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

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cleveland Real Estate: New Condo Project in the Flats

A new Cleveland (Flats) real estate development that will feature 264 condo units on three acres of land bought in 1999 from Sherwin Williams. Apparently the plans are not available for viewing yet but the goal is for each unit to have a view of the River with some units 'higher up' also having Lake views. This info comes from Crains Cleveland.

The design is being done by Paul Volpe of City Architecture. City Architecture has designed some gorgeous and tasteful projects. The Pierre's Ice Cream building, The Boulevard Town Homes in Cleveland Heights, Centrum Theatre in Cleve. Heights, many cool streetscaping projects including Prospect Avenue. And Millcreek, which is a planned community within the City limits, bordering Garfield Heights.

This makes the third planned residential development for the Flats (including Stonebridge). Tom Newman, the Executive Director of Flats Oxbow is quoted in the article - the Association hasn't seen the plans yet and the plans were apparently not at the City Council hearing on this project...that tells me it is in the very early stages. Here is other property for sale currently on both banks of the Flats.

Peace Out - 3C

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Saturday Concert Musings: Bob Dylan and Jimmy Vaughn at PD Pavillion

Last night was another one of those perfect evenings; there could not be a better place for a concert (outdoors anyway) than the PD Pavilion. The River's water was glassy, the sky deep blue, the air crystal clear. The passing of an ore boat while Jimmy Vaughn opened the evening was surreal and astoundingly beautiful.

Those of you who are/were avid Stevie Ray Vaughn fans know that Jimmy Vaughn is no slouch in the guitar department either. We were treated to a long riff done behind his neck..sounding better than 99 % of all guitarists playing at their belly buttons. It was so much fun watching people dance and groove to the music. I would pay money to see Jimmy Vaughn all by himself.

Oh yes right; it was a Bob Dylan concert. I should start off by saying he is at the top of my musical icon lists, no question. So I feel I can say without rancor that last night we had Mumbling Bob. To paraphrase Ringo from a past Rolling Stone article: sometimes you get the Bob we all know and love, and sometimes you get Mumbling Bob. lol. No question not everyone agreed with me because there were many standing ovations and could you blame them, he is The Man, mumbling or not. If you go to Dylan concerts more than once you know to be prepared for 'I Was So Much Older Then, I'm Younger Than That Now' to sound more like ummmm, any other song lol.

Can't say enough about the Pavilion. It seats over 4000 people and the concert was sold out.

George at Brewed Fresh Daily pointed out a good review in Skorasauras' Blog about the Kenny Chesney concert's lack of toilet facilities at Brown's Stadium. Hmmm, not good and isn't football season starting soon? Peace out-3C

Friday, July 13, 2007

CNN, Youtube Are Kicking it Up A Notch: An Interactive Presidential Candidates Debate

The Ethernet has truly arrived. CNN and Youtube are getting together to sponsor live and interactive coverage of the upcoming South Carolina Presidential Debate.

CNN's Political Ticker blog reports that people will be able to submit questions via YouTube video. So it's history in the making. I'm visualizing an overloaded system but that may be wishful thinking since I want everyone to be involved in our political processes.

The Democratic debate will be on July 23rd. The Republican debate held in Florida will be on August 17th. We have the possibility of exciting more interest in participation, especially among young people. What do you think of the Youtube web page announcing this? They are clearly trying to create some excitement. They call it 'broadcasting yourself.' I like that sound byte. Hopefully along with the prerequisite fifteen minutes of fame will be some insightful questions! The guidelines for submission of questions can be found there as well.

The deadline for your video questions for the Democratic Debate is July 22nd.

Youtube also has a site called Citizen Tube. This is where we go to watch the debate live and then lend our comments afterwards. Watch this video, they are sounding really grassroots, asking people to be in 'video camera will travel' mode and go to people who do not have access to the Internet and get their questions recorded; then come back and do the submission for them! This is truly wild.

