Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I created this blog with three goals in mind: to document the remodeling of the house my wife and I will purchase in Shaker Heights; to help guide others through the process of purchasing and repairing a home in this city; and to illustrate some of the many beautiful homes for sale in this city.

Shaker Heights was developed as a streetcar suburb. It has a long history of excellent schools and beautiful homes. While perhaps best known for its stately mansions, the vast majority of the homes are of a much more reasonable size.

For homebuyers, the city may be best known for its strict zoning laws and housing inspections. All exterior changes to a structure must be cleared with the Architectural Review Board. A point of sale inspection is required for all real estate sold in the city, and violations must either be corrected by the seller or assumed by the buyer. If they are to be assumed by the buyer, one must put into escrow with the city 150% of the estimated cost of the repairs, to pay the contractors doing the work and ensure that the work is completed. These repairs must be completed or have "significant progress" made on them within 90 days of purchase.

Some areas of Shaker Heights were hit rather hard by the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and now many homes sit vacant, unsold, and unsellable because of the amount of work necessary to pass city inspection. The work required is not so expensive as to make the properties undesirable, but the escrow process and the amount of cash required scares potential buyers away. It seems that the city didn't count on the possibility of homes needing numerous minor repairs of the sort of that might easily be done by many home owners. These sort of repairs, like the replacement of light fixtures and patching plaster are labor heavy but materials cheap, so that they make the outlay required at purchase much greater.

I hope to address these issues and more.

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