveland's West Side, Lakewood and Rocky River

It's the weekend and time for an update on home sales. This is a 'single family' home report, by zip code, for a few of our west side communities:

  • Data includes homes sold through brokerages

  • Data from March 1, 2007 to the present.

Rocky River 44116

1 home under contract

6 homes sold

Lakewood 44107

6 homes went under contract

17 homes sold

Cleveland's West Side 44135

1 home under contract

12 homes sold

Cleveland's West Side 44111

5 homes under contract

9 homes sold

Cleveland's West Side 44102

1 home under contract

6 homes sold

Cleveland's West Side 44113

2 homes under contract

none sold in March (yet!)

Peace Out - 3C

Friday, March 16, 2007

Predatory Lending History and Issues Discussed by Professor Kathleen Engel at 'Meet The Bloggers' Coffee House Discussion

Gypsy Coffee House in Cleveland's West Side was the scene of a fascinating and lively discussion and was a 'Meet the Bloggers Event'. I had another meeting and left before I was able to get all the blog info from participants but people like Jeff of YellowDogSammy and George of BrewedFreshDaily were there among others. A shout out to the organizers of this event. Manager Mark and I were very pleased to be at this informative session.

The focus was on predatory lending and Kathleen Engel, esteemed Professor at Cleveland's Marshall Law School was our guest. We've heard a lot about predatory lending and like all of you, the practice makes my blood boil. Kathleen Engel and a colleague, Patricia McCoy (Law Professor at University of Connecticut) have written a wonderful paper called Turning a Blind Eye. It's well worth the read. Professor Engel was instrumental in working and initiating the predatory lending laws proposed for Cuyahoga County.

Why are we in this mess and what does it all mean? Synopsis according to Professor Engel: Once upon a time, if you wanted a loan, you provided proof that you could make loan payments. You were given a loan based on what you could afford to pay each month on the loan.

These loans were 'prime' loans or standard loans. There were FHA and VA loans which could be considered sub prime because people can get those loans with no money down, but what happened (I think in the 80s) was the rise of a private, conventional sub prime loan market.

This was a 'make money for Wall Street' idea, to put it in simple terms. Entrepreneurial (to be kind) financial types decided loans could be sold on the open market so that the original loan holders no longer had a stake in the outcomes. Ms. homeowner gets a loan from one company and before you know it, her loan payment forms are changing names faster than you can say 'sold on the open market'. I remember loans like that, as a homeowner in Maryland.

Anyway, Kathleen Engel focused on fiduciary responsibility, or in other terms, the loan providers legal and moral responsibility and to whom. When you get a prime loan that stays in house, or with the person you bought the loan from, they have a responsibility to you AND their own lending institution. Once the loan is sold, that loan just becomes a commodity in a sub prime market and their responsibility is only to their shareholders. Can you see why we got into this mess?

Now we have people with 125% loans (PLEASE do not ever get a loan like that) in a market where your home is not worth 125% of it's original sale price.

And when the loan payment becomes too high - because really you should have waited a year or two to save money and not GET a 125% loan - you want to sell your house and then don't understand why it can't be listed and sold at a price that matches your mortgage.

To me it's almost like a bait and switch program. But those in the field are much more adept at explaining this than I am. So read Turning a Blind Eye.

Interestingly enough, Brian Brady, one of my pals and fellow bloggers, is a mortgage lender and an insightful one at that. He has a fantastic post explaining this scenario in detail. It's called Bad Loans Buried in the Back of the Breadbox and also explains how we got into this mess.

What's the answer? Save your money and buy a home the old fashioned way: when you can afford it? Or at least keep in the back of your head: if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Peace Out - 3C

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Governor Strickland Begins Laying Out a Plan for Ohio

"The Federal Government’s Workforce Investment Act helps states provide job training. We’re 51st in making use of those funds." (quote from Governor's speech has frustrated me that Ohio seemed to miss out on too much available Federal money which to me has to have been related largely in bad State management)

Governor Strickland gave his State of the State speech the other day. You can read She Writes Like She Talks for some information about it. I'm impressed with one quote from the speech (from Crains Cleveland):
"We will live within our means and invest in what matters," [Strickland told legislators].

