Best undervalued neighborhood in town

My first new car was a 1996 Geo Prizm.  Green.  Because green was a hot color for everything in the mid 90s.  We bought it because it was mechanically the same thing as a Toyota Corolla.  General Motors and Toyota had a joint plant back then in California where they produced the Geo Prizm and U.S. market Toyota Corollas.

They were the same car, only the Prizm was cheaper.  Few people knew that you were essentially getting a Toyota Corolla for less that what a Toyota Corolla cost.

Neighborhoods can be like that too.

If you are the type to have picked the Geo Prizm over the Toyota Corolla, then you should check out Old Paris Place.

This is a Ball Homes neighborhood.  It has the same model houses as any other Ball Homes neighborhood, only they are cheaper than you will find in other neighborhoods like Masterson Station.

If you are looking in the $125-160k range, this neighborhood should be on your radar.  The same houses will cost you $140-175k in other similar neighborhoods.

Here is what I like about it:

  1.  You are close to the interstate if you need it.  Close to Hamburg too.  Close to all the cool things on the north end of downtown.  And not a terrible drive to the south end of town either.  My kid’s school is very close to Old Paris Place.  I remember rushing to pick them up from a house I was renovating waaaaay out Harrodsburg Road.  It mentally felt like I was super far away, but I would hop on New Circle at Harrodsburg Rd and before you knew it, I was turning left on Old Paris Pike.
  2. You are closer to restaurants, banks, gas stations and grocery stores than you would be if you lived in Masterson Station and paid more for your house.  You’re 10-15 minutes away from Hamburg too.
  3. Several of the lots back to a wooded area owned by the HOA.  Many back to two farms.
  4. I have had a couple of clients live in this neighborhood and have met several other residents.  All say it is a friendly place to live.

Right now,  this neighborhood is a little undervalued.  Most people wanting a 10-15 year old home in this price range default to Masterson Station for their search, just like most car shoppers knew about the Toyota Corolla but not the Geo Prizm.

 

How to pick a winner of a house

Okay…..You are buying a house in Lexington Ky.  You are concerned about resale potential because prices keep going up and up.  You don’t want to lose your shirt if you ever need to sell in a cooler market.  What are you to do?

First off, congratulations for thinking of the exit plan.  Any time you make a big financial decision, it is always good to have an exit plan.  Right now with so few listings, people are most concerned about finding a house and often don’t think about this step.

So, here are some things that will help ensure you will be okay in the future.  Be sure to do them in this order too….by the time you have gone through all of these, you should have a house that will be any buyer’s top pick regardless of the market:

1)  Stick with an established neighborhood.  Brand new neighborhoods are nice, but you never know what they will be like once they go through their first round of resales.

2)  Stick to a good location.  Location can really mean a lot of things in real estate.  Pick something that is convenient to somewhere.  Neighborhoods close to Hamburg, UK, downtown, the interstate, parks, big employers,, etc, all have appeal to a variety of people.

3)  Pick a neighborhood with at least average performing schools.  Sure, a lot of buyers really want excellent schools, but most of them seem to be just fine with decent ones.

Now that we have narrowed down the location, lets take a look at what to look for in the house itself:

4)  Pick a house that fits in with other houses in the neighborhood.  You don’t want that split foyer that looks like a half-timbered English cottage in the middle of traditional homes.

5.  Pick a house that is similar in size to most in the neighborhood.  You don’t want that 5000 square foot McMansion surrounded by 1200 square foot starter homes any more than you want to be the smallest house surrounded by bigger ones.

6.  Stick around the middle of the price range for the neighborhood.  The cheapest house in the neighborhood may be disappointing to a buyer who is expecting more.  The most expensive house in the neighborhood will leave a buyer feeling like the neighborhood is a let down.

7.  Go for a lot that is typical for the neighborhood.  It is okay to have a sloping yard if every other house does too.  Remember….nobody ever complains that a yard or driveway is too flat.

8.  As you look at the house, keep in mind that anything that is a big negative to you will also be a big negative to the next buyer.  Half bath riiiight off the kitchen bug you?  Backyard have no privacy?  These are things we called “Deal Breakers” in a slow market.  They will keep somebody from wanting your house when they have a choice of more than a handful of houses.

