WELL, I HOPE I’M SLIGHTLY MORE DELICATE THAN THE PHRASE ‘old block’ implies. But I use the expression because my 25-year-old son and his girlfriend just closed on an old house in Philadelphia, following my lead in acquiring vintage real estate. It’s in Fishtown, an old working-class community just north of Center City — a wonderful corner building that once housed a shop selling newspapers and cigars, according to an elderly neighbor. I’m guessing from the decorative brickwork around the cornice and the Eastlake-style fireplace that the house is from the 1880s.
I encouraged this purchase all the way. In fact, I looked at the place myself back in ’06 when I was shopping around for an investment in the area, but it was too expensive for me. The owner was asking 360K at the time, with one rental unit. I ended up buying a smaller, much cheaper place in nearby Old Kensington.
Then, when my son and his girlfriend were house-hunting this past winter, hoping to take advantage of the Federal first-time home buyers $8,000 tax credit, the Fishtown house was on the market again (same seller). They got it for nearly 100K less, with a 3% down payment and an interest rate under 5%. Extraordinary opportunity, and one that some of their friends in Philly also took advantage of.
The house is in very decent condition, with a new heating system, though they’ll need to totally renovate the kitchen and bathroom.
They’re moving tomorrow. Very exciting for them and for me.