Thursday, December 4, 2014

Curb appeal is important all year long!

Selling or renting a property can be daunting between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Most folks don't want to move during this time frame unless forced to do so by a job relocation, divorce or some other event.  They don't want to pull the kids out of school, take down the Christmas decorations that they've only just put up or deal with weather issues.  It's just not an attractive time for moving.

So what if you have a property that is vacant during this time?  Do you just lock it up tight and wait for spring?  No!  You make it as fabulous as you can with the budget you have and then wait for the offers!  After all, people do still move in the winter.  They may not be the majority but they're still out there.

The first thing to do is amp up with curb appeal.  In the spring/summer curb appeal almost takes care of itself.  Grass is green, flowers are blooming, trees fan out and offer shade.  Winter time, not so much.  Grass is dead, leaves are gone...well at least not on the trees any longer....and everything just has this deserted look to it.

One way to liven it up is with plants and/or flowers that weather the cold better than most.  If you don't have planters or urns in which to plant them, get some wood, make a box, paint the box and plant them in that.  It's not hard and only takes as long as an hour to do from start to finish.  Below are a few plants and flowers specimens that weather the Alabama winters just fine.  Note.  I would recommend putting the flowers in an area protected from heavy frost or ice such as on a covered porch if at all possible.  Whatever you choose, remember if it hasn't rained in a while - someone will have to go over and water them....just sayin'.

Camellia's are strong plants that even bloom in the snow, their leaves stay glossy green and they give off an amazing scent.  They come in an array of colors and can be planted in a pot or directly in the ground.  If allowed to grow they can reach heights up to 8 feet depending on the variety you get.

  The picture above is a Winter Hazel which if planted in the ground becomes a beautiful tree that while only gets up to 8 feet tall fans out to create a gorgeous yellow canopy of color.

Blue holly is an extremely tough plant which requires very little care.  Also, due to their sharp edged leaves, thieves are not tempted to steal them much.

Another way to brighten the exterior of any property is to paint the front door.  Paint is an easy and inexpensive do over if anyone wants to change it down the road.  But in the meantime, it will make a statement, it will brighten up the exterior of the house and it will stick in potential buyers/renters mind.  They may not remember exactly what the interior looked like but they will remember the house with the yellow door.  Look at the photo's below for a few ideas.

If you don't want to repaint your door but still want to give it a punch....add a wide kickplate and hang a wreath or basket with faux flowers.  Always remember to change out or add a bright doormat to give the entrance a finished appeal.

Once you've added the shrubs in planters, painted the door, hung a wreath and added a welcoming mat....all you need to do then is keep the leaves raked and wait for the offers!

As always, enjoy your space!

What to do this winter?

This time of the year can be a bit boring and a lot unproductive.  But it doesn't have to be!  Just because it's gotten colder and the days shorter - it doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of things still left on your to do list.  Let's look at a few ideas that can kick start you on your way to checking off all the things left on your list.

The most important time of the year to clean your windows is (believe it or not) the winter.  Clean windows let in more light and we all need more light in the winter.  A great way to boost the amount of light that your room gets is by placing an arrangement of mirrors on the walls opposite the windows.  This will bounce the light all over your room.

Are there a couple of ceilings in your house that have stains from an old leak?  Or maybe the plaster has cracked from the house settling and no matter how many times you repair it - it just comes back?  Why not cover it?  You can use cork tiles, tin tiles, wallpaper (I like the paintable kind for ceilings.  Then I leave it natural which gives the ceiling a nice texture) or you can even use beadboard sheets.  Regardless of the material you choose (with wallpaper being the only exception) always bead construction glue on the back before you nail it to your ceilings.  Sometimes it's nearly impossible to get a nail into a stud every time.  The glue will give it extra support keeping the nail from turning loose and the tile from falling.

Drafty house?  Hang heavy drapery or hemmed fabric over the doorways.  This not only keeps the drafts out but it can add a lot of color and interest to wherever you choose to hang them.  Sometimes in mid-century homes character can be hard to come by and this is a good way to add it!