Cleveland Economic News: Automobile Sales Up in 2007

Crains had some positive Cleveland economic news for the auto industry; sales were up 5.5% in our area in 2007. There were 3,269 more cars sold (April,May, June) in 2007 compared to 2006.

Of course I wanted to know more. What kind of car? I went to the Greater Cleveland Automobile Association (GCAA) website to investigate. First, the Toyota Prius sales are up 93.7% this year - more cars sold than in all of 2006. When queried, Prius owners said they wanted to make a statement. This is not new is it? We've always had a need to show our personalities through our cars. The article on the GCAA site said as opposed to a few years ago, Prius owners seem to want to take the lead: I have a hybrid and I'm proud.

But I know how easy that is on the web. What about NE Ohio sales? I found the article referenced in Crains. It lists the top auto companies that posted increases in 2007 but alas, not the individual models. They DID say the gas guzzlers, especially crossover vehicles, are keeping sales of larger models higher. Crossovers look like SUVs but are built on supposedly more economical 'car' chassis.

So let me get this straight. There is a movement in the U.S. to announce to the world that you own a Prius because you want everyone to start supporting hybrids and lower fuel usage. And there is a NE Ohio need to pretend you still have a 'real' SUV but it's a SUV look alike car? Maybe someone can tell me why this is important. I can dream can't I, that someday we'll all be prouder to wear badges that say 'I leave my car at home and take the train.'

Anyway, here are the auto companies that posted NE Ohio gains in April, May and June:

  • Toyota/Scion - 14.1 %
  • Honda - 11.2%
  • Jeep - 6.9%
  • Nissan - 8.1%

Update and a potential new trend in manufacturing of sorts: Just found this article on the WKYC site about Ford utilizing soybeans in their Mustang car cushions....this will be in 2008 Mustangs and is expected to save mucho barrels of oil. Interesting and maybe worth a trip in 2008 to the showroom to feel the seats :-) They say if it works out they might add them to other models.

Peace Out - 3C

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lakewood Housing News:Carlyle Condo News

The Gold Coast's Carlyle Condos have always been a destination of choice. One main reason: ameneties. Second reason, the management company does a decent job for residents. My first year as a Realtor® they reduced the monthly maintenance fees for the next often does that happen? One aspect of condo living to keep in mind: monthly maintenance fees don't always cover every improvement and there could be assessments made to each resident to cover a project. In the case of the Carlyle, one improvement might cut the sting from an assessment: an overhaul to their heating system designed to save every money and be more energy efficient. For a full list of the redevelopment plans you can go to Lakewood Alive.

Also received an email about a program called First Leaf:

Please forward this message to fellow Lakewoodites who may be interested in our report. Thanks!

First LEAF Community Night at the Library this Thursday!

"LakewoodAlive apologizes for the late notice of this event. Make plans to attend the first Lakewood Earth and Food (LEAF) Community Night at the Lakewood Public Library Main Branch this Thursday, July 12 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.Each and every Thursday evening from July 12 through October 25 the LEAF Community is bringing local produce, bulk foods, arts and culture to the intellectual heart of Lakewood . The evening will include children's games and activities, art and live music. " Peace Out - 3C

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cuyahoga County Housing Trends: A Lakewood Update

We have almost six months of statistics available so we can begin to examine housing trends for 2007 in Lakewood. Here are the stats from January 1st to the present:

Sold Since January:
186 Single Family Homes
48 Condos
44 Multi Family Homes

On The Market Now:
391 Single Family Homes
144 Condos
216 Multi Family Homes

What about prices and amenities on these homes for sale? Example: You can buy a 4 BR colonial on Parkwood with one full bath and two half baths, central a/c, a garage, an updated kitchen and a finished basement rec/play room for $148,900. How about a 4 BR 1 1/2 bath colonial with almost 1500 square feet of finished space, an updated kitchen, landscaped yard, formal dining room, a finished basement and third floor for $124,000 on Lauderdale. Yes you can now find homes in move in condition in Lakewood for less than $130k.