Ohio has tobacco company money coming our way and the Governor plans on spending $5 billion of it on our schools as well as revamping some tax loopholes to get us more money for the schools. You can read the entire Crain's article here. And an ONN Ohio article about it as well. Personally, a little fiscal responsibility and a needed budget increase to aid public schools seems like a breath of fresh air to me. How do you feel?

Other quotes from his speech:
"I am seeking permission from the federal government to use Medicaid funds for private health insurance premium assistance. This would help as many as 300,000 Ohioans – those earning up to 150 percent of the poverty level – pay for coverage that is otherwise beyond their means."

"First, I will establish a higher education compact between the state and our public colleges and universities which will result in lower tuition costs for our students. This compact will increase funding for the basic instructional subsidy by 5 percent next year. And by 2 percent more the following year."

Not being a fan of, or seeing the use of, 'talking heads' on television, I'm not going to become one here lol. So my suggestion? Read his entire speech on his official website here.

Going to close with one more quote since it's about energy and alternative fuels and such:
"Next-generation energies – biofuels, fuel cells, clean coal, and renewable sources such as wind – offer us the opportunity to create jobs, support our farmers, reduce our dependence on foreign oil producers, and be responsible stewards of our environment. " Again I ask, what do you think? Peace Out - 3C

Connecting Cleveland Includes Makeovers for The Variety and Capital Theatres

The majestic blue and white mosaic tiling announced Gunning Recreation Center, the last in a series of Connecting Cleveland meetings held by the City of Cleveland's Planning Commission. These were public meetings to 'dog and pony' the Commissions suggested changes to Cleveland's Master Plan. Some good stuff here and a seemingly aggressive series of ideas to help revitalize our neighborhoods.

Some of the highlights:
1. Encourage mixed use development (shops, housing, offices)
2. Sustain our industrial parkways
3. Look into a specialized high school dedicated to industrial design
4. Continue to foster public/private/non profit cooperation

You have heard our Metropark system referred to as the Emerald Necklace? Well the City is now calling their bike/tow path system the Emerald Bracelet. The idea is to finish connecting the 'trail' dots so that a circle of bicycle trails exists.
The Commission feels we should focus on 'pockets' of retail, because our population is down and trying to sustain, for example, the entire length of Lorain Avenue as a thriving retail district is not as feasible anymore. So they want to foster 'retail clusters.' Already in the works an example of two of these retail clusters:

Kamms Corner - whose 'Streetscaping' project is set to begin next month
Gordon Square - W. 65th and Detroit - most definitely already in the works

One highlight would be the tale of two theatres: The Variety and The Capital. Both exist as shells of their former selves but they are about to get the equivalent of Ty Pennington's Extreme Makeover.

The Capital will now be the West Side version of the Cedar Lee in Cleveland Heights, hosting Independent and Art films (I for one am extremely excited about this!)

The Variety near W. 117th on Lorain will show off her makeover in a different kind of mixed use: everything from children's shows, second run movies and a dinner theatre! I can't wait to see the marquee working on the Variety! The exterior work will be completed in 2007
Of course there was a lot of discussion as well about TODs, population shifts, etc. Check out the Planning Commission Website to get all the details for each district and your own neighborhoods. Peace Out - 3C

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

50th Anniversary of Buzzard Day This Weekend in Hinckley Ohio

Have you ever 'done' Buzzard Day' in Hinckley? It's coming up in 48 hours, March 15th. I thought of this annual event as I drove from Brecksville back to Cleveland today and saw three (yes three!) buzzards flying overhead on Rockside Road. I guess someone forgot to tell them to hide out in the hotel until the 15th; of course I wasn't in Hinckley so I guess it's okay if they were in Independence!

Buzzard Day lore goes back a lot farther than this but sometime in the 50s a policeman reported following the birds for several years and that they indeed always return on March 15th. Can't argue with a policeman! Then the media became interested and voila - Buzzard Day was born.

