Rehab quandary: After 341 days, is this property worth $35,000?

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After 341 days, this Garfield property remains on the market for $28,000 more than the purchaser paid for it in 2007.

If you’re looking for a property to rehab, this one seems ideal. The location is nearly perfect — it sits a block away from Penn Ave. in Garfield between Graham and Fairmont, and it’s within walking distance of everything one could reasonably want to do in Garfield, Bloomfield, or East Liberty. The price, at least initially, seems manageable, too: at $35,000, real estate sites estimate you’re looking at a mortgage of $128 per month.

But there are obviously problems here. For one thing, the listing agent has only taken the effort to post three images of the property. None of them are taken from inside, and one of them is literally a photo of trash sitting on leaves. Another shows a tree overtaking the rear of the house.

And wait, there’s more! Take a look at the Zillow listing and you’ll notice the house has been on the market for 341 days straight. After a month on the market — it was initially listed at $25,000 in April last year — the seller decided to raise his asking price by $10,000, where it’s been set since June last year.

I’m no expert (postindustrial.com is largely an exercise in trying to understand the vagaries of Pittsburgh’s real estate market) but I think a couple things are clear here.

First, from an investment perspective, this property should be looked at as nothing but a shell and/or something to be torn down; one can speculate about what’s behind those boarded up windows, but whatever it is, it’s probably not going to increase the value of your investment here.

Second, there’s an element of faith among sellers that can be remarkable. This property was purchased for less than $7,000 in 2007 and apparently the buyer — who is seemingly an actual human being and not a shady title company or something similar — did nothing to refurbish it. But still that owner hangs on to the idea that someday she might get $35,000 for a property that doesn’t seem like it’s worth that much.

Who knows, maybe she will. And that’s one goal of real estate investment — making money sooner or later. Another is to make communities better by caring for the properties you own. Doesn’t seem like that’s on the agenda here.

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