Live in a house with a frameless mirror in the bathroom or maybe over your fireplace?  These were all the rage for decades.  If the mirror is in good shape why replace it?  Just frame it!  Want more reasons that framing is a better idea than removing? Removing a mirror can not only be dangerous, it can be time consuming, extremely messy and there's always the wall behind the mirror that will more than likely have to be repaired (and painted) before you can hang the new mirror.  Mirrors aren't cheap these days, so that's yet another reason to work with what you have whenever possible.

I have a lot of bookshelves in my house.  Sometimes bookshelves can just be large ugly boxes.  To take them from large ugly boxes to an interesting focal point, try addressing the inside of the bookshelves.  You can paint the inside back wall a bright vibrant color.  Pick a color you love but would hesitate to paint an entire room with.  Like a bright lime green or a hot pink or maybe even a lemon yellow.  Once you fill the bookshelves with your books and collectibles, it won't be an "in your face" effect.  Only a bit of the color will peek through but the effect will be amazing!  If you don't want to paint, then try adding wall paper, left over fabric that you glue on or you can even use left over laminate!

I actually love wallpaper.  I like the depth and interest it gives the room.  Almost like a 3-D effect.  But wallpaper can be pricey.  My solution?  Pick a theme like travel, or flowers or even fashion and head down to the local thrift stores to look for maps, catalogues, magazines or even old newspapers.  The room above used maps to cover their walls.  You can tack them up, staple them or if you want a more antiqued, permanent look, you can use wallpaper glue and glue them onto your walls.  For a more finished look, apply a top coat of poly.  If you want a more antiqued look, dip a rag into a bowl of very strong coffee.  squeeze out the liquid until the rag is just damp - not wet - then carefully rub it over the map in a circular motion until the entire area has been covered.  Let it dry completely before adding additional coats to darken it even more.  Note.  If you don't let it dry completely, it will rip when you add the next coat to it.  Then you can either leave it or you can add a water downed stain to seal it.

Julia Child hated storing her everyday cookware and utensils in cabinets and drawers.   Her solution was genius!  She took common peg boards that men have in every garage to hold their tools.  She painted them and nailed them onto a wall in her kitchen.  She was able to hang all of her pots, pans, lids, and utensils that she used on a daily basis by the stove.  I've never had a kitchen that  allowed me enough convenient access to my everyday kitchen aids so this is a fantastic idea that I have loved for years!!

 Hate to look out your windows and see all those lovely urns, pots and planters just sitting there either empty or with dead stems sticking up?  I do.  Here's a great idea!  Head down to your local nursery and get a few evergreens.  Plant those in your urns to give your yard a pop of green during the winter months.  Once Spring gets here, you can leave them where they are or you can transplant them into your yard.

Short on prep space in your kitchen?  Find an old dresser.  You can go to the local salvage store (Habitat for Humanity has a great one in my area), a thrift store or even drive around and look for one on the curb.  Make sure whatever dresser you find is the right height for you to prep on it comfortably.  It's best to measure the height of your present counters and use that as your rule.  Remember, once you add the prep surface it will add one to two inches to the height.  Once you find that dresser, measure the surface area adding extra inches for over hang and then (with those measurements in hand) call around local tile/stone wholesalers/retailers and see if they have a solid piece of stone, tile or even butcher block that maybe was left over from another job that they will sell you cheap.  Once you have the dresser and the top, all that's left to do is paint the dresser and attach the top.  You now have a one of a kind kitchen island for a pittance of the price a new one would cost but with a whole lot more character!

As always, enjoy your space!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lazy sellers can mean more money for you!

I think we've all seen them.  The for sale houses that were poorly maintained and very poorly decorated.

They're the houses that we initially view because of their low prices but once we're inside them, they're also the houses that we view quickly because they are so ugly and dirty.

If an investor is willing to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty, these houses could be sources of profit.  Let's look at some before and afters that required very little money but could potentially result in a very nice profit for the investor.

First, we'll take a peek at a kitchen.  Kitchens and bathrooms are the two rooms that frighten a lot of folks.  We all know how expensive custom cabinets, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances are.  We also know that once we rip up the floor covering and tear out the cabinets, there could be (and usually are) scary surprises just waiting for us to find them.

