Thursday, September 29, 2011

Welcome New Author

You have probably noticed a few new posts on the blog by a guest author, Christine Lewis. Christine and I have been working together since York Simpson Underwood had a downtown presence in 2007. She has tons of energy, knows a lot about Downtown Raleigh, lives in Cameron Park, walks her kids to school, and makes you laugh quite often. She is now an official author of Downtown Raleigh Digs, helping me spread the word on how awesome it is to live in and around Downtown Raleigh. Welcome, Christine!

2 Great Deals in SE Raleigh

I recently saw two properties in SE Raleigh that I think are worth checking out:

211 Camden Street
This house has a nice two-story facade with matching front porches -one off the master suite upstairs, one at the entrance. The floor-plan is open and flexible. I loved rustic texture of the hardwood floors. The kitchen had granite, new cabinets, and stainless appliances. There is a true master suite with its own full bath and a small walk-in closet. The other two bedrooms were pretty small, but not awkwardly so. The only draw-back to the home, from my perspective, was that there is no yard to speak of. There is a thin strip of fenced in yard that circles the house, which may be enough for a small dog to run around. You could fit in a grill but seating would be tight. Of course, for those of you who hate lawn maintenance, this may be a bonus!

829 E Hargett Street
This 2 bedroom/1 bath has been completely renovated. The sellers moved some walls around so the house lives bigger than its 952 sqft. They also replaced the roof, insulated the walls and floors, and updated the systems of the home . . . all the ‘hidden’ luxuries. The house also sits on a large, flat lot so an addition is certainly possible. Considering the comparable sales the list price may seem a bit high, but since it's in pristine condition and everything’s new, at least you know you’re getting a quality, maintenance-free house. Plus it’s a great piece of property close to downtown, certainly a good investment.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Looking at Downtown Raleigh Living from a Different Perspective

This Week’s Tour of Homes

When I speak to most people about living downtown, they think of high-rise condo buildings or high density townhomes. My vision of downtown living includes those options, but I also think of all the wonderful historic neighborhoods that surround downtown: Historic Oakwood, Boylan Heights, Cameron Park, 5 Points, Hayes Barton. There are many neighborhoods within walking/biking distance of downtown, each with their own unique urban feel. I wanted to stress my vision of downtown living because most of our tours will highlight homes in these neighborhoods.

As a resident of one of these downtown neighborhoods, I cannot express how wonderful it is to walk to restaurants and shopping. I walk my kids to school, we take the RLine to the museums, shop at the Farmer’s Market, do skits at the Rose Garden, and more. The diversity of activities available are as wide as the scope of your (my) imagination. And, as Raleigh grows, downtown Raleigh real estate will continue to demand premium pricing due to its proximity to all the amenities downtown Raleigh has to offer.

If you’d like more information about downtown Raleigh neighborhoods, feel free to give us a call. For now, let’s talk about the houses we saw on tour this week.

612 Smedes Pl – Cameron Village
This house is in a GREAT location, just a few steps from Cameron Village. The neighborhood of Cameron Village consists mainly of Mid-Century Ranch style homes, but due to its excellent location, many of the homes have been completely renovated, added onto, or rebuilt. The neighborhood is definitely worth investing in, as I see no reason why people would not continue to want to live so close to Cameron Village, NCSU, Broughton HS, Glenwood South, etc. This particular home was your traditional 3 bedroom/2bath ranch with no updates other than granite counter tops in the kitchen. Although it was neat and clean, quite a bit of modernization would be necessary to justify the list price of $450,000. If it were priced in the $300s I might suggest it as an investment well worth the renovation costs. At this point, I might wait for a price reduction.

1215 Pierce Street – Glenwood
This house had a ton of cool features. I really liked the open floor plan of the formal living room/kitchen and there was a tiny nook completely dedicated to wine, which appealed to me! There was a cute, private exterior courtyard off the kitchen, huge den, and a cool loft office that looked down over the den. They even had their basement hidden behind some bookshelves like in a mystery novel. Of course, Hilary wanted to figure out how to open the doors, yet I found myself creeping down the steep stairs to investigate (just a storage basement). The main drawback to the home was that there were only 2 bedrooms upstairs (3 total). I thought that might limit the buyer pool. As far as the exterior of the home, great porch, courtyard, decent backyard and 2 car garage, but the proximity to Capital Blvd may turn off some buyers.

1206 Dogwood Lane – Ridgewood
I loved the floor to ceiling windows in the living room! The front rooms had a nice open floor plan. But, as I moved back into the bedroom area, everything got kinda tight. I felt like the rooms were a bit small and close together. Then, I went down to the basement. It was HUGE. Great living area/play area for kids or could be its own in-law suite because there’s a full bath and exterior doors.