9.  If the house made it this far, buy it!

 

Neighborhood Review: Creekside at Andover

When I was a teenager, I use to love to drive my 1978 Chevy LUV truck out Todds Road.  This is when nothing was on Todds Road except farms.  It was black with white wagon wheels and the trendy bright stripes that were so popular in the 70s.  My Dad bought it new.  I thought it was the coolest thing in the world when he got it.  I still liked it when I got it in the mid 80s, even though rust was quickly claiming the black paint.  The bright stripes had faded too.  The red looked orange.  The orange looked yellow.  The yellow looked like a rotting lemon.

This isn’t my exact truck, but it is the closest thing I could find online.

luv-side

 

I use to drive out to a road I think was called Athens-Chilesburg.  It ran between Todds Road and Winchester Road.  It doesn’t really matter now because that road is currently two dead end roads.  On the Winchester Road side it is called Walnut Grove.  It is Deer Haven on the Todds Road side….although the Todds Road expansion has just ripped up where it connects to Todds Road.

 

Here is an old map I have.  Notice that Man O War ends at Todds Road.  Liberty and Todds do not connect.  There is no Hamburg.

map

 

All of this gets me to the real topic of this post.  A neighborhood called Creekside at Andover that one day replaced a field and a barn I use to drive past.  I’ve got a couple of friends who live there.  Here are my thoughts on it.

Use to be this neighborhood was very popular because it was the most affordable way to get the highly desirable combination of Athens-Chilesburg Elementary, Hayes Middle and Henry Clay.  For the Hamburg area, this was THE trifecta of schools.  Just like everything, time marches on.  Today, the district is Garret Morgan Elementary, Hayes Middle and the new high school being built on Winchester Road.  I think time will prove that this new district is just as desirable.

A client who I have become friends with lives in Creekside at Andover.  Yes, she did buy out here so her son could go to Henry Clay, but she has found other things she really loves about her neighborhood.

Since it is right off of Deer Haven, she can walk down that old country Road that I use to drive on when it was Athens-Chilesburg.  You immediately feel like you are in the country….especially if you look east since that is the edge of the urban service area.  It is a short walk to that broken line in the above picture.  That old train track is a tree lined walking trail now.  It goes from Walnut Grove, cuts across Polo Club, passes by the city park on Pleasant Ridge and ends up over in Hamburg.  Being able to experience the bluegrass is one of the best things about life in Lexington, and you’ve got a remnant of it here.

Having lived in both Greenbrier and Andover Hills, one of my favorite things about this neighborhood is how easy it is to not only get to Hamburg, but how easy it is to also AVOID Hamburg.  If you want to go to the new side of Hamburg by Costco, exit your neighborhood towards Polo Club and a few stops signs and one light later, you are there.  If you want to get to the main side of Hamburg, exit your neighborhood on Todds Road and you are there quickly.  Want to go somewhere else in Lexington?  Go out Todds Road and cut through Chilesburg and Stuart Hall on Hayes Blvd to get to Richmond Road…..totally bypassing Hamburg.  Since I like driving in the country, another perk for me is that you are on the edge of town.  Turn east on Todds Road and you are instantly in the county.  This would be great for people who enjoy bicycling too.

Most of the houses in Creekside at Andover fall between about 1300 and 2300 square feet.  Seems to me that most are around 1800-2000 square feet from what I see come on the market.  They were build in the mid 2000s. There are some townhouses in the neighborhood too.  Prices on the townhouses have been around $140k recently.  That is a good entry point for first time buyers.  The other houses are all between $170k and $200k.  There are a few basement lots, mostly the ones near the top of Deer Haven and Wargrave Walk.  Those are around $225k.

Here is a very typical home in Creekside at Andover.  This model is very popular because you get a great big vaulted great room and a HUGE bedroom or bonus space over the garage.  I have seen it be one giant room as well as divided into two rooms.

creekside

Well, that is it for today.  I guess in another 25 years I will blog about driving my gas powered, non-autonomous Audi through this neighborhood and remembering when all the trees were small and how it was on the edge of town back then.  I may even keep a map from today so I can show what it was like.

 

2 Lexington homes whose history you didn’t know

I’m doing a mash up of Old Lexington, scandal, politics, big business and……real estate?  Yep, real estate.  Just like a retro-local version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Before moving to Lexington in the mid-80s, I was in Frankfort.  And when you live in the capitol of this fine state, you are always aware of who is the Governor.