My rule of thumb is never to rip out the old if there is anyway around it.  I have said it before and I'll say it again.  Work with what you have.  A few coats of paint will cure just about any ailment a house might have.

The kitchen below was not gutted to the studs and rebuilt.  The cabinets were sanded, primed and painted.  New hardware was added.  The biggest expense to this redo is the countertops.  However, with a little time and gas, you can find high end countertops for a steal.  Almost every stone/tile company out there has an area where they store counter tops that were cut for a certain job and maybe the cut was off, an edge was broken during transport/installation or the person who ordered them, didn't pay for them.  They can no longer sell the stone as new, so they stick it in a corner somewhere.  They will sell that "mistake" to you at a reduced price.  The only downside about buying this type of material, is the fact that you will have to pay for them to make cuts to the slab so it will fit into your particular kitchen.  This will mean a few seams but if the installation is good, those seams can be blended in so that they are barely there.

If you can't find a large enough slab on sale, then go with large tiles.  You will have seams, but you will also have a high end countertop for the kitchen.  Most people will forgive a few seams to get granite or sandstone on their countertops.

Notice in the before and after shots below that the layout was not altered, the appliances are the same, the floor tile stayed and even the large rather ugly ceiling fixture looks better.  All they did was replace the countertops, paint the cabinets, replace the hardware and add a backsplash.  Kitchen done!

There are products on the market now that will allow you to paint your cabinets AND your countertops without having to do a lot of the usual time consuming prep work of sanding and priming.  I have not personally used them - I am excited to give them a try - but I have known others who have used them and had really good results.

Now let's move to the bathroom.  Personally, I hate working in a bathroom more than any other area of the house (inside or out).  They are small, dirty, smelly and surprisingly expensive.

The after shot of the bathroom below is so nice!  All they did was paint the cabinets, add hardware, change out the mirror and the light fixture.....and clean.  They left the countertops as they were which I think was a good call as they appear to be in good condition and they are a very neutral color.  The difference is night and day!

Mirrors can be really expensive.  My recommendation would be to buy molding and liquid nails.  I would simply frame out the existing mirror painting the molding to match the cabinetry and call it a day.  If the mirror in good shape, why not leave it where it is and work with it?  Another reason (other than money) that I'd leave the large mirror in place, is the fact that when you remove this large mirror, there will inevitably be wall repair necessary to get to get a smooth finish where the mirror was.  I hate doing wall repairs.

I've noticed that a lot of the time, rehabbers will go into a house, do the living room, kitchen and bath but leave the bedrooms untouched.  They will also leave the ceilings untouched.  Maybe clean them up but otherwise leave them as they found them.  Personally, I think this is a huge mistake on their part.

The entire house should be uniform before you put it on the market.  In other words, do it all - or don't do any of it.

When I view a house that has been partially done, I don't think "Wow!  At least it's almost all done!"  Rather I think "Wow!  There's still a lot to be done on this house".  I don't consider myself lucky that most of the work has been done.  I don't even really remember how great the done rooms looked.  My memory focuses on the parts of the house that weren't done and will still require work and money to complete.  It really doesn't take that much time or that much money to rip out carpets and slap a coat of paint and the difference in the price is more than worth the effort.  Even if you don't replace the carpet you ripped out and all you do it remove it and sweep, it will still get rid of any odors and will give the room a clean feeling.

There are neighborhoods that require boards on the windows of a vacant house in order to keep vandals out.  There are insurance companies and mortgage companies that require you to secure the property while it's vacant.  I get that.  But if there is anyway to leave the windows unobstructed - that's the way you should go.  If you cannot - make it a point to tell every person that views the property that you are required to board the windows.  Once you've made the room pretty and clean, they won't mind as much.

Look at the difference!  

Another thing that can kill your profit are bars on the windows.  You can reassure a potential buyer that your mortgage company or insurance company has required you to board the windows while the property is vacant, but there is no mortgage company or insurance company in the country that requires you to put security bars on the windows.  So what this tells the viewer is that the last people who lived here were so afraid of the area that they invested in bars for their windows......not a good thing.  

If you want, you can store the bars in the garage or basement or even the laundry room.  Once the property is sold, if the owners feel a need, they can reinstall them but in the meantime the room looks light, bright and less like a prison cell.

