My page 2 Walkabout column in today’s P-G about Sarah Sims Erwin’s investment in an 1830s duplex in the North Side’s Deutschtown inspired Michael Staresinic (left) to write:
“A great story about the duplex renovation – 180 year old cedar siding intact. One has the feeling that is true of a lot of covered old small houses in tight neighborhoods.
“I do believe there is an exceedingly small quirky niche market: out-of-towners coming from high cost markets (I would pick 4 East Coast and 5 West Coast cities), with a love of history and character who simply can’t believe the outrageously low prices for these.
“Houses are small in size, often wood, usually pre-1860 or 1870. The salt-box houses on Friendship Avenue as you enter Bloomfield is one of many examples.”
Mike describes himself as “a returned Pittsburgher with an interest in these things.”
Sarah (in photo at her new old property) is also a returning Pittsburgher after 17 years in New York City. Many natives come back to the ‘burgh and we are drawing more young non-natives who have become habituated to the costs of living in places like Boston and Brooklyn and love our affordability.
Mike suggests a capable small group of people be tapped to identify the small, old houses that would fall in a $20,000-50,000 price range and figure out a good vehicle for marketing them in expensive cities, where people wouldn’t think it astounding to pour a couple hundred thousand into it.
They are out there, as Sarah was, and they could be found, to Pittsburgh's benefit.
Mike, who has lived in Washington, D.C., writes: “How does one link those houses with another narrow market, people living in Boston, Philly, New York and Washington.
“I am convinced there are far more matches than we are getting, many more houses that can be saved and are at risk of loss. Modern communications means this sliver of a market can be identified and encouraged somehow. Alas I am not an expert.”
Mike and I are going to explore this idea further over coffee one day soon. If anyone wants to join the discussion, comment your interest and follow Walkabout for details of a future confab. And we would appreciate an expert or two in the mix.
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