The first event is March 15th: Buzzards Roost in the Hinckley Metroparks. (you might want to bring your binoculars).

The second event is: Sunday March 18th: The Chamber of Commerce Sponsored Pancake Breakfast ($6 for adults and $3 for kids). The Hinckley Chamber raises a lot of money at this event each year for children's charities. The time? 7AM until 4PM at the Hinckley Elementary School - 1586 Center Road.

And by the way, it's the 50th Anniversary of Buzzard Day. When you click on the Chamber pdf link, you get this which I love:
"....Hinckley, the most famous township in the Midwest, welcomes it's road-kill eating, mammoth winged,hissing, spitting mascot back home!" :-) Peace Out - 3C

Monday, March 12, 2007

Grandmaster Flash, Aretha Franklin, Keith Richards and Eddie Vedder are in NYC ....Why Oh Why are They NOT In Cleveland!

I know New York City is the mecca; I know rock stars expect glitz. But come on, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland everybody! The annual ceremony needs to be here. They want good acoustics? Hold it at Severance Hall! I'm not loving the fact that Grandmaster Flash and Aretha Franklin and Eddie Vedder are in NYC inducting people and we don't reap the full benefit. Van Halen can stay in NYC for all I care (sorry to all their fans but they suck!) I know Cleveland is lobbying, but step it up guys....if Cleveland was good enough to house the Rock and Roll 'stuff,' then it's the place to have the ceremony! Okay, I'm off my soapbox...for now. (Image courtesy of Peace Out - 3C
The Ronettes are being inducted tonight - enjoy the music video!

Cleveland Should Do What Lorain Is Doing: Email Pothole Reports to the City

Check this out: If you live in Lorain - or presumably, driving in Lorain to work, etc., you can now email locations of potholes to the City and they will get on it! I like this high tech, grassroots idea! Check it out on the Lorain Home Page too. Here is the email address:
I hope the City of Cleveland (and Lakewood for that matter, they have some SERIOUS potholes in Lakewood!) gets on the bandwagon.
Peace Out - 3C

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The City of Cleveland and the Practice of Sustainability

Did you know that the City of Cleveland has a Sustainability Department now? As of 2005. The City's website lays out a mission statement. It includes things like developing green building and high performance standards for City built and operated buildings; clean fuels for their car fleets; and they claim to be working on incentives to encourage private developers to focus on sustainability as well. I still believe we are better off with tax abatements for the neighborhoods most in need AND developments that meet transportation and sustainability needs. Just my humble opinion. (photo from City of Cleveland website, depicts wind turbine at the Science Center) Peace Out - 3C

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Most Literate Cities Rankings Based on Connecticut Study

Central Connecticut State University did a study on the Most Literate Cities in the United States. Here was the criterion:

1. Booksellers
2. Educational Attainment
3. Internet Resources
4. Library Resources
5. Newspaper Circulation
6. Periodical Publications

These categories were weighed against total populations of cities. First, here is where major Ohio cities ranked:

Cincinnati was ranked 7th
Cleveland was ranked 14th
Columbus was ranked 15th
Toledo was ranked 32nd

Number One was Seattle; Number two was Minneapolis. Boston (with all those fine Universities) was ranked 11th; that surprised me, I expected it to be higher. The same with New York City (ranked 42). Did population affect this?

When you read the details of rankings based solely on 'Internet related issues' - these things were considered:
1. number of library Internet connections
2. Number of commercial and public wireless Internet access points per capita (hmm, maybe this plays into the percieved need The City of Cleveland is trying to fill by providing the wireless access free to the entire City)
3. Number of Internet book orders per capita (does this mean books ordered from or people who READ the books on line?)
4. Percentage of adult population that has read a newspaper on line (only once? or subscribes?)
Here are top ten rankings for the Internet Categories:

  1. San Jose, CA

  2. Boston, MA

  3. Seattle, WA

  4. Raleigh, NC

  5. Atlanta, GA

  6. Oakland, CA

  7. Denver, CO

  8. Austin, TX

  9. San Fransisco, CA

  10. Miami, FL

Here are the sources used for the study data:

American Booksellers Assn

Audit Bureau of Circulations

Bay Area Center for Voting Research

Intel Corporation (they search magazine and periodical directories)

Nat'l Ctr For Educational Stats (Public Library statistics)

Scarborough Research USA

US Census Bureau

The Yellow Pages (the Yellow Pages???)