Here is our last bedroom before and after shot.  This room is small.  It is also very very blue.  This is just ugly and if I were viewing it, I would immediately begin counting how many coats of primer it is going to take (and how much that is going to cost) to cover this vibrant blue.

Now we see it with a neutral color, new ceiling fan and new carpet.  While it's still a small bedroom, it's now a light, clean and bright bedroom in a neutral tone.  Nice.

Everyone knows how important curb appeal is to a property.  I consider the living room to be the curb appeal of the interior.  If the exterior of the house is unappealing, no one wants to go inside.  Likewise, if the first room you enter is unappealing, no one wants to see the rest of the house. 

For every person in this world who loves red walls, there is another person who hates red walls.  Maybe this wall color choice looked great when the previous owners had all their furnishings and decor in this room.  But their stuff is now gone so what you are left with are blood red walls and the look just doesn't add value - at all.

Any color saturated paint will, over time, dull and become dingy.  It also accentuates any imperfection in the walls making them glaringly obvious.  

Personally, I love color and loathe white or beige walls and/or ceilings.  But I'm not going to live in that house - someone else will.  That is the single most common mistake investors make when they redo a property.  They design and color it according to their taste and wants forgetting that they aren't the ones who will ultimately live in the space.  Neutral yet interesting is the always the way to go.  

Let's see what this particular investor did to liven up this space.
Taking their cue from the stone around the fireplace, they went with brown tones which I think was a great idea.    Before, the red on the walls made the stone appear dirty.  Adding a brown toned neutral to the walls and then a richer brown to the fireplace, made the tiles appear to be there on purpose - not as an afterthought.  

What about the living room in the picture below would ever make you want to move your couch in there and stay?

Now look at it below!  It looks larger and so clean.  I love it!

You will notice the dining room off the living room in both the above pictures.  Let's get a closer look at that to see how they've transformed that room.

Someone put in a lot of time and effort in stenciling that wall.  I'm sure it looked nice when the previous owners lived here.  However, since the room is now empty, the floor tiles look dirty and the nice french doors are boarded's not a good look.

Much nicer!!  Personally, I would have cleaned up the tiles and not laid carpet in this room but that's my personal preference.  I abhor carpeting in the dining room, kitchen or bathrooms. Absolutely abhor it.  However, the room looks really nice and inviting now.

I love all the DIY shows on TV.  I spend the majority of my TV watching on these shows.  But they can be extremely deceiving.  They always show folks ripping everything to the studs and tossing out everything that was in the house and just starting with a clean slate.  They give the impression that's the only way to properly rehab a house.

I think that is beyond misleading.  If your kitchen or bathroom cabinets are in good shape, prime and paint them (including the interior) and add new hardware.  You have just saved yourself thousands of dollars right there while achieving the same look.  Don't have money in the budget to fix and/or refinish the hardwoods?  Carpet is a great way to go.  There are still a ton of folks out there who actually like carpet - or at least don't hate it.  There are always remnant sales at every carpet store.  If you dig, you can most assuredly find a remnant that will entirely cover a small bedroom for a fraction of the original price.

Again, work with what you have.  You will never ever take a $20,000 house and make it look like a $200,000 house.  Never.  But, you can make a $20,000 house look like a $60,000 with just a lot of elbow grease, paint, light fixtures, hardware and carpet.  You really can.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October is about more than just Halloween!

Everyone loves a good ghost story.  Especially this time of the year.  But if you're an investor wanting to increase your portfolio, you might want to take advantage of some great deals that come with "tainted" properties............or do you??

Do you think you can save a lot of money on the front end and make a lot on the back end?  Or do you think you'll forever be stuck with a property that you'll never sale?

Let's look at a couple of extremely tainted properties and see how they did.

First, there's the infamous JonBenet Ramsay house.  The Ramsay's bought the house in 1991 for $500,000. After JonBenet was murdered in 1996, they never spent another night in the house.  In 1998 the house was sold to an investment company for $650,000.  The company immediately put it on the market.  But after a year of no offers, they eventually rented it out for about 3 years and then put it back on the market when the tenant moved out - because he lost his job NOT because the house was haunted.

