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City Questions

  • January 27, 2017
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City Questions

There’s a reason that certain agents focus on certain neighborhoods, especially when it comes to the Fan or other older, historical, city districts. Working in those areas requires special skills and knowledge. Agents with that experience understand that they need to offer their clients different guidance and a different checklist of questions. Here are a few of those questions:

Does the Home Have an Abatement (and what type/how long)?

One tool lawmakers have used across the country to spur real estate rehabilitation is the tax abatement. The city agrees to freeze the tax value in its pre-renovated state, which will save the buyers considerable dollars. The abatement is fixed to the property, meaning that a developer doing the renovation with an intent to sell passes along the abatement and savings to the buyer for the duration of the abatement.

What Parking Zone?

Parking can be a challenge in city neighborhoods such as the Fan. The city issues permits for Fan residents based on their address. There is a dividing line between an upper and lower district: Lombardy Street. And this determines whether cars can park hourly or daily. As a resident, you have to purchase a new permit with each new year. You can find more information on Richmond’s website.

Is there Multi-Family on the Block?

When the Fan was being built up, it was—and still remains—a true mixed-use neighborhood. Blocks of single-family homes were mixed in with larger apartment buildings. Real estate values can vary based on a property’s position relative to multi-family buildings. And sometimes, but not always, an apartment building can lower values. A knowledgeable agent will be able to answer questions about the building. It’s very important for prospective city buyers to understand the effects of any multi-family properties.

What is a modified bitumen roof?

A roof in the fan is, in general, much different than one in the burbs. They are flattish. Gutter systems are kind of built in to the structure, and require more complicated care. They were built with different materials that require different care. The same can be said about fireplaces, chimneys, and roofs. There’s a reason they all convey in “as-is” condition: because owners don’t know what could potentially be needed with them, and they don’t want the responsibility. Much has changed in the last three to four decades about their construction, and repairs of older construction are expensive.

Does it have a valid C.O.?

Many homes in the Fan were at one point altered so owners could make more money renting at least parts of the home out. They created duplexes or fashioned basement apartments. In a lot of cases they may have done it without approval from the city. If that’s the case with one of today’s properties, a buyer will need to get the building verified via Letter of Zoning Compliance. Experienced agents will know exactly how that works.

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