The best place I have ever lived

HK for blog

 

Of all the places I have ever lived, this house was my favorite.

Somebody once told me that people either are moving away from pain or moving towards pleasure.

We were definitely moving from pain.  We were miserable at our old house due to two neighbors.  One held poker games several nights a week.  40-50 guys gambling and drinking until the middle of the night was going to eventually erupt into something scary.  The other problem neighbor was an animal hoarder who kept multiple dogs outside 24/7.

We had a contract to build a brand new house.  Then it turned out that the Army Corp of Engineers had not issued a required permit the developer needed.

My wife told me I had better find her a house fast!

I had shown the house we eventually bought to another client.  It didn’t really impress me.

The price had just been reduced so I told my wife we could go see this place but I had been in it and didn’t think she would like it.

She did though.

I wasn’t too excited about it, but it was better than where we were living.  We bought it on my oldest son’s birthday.  I remember having to leave his party early to go drop off the signed contract to the listing agent.  This was a few years before we all used electronic signatures.  Today, I would have been out in the backyard with he and all his friends doing it from my phone.

We moved in.  I woke up the next morning and it felt so good to have all the natural light flooding the two story foyer.    It also felt good being on a dead end street.  And knowing my boys were safe.

We had no idea what an awesome time was ahead of us.

There were lots of boys the same age as our two.  A family across the street was in the same magnet program our boys were in.  We carpooled a lot.  We didn’t realize it when we bought the place, but it was just down the road from my oldest son’s best friend.  My wife’s roommate from college lived about 200 feet down the road too.

It just felt like home.  We knew our neighbors.  Everybody was friendly.  Our kids and all the other boys could play outside.  The floor plan really worked well too.

It was…….perfect.

This is what I hope to find for all of my clients.  It feels really good when you touch base with somebody after they have moved in and they tell you they are loving everything about their new home.

 

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.

 

My crystal ball was clear that day

In the long-range, Lexington will eventually use all of its available land.  When that happens I think we’ll start to see a huge price difference between Lexington and the surrounding towns.  When the land becomes that valuable, we’ll see a lot of what are now cheap areas redeveloped.

That is what I said 7 years ago yesterday and it is happening.  I know this thanks to Facebook’s “On this Day” feature.  Besides being reminded that I had sushi for lunch with my wife on February 4th in 2013, I found an old blog post that was mainly about downtown.

All this is happening because there practically is no affordable housing in Lexington.  Builders have given up on the first time buyer market because the land costs them so much.  Why would they use their expensive land to build small/plain houses when there is so much money to be made building expensive/upscale houses?

We have practically built out to the urban service area……..aka the city limits.  There are few big tracts of land for the big builders to obtain.

That has forced buyers and investors into areas that 10 years ago were undesirable.  Downtown is a prime example because that is where the cheap land is….or was?

The Distillery District, between the time it was actually distilleries and trendy businesses, sat empty and was mostly industrial businesses and junkyards.  There were probably more rats than people down there on any given day back then.

The Newtown Pike extension is connecting Main Street to South Broadway right through a really depressing area of Lexington that few people ever knew existed.  Meanwhile, all the old tobacco warehouses along South Broadway are gone with apartments and businesses taking their place.

Then there is all the activity on the north end of downtown.  Jefferson Street.  NoLi. Midland Avenue.  Cool restaurants, bars and old housing stock.

Heck, even Cardinal Valley and many north end neighborhoods are becoming an acceptable location to young first times buyers with a tight budget wanting to live in this expensive town.

Many people will think all this is happening because people want to return to the urban core.  Lexington isn’t big enough to have true suburbs.  Plus, you can get to downtown from any where in any traffic within 30 minutes.   So I don’t think that is the main reason.  I think the reason is because infill projects and fixing up cheap houses are the only options for a town that is always growing and has run out of space.

 

Want to know what LEXington buyers are doing??

The real estate scene in Lexington sure is changing.  Guess it always has, but this years it seems to be doing it quicker.

What’s hot and what’s not has been pretty static around here for a long time.  Other than Kenwick getting trendy and all the flopped new downtown condo projects, this town has always been about the middle of the road, safe and predictable neighborhoods in decent school districts.  People who wanted older houses wanted in 40502 or the older neighborhoods on the south end of town that were inside New Circle.  People who wanted newer homes looked around Man O War.  There was always plenty of new construction going on all over town.

Now it seems that new construction has slowed down.  You’d think since we are running out of room inside of Fayette County, that new construction would be on fire right now.  Especially after all the slow years of the bad market.  It did bounce back strong in 2013, but has slowed since.  All the national news I read about it indicates the same is happening everywhere.

I am seeing more and more people wanting older houses.  They are rejecting the cookie cutter neighborhoods.  Many are considering neighborhoods on the north end of town.

All this is pretty interesting to me, both professionally and personally.  I have to keep up with it so I can give my clients the good advice they deserve.  I also like to think about why we are seeing this shift?

I think a lot of this has to do with shows like Property Brothers and sites like Houzz.com.  People want a house with character more than ever now.  After several years of a bad economy, people now feel safe to renovate their houses.   I think people are spending more time at home due to being so connected online.  It only makes sense that people want to create their own oasis to be in while they spend all their time connecting with the world through their phones.

I once had an out of town client tell me that the Lexington market is very broad but not deep.  We tend to have the same 10 floor plans build by the same builder throughout all of Lexington.  It is almost like 3 easy step:  1)  Pick your floor plan.  2)  Pick which part of town you want to be in.  3)  Pick if you want that house to have been build in the 90s or 2000s.   I had another client from New York tell me he wanted a contemporary or modern house.  He didn’t get one because we have so few.  People today are just not excited about living in a modern day Levittown.  (Google that if you don’t know what I mean.)

Lexington doesn’t have the sprawl like a real city does.  We keep adding people but we don’t expand the geographic boundaries of the town.  That means more density, which means more traffic.  People are wanting more than ever to be closer to amenities they frequently use.  That is one reason the older neighborhoods are doing so well right now.

As prices have returned to 2005 levels but wages have not, you don’t get as much for your money.  That is why we are seeing some people look on the north end of town.  You get more for your money there.  This is especially true for many first time buyers.  An older house on the north end of town is a real bargain today.   Also, the north end of Lexington is a great spot for younger buyers who want to be close to all the new spots along North Limestone.

Well, I’m over 600 words now.  I could go on and on.  Bottom line is that buyer tastes are shifting in this town and it is kind of exciting to me.