In 2004 it was sold to the daughter and son in law of the televangelist Robert Schuller.  The Schuller-Milner's bought the property for $1.05 Million but placed it back on the market in under 2 years.  Their initial list price was $2.68M, then $2.29M, then $2.3M and finally in 2014 it dropped to $1.98M.  I can no longer find the listing as of the date of this article, so it has either been sold or just taken off the market....that's 10 years on the market folks....that's a really long time to sit on a house.

But, did this house sit on the market because of it's past or maybe because of the price?  I don't know what the houses in that area are going for, but it appears to me that the price of this particular house jumped by leaps and bounds during all of this.  It must truly be in an incredible neighborhood to jump from $500,000 to $2.68M from 1991 to 2006 when the Milner's first listed the property at that price.  Also, it should be noted that in 2006 until very recently our housing market was deep in the toilet and has only recently appeared to be bouncing back.  So this is a wash in my opinion.  Could be the history of the house....could be it was overpriced in a very soft market.  Could be a combination of the two.

The Amityville Horror house is one property that was tainted if ever a house was tainted.  The owners after the Lutz's did a lot of exterior renovations which dramatically altered the appearance of the house and even successfully lobbied the city to get the name of the street changed.  By all accounts, they lived there for many happy years and when they got ready to sell, it sold quickly and for a nice price.  I heard recently that it's back on the market and they are having a difficult time selling it but I also heard the owners are overpricing it a bit for the area.  Here are shots of what the house looked like before and after.  I think you'll agree it's hard to tell it's the same house.

The Blairsden Mansion in Peapack, New Jersey, was recently sold for $4.5M.  Not bad when you consider their asking price was only $4.9M.
The Blairsden Mansion is a stunning 62,000 square foot 38 room estate that was built between 1898 and 1903.  It was built by stock exchange tycoon Clinton Ledyard Blair.  After Mr. Blair's death in 1949, the mansion and its acreage was sold to the Sisters of St. John the Baptist to be used as a religious retreat and orphanage.  Some say the sales price was $60,000 but I'm skeptical of that price.  

Rumor has it, that the mother superior decided to switch sides and began to worship the devil and to demand that all her nuns follow.  Some say she went crazy while others believe she was possessed.  One cold winter's night, the mother superior quietly murdered all the children, the nuns and the few visitors in the mansion.  There were a few survivors who managed to escape the mansion in their sleeping clothes and ran through the snow covered woods to a neighboring house to summon for help.  When the police arrived at the mansion, Mother Superior was no where to be found.  Since that time, there have been numerous reports of ghostly occurrences both inside the mansion and on the grounds.

So what do you think?  Are tainted properties worth the stigma and hassle that comes along with owning them?  Are they gold mines waiting to be mined?  I'll leave it up to you to decide.

Happy Halloween!!

Haunted Houses for Rent...or just to visit

What would you do if you rented a house (or apartment) only to discover AFTER you've moved in, that something horrible happened there?  What if you heard things that go bump in the night?  What if you see shapes out of the corners of your eyes while you are watching your favorite TV show but when you look....there's no one there?

Well, you could move.  However, if you choose to go that route, don't expect your deposit or a good rental reference out of your landlord.  There are a few states that require the disclosure of things such as a murder that occurred on the property or if there have been rumors that the house was haunted.  But only in the event you are trying to BUY it.  I am not aware of any states that require this disclosure to someone who merely wants to rent the property.  I searched for a considerable period of time and could find cases of tenants who sued their landlord over supposed hauntings but I've not found any that were successful.  A tenant might talk the landlord into allowing them to break their lease, but it's strictly up to the landlord.

There are alleged haunted houses whose owners make a mint in advertising them as haunted and renting them out for the night or a month.  Let's look at a  couple of those just in case you're in the mood to plop down a little cash for a good scare.

First, we'll look at a small cottage in Savannah, Georgia called Laura's Cottage.  It's just around 1,000 square feet.  One bedroom with bunk beds in a sitting room.  It sits in a small urban woodland in the heart of the historic district in Savannah and at the time of this writing, rents out for $180.00 per night.

