Saturday, January 05, 2008

Low Inventory of Ravenswood two-flats

Ravenswood two-flat buildings under 700K are in short supply. Only ONE listed building met the criteria of my clients today: two move in quality units, garage parking, walking distance to the Ravenswood Metra station, under $700K. There are a spattering of buildings at $550K or less, but they are in bad shape.

The typical "move-in" two flat building in the Ravenswood neighborhood under $700K will consist of:
-A 30X125 lot
-Two finished and separate living units
-Two small bedrooms, one bathroom
-An unfinished basement (7 foot ceiling)
-Small yard and two car garage

$600,000 to $650,000 will get you a move-in condition two flat building that will need a low amount maintenance. The higher end of the price range (645K-700K) may get you an extra half bath in each unit, a larger lot or a better finished “owners unit”.

The typical two-flat in this price range will remind you of the many rentals you lived in.

However, there are three main reasons to buy a two flat like this:

First and foremost, it is a great way to live in a neighborhood in which you cannot afford a single family home. A two flat allows you a yard, basement and garage (things you may not get in a condo) while receiving rental income from a tenant (in which you control who your neighbor is).

In Ravenswood, you can buy a decent two flat for $625,000 and just live in the place without a renter. This may sound strange, but a safe, move-in quality single family home in Ravenswood will cost you at least $700K… and that’s under the Brown Line! The two flat can get you a better positioned home for less money than a house. You will just have to be creative how you live.

Secondly, you can convert a two-flat to a single family home. This can be an arduous process (read: NIGHTMARE) but can still be a value. For instance, you can buy a brick two flat for about $550K in Ravenswood in decent structural shape, but in need of new everything… mechanicals, electrical, roof, windows, blah, blah, blah. $250K later, you’ll have a nice single family home. An $800K total investment is justified especially if you will live in the house for awhile.

Third, you can buy a two flat to rent and hold as a retirement investment. If you already have a real estate portfolio and like the prospects of Ravenswood, this is still viable. However, you’ll have to tie up some money for awhile. This is a good idea on commercial and mixed use zoned streets (like Damen) where developers may be interested in buying several lots for a major project.

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