Thursday, April 26, 2012

real estate

I'm debating getting into real estate.

In Baltimore.

Yeah, I thought you might say that. But, look, investing in real estate takes money. I'm better off than some, but I'm not wealthy. Baltimore is home to lots of cheap property. Seriously. LOTS!

These places I'm looking at are in the $5K-10K range. Then I just put a roof on the place and the property value jumps by $50K. A roof and some walls. Maybe some plumbing. And wiring. But I think that I can bring up the value of the homes more than the cost of materials. If not then I'll find out early and cheaply enough that I can get out without losing a fortune. More like a bad weekend in Vegas.

There's a couple of places I think I can rent out fairly easily. I need to clean and paint, but they can be earning me some money to expand my little empire. Each property isn't gonna be making me a fortune, but a bit here and a bit there should add up over time. And if I do a good job I may have a chance at improving some neighborhoods. Maybe. It's not gentrification if the houses weren't habitable in the first place. Nobody gets tossed out.

I've had some ideas other than renovating.
One idea was to buy and level homes. Clear the lot and sell the land sometime down the road. I'm not entirely sure what I would accomplish that way. Baltimore has plenty of parks and vacant lots. I'd just be grabbing cheap land with the hopes of selling it for more someday while not leaving a rotting eyesore that drags down the neighborhood.

There's city blocks where 75-100% of the homes are boarded up. I put some thought into just buying and leveling the whole block. Put in trees, build a decent house in the middle, and you got a respectable neighborhood of one square block. Use the bricks from the homes you tore down to put a wall around the block and you have a super villain fortress without the expense of having to ship everything to your private volcano.

Or take the bricks from the leveled homes and pile them all up in one lot. Make a pyramid. A monument to urban decay!

I had also considered getting these places rezoned properly and then turning them into farms. Fill a row house with hydroponics and grow food to sell at local markets. Then I'd just have to start a local market.

Yummy had talked about making one into a big chicken coop. So long as I could figure out how to control the smell I really like the idea. We wouldn't pack them in tight like a factory farm. It'd be like the chickens on the farm. They get to run around and scratch and have roosts.

Honestly, my biggest problem with this last idea is needing to find somewhere to sell the food. I like my weekends too much to spend them at farmers markets. It's not that Baltimore has a shortage of restaurants and grocery stores. There's just a very unequal distribution. They're all in Fells Point while the rest of the city gets liquor stores that have some food and chinese/indian or pizza/indian take out.1 I'd love to be the guy who sees a shortage of places to eat in his neighborhood and opens a place. Or, in my case, funds a place that others run for him because he doesn't know what the fuck he's doing.

I had considered focusing my land grabs in one area. Buy, fix, rent, and then provide a cheap place for restaurants or shops to increase the value on my properties. But that's a 30 year plan. Just in time for me to cash out, I suppose.

Have a virtual stroll down these blocks. Tell me this block doesn't need some work. I just don't think these houses will ever be worth the value of the materials needed to bring them up to the level of "slum".

View Larger Map

Tell me that you could live here without a security system that's worth more than the house.
This isn't where hope goes to die. It's where her body was dumped after they beat her to death.

View Larger Map

These are NOT the areas I'm looking at. Maybe down the road, if I ever have the money, I might look at somewhere like that as a project. But I'd be just as likely to raze the area and plant trees as I would be to try to resurrect the area. I'm not asking for a Starbucks, but maybe McDonalds would stop avoiding the area.



1 Baltimore city law requires all eateries to serve indian food in addition to their regular cuisine. Well, I don't know this for a fact, but it stands to reason. Why else would damn near every place we go have an indian section to their menu?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Maybe you could start a chipin.com project for additional funds. It sounds like a grand idea. If you can get buildings and land for cheap, there's always a way to make a profit off of it.