There are many properties out there that need a little (or a lot) of love in the Fishtown neighborhood. There are some completely knocked out homes as well. If you are a first time buyer you can qualify for an FHA loan and even a 203K loan for heavier rehab projects. I love Fishtown so I can only say good things about the neighborhood. That being said, here is my list of HOW TO GET STARTED:
1) Get a preapproval (Soooo important!)
2) Find a Realtor you like and have this person send you a list of homes that fit in your price range and your other criteria such as the number of bedrooms and baths, square footage...
3) Make an A list and a B list (A being your most desired homes).
4) Google your A and B list and do a drive by to see if you like the location. This is an important step.
5) Revise your Lists after your drive by.
6) Have your Realtor show you all of your A List 1st to keep it managable.
7) Take notes when you go on your showings and bring a bottle of water and a snack. It's hard work! ( I have had people take photos/video to help them remember the homes they like.)
8) Narrow down your list to the homes you really love and if the list is 0 then discuss how your criteria can be altered to open up the list to to other properties you did not consider.
Our Fishtown buyers looking for the homes that need a little "love" all have different criteria. Here are some of the things our buyers have mentioned when we have shown them properties in Fishtown:
1) A large kitchen or one that can be made bigger and open to the main living area without removing a bearing wall is a huge plus!
2) Paneling and drop ceilings seemed ok to deal with at first but with more thought many of my clients were not willing to take a chance at what migh be behind the paneling and drop ceiling! Interesting observation.
3) Some people went directly to the basement because if they could not stand in it they would not buy it. Tall ceilings in the basement was often a plus.
4) Spiral staircases are no problem for some but if I had a nickel for ever person who said, "I'd never make it alive on these stairs after a glass of wine, beer or liqur of choice!"
5) Clients with 120 pound dogs need yards. Yards are a not a commodity in Fishtown.
6) Some people must have easy parking so some of the micro streets were not their top choice.
7) Green space, coffee shops, or a local restaurant in walking distance was