I was almost more interested in where the data came from than the results. And Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo were not rated last :-) Peace Out 3C

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Ohio Hub Plan Economic Impact Study Is Yielding Potential Good News For Our Economy

I want to thank Ed, who consistently provides excellent information for us on The Ohio Hub Plan. The Econ Study is predicting even better news than before, additional train routes, more jobs, permanent and 'initiative building' related, and a cost that seems more than manageable, especially since the results are jobs jobs and more jobs.

The Impact Study press releases will be more detailed and are not ready for prime time yet but soon. In the meantime, please do read the following to find out the snippets of information we already know: Economic Impact is Positive. Peace Out - 3C

** I don't believe in duplicating content and I have two blogs so please check out the link above you will be excited about the news, I think.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

High Technology Scorecard for Northeast Ohio: Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

It depends on what measure you use, like anything else related to economics. What got me interested in this story was a news story (television) focused on Keithley Instruments- a computer chip company based here. They interviewed executives with Keithley who said 60% of their venture capital in last year came from out of state --- and they were adamant about the fact that this meant venture capitalists were keen on Northeast Ohio and her ability to grow the high tech sector. Okay, that makes sense to me.

The second part of the story comes from Crains Cleveland Business news, saying that a CSU study showed the glass half empty for the first half of this decade: National high tech growth fell 8% while in Northeast Ohio the figure was 13%. BUT (now back to the glass half full!) salaries in our high tech companies rose 6.5%. And in this article they say they expect continued growth in the industry. Peace Out - 3C

Congressional Bill HR1300 Knocks It Out of the Park!

I want to give a shout out to Ed for his comment on my last post - he referenced HR1300 which energizes me, even at 12:15am. A wealth of information on energy policy recommendations. This next section made me want to cheer out loud:


(a) Findings- The Congress finds that--

(1) Members of Congress should follow their own example of setting forth legislation that encourages the use of alternatively fueled vehicles; (yes, how important is this! do you think Ford can start making hybrid Lincoln Town Cars for them :-)

(2) in 2005, the total cost of automobile leases for Members of Congress surpassed $1,000,000, ( save American taxpayers money? Novel idea!) and a collective switch to alternative fuel vehicles, hybrid vehicles, or vehicles powered by biofuels could potentially save American taxpayers thousands of dollars annually; and

(3) the General Services Administration has already purchased over 68,000 alternative fueled vehicles for the use of Federal customers, more than any other organization in the United States. (Now that is what I'm talking about! Are you cheering yet?)

Okay, so if you go to The Library of Congress website here and where it says 'enter search' change it from 'word' to 'bill' and type in HR1300 - you can read the entire bill. As Ed mentioned, Title V talks about transit issues. It won't be boring, I swear you just might be cheering! Now, how am I going to sleep! - Peace Out - 3C

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Third Annual Ohio Rail/Transit Summit March 7th In Columbus

Sometimes one thought leads to another and that is what happened to get me to this post. First, All Aboard Ohio is having their Third Annual Ohio Rail/Transit Summit in Columbus tomorrow. It's a morning chock full of information, judging from the agenda, and an afternoon of lobbying for The Ohio Hub Plan ! If you can attend, it's still not too late to sign up (you can even do it on the website through paypal). If you have followed the news (or just stopped at a gas station today), you know prices are on their way up again. We need improved public transportation and we need the Ohio Hub Initiative.

