YO...K an' A!

By
Real Estate Agent with ChicagoHomeEstates.com



Lets take a mental road trip away from Chicago for a few moments and travel back thirty years to the intersection of Kensington and Allegheny Avenues in the north Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington. A guy I knew from college lived there and when we went home for Thanksgiving break the autumn semester of my first freshman year (don't ask) the first thing he screamed into the cold, fishy air when we stepped off the elevated platform and into the ghetto was YO...K an' A! ... one fist raised to the sky and the other clenching the strap of his worn army surplus duffel bag stuffed with two months of dirty laundry dragging behind him. He was instantly a different person. He was home.

Our initial collegiate bond hinged on the fact we were both from 'Philly' but I very quickly recognized that I was a fraud. I was not from Philly. I was from Levittown which probably needs no explanation to anyone within this readership. For those who do let me just say that while a little depressing in its own right these days I certainly wouldn't describe it as urban blight. It isn't even a city but a suburban town, for crissakes. Kensington in the 1970s could only be described as urban blight with its gap-toothed grid of city blocks lined up, down and back again with delapidated red brick rowhouses and vacant lots.

And as we walked through the alleys where Rocky had just been filmed the year before I suddenly realized that the place where I grew up, some 45 minutes north by interstate, was a different world entirely. Fifteen minutes later I also realized that buying and selling real estate was what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.

My friend had an older brother named Louie who was beginning to buy up the worst of the worst on Cambria Street--the left for dead rowhomes that were virtually unlivable to anyone but the 'huffers' --and attempt to do the 1970's urban blighted version of a Flip This House.

"Fishtown, is too pricey. I like it here," proclaimed Louie, who looked more to me like a guy who sold pretzels than an investor. Fishtown was the next neighborhood over and even to my untrained teenage eye, pricey was the last word I'd use to describe it. Nevertheless, I listened with great interest as we spent the next couple hours touring his most recent acquisitions. "Getting rid of the huffers is the key to investing," he told me. "Glue sniffing is an epidemic." I had no idea. I felt I might be smart enough to buy and sell property but getting rid of huffers was totally beyond my world.

"What about the suburbs?" I asked. "I don't think there are many huffers there."

"Nah," he said. "I like the city. I like to see the air I breath."

It would be ten years before I made my first real estate purchase, ten more before I ever bought an investment property and five more on top of that before I even got licensed. Needless to say, I lacked whatever it took to make the real estate plunge at an early age and although the concept of investing in property always intrigued me, I was apparently, no Louie.

So now, after a lenghty 'corporate America' sales career crash landed me in Chicago a decade ago, I'm finally a Realtor. I live in the city and sell in the city and my primary sources of business are buy-side represented negotiations and exclusive residential listings. I seldom buy and flip property and I rarely venture into a 'bad' neighborhood (so defined by what a Realtor is not allowed to call it) to see what can be bought on the cheap. And I don't think I've ever met a real life huffer so I never had to worry about Louie's number one peril of investing.

Pat Kitano recently referenced an article of mine on his TransparentRE.com site. 'My new best friend' (my wife Mona's words) goes on to suggest that she and I be from here on referred to in the blogosphere as "Geno and Mona from Oakbrook..." , no doubt due to the rooted 'East Coast' tone and various Chicago settings from which I write. But Oakbrook? fugeddaboutit....Its a suburb, Mr. K. ...I like to see the air I breath!

photo by score.rims 

posted by Geno Petro

DISCLAIMER

{I recently posted a picture and an accompanying story on my primary Blog and was informed by another site's SEO that my duplicate content might get me banned from Google! Wow, I had no idea. But I reminded myself that ignorance of the 'law' is no excuse. The content apparently needs to be 25% different (am I there yet?) and thus, a commentary before or after should be in order. (Obviously this is an example of a commentary after a duplicate post.  All previous AR entires I have already submitted will soon have commentarfies after the duplicate post as well---but I suppose they {the commentaries} will each need to be 25% different) I don't know nothin' about nothin'. It wasn't me. Why didn't you tell me? 

The truth of the matter is I stumbled across Active Rain by accident while checking out Sellsious. It wasn't sure anyone in the blogosphere was even looking at my primary Blog since I had a total of 1 comment from a friend and 1 comment from my wife and 1 comment from an insane person (a diatribe, actually) the first 3 months I was up an posting. I didn't think my stuff was that bad so I decided to start posting here as well. So from here on forward and backward, this is my 25% Difference Non Duplicate Discalaimer, and I'm sticking to it...unless its a bannable offense from Google  in which case I'll sell my overpriced Google stock and show them! I'll ban them from my portfolio. See how they like it when I give them no page rank! Now I know 'I'm double dog daring' a big guy on the playground (Jean Sheppard reference for my Philly friend, Brian Brady) but right now according to Google, I'm not even another Bozo on the bus. So Thus I Disclaim and wait for the axe.}

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Rainer
27,563
Geno Petro
ChicagoHomeEstates.com

Oakbrook!  Oakbrook ain't no Philly either.  What a great place to sell real estate, though.   My memories of Chicago . . . they're right up there with NYC.  Great places both.  I saw Pat's piece on Geno and Mona.  Cute.

Oakbrook is cool...my car just wont go there.  G

December 07, 2006 07:12 AM
Rainer
27,563
Geno Petro
ChicagoHomeEstates.com

K & A guy here.  Did you at least buy a soft pretzel? The ones at K & A were awesomewhen I was a kid.

I personally will venture into any neighborhood as i did not grow up in levittown :^).  Oh, and I did meet a lot of huffers in my day.

