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