While I was on All Aboard Ohio's website, I noticed their link to Better World Club. Thus my 'second thought' for this post. Remember the Un Cola (7Up)? Well, Better World touts itself as the auto club to join, as opposed to that triple A one lol. They donate 1% of their revenue (yearly? monthly?) to support of environmental causes. They provide gas purchase discounts and check this out, discounts on purchases of hybrid cars? Okay, I'm signing up for their regular email newsletter called Kicking Asphalt. I can't resist.

How can you not get excited about transportation issues. Peace Out - 3C - The Transportation Geek

Monday, March 5, 2007

Free Wireless Internet Connection to Be Provided by City of Cleveland

I think it's great, free wireless. As a matter of fact, a company is doing just that now for the city of San Francisco. All individuals will have to do is supply the router. The story is here.

Makes me think we might actually be on the cutting edge if we are getting it during the same year as a large California city :-) Peace Out - 3C

April 7, 2007 Update:

Read these links to see the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission Weblog and the Sun News report by Ken Prendergast that Mayor Jackson's plan to provide the free wireless service City-wide was approved by the Public Utilities Commission and a Council Committee. So far there have not been any 'down sides' noted in putting this plan into action, and the provider who wins the bid to do this is not going to be franchised with the City of Cleveland. Check it out.

The John V. Oblak Power Transfer Station is For Sale

I do not plan on putting up my listings here on my blog; but this is such a unique property, I wanted to feature it. In 1924 the trolley cars were running strong in Cleveland, and this building was one of the power transfer stations scattered around the City, helping to keep the trolleys running.

I love the fact that the re use of this building has been for a bronze sculptor and his crew. Ron Dewey is a sought after bronze artist who has life-size and larger than life sized pieces around the country. Here in Cleveland, he is the creator of the bronze ball player at Jacobs Field, and was commissioned to do bronze statues of Ben Sefanski and his wife (on the corporate headquarters property for Third Federal Savings and Loan). It's a bustling workplace, also used as a living space by one of Ron's workers. I guess the time has come for him to consolidate two work studios into one....and this is the smaller of the two. So it's for sale! There is even a 15 ton crane inside the building that adds spectacular architectural detail you don't always find. Anyway, I am enclosing a link here so you can view more information about this brick beauty of a building. Peace Out - 3C
(photo taken by Carole Cohen 2007©)

Is Transit Oriented Development in Cleveland The Wave of the Future?

Are we ready for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in Downtown Cleveland - and Northeast Ohio in general? There is an article in Crain's Cleveland today about the Euclid Avenue design and it's focus on the new RTA stops there. The 'hope' is to attract mixed use development on Euclid Avenue (shops, office, housing). Joseph Calabrese (RTA) seems to think this is an idea that has 'come.' Certainly I've noticed a shift in thinking. Back in the 70s when people sat in lines at filling stations, waiting to fuel up, they may have thought fuel rationing was an aberration. Now, everyone looks in their wallet and sees how much of their monthly money is going towards transportation costs.

The Center for Transit Oriented Development is located in California - you know, where they began eating organically and eventually all other States followed suit? Is TOD an idea that our State, and specifically Cleveland, will embrace wholeheartedly? The Center for Transit Oriented Development did studies (which can be read here) and they are predicted that Cleveland will experience a 62% increase in the numbers of people living near public transportation -- by the year 2030. 2030! We can't wait that long! Anyway, I digress. W. 25th Street's RTA station is already in the works for a housing development on a triangle of land near the Station and across the street from The Market. I'm anxious to see this unfold and play out. Will people really be rushing to purchase a home near the Station so they can give up their car? The recent studies claim that Clevelanders interviewed are anxious to cut one car out of their daily lives (most families have at least two). So we'll see if there really has been a major paradigm shift in thinking. I'm excited, but I try not to get too excited since things progress so slowly here. Peace Out - 3C

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Staying Engaged In Our Communities

I thought I was going to do a synopsis of my findings at the Transforming Cleveland community meetings, and at some point I will. But instead I find a need to do a different kind of post. How do we stop the 'disconnect' between government, the non profit development corporations and businesses and homeowners in our communities? It's not a new phenomenon.

