Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pssst.... wanna buy a castle?

Needless to say, there are not a lot of castles for sale in Manitoba, or perhaps even Canada. Which is probably a good thing because most castles were built in the days before indoor plumbing and central heating, two things I consider essential.

There is however, a "castle" for sale right here in Winnipeg, at 494 College Ave. In around 1906, construction started on this epic building (no, I don't know details like that at the drop of a hat, there is a incredibly detailed 3 part blog post on West End Dumplings).

People have been writing about this gorgeous house since the 50s according to a piece written by The Times two years ago, AND NOW YOU COULD OWN IT!!!

Since I refuse to consider the neighbourhood to be a downside to this property (because, it isn't, get over it) I would say that the complete lack of a back yard would be the only thing that might keep you from running out and buying this. It does have a pretty great front yard though, and trust me, you meet way more neighbours in your front yard vs. the back.

According to the listing for this property, 494 College is currently divvied up into 6 suites and assuming you live on the main floor in the 3 bedroom suite, you get to collect $2275 a month in rent! To point out the obvious, that means you would be being paid to live there... (assuming you could get away with 5% down, which you actually probably couldn't because it's a rental, but assuming you could, your mortgage would be $1344/mo based on the current asking price of $299,000 - but it's now been on the market for a month so you could maybe even get it a little bit less). Personally I would slowly start reclaiming some of the suites as personal living space, but so long as you left one or two you could still basically live for free. In a CASTLE.

Living in this house would put you in great company, with some of these other notable homes in Winnipeg, as found here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I should clarify...

342 Boyd

By no means do I think that renters can't make good neighbours. There is a house for sale near me that I keep saying things along the lines of "needs to be owner occupied" when I speak of it.

The reason I hold a current bias to it being lived in by the owner is this: in its current state (which, is technically unlivable due to the pipes being stolen, probably for drug money...) being advertised as a "Handyman special" it unfortunately will attract many of what we not-so-affectionately call slumlords. These are the folks who will do the absolute bare minimum to make the house "liveable" again and then throw tenants in there with empty promises of future renovations. One of the problems with the cycle of poverty is what it does to your spirit. The people who don't know their rights, who no longer have the energy to fight for themselves, who don't believe enough that they deserve better are the people who will most likely end up in a house like this.

Now, of course, there have been many well intentioned landlords who take a property that is in disrepair and actually bring it to a standard that almost any middle class person would be willing to live in, only to have it destroyed by bad tenants. I wish I could even say that this is the exception rather than the rule. However, if you take a property that will likely only be rented to people who are out of options, however well intentioned they might be, it's going to be hard as hell for them especially with whatever other struggles they may have, to help maintain that house.

Add to that that this house is in what I would describe as a "key location". It is in a cluster of primarily rental housing that teeters on the edge of volatility. People tend to behave in a manner that is appropriate to their surroundings - if it becomes apparent that no one in this cluster gives a f*ck then all of the houses are likely to suffer. Put one strong, community-minded homeowner (because no matter how good a landlord is who buys it, they aren't there all the time) in the middle who won't put up with garbage from the other rentals and you slowly get a shift.

In fact, the current owner, whom I'm told is being foreclosed on, is not a good neighbour and it's had an impact. So no, not even all owner occupied homes are "good".

The owners previous to the current one LOVED this house. I always felt like they got lost on their way to Wolseley and we were the lucky recipients. When I first moved to the neighbourhood nine years ago (as of March 1st!) they were the people I gravitated towards because their passion shone out of their house like a beacon. I have not had a full tour of the house, but assuming it hasn't changed much since my mother-earth loving people moved to BC (as you do when you're a full-on hippie!) it probably needs a few coats of a more neutral paint as a start; the kitchen was an interesting shade of mauve last I saw it! It might have been described as needing TLC even before the pipe stripping incident...
So. Much. Purple.
So, if you have a bit of an imagination, a bucket full of elbow grease and another one full of sweat equity you can buy a gem of a house for TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS less s than 5 years ago! Please don't let the neighbourhood scare you off, I will literally give you a run down of each and every house nearby to help you understand your new surroundings - we are only afraid of the unknown. As an added bonus, I will also come over and lend a pint or two of elbow grease to that bucket.
Look at that loft!

Oh, and if you do buy it as a rental, you can be sure I will let you know if your tenants are up to no good. Or, even scarier, if you have good tenants but you treat them badly, I will help them find their voice to fight for their rights because I value all of my good neighbours, tenants most definitely included.

*All photos from original listing from 2011 - I haven't had a chance to see the house but I get the feeling that you might need to go into it with some positive images in your mind.