Some Kindly Advice From an Old White Guy

28 thoughts on “Some Kindly Advice From an Old White Guy”

  1. You all must be nuts. However, if I owned property in the lesser neighborhoods and wished to up its value, I would probably be posting this same nonsense.
    John D

    1. Honestly, every time I see someone drive out to the far edge and buy a big house off the side of the highway (Mason, Beavercreek, etc.) I think… well, if that’s what you really want fine by me. But I could never live in a place like that myself. And while such places are prosperous at the moment I don’t think they’ll hold up well over time. We’ll all see as events unfold in the future. Remember, the burned out ruins in Cincinnati used to be filled with the richest people in the region until the economic and social pendulum swung away. I’m taking a chance that things are swinging back again.

  2. Over on Hanfield we still have shootings, drugs, assault, and trespassing. Is it getting better? Yes. Do I want to stay here another 10 years? No. It takes a lot out of a homeowner to withstand some of the horsesh*t that I have put up with. Hopefully the new generation will be as patient as this 13-year veteran.

    1. I’m curious why you haven’t moved yet. Thirteen years is a long time to be unhappy in a place. And where you will move to when you leave Hanfield? Will you go to a different neighborhood in Cincy or out to a suburb? Or out of state?

  3. All excellent points say I, the new owner of an old house in Northside, in which I’ve just begun the renovation. But, I recently sold one down the street that I lived in and renovated over the course of a bit more than a decade. I will say that it was a lot easier 10 years ago…when my knees (and the rest of me) were in better shape 🙂

  4. Hello Johnny, I cannot overstate how much I appreciate your blog. It’s inspiring; thank you.

    I’ll be in/around this neighborhood for work later this summer, can’t wait to get out and explore.

  5. i renovated the yellow brick house with the purple flower boxes about 10 years ago, what a fun project. i have renovated about 15 to 20 around here sense and actually have one for sale at the moment if anyone is looking for a nice renovated place close to all of these houses pictured above look me up and ill get you in touch with my realtor. we have 3 others under renovation. i used to say ill fix this neighborhood one house at a time, but now I’m getting a lot of help!

    1. Hi Matt,
      Where are the houses you are renovating? I have a 2 family house in Walnut Hills. I would appreciate having someone help me decide what I can do with the house. I have ideas however, I don’t know how to pull them off. Could use some guidance on my next steps please.

    2. My husband and I have bought the yellow house with purple flower boxes, we love it! Thanks for your great work.

  6. I love seeing the before/after shots (who doesn’t like to see what somebody with some imagination, talent, time and resources can do ?) But I feel like this old white guy isn’t nearly as kindly as he claims to be. I think for his “message” to be complete, we need some real world examples of the total price. $15k? I could write a check for that right now, great deal and damned if it won’t look like it came off of HGTV! (caveat: it’ll probably need north of $100k of work if it’s contracted out, so I might need a bit more cash than anticipated).

    Also, it’s true that, like the “kids” in the article, you can buy beautiful hundred year old 4 bedroom homes for $400/month in Cincinnati. (either that’s a $0 down 15 year mortgage, in which case, add significant PMI/tax/insurance or a 30 year mortgage…and add some additional tax/insurance…so for budgeting for a house, double that for costs + some savings for improvements your significant other will want or repairs). But, don’t forget that 100 year old 4 bedroom houses suck to maintain and can be a bitch to heat (I have $600 duke bills to prove it). I’m not saying that $400 for mortgage only isn’t a bargain compared to what else could be purchased, but I think to paint a true picture for a millenial (like myself) who is looking for a house in an urban neighborhood, true cost of ownership is extremely important.

    I’d really applaud this article if we start seeing some real numbers that are honest about the costs of what the author suggests. What’s the real cost of a $15k house to get it to somewhere you’d be proud to show off to family/friends? Obviously it varies greatly by property, but from the description (no plumbing, mechanicals, wiring, roof, repairing water damage and vandalism, etc.) I can imagine it’s ten times the original purchase price which makes the entire article extremely misleading considering how much better I could do buying a house that hasn’t been allowed to decay as much (which barely exist in the Spring Grove area).

    1. Oh, I’m totally in agreement with you about the real cost of all of the above. I do in fact expect to spend $100,000 on renovating the old house. Absolutely. I’ve done this several times in different cities/states over the years. I know what these things cost.

      Perhaps I should be more specific about the real choices most people face. It’s possible to buy an old $50,000 house in Cincinnati and have a fairly high heating bill in winter and need to make various repairs and upgrades. It adds up. Sure.

      So how about that $290,000 two bedroom condo in Van Nuys that’s made of paper mache with a view of a Jiffy Lube dumpster? Run the numbers on the two properties and see which gives you the better quality of life at the better price.

      Keep in mind, what is the bar to entry for each option? A 20% down payment on a $50,000 house is $10,000. 20% of $290,000 is $58,000. Spot the difference? Right there most people hit a wall. It isn’t about buying X vs. Y. It’s about being able to buy vs. renting forever.

      If you go with a 0% down arrangement (assuming a bank will offer this based on your income and credit rating) at 5% interest you either have a $320 a month mortgage payment (plus taxes, blah, blah, blah) in Cincy or $1,858 in LA (plus $348 for the HOA, etc). How much heat and repair work can you buy with all the money you save?

      Nitpick all you want about the little details. The big picture is that for many people a middle class life is off the menu in big coastal cities while a very high quality of life is attainable in a smaller Midwestern location.

      The realistic set of arrangements is for people to spend a few years in the big coastal city when they’re younger and in need of adventure and career advancement, and then move inland when they get a little older and are ready to settle down.

  7. i left cincy 3 years ago for denver. i love both places, for different reasons. i’m currently in process of buying a beautiful 120 year old house in an up and coming neighborhood. and the price tag is killing me, because for what i’m paying here in denver, i could have something in much better shape in cincy. but, such is life. all that to say, these places are worth saving—i agree. i’m glad folks like you understand that, and understand that having different colored neighbors isn’t a bad thing.

  8. Thanks again for the great post! I have been idly looking at real estate in the Midwest online for fun and am so shocked at how low the prices are. If I lost my job here in Portland and if I could bear to move away from all my friends, I’d really consider it.

    (I know this is out of the purview of the blog, but it would be cool to see renovation progress pics of your Cincinnati house project)

  9. This is positively inspiring. Thanks!

    My wife and I moved to Vegas last year from San Jose for similar reasons. While there are no $15,000 homes for sales here, prices are way less than urban California. We can afford a house here, and are fixing up the foreclosure we bought.

    1. Yes, these are quality buildings and quality urbanism. These places are worth saving. I find it hard to imagine people a century from now discovering a vinyl and particle board tract house on the far edge of the metroplex and deciding to lovingly restore it to it’s original pristine 1996 condition. No one will ever covet their great grandmother’s fiberglass shower stall.

      1. Isn’t that the truth. I’m living rural now but that’s what I miss the most in urban living… the beautiful old homes that had some craftsmanship in their construction.

        “I find it hard to imagine people a century from now discovering a vinyl and particle board tract house on the far edge of the metroplex and deciding to lovingly restore it to it’s original pristine 1996 condition. No one will ever covet their great grandmother’s fiberglass shower stall.”

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