So let’s begin with John Y. Brown’s house:

One of my favorite things to do when I was a teenager was driving around neighborhoods and looking at houses.  This one caught my eye long before I knew it’s history.  I later found out that it was John Y’s house, but it wasn’t until I read this book that I knew what kind of stuff went on here:

The book is a good read.  I had always thought of John Y. Brown as the guy who stole Kentucky Fried Chicken from Colonel Sanders and that chubby Governor who really liked riding in helicopters until I read this.  My favorite memory of John Y was when I was in the 4th grade.  He and his wife Phyllis George landed in a helicopter in front of Hearn Elementary.  A limo showed up with their newborn baby, Lincoln Brown.  All us kids got to stand in line and walk past the limo for a quick glimpse of Baby Lincoln.  Even as a kid, I thought it was crazy that they chose the helicopter for transportation when the Capitol was about 5 miles away.  Even crazier now that I am a parent is that the school interrupted education so we could see some baby whose dad was the Gov.

His house last sold for $660k in 2012.  From the pictures I saw when it was for sale, it looks like several of the bathrooms are pretty original-in that cool mid century way.  Somebody at some time added an amazing swimming pool.  The basement has a catering kitchen.  I don’t know if that is an original feature.  It looks to be since the cabinets feel more like 1960 than the 1970s when John Y lived there.

 

Moving on, the other  80s Governor who is memorable for things not having to do with being the Governor, is Wallace Wilkinson.  He is best known for saying things like he was for “Tax Avoidance” and not “Tax Evasion.”

Life was probably pretty good for him when he built this monster of a house in 1972.  His chain of bookstores were doing so well that he had the money to make several additions to his home, one of which was an indoor swimming pool.

This picture was taken when he was selling the house….probably to pay off the $300,000,000 in debt he had at the time.

According to Wikipedia, he was insolvent since about 1992 and was operating a Ponzi scheme.  Maybe that is why the pool was covered with a tarp in this picture?

Wilkinson’s house last sold in 2004 for $875k.   It use to have two other huge lots with it, but those were sold to pay off his creditors.

Every time I pull into Greenbrier, I try to imagine what it would have been like for Wally to drive home from work.  I picture him in a 1979 Cadillac Seville, talking on a giant cell phone hardwired inside his car as he drives past Hamburg back when it was only a farm.  He waves to Anita Madden if she is at her mailbox.  He gets off the phone about where Man O War is now, pushes the Conway Twitty 8-track in the stereo and chills for a minute before turning on Bahama Road.  Then it is fondue for dinner and an evening watching The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.

 

 

Neighborhoods that benefited the most from school district changes

I get a lot of questions about school districts and property values.  Most of the time there is nothing to worry about unless your neighborhood goes from having average/above average schools to getting ones that are worse.    A lateral move doesn’t really matter.  The best situation is when you have poorer performing schools and get better ones….which is the topic of today’s blog post.

Here are the top 3 winners in my opinion.  The biggest changes in the district boundaries were in the Hamburg/40509 area, so these are all out that way:

3.  The Home Place/Gleneagles.  The cat got out of the bag early on this one.  The school district bought land in this area and everybody knew that these 2 neighborhoods would go to the new school.  Suddenly it became a more desirable place to buy and prices went up.

2.  Greenbrier.  Several years ago I would get the same feedback from my buyers after showing houses in this neighborhood.  They would say “I love the neighborhood and all the space out here, but I don’t have $100k to renovate this house AND pay for private school.”  So, they wouldn’t buy it.  Now that “The Brier” is getting the new elementary and new high school, houses are selling and being renovated.

1.  Chilesburg.  Use to be only the first phase of that neighborhood went to Athens-Chilesburg Elementary (A.C.E.).  It never really made any sense since the school was right in the middle of the neighborhood.  The neighborhood got the school and prices have really gone up.  Use to be if you were in the mid $200k range and wanted that school, Andover Hills was your only option.  There use to be a big gap between similar sized houses in these two neighborhoods.  Not any more.  Chilesburg can pull the same money per sqaure foot as Andover Hills can now.  A 2500 square foot 4 bedroom house in Chilesburg use to be about $190-225k several years ago.  Practically the same floor plan in Andover Hills was getting $225-245k.  Now both are in the $245-255k range.