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REAL ESTATE How to Improve a Neighborhood?

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phlgirl

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Aug 29, 2007
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I have been pondering this thought for several months now and it was reignited when I read some of the 'Should I buy in a rough side of town......' thread.

My question is what methods are most effective when trying to improve the overall conditions of a neighborhood, in which you invest?

We invest in Jacksonville, FL, which is experiencing rapid growth. We buy single family homes in solid, working class, neighborhoods. Overall, the homeowners take pride in their homes and keep a clean appearance/maintainted yard, etc. Here and there, you have an eyesore, which, at times, seems like it can bring down an entire block.

Recently, one of our neighborhoods has been experiencing a lot of break ins. A tenant of ours had an incident and another investor, with whom we work closely, has had a similar experience. I called first the local police and then the Burglarly unit, at headquarters, and both told me that this particular area has a spike in activity. I asked if there was anything we could do to support them but didn't get much feedback other than "just call if you see something suspicious".

So does anyone have ideas, in general, as to what efforts are most effective, when trying to improve a neighbohood? Write to local politicians? Start a neighborhood watch?

Thanks!
 

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Runum

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When I purchase a property I try to meet several, if not all of the neighbors. I express to them my desire to own a safe, secure property and to contirbute to the improvement of the neighborhood. I tell them that I am very much a hands on property owner and I will not tolerate illegal activities on my property or from my tenants. I also include that I can't ensure this security all by myself, it takes all of the neighbors working together for that purpose. I always give them my card and ask them to call or email me if there is anything I need to know about.

When I interview a prospective tenant I always tell them that illegal activities will not be tolerated and they all have to work together to get along so that everyone feels safe and secure. I let the prospects know that they will be monitored by their neighbors. So far this has all worked for me. Good luck.:cheers:

Greg
 

hakrjak

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You can try buying a few houses on the street, and fixing up each one systematically. I've actually partnered with another flipper and we've done 3 each on the street. At this point, the whole neighborhood has come up -- as we've sold to more favorable neighbors, and improved each property as we've moved through them. Property values have increased quite a bit since we got started, and now they're starting to sell faster with less days on market too.

- Hakrjak
 

andviv

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In your case it is not about improving the neighborhood, it is more about not letting go to the dark side.... the only thing that I can suggest is to create a neighborhood watch program (http://www.usaonwatch.org/) so you can raise awareness and enlist help from the residents to maintain the area clean and safe. This raises in many places when economic hardship occurs, so being proactive is key.
 
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phlgirl

phlgirl

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Aug 29, 2007
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You can try buying a few houses on the street, and fixing up each one systematically. I've actually partnered with another flipper and we've done 3 each on the street. At this point, the whole neighborhood has come up -- as we've sold to more favorable neighbors, and improved each property as we've moved through them. Property values have increased quite a bit since we got started, and now they're starting to sell faster with less days on market too.

This we have done. In many cases, we have homes on the same street - sometimes even right next door. We also have a few in close proximity to this other RE investment company, which I mentioned earlier. I do feel that we are making an improvement just by cleaning up the properties - updating the interior and exterior of the homes. However, as andviv said, some residents are absolutely experiencing economic hardships (we buy most of these homes in some state of foreclosure) and I know there are many others on their way.....

I wonder if it would be wise for me to attempt to start a neighborhood watch type program? I feel like it may not be well received from an outsider (we don't live inside JAX). Perhaps, we should encourage our tenants to do so and offer support?

I want the neighbors to feel safe and, of course, there is some selfishness there as well. The better the neighborhood, the safer/more valuable our investment.

Thanks to eveyone for the feedback. Much appreciated!
 

Bilgefisher

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This may sound strange, but throw a neighborhood block party. Do anything to bring the sense of community back. When neighbors know each other and are friendlier, they also tend to be much more aware when things are amiss. If the neighborhood becomes tougher to commit crimes in, the criminals will go elsewhere.

