Buying In Harlem – A “Harrowing Experience”

Yesterday I saw this comment on Brownstoner and thought is summed up really well our experience trying to find a Harlem townhouse…

the prospect of buying in harlem was a much more harrowing process…many of the places were being sold by sketchy brokers, had sketchy situations, or were in sketchy neighborhoods….harlem is still very much house by house, block by block…even the much coveted mount morris park area still has many burned out buildings […] many more of the places there have sro issues, or are in general worse shape.

“Harrowing” might be a little melodramatic, but honestly there are times when it feels like that. We’ve been looking for a place now for over 9 months (in earnest for 3+ months) and there are times when it’s just exhausting and depressing. Just when you think you’ve found a place you notice drug activity at the abandoned house next door, or it turns out to be an SRO without a certificate of no harassment, or the taxes are crazy high, or it’s close to projects, or you walk the block at night and seriously worry about your safety, or they’re asking 3 times what the place is worth, or it’s a short sale and they want all cash. We’ve literally seen all of those things and the list goes on and on…

All I want is a nice shell or wreck at a reasonable price, on a decent block, that’s not too far from express trains. That’s not as easy as it sounds. We’ve expanded our search area and are willing to deal with up to 10 minute walks to an express train. I don’t even mind a place where it rains indoors or there are soft floors or there’s a staircase that feels like it’s about to give way… I can deal with those things. But everything seems to have major complications. It really does feel like I’m beating upwind

No wonder so few places are selling…

One thought on “Buying In Harlem – A “Harrowing Experience”

  1. Jay – Just read your real estate posts with much interest. I didn’t see a way to contact you directly…My wife and I are starting to seriously look in Harlem…Would love to ask a few questions – like did you hire an agent? Do you have recs for professionals (inspectors/contractors/architects/etc.) who could advise on necessary renovations, costs, etc.? Thanks!

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