"Flip This House" – The Enemy of a Transitioning Neighborhood

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While surfing the internet Patrick came across one of A&E’s TV shows, “Flip This House”. More specifically a short segment about “Flip Tip – Curb Appeal”. He showed me the video and we both watched in horror of what this “Investment Consultant” Angela Wilford was recommending. Angela and the TV show “Flip This House” reminded me of some of the challenges we’re up against as a transitioning neighborhood: INVESTORS! Bad investor’s freeze the progress transitioning neighborhoods are making – and destroying beautiful houses in the process. (And if you look at the video and see the footage of a boarded up house you know Angela Wilford is working on a house in a transitioning neighborhood because I’m fairly certain you can’t find too many boarded up houses in non-transitioning neighborhoods.)

First of all (and this part doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with harming a transitioning neighborhood), am I the only one that was puzzled by her comments to tear out landscaping? I thought it was common knowledge that landscaping is the only investment that will actually increase in value over time. That kitchen renovation isn’t getting any younger over the years…but that grown in hedge or bushy perennial will awe potential buyers. That’s what always gets me about new subdivisions – they are sooooo boringly bare! (Well, that and the fact that usually new subdivisions mean long drives into the suburbs and cheap cookie cutter construction.) I’m sure in certain cases it doesn’t hurt to remove some plants, but the house she was talking about had no landscaping but the hedges she recommended to tear out. The house would have no plants remaining.

Then the part that really terrified me was seeing those original windows being torn out. As a fellow blogger once commented, there is a special place in hell for people that tear out old windows. (And we’ll make sure there are some extra flames added for showing them being torn out on a TV show.) I know homeowners go the tear-out-historic-windows route as well, but especially investors have a tendency of harming those beautiful treasures. And that’s one of the problems with investors…they tear out absolutely everything. It hurts my heart every time I drive by a dumpster in the neighborhood knowing that some architectural detail was surely torn out. It’s easier to tear out the old woodwork and slap some drywall on the studs instead – our contractor even said so herself! Investors…out go the windows, out goes the butler’s pantry, out goes the wooden plate rail molding, out goes the old fireplace, out goes the character. We fell in love with the houses in this neighborhood because of those details. I’m sure we can’t be the only ones, so who do the investors think they’re doing the neighborhood a favor by tearing that stuff out? Besides, investors are known to put the cheapest of the cheap materials back in the house. NO thank you!

So what are we left with after the investors have come to ravage a house? “For Rent” signs! I have been a renter myself, so it would be hypocritical to be totally against renters, but renters in a transitioning neighborhood don’t exactly help to establish a neighborhood. What is needed are loving, caring homeowners to rebuild the foundation of the neighborhood. Hopefully Patrick and I are helping to do our part in this process for Westview.

As a footnote I’d like to add that even though I mainly think investors are bad, I have witnessed some, or more specifically one, investor that I think has been doing a tremendous job. Two houses over from us was a house that was the shame of the block. It had been sitting empty since we’ve been here and had granite blocks falling out of the foundation, paint peeling, and was generally looking pretty pathetic. When Jim bought the property and said he would rent it we were worried, but he was quick to assure us he cared very much about the historic details. Over the last couple of months the house has gone from the shame of the block to one of the nicest looking houses! He had the granite and brick re-pointed (which is where we got the guys from to re-point our brick), he scraped all the paint off the porch and repainted the whole house, had railing re-installed around the porch, re-paved the driveway and path, cleared out all the kudzu from the backyard, put new grass down, had missing windows custom made to match the rest of the house, replaced the crappy front door with a restored historic Craftsman door, and the list goes on and on. From what I’ve seen I’d say Jim get’s the “Westview Investor’s Award”.


East Ontario Avenue restoration


East Ontario Avenue restoration


East Ontario Avenue restoration

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