Find out which police officers patrol the neighborhood or live in the neighborhood. Make sure they are invited to the block party(not in uniform). It could help them feel a sense of duty to that neighborhood when they know the residents. I think this could help you as well. You rent properties correct? The neighborhood could see you in a good light when they see you are trying to help. Phlgirl, I've never tried this before myself, so please keep that in mind. Merely a suggestion. I don't think it would hurt though.
 

Diane Kennedy

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Aug 31, 2007
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This may sound strange, but throw a neighborhood block party. Do anything to bring the sense of community back. When neighbors know each other and are friendlier, they also tend to be much more aware when things are amiss. If the neighborhood becomes tougher to commit crimes in, the criminals will go elsewhere.

Find out which police officers patrol the neighborhood or live in the neighborhood. Make sure they are invited to the block party(not in uniform). It could help them feel a sense of duty to that neighborhood when they know the residents. I think this could help you as well. You rent properties correct? The neighborhood could see you in a good light when they see you are trying to help. Phlgirl, I've never tried this before myself, so please keep that in mind. Merely a suggestion. I don't think it would hurt though.
I love this idea. In our case (and we didn't live in the neighborhood either), there were a group of us who create a quasi-homeowner's association. But it wasn't the type that tells you what shade of beige you can paint your house, it was really an association for change. There was an active real estate agent/investor in our group and she liked getting the high profile position of 'let's clean this neighborhood" up and we gladly let her take the lead in talking to councilmembers on what we needed. She got kudos for doing it, but hey why not. The squeaky wheel approach got us more funds for police in the area.

Then, we did a "block party/barbecue" and invited the police and fire fighters who worked in that area. Neighbors came, met each other and the police got to know us as well. I went through the area at night (yes, I can be a little crazy) and if I saw ANYTHING I was on my cell phone. If I saw a house (and there was one) that was obviously selling drugs I was relentless - reporting it daily, not a lot happened until one day I saw the local police officers at a Circle K and asked if I could talk to them. I told them what I had observed and they said they'd had a lot of reports (no kidding, all from me!) and they were just going to get it handled. The house was vacant the next day and the City of Phoenix ended up buying it as part of an area renovation.
 
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phlgirl

phlgirl

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Thanks guys - great ideas.

I really like the idea of the homeowners association and the block party as well. Anything we can do to jumpstart some action in the neighborhood would be an excellent start.

Diane, your example of how a local realtor got involved is exactly what I am hoping might happen. Although I think it is important for our company (and others) to be involved, ideally, I would like to see the actual residents take charge of their own environment.

Thanks again! Any other ideas are welcome. I will keep you posted (and likely ask more questions), as we start the process!
 

jta00r1

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Oct 19, 2007
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The block party is a really good method for sure, in summertime my neighborhood had parties at least once a month and all residents are more happier which make the homes reflect in appearances.
 

andviv

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I found this article today and want to link it here, as it refers to this topic.


In the area where I invest, I’ve seen a lot of changes happening. And, I’m sorry to say, they’re not changes for the good. In fact, I recently found myself asking, “What the hell is going on? What is happening to my middle class neigh*borhood?’
 

GoldenEggs

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Sep 4, 2007
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andviv, rep++ for the article! The area where our property is located is a blue-collar neighborhood but gang-type activity has been increasing. Local community groups/services and some government officials has already gathered together to work on preventing the situation from getting worse. We're working with some of the services to see what we could provide on our property since we are planning on building a small community center. Block parties, movies in the park, and the like are all being planned but can't start until the summer because of weather conditions.

I volunteer with a non-profit that empowers young girls to address and create solutions on social issues important to their community and I'm trying to see if we can get a similar program rolling in that area. The groups that I have talked to are interested in getting a program like this in the area.

There are several building spaces that we can use but free to low cost, safe and reliable transportation is a concern. I'm trying to see how else I can help, being 2000 miles away.
 

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