“East Ridge is on its way up.”
How many times have we heard this from our elected officials and staff? Yeah, sure, the east end with all its new commercial development and the Red Wolves soccer stadium is booming. No question.
However, many residents have remained skeptical about the prosperity of East Ridge. Sure, commercially the city seems to be trending in the right direction. But, what about the residential side?
A couple months ago an elderly neighbor of mine proudly announced that he had sold his family home to a “house flipper” for $100,000, the full appraised price of the property. Some of his close neighbors were astonished at the sale price. Frankly, many didn’t believe the sale price, as the neighbor was known for, shall we say, embellishing the truth.
There just wasn’t any way this could be true, right?. “House flippers” are typically willing to pay about half the appraised price so they can come in and renovate the house, bring it up to code, and make a profit.
In a casual conversation with a friend whose wife is in real estate, it was noted that real estate in East Ridge was going great guns. My friend told me that it was possible, maybe even likely, that the full price was paid by a “house flipper.”
Come to find out, my neighbor did get a hundred grand for one of the least desirable 1,600 square-foot houses on the street. It had undergone an addition more than 40 years ago that was done by his family, presumably, without any permits or inspections. A close neighbor told me that he had been in the house many times before the recent sale and he said the electrical systems were a complete disaster, and the plumbing wasn’t far behind.
The “house flipper” came in and began renovations, initially without any building permit. A city codes official came by and shut down the job site. A couple days later a building permit sign went up in the house. A quick call to City Hall revealed that the permit was for replacing the windows in the house.
As the weeks rolled by it became clear there was more going on than just replacing windows. Lots of demo material from the inside was hauled out to a dumpster. Power tools hummed throughout the day. A fresh coat of very thin paint was sprayed on the house. New handrails went up on the small porch. A new door in a trendy color really made it look nice.
What was disturbing, however, was what was happening at night.
Under cover of darkness, some guy came out and started his magic on the structure’s weatherhead – where the power lines from the street are fixed to the house. By the next morning, a piece of sliced PVC (without an actual weatherhead at the top) concealed the vintage fabric-sheathed cable feeding power to the house.
The realtor photos online show grounded power outlets throughout the house, but if they connect to vintage ungrounded wiring, a potential hazard exists to the new occupants of the home.
To my knowledge, no codes inspector from the city ever came out to inspect any of the work.
On Friday, a for sale sign went up in the yard. A neighbor said the house had an asking price of more than $200,000. The MLS information noted that the house had an “updated roof, plumbing and electrical,” what one would expect from a house built in 1945. On Saturday the house was shown numerous times to interested buyers.
Yesterday, the young couple who live next door to this property told a neighbor that they would be moving. They received an unsolicited offer on their home that presumably was a lot more than the $187,000 they paid for it a couple years ago.
A neighbor a couple doors down from me said they would be selling and moving soon. There is no “for sale” sign outside their house.
I guess this is good news for all the people concerned about declining property values. Correct, if you want to sell and move. It’s not such good news for those of us who have no desire or intention to move. What it means is that the next time Hamilton County does a reassessment the property taxes are subject to increase substantially.
God help us all who want to stay put and live in our homes. God help those young couples moving into some of these older homes where the renovators have put “lipstick on a pig.”
It seems our codes officials are more concerned with making sure long-term residents’ yards are maintained than making sure those who purchase “flipped” houses are getting their money’s worth.