Lakewood has always been a destination of choice because of the vibrant business district, parks, City services, First Time Home Buyers Program and quick access to Downtown Cleveland.

On the Lakewood News Front: Architect Robert Stern's work on the Main Branch of the Lakewood Public Library is now complete and it is now once again open to the public. You can see photos of it on the WKYC news site here. It was a 38,000 square foot expansion. They doubled the parking spaces although that is still not a huge amount of parking. But it's certainly on the bus line, and I have always been impressed with their stats on the huge numbers of people who walk there every day. Reading, luckily, is not a thing of the past.

Btw, one thing that made me smile on the Library website? You can now send cool postcard ecards from the website. Peace Out- 3C

Monday, July 9, 2007

Renewable Energy & Sustainability:Ohio Lawmakers Will Be Asked to Think Outside the Box

There was a comment in today's PD article on Ohio's plan to restructure energy costs as well as trying to prevent spikes in charges and provide incentives for renewable energy sources. The comment was made by State Rep. Jim McGregor: "...our only choices in Ohio are to lead in energy or experience a second rust belt period where we become an economic backwater because we missed the opportunity."

The 'missed opportunities' seem to take two roads. One, missing out on a chance to be the state that brings in renewable energy companies. Secondly, missing the chance to require our existing utilities to provide a certain percentage of their energy in renewable form. Of course I like the idea but I need to ferret out people with experience to tell me what is possible here in Ohio. The article quotes people who say Ohio is not the Rocky Mountains so wind energy is not super feasible and Ohio is not.....well you can fill in the blanks and let's just say some people do not agree. I don't know whether they are seems to me we do have wind in Ohio but that is just me. And we already have a Cleveland Department of Sustainability. So I'm going to call them today. Should be interesting no? Peace Out - 3C

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The First Monthly Technology Free Day is August 4th Are You Game?

Blogger Dima has an intriguing idea; have a technology free day once a month. His post here talks about using one day a month to be reflective on our lives and do things that are 'outside the box' of the activities we all do daily on those other days.

I like this idea, relating it to being well rounded and having time to be reflective; and in my case, if I don't take time off from doing all the things I normally do, it's hard for me to keep fresh ideas coming creatively for my life and for my work.

I'm pretty sure I could not permanently eliminate one Saturday a month from technology since those are usually really busy work days for Realtors® like myself. But I like the idea and I'm game, I' m in for the Fourth of August kick off. Wonder if this idea includes TV and radio? I'll have to ask. Or, you can go in and comment and find out for yourself. What say you about this idea?

Peace Out - 3C

Cleveland Housing News: The Statler Arms: An Elegant Apartment Building With a Rich History

I have a terrific client -the one I mentioned here, we met in person yesterday instead of just being email pen pals and began our search for his apartment. This led to an interesting hour at the Statler Arms Apartments. I got there early and proceeded to walk the building. It was converted from an office building to apartments and in 2002 the first residents moved in. Because it used to be a hotel (more on that later in this post), this residence has unique features. The first floor/lobby still looks and functions in a way a hotel might operate: a concierge desk at the door is now the 24 hour front desk. There is a newsstand, a Spa, a clothing boutique and a restaurant all on the first floor.

I started out with a decent double shot expresso from Juji's at the Statler, with open air style seating that has the perk of not being affected when it rains! Their menu includes everything from comfort food (fish and chips) to the Middle Eastern fare I love like kabobs and shawarma. It is also open for breakfast, which must be a definite perk for folks living there. The link above is from a Plugged In Cleveland review.

Dave the proprietor of the newsstand was very interesting and friendly. I told him I had a client looking for a place to live so he could walk to work. It turns out Dave's commute is about one minute...he lives in the Statler as well!