Supposedly, this cottage is haunted by an old black lady named (you guess it) Laura.  She apparently lived in this cottage for over 50 years.  She appears to be a ghost who likes to take care of her visitors.  She's been known to open locked windows, start up the heat and sit with the occupants while they eat their dinner.

Savannah, Georgia is one city that not only takes their haunted houses seriously, but makes a considerable amount of money advertising and renting them.  It's widely believed to be one of the most haunted cities in the it's only natural that I would include more than one Savannah home in my list.

Let's take a peek at the Haywood House.
This house was built and occupied by Alfred Haywood who made his fortune in the ice business and was later the Mayor of Savannah.  While it was built as a single family dwelling, it is not divided into privately owned condo's.  Many say Mr. Haywood himself haunts this beautiful property but since it's actually built on top of the Colonial Park Cemetery....who knows who haunts it?  According to FlipKey, this property can be rented for $125 per night.

What if you don't want to actually spend the night in a haunted house?  Then there are these....

The Doctor John R. Drish house in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is scary to look at in the daylight....imagine after nightfall?   Below is what it looked like back in 1911 when it was occupied.

Dr. Drish built this house in 1837 and lived there until his untimely death from a fall down the staircase in 1867.  His widow, Sarah, continued to live in the house until her death in 1884.  After the death of Mrs. Drish, this house changed hands many times.  It was a school, a parts warehouse and eventually a church.  However, it's most notorious function has been that of a haunted house.  There have been reports since shortly after Dr. Drish's death of strange lights glowing in the windows when no one was home.  The towers have reportedly and repeatedly appeared to be on fire over the years.  However, when the fire department gets there....there's no evidence of a fire.  Who haunts this house?  Could it be Dr. Drish?  Or maybe it's one of the many slave artisans who hand crafted this mansion?  No one knows for sure.

In the small town of Demopolis, Alabama sits the grandest plantation house ever built in Marengo County, Alabama and is considered to be the most significant surviving examples of Greek Revival architecture in the State of Alabama.  It's known as Gaineswood.

Gaineswood was built over the span of 20 years and was finished (literally) on the eve of the Civil War. It was designed and built by General Nathan Bryan Whitfield as an open hall log dwelling and sat on a 480 acre plot.  Eventually the log dwelling was enclosed and this mansion now stands in its place.

General Whitfield bought the property from George Strother Gaines who served as the US Indian Agent and actually negotiated the treaty which would allow the removal of the Choctaw Nation beneath an old oak tree on the grounds.

It is said that a former housekeeper who was brought from Virginia to run the house after Mrs. Whitfield died haunts the house.  She apparently likes to play the piano and turns the lights off.

And then there are the haunted hotels.

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas has been called "America's Most Haunted Hotel".  It is said to be haunted by at least eight spirits.  These include a young woman who attended college there in the  1920's or 30's and who died by jumping from the roof.  A nurse who worked in the building when it was a hospital.  A man in a hat and tails believed to be the ghost of Dr. John Freemont Ellis who was a frequent visitor to the resort during its heyday in the late 1800's.  Then there is Michael who was an Irish stonemason and lost his footing while building the hotel.  He slipped off the roof to his death.  Theadora was a cancer victim who came to Norman Baker's resort for treatment and while she died, it is said she never left the hotel.  There is the ghost of a gentleman who wears Victorian clothing and a top hat and lastly Norman G. Baker himself is said to haunt this hotel.  In 2005, the hotel was the subject of an episode of the television show, Ghost Hunters.

The history of this hotel is so convoluted and so full of death, deceit, alleged murders, suicides and the like that it would take 10 blogs to list it all.  I have included a link to their page and an independant page, so you can browse at your leisure.  Suffice it to say, this hotel is a favorite spot for ghost hunters and is a must see for anyone interested in haunted history.

My favorite haunted houses are the vacant abandoned homes that no one really knows the history or who lived there.....or died there.  Just empty forgotten houses that look haunted - whether they are or not.  Halloween is my favorite time to drive through the older neighborhoods in search of these houses.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Centerpoint, Alabama is a good place to invest!