124 Hudson – 5 Points
What can I say? It’s a fixer-upper. Great price for a renovation project in a fantastic location.

2007 Varnell – Beckanna
I thought this house had a lot of space and a good floor plan for the price. 1662 Sqft with a big yard inside the beltline for $289,900 is pretty good. I like the well-established neighborhood with big trees and a diversity of home styles.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Property Preview: Founders Row, Palladium Plaza, & Oakwood

Background: As an agent, you're expected to be up to date on the inventory of homes. But I'm not sure that most consumers are aware of this practice. Commonly referred to as "tour," typically an office would dedicate a meeting time once a week to see all the new listings. But with the price of gas and the market downturn, many offices have cancelled this activity. Not here! Regardless of the office policy, my colleague Christine Lewis and I regularly get out there and preview property. Pictures just don't always convey the feel of a home.

Today we focused on homes around downtown. Here's a brief recap and our thoughts.

Palladium Plaza
1) Unit 121 - Christine and I know this building well as former listing agents, but hadn't see the 3 bedroom first floor unit that is now for sale. Used as an office space, this unit is spacious and has a floorplan that would accommodate several set ups. The $425k price seems right on the money since there aren't many three bedrooms out there. I've stayed at PP with a friend while my home was undergoing renovations and I can vouch that the place is a fortress. I took the dogs out after 11pm and never had any issues, and even bumped into friends coming out of the Lincoln Theater. I like how Palladium is tucked away but still only blocks to just about everything.

2) Unit 213 - This unit was on the Downtown Home Tour a few years ago, but it was worth seeing again now that it's for sale. The sellers have done an amazing job of customizing the condo. You'd think with the concrete countertops and concrete floors that the condo would feel cold, but the wood bar and other custom features and warm lighting help keep it cozy. Many condos look the same as other units, so kudos to the sellers for making their condo stand out.

Founders Row
With all the new construction lately, Founders Row may get lost in the shuffle a bit. It doesn't have the gloss and shine of a spiffy new condo, but at the same time the building has oodles of charm through its brick walkways and courtyards. If you desire the condo lifestyle but want to feel connected to nature, consider Founders Row.
Unit 284 - This unit is on the first floor and on the corner of Person/Davie. Some folks may have concerns about privacy, but the living area is most private. I don't know about you, but it seems that's where you'd be spending most of your time. The windows there are higher than the street. The bedrooms each have plenty of natural light. The condo seemed very bright -the kitchen had been painted a fresh white, but the cabinets were not new. The master bath had been updated and there seemed to be a decent amount of closet space. The only thing missing was a private patio.

707 N East St - Who doesn't love Oakwood? This house sits high off the street, giving you a nice, private front porch. The yard is small, but most folks looking to move into an urban area like Oakwood prefer smaller yards. Just enough to have a small garden, but not a burden to maintain. As with many older homes, this home had creaks and funny layout issues. But the kitchen was updated nicely. Biggest drawback, as with homes of this age, was the lack of closet space. But to get into Oakwood for under $300k with a home that has already been updated is not bad. Depending on the rest of the condition, of course.

Took a look at 715 Devereux St and remembered that I had seen it before. Cute, cute bungalow with complete updates. The kitchen/dining/sunroom is one big, open room. Great for entertaining. Totally updated with master suite, new kitchen, and the old fireplaces are still there to keep the charm. Not much yard, but again, most folks looking to live in an urban area don't mind that. Driveway, which is key this close to Glenwood South. Current homeowners don't have much furniture, so it shows really well since it is not cluttered with too much. You can easily see how your furniture could fit. The neighbors on the corner are architects - I toured that house last year. It used to be a grocery store! Neighborhoods like this have tons of stories.

So.. there you have it. Our take on a handful of listings in the downtown area. There's a lot of good stuff out there! If you're interested in taking a look, give us a shout.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Raleigh's Creative Class at Risk

The theme for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance 2011 annual meeting was Breaking Ground with the Creative Class. Since then, a few events have also supported the theme, including the recent "Creating a Culture to Attract the Creative Class" event.

The good news? A Creative Class exists in Raleigh, particularly downtown. A few examples:
- Hopscotch Music Festival - this event brings thousands downtown for a weekend of music
- SparkCon - an event celebrating everything from art to music to design, fashion, and more.
- Co-Working businesses - These shared office environments give entrepreneurs a space to work with other creative minds without the overhead of a large office.
- Study to define Raleigh's Creative District
- Red Hat to move HQ to Downtown Raleigh

So we seem to be on the right track. But wait... this whole food truck thing has gotten a little out of control. Food trucks are very popular with young professionals and any foodie because of their quirky take on everyday food. For others it's simply quality food at a lower price. Food trucks are businesses owned by the Creative Class and they are patronized by the Creative Class. So it makes perfect sense that Raleigh, who wants to attract this audience, would support these efforts.

The debate on food trucks, unfortunately, continues. The City Council cannot seem to come to any kind of agreement. Is Raleigh serious about this campaign? The Creative Class is already coming to Raleigh. It's working! If the City cannot find a way to support food trucks, it will be a big kick in the teeth to the Creative Class. Please write to your councilor and ask them to support food trucks so we don't lose this momentum.

Photo grabbed from City-Data discussion.