There is a fitness center on the premises, you have in suite washer dryer hook ups for your convenience and really interesting city of the units we looked at had views into the bowl that is Jacobs Field. I imagine with binoculars you could watch the progress of the game, and certainly enjoy the fireworks. The Selah Salon and Spa looks very luxurious, offering what you would imagine a spa to offer, everything from massages to waxing to nails and hair. And the prices are amazing. You can get a two bedroom apartment with lots of storage, views, light-filled rooms and everything I mentioned above for $1,000. One bedrooms are less money per month and are equally spacious. I talked to one of the residents, he has lived there for 3 years and says he loves it, walks to work and considers the place comfortable and 'practical.'

The Statler started out of course, as a hotel. The first Statler was built in Buffalo; our Cleveland hotel opened in 1912. There is a terrific web site created by one of Ellsworth Statler's descendants; I recommend it for anyone interested in Cleveland and/or business history. He mentions for example, Statler's original advertising motto: "...A room and a bath for a dollar and a half..."

The hotel eventually became an office building. WMMS operated out of there in the 70s. My friend Connie tells me her Communicator's Club meetings used to be held there. And our famous native Clevelander Joel Grey once conducted an orchestra at the Statler.

I love my job, it's fascinating to keep learning about the rich history of Cleveland. Peace Out - 3C

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cleveland Housing News: Renting Or Purchasing, My 2007 Clients Have Their Heads on Straight

I don't just find people homes to buy, I also help them find rental housing. I talked about my client relocating from the Great Plains and wanting the vibrancy of the City and the character of her architecture. It finally hit me today. Young or my age (ahem lol), all my relocation clients are leaning in the same direction.

Here is what they have wanted, collectively: to be close to Downtown, in a neighborhood that provides amenities that fight off boredom: shops, galleries, restaurants, public transportation, and a view of Cleveland's natural beauty.

Some have wanted specific things: loft-like living with lots of windows. Some of the newer developments, like Stonebridge for example, can be a challenge in this respect. Many of the bedrooms in their floor plans are interior with no windows. The Federal Knitting Mills Apartment Complex is like that too. The Knitting Mills has a few floor plans with bedroom windows, you just have to be lucky and have one available when you are ready to rent.

What I love about the Cleveland housing market is affordability. You can spend $1500/month and upwards, but you can also spend less than $900/month and get a loft-like 2Br apartment with great character, garage parking, in suite laundry availability and sometimes a fitness center.

My buyers have been focused on City living as well. In fact, I am in the process of sending out letters to homeowners in Ohio City because I have a client who only wants to live there, and we can't find the right home for her as of yet. It's that pesky $300k and up price point that gets in the way.

Here is what I am finding:

1. fiscally responsible buyers and would be tenants (let's call them clients it's easier lol)

2. clients who want to be near to their jobs; public transportation or walking are first choices; if that fails, then ten minutes or less to work. Is this smart thinking or what?

3. I have had six clients this year who are in their first jobs (some just starting) who eagerly embrace the City and parking their cars unless absolutely necessary.

4. Four of of the six are from out of town. I have one new client so technically that makes five out of seven, although we have not yet 'hit the streets' together, so far we are doing our work via email.

What excites me about this is the hope that it is a lasting trend. It definitely feels like a shift in thinking. Just like the Ohio Hub is starting to make so much sense in terms of our not so distant future, RTA and close-in living are defining needs now. It almost makes me giddy to think about it! Peace Out - 3C

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Why Your Realtor® Holds a 'Brokers Open' After Listing Your House

One of the advantages to having a blog as a Realtor® is to hopefully share some insights into the marketing tools we tend to use. One of those is the broker's open. Real estate is local, and here in NE Ohio Tuesday is tour day. Most brokerages participate in one form or another. Holding your listing open for other real estate professionals to see is, in my humble opinion, a necessary event. It allows agents to see your home and to get to know it's features first hand. They may already have a client in mind (I've had agents call from my open houses to set up an appointment for their buyers to see the home) (And I have done the same!). Or, they may just want to be prepared in case they get a call from someone looking for a home with those features.

