I have a file called "Buying [my address]". It has a lot of fun things: my contract with my Realtor Gloria Owens, my home inspection, photos and notes from the home inspection, various MRIS reports and printouts, a graphic from a 12/3/2000 Washington Post article (A24) about a decade of homicides-- one of the many splotches of murder completely covers the TC, fax cover sheets, a business card from my North Capitol's Home Buyer's Club housing dula Ms. Karen Garrett, and my bank info, including a stub from a $3,793.79 cashiers check to the title company.
I looked at four houses. Just four. A year earlier a friend of mine bought a house with what was left over from his father's estate. He spent way too much time pondering houses and it took him 2 agents and one year to get a crooked house in a working class neighborhood in PG Co. I did not want that. I did a lot of neighborhood research, figuring out which blocks I could afford on a $34K salary, a $125K loan limit, and which streets I felt comfortable walking alone from the metro at night. So when a house popped up on my map of desire (yes, I physically mapped out which blocks and to what point I was comfortable) I could be ready. I looked at the purple house on the 1700 blk of 4th St, 1851 3rd St NW, 1607 5th St NW and my house. I don't have the printout for the purple house so I don't have the address, but I remember it was HUGE inside, and a hallway window was broken and it had no yard, and the people on the street looked unfriendly. No. The 3rd St house was beautiful, but $4K above what I was approved and I don't know why my agent showed it to me. It was beautiful even though renovations were incomplete. There was this big square hole in the living room floor for a 'future' air vent. There was a dusty old piano in the garage basement. There were a million things I loved about this house, but I couldn't afford it nor would I have been able complete the renovations. The house on 5th street was small, the interior looked as if the renters were foreign to the concept of cleaning and my notes say something about roof and moisture issues and the kitchen being disgusting & tiny. The house was going to need repair before moving in. I put in an offer for less than the $109,900 asking price because the seller had tried to sell it for something like $75K the year before. The seller wasn't budging, they knew there was change afoot in the neighborhood and they were planning on cashing out.
The Help, 2003
The Help, the man I married about 3 years ago, was a platonic friend back then. He was my best friend. I wrote up a will and left the house to him since my local relatives had zero-negative interest in it. He recently confessed that when I bought, he thought, "What is a nice girl like you buying a dump like this?"
People were selling affordable dumps with hot and cold drug dealers on the corner. Buyers, like me, probably sensed (like the 5th St seller) change was afoot. Change came, and it got called gentrification. Change keeps coming, less dumpy, more luxury, and it's still called gentrification.