The Planning Commission (and therefore Mayor Jackson and the rest of the City staff) seem to be doing a good job updating Cleveland's master plan and even initiating efforts that are moving some of these plans forward. Mayor Jackson had an aggressive Five Year CIP for Cleveland which he unveiled in January. Our individual neighborhood development corporations are working their butts off to make things happen and improve the communities they represent.

What I keep thinking - and what people continually said at the last meeting is: we like the plan, we've seen others, what is being done to move things forward? We need jobs, not more plans to figure out how to get jobs. We need schools that satisfy the communities so residents want to stay there and send their children there; we need community involvement. It's not an 'us' and 'them' situation.

There are many people working on the grassroots level to either be the squeaky wheel, or get projects completed. I keep going back to the schools. This may sound radical, but I wonder how things would go if we fired the School Boards and our schools became coops of the neighborhoods in which they reside. Some of the ideas brought out at the Saturday meeting at Gunning Recreation Center (by Robert Brown, the Planning Director), were interesting. Making some of Cleveland's schools magnets by expanding on the theme of 'specialty' schools. The School of the Arts already does that. Max Hayes does that. Now apparently there is a push for a school with a focus on teaching 'design.'
The discussion at both of the Connecting Cleveland meetings I attended was lively. A recap will follow, maybe even tomorrow. These meetings showed me that I can't afford to be disconnected, I have to be engaged, as others are, about what is happening in The City of Cleveland. Peace Out - 3C (photo property of Carole Cohen, 2007©)

Friday, March 2, 2007

Cleveland's West Side Home Sales February 2007: Part Two

These home sales stats are for two more 'sections' of Cleveland's West Side. They cover sales during February 2007, and they will be compared to sales for February 2006. This is Part Two. My previous post contains sales figures for the other two West Side areas of Cleveland.

The following home sale statistics include the Clark Metro, Tremont and Ohio City communities.

February 2007: 32 Homes Sold. They were on the market an average of 94 days. The Average Ask Price was $76,184 and the Average Sale Price was $71,487. The average price per square foot was $38/sq. ft.

February 2006: 33 Homes Sold. They were on the market an average of 103 days. The Average Ask Price was $80,053; the Average Sale Price was $80,586. The average price per square foot was $57.
*There are 641 homes or condos for sale in this area.

The last area for home sales I want to cover in this post includes the Old Brooklyn and South Hills neighborhoods.

February 2007: 27 Homes Sold. They were on the market an average of $87 days. The Average Ask Price was $90,163. The Average Sale Price was $87,310. That brings the average price per square foot to $65.

February 2006: 19 Homes Sold. They were on the market an average of 86 days. The Average Ask Price was $102,784 and the Average Sale Price was $98,171. The average price per square foot was $79.

* There are 236 homes/condos for sale as of today in this West Side area. Peace Out - 3C

Homes Sold February 2007 For Cleveland Ohio's West Side...Part One

It's the weekend, and February is history, so it must be time for sales stats. Here is information on the City of Cleveland West Side sales figures for February 2007 - and I am comparing them to February 2006 information. Our computer system breaks the areas up into four sections. I will do two sections here and two in the next post. The first section includes but is not limited to: Kamm's Corners, and homes South of Puritas and West of 130th.

February 2007: 21 Homes sold with an average time on the market of 100 days. Average Ask Price was $126,286, the Average Sale Price was $122,027. The Average Sale Price Per Square Foot was $85/sf.

February 2006: 17 Homes sold with an average time on market of 74 days. Average Ask Price was $109,199, the Average Sale Price was $105,041. That averaged out to $85/square foot.

The next area includes but is not limited to: the Baltic Road area, and homes between Lorain and Puritas.

February 2007: 28 Homes sold with an average time on the market of 78 days. Average Ask Price was $65,178, the Average Sale Price was $61,330. That comes to $49/square foot.

*There are 289 homes for sale right now in this area.

February 2006: 27 Homes sold and were on the market an average of 74 days. Average Ask Price was $71,962, the Average Sale Price was $68,860. That comes out to $50/square foot.

*There are 404 homes for sale in this area right now.