Home Buying in Urbana>Question Details

Jim, Home Buyer in 60432

Does anyone have advice on purchasing a cottage in the Fairlawn community in Urbana? We need a small place

Asked by Jim, 60432 Tue Jul 8, 2008

on weekends and such, and it seems like an OK deal for what it is...as far as being updated, the area (need to be close to the university) etc. Is there anything I should look out for? These are the updated 1 and 2 bedroom cottages about 1.5 miles east of campus. Does anyone know anything about these places? I'm in the Chicago area, and do not have the ability to get down there as often as I like...but need to know before going ahead as I cannot afford to make a big $$$ mistake!!

I've spoken briefly to a realtor there, and he was less than helpful. He seems to think that the asking price is the only price I can pay...and I want to pay about 10K less than listed price if I can...though not likely.

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Val’s answer
I looked at these units when I was purchasing my home in 2007. I thought that they were a great deal until I decided to tour the neighborhood. If you go further east ( just a couple blocks) you'll end up in a sketchy neighborhood. Check crime maps - I think that you can find them in the News Gazzette on Mondays.
The good part about them is that there is a bus line. For a small city the mass transit system is sufficient but not as convienient as the CTA.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 13, 2009
Given the long-term stability in C/U you should be in really good shape with a 5-7 year time frame. If I remember correctly, our average appreciation from 2000 to 2008 is approximately 4.7%

It's a little interesting that you can't get the ages of the mechanicals, but I guess it's possible that they weren't all replaced when they did the renovations or maybe they just didn't keep the records. An inspector should be able to give you a pretty good idea of their actual age though. It sounds like you are planning on the inspection, which I recommend 110%. Are they representing the ages as "nearly new" or just unknown?
You might also keep in mind asking for an extended warranty (2-4 years) if you have some questions/concerns on the reliability of things.
You are spot on regarding the rental aspect of the area. There is a high percentage of rentals throughout that area due to it's location to campus. It's not something you can really avoid there unless you are going to be in a significantly higher price range.
For any property I'd be sure that you get your "punchlist" or post-inspection items clearly agreed to prior to closing. I haven't heard any complaints about this development but it's always a good idea to have those items agreed to as early as possible.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 8, 2008
Thanks for the info, Mark...much appreciated!!

Yes, they are the little renovated cottages...the new multi unit condos seem really over-priced to me.

We do plan on keeping it for quite a few years...we like the C/U area, and it has special fond memories for my partner who got his PhD from the university . Our plan was to hang on to it for at least 5-7 years. We have looked at other places, but we really want a condo or townhouse...since it's only going to be a weekend place, I'd rather not spend the time doing yardwork! I also want a place that needs no real cosmetic work...or any other type for that matter. These places say they have all the updates that we need...but there are some issues. They cannot seem to tell us the ages of things such as plumbing, HVAC, water heater, etc.. All they say is that we get a one year warranty on those things...should that be a red flag for me? We would bring in an inspector before closing for sure! Also, since there a lot of rental units there, I am a bit concerned about that. But, it is a college area, so it's to be expected, I guess.

I was also a bit taken aback when we looked at the "model"...the rehab work was a little shabby, though we were told that it's been a model for a couple of years, so it's just normal. We were also assured that any isues would be taken care of when the punchlist was turned in. So, I don't know what to believe.

There's not a lot of info out there on these places...that's why I'm turning to the experts!!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 8, 2008
Jim, to confirm, are you looking at the renovated homes and not the new multi-unit buildings?
They are in a pretty good location, especially in relation to campus. What is your time frame for owning the property? If you like the layout and style of the homes my biggest concern for you would be resale, especially if you are looking to sell it in just a couple years. Have you already looked at other possibilities in the area?
Regarding the sale price, I looked into the list price to sale price ratios and it does seem that most of these units are selling right at or around the sale price. However, in the last few months a number of the units have sold for 1-3% under the asking price. If you'd like more details on the sale price info just let me know.
Good luck in your search,
Mark
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 8, 2008
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