Regarding property investment. I was recently considering purchasing (with investment capital) some property in Reading PA.  Reading is like K & A back in the day.  However, my approach is not just 'to flip', but rather a longer term financial purchase...probably hire a management company and rent the homes.  The prices now cannot* possibly get below what they are now. 

The EQUAL reason (of course profit is the goal)....is to allow people to rent with the possibility to purchase.

What an upside.  I can make money and people can buy a home. Is there a better win-win?

* OK, anything is possible.

 

Rob, I actually havent been back there in many years but yes... anything is possible.  G

December 07, 2006 07:09 AM
Rainer
27,563
Geno Petro
ChicagoHomeEstates.com

Does Chicago still have "bad" neighborhoods?  We've gone from "bad" to "fringe" to "up and coming" to "in transition" to HOT. I rarely venture to the outer boroughs. lol

I haven't been to Chicago in years. I love it. I love that you have a beach in the middle of town.

Oak Street Beach on LSD (Lake Shore Drive) is one of the 7 wonders of Chicago, I think... G

December 07, 2006 07:11 AM
Rainer
27,563
Geno Petro
ChicagoHomeEstates.com

You have got to be kidding me!  K & A is a featured post?

Actually, a great piece of writing.  My God, this brought back (bad) memories for me.

Fishtown is too pricey.  I love it. 

Brian, He was buying those places for less than 20K each. Anything more than that....too pricey!  ps...maybe if you post about LB-C you'll get featured. G

 

December 07, 2006 11:39 AM
Rainer
27,563
Geno Petro
ChicagoHomeEstates.com

My grandma owned one of those pricey homes in Phili in the20's and 30's... I thought it was in Overbrook... I have photos somewhere.

Its a classic East Coast city, that Philly. The people, too.  G

December 07, 2006 07:13 AM
Rainer
27,563
Geno Petro
ChicagoHomeEstates.com

The longer Richie Jr. stays Mayor, the less bad neighborhoods there are in Chicago.  I was back a few weeks ago.  The Green is all (mostly) luxury now.

Rich, Cabrini Green is one hood away from me. Definitely changing. You're right on about  RD jr.    G

December 07, 2006 07:06 AM
Rainer
27,563
Geno Petro
ChicagoHomeEstates.com

Anyone see the irony of Geno's reference to Pat.  K & A isn't South Philly, but nonetheless.... Yeah I chuckled at the Fishtown being to pricey.  Shame the Frankford El never got the status of the "The Loop"

 

Adam & Sharon, the "Loop" is the end result. Many of the El stops a couple miles out of downtown Chicago are no different than the F-EL!  G

December 07, 2006 11:38 AM
Rainer
24,160
Heather Saul
Weichert Realtors Hoey Group

Hey Rob-

Let me know how your investments in Reading work out.  I am from the area - went to highschool in the city - and I am wondering how you are going to entice people to want to live in the city.  It's so sad what happened too cities like Reading and Allentown - they have a lot to offer.  But how do you convince families that buying or wanting to buy and live in Reading is safe? 

December 07, 2006 10:18 AM
Rainer
27,563
Geno Petro
ChicagoHomeEstates.com

Geno, I had something to tell you this morning when I first read the post, but then the site went down, and now I don't remember what it was.

But I will tell you that your photo on the post does not show up in my browser. 

M,its probably has to do with IE.  Anyway, its a picture of an El track in a sketchy neighborhood.  G

December 07, 2006 11:30 AM
Anonymous #10
Anonymous
Anonymous

Heather - haven't invested yet, but looking in to it.

Three factors are making me check this out

1) Appreciation.  Over 5 years a so-so 55%.  However over the PAST year, a very respectable 9.78 and the 3rd QTR of '06 a great upswing of 1.24%... as there are a LOT of cities showing negatives in that 3rd Qtr.

2) The mainly Hispanic community in that area is growing in population AND income.

3) The average price for a home is about as low as you can get. Seriously.

So we're talking $40,000 homes that are 'affordable' from an investment standpoint, can be rented, and appreciation will grow (should grow). $10,000 down leaving only $30,000 on the motgage while rent is paying against that each year.

I have a lot more investigating to do, but as we speak, I'm getting a LOT of Title work from my Hispanic realtors in the area. Most of us think Reading 'finally' hit rock bottom so to speak.

I am taking a different approach with regards to Allentown. I'll be discussing that soon.

December 07, 2006 12:40 PM
Rainer
24,160
Heather Saul
Weichert Realtors Hoey Group

Good luck Rob-

I hope it works out.  Reading has so many old beautiful buildings and I would  love for the city to get some TLC. 

December 07, 2006 01:31 PM
Rainmaker
299,082
Brian Brady
VA Home Loans/San Diego
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751
Only a Philly native would find irony in a guy named Geno referring to Pat.  FWIW...I'm a Geno's fan; , the author's brilliance merely cements my gastronomic preference for the brand name "Geno"
December 09, 2006 02:13 PM
Rainer
27,563
Geno Petro
ChicagoHomeEstates.com
Yeah, and what's really ironic is that I always preferred the cheesesteaks at Jims!
December 09, 2006 02:21 PM
Rainmaker
299,082
Brian Brady
VA Home Loans/San Diego
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751
I have e-mailed this post to over 50 of my Philly buddies.  They loved it!  Of course, the ones who moved away said...K&A? Hot real estate?  whodathunkit?
December 16, 2006 08:01 PM
Rainer
33,423
Abraham Chaffin
Cambria Real Estate
Sand Shell Realty

LOL

Nice disclaimer - I flipped out when I cut and pasted my entire home page to my ar home page. Then I remembered the duplicate content deal - so I quickly rewrote and cross my fingers it didn't damage my sites. 

May 09, 2007 02:12 AM
Anonymous
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Rainer
27,563

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