It's important to know the inventory of homes on the market. I make appointments to see a home to preview for clients so I know whether I should take them to see it as well. I also use the brokers opens to learn about the inventory of homes. One thing I am seeing is a smaller number of agents touring homes on Tuesdays. I think this is a big mistake. Homes are usually held open between 11:30 and 2 PM and in that short period of time, with practice, I can see ten homes. This is much easier than calling to schedule a preview of these ten homes. And even less of an inconvenience on a seller's time.

There seem to be four styles of touring:

1. Agents who see homes listed by their office colleagues
2. Agents who tour homes listed by their company
3. Agents who tour homes with certain clients in mind
4. Agents who tour certain neighborhoods

I may have missed some styles but you get the point. My theory? Combine all four styles.
It has bugged me lately to hear rumors that certain brokerages want their agents touring only their own company listings. I keep hoping this is just a rumor. Isn't this like saying to your seller client : I'm only going to allow agents from my company to see your home? It may be a bit different but to me it's the same philosophy. If I have a buyer, I need to know what is listed by my office mates, my company, and every other broker out there. Otherwise, how do I know my client is able to see all the homes that fit his/her needs? For whatever reason, fewer agents/Realtors® are touring homes. Again, I think this is a mistake. Hint: if you are a buyer working with a Realtor®, ask them every week 'what homes did you see on tour and should I see any of them?'

Depending on the week, I may run around and see a lot of homes on tour, or I may do what I did this week; I focused on a Realtor® who has been in the business for years and years and knows his business. He had two listings on tour, near each other. I was able to sit down and talk with him about our profession, the neighborhood markets, etc. I never had the opportunity to do that before and I always wanted to meet him. I see him as a colleague more than I see him as a competitor. Seriously! I want to get to know everyone in my profession who has a good reputation, knows their business and their markets. That makes me better at my job, I think. Every now and then, who knows, maybe something I say can be of value to another agent as well.

Let me ask you this question: does it do you, as a seller or buyer, any good if your agent is only operating within the parameters of their own company listings or their own listings? I think I know what your answer would be, and it's the same as mine; NO!

If your agent hasn't held a brokers open in your owner occupied or vacant home, you just might want to suggest they do so! Peace Out - 3C

Happy Fourth of July

Sunday, July 1, 2007

NE Ohio Home Sales 2000-2007 For May

If you bought a home in 2000 and sold it this year would you make money? Of course there is no easy answer to that question, but it got me thinking. May is usually considered one of the best months in real estate so it seemed fitting to do a post about home sales for each May from 2000-2007.

These stats, as always, cover homes sold and listed on the computerized multiple listing service I have access to as a Realtor®. These are total sales, covering single family homes, condos, everything. DOM = Average number of days on the market for all of these homes that sold. OK let's get to it:

New Listings: 8,765
Sold: 2,578
Av Sale Price: $162,072
DOM: 92

New Listings: 7,987
Sold: 2,819
Av Sale Price: $166,676
DOM: 84

New Listings: 7,156
Sold: 2,896
Av Sale Price: $171,081
DOM: 75

New Listings: 5,760
Sold: 2,662
Av Sale Price: $161,025
DOM: 78

New Listings: 5,470
Sold: 2,582
Av Sale Price: $154,251
DOM: 81

New Listings: 4,811
Sold: 2,526
Av Sale Price $148,734
DOM: 87

New Listings: 5,066
Sold: 2,447
Av Sale Price: $150,488
DOM: 72

New Listings: 4,757
Sold: 2,553
Av Sale Price: $143,166
DOM: 79

The difference between the 2000 and 2007 average sale prices is $18,906. The highest average sale price year occurred in 2005. NE Ohio, though not as volatile as some of the other housing markets, followed the same patterns as they did on a smaller scale. Peace Out - 3C