If an investor was looking to rent to career oriented families, singles or even room mates, Centerpoint would be a great place to spend your investment money.  The diversity of properties in the area is huge with plenty to choose from.

Centerpoint was hit just as hard, if not harder, than other areas when the real estate market crashed in 2007. As a result, the inventory of properties currently on the market is just as plentiful and diverse as the types of properties themselves.

As noted later, this area has a much higher rate of people who move into the area and stay.  One of the reasons is that while Centerpoint butts up against Birmingham, it is not a part of Birmingham.  Their schools are newer, more spacious and higher rated on the whole than those of Birmingham.  Yet the drive to Birmingham is mere minutes - or seconds depending upon which part of Centerpoint you are in.

As the name would imply Centerpoint is centrally located with Birmingham to the south, Gardendale and Fultondale to the west, Trussville to the east and Pinson and Clay to the north.

According to the government census' Centerpoint currently has approximately 17,000 residents.  At its peak it would boast of 22,784 in 2000.  It covers approximately 8.1 square miles.


In 1816 the Reed family arrived in the area from North Carolina.  5 years later they would apply for and receive a land grant for the area now known as Centerpoint.  From its inception, the area's only water source was the spring that runs through the middle of the town.  Folks would hook up their wagons to their horses, drive to the spring, fill up their buckets and then drive the water back home.  It wasn't until 1871 that Dave Franklin finally hit water by drilling.  He then built a store out of local stone in front of the new well.  That well served the community until 1957 when Cullen Scott finally found enough water to furnish the entire town and built the city water tank.

The town officially received Centerpoint as its name in 1900 but wasn't officially a city until March, 2002. From 1960 until 1990 Centerpoint was the largest unincorporated area in the entire United States.  In 1900 when the city was named, it consisted of a blacksmith shop, a grocery store and a post office in addition to the houses scattered about the area.

Andy Beard of Centerpoint invented the coupling mechanism for railroad cars and later sold that invention for $10,000.

The 10 acres that now serve as the Reed Harvey Park was once the home place of the founding family. Throughout the generations they had steadfastly refused to sell any of it for fear that the natural spring, the gristmill, the beautiful trees and landscaping and the wooden bridge that crossed the spring would fall victim to "modernization" and would eventually become a housing development.  However, when the last of the family grew too old to continue living on the property, they graciously sold it to the city in exchange for a promise never to develop that land or tear down the existing buildings.  It is now a beautiful city park with fishing, picnic areas and other areas of interest for all to enjoy.

Below are a few shots of both the spring that kept the residents supplied with water for the better part of 50 years and a couple of shots of the wonderful pedestrian bridge that was built on the edge of the water. Every year the city hold a kid fishing competition here that is attended by huge crowds.

The building below was the family gazebo and it sits at the edge of the water.  It is constructed of fieldstone gathered from the area.

The picture blow shows the original well house.  The water in the well is so pure, the city has developed it's own water brand using water pulled from this well.

The government numbers for Centerpoint are pretty attractive.  The average renter is a family with less than 30% of the renters being single with no children.  The median household income (from 2002) is $41,284 with a state median of $41,574.  31% of residents are renters with 26% being owner occupied.

The state of Alabama claims an unemployment rate of 6.6%.  Centerpoint's number is 6.0%.  Centerpoint also has a higher high school graduation rate than the rest of the state as a whole.

Only 20% of the residents are considered to be living in poverty.  As mentioned in the opening paragraph, Centerpoint has a much higher number of residents that move into the area and stay than the rest of the state.

As for inventory, there is a lot of real estate to be bought in this area of all kinds.  There are apartments, condo's, small starter homes, larger family homes and even a lot of large family homes.  Lot sizes on average, are larger than the lot sizes in Birmingham.  Most of the streets are lined with mature trees and the terrain is rolling hills.

The housing in Centerpoint typically consists of ranch and split level homes mostly built between 1957 and 2002 with some a bit older and many that are newer.

If I were in the market for rental property, this is probably where I'd begin my quest.  I like the space between the houses, the well maintained streets and the fact that the residents take good care of their lawns. There is ample shopping within the city limits of Centerpoint and the school district is a good one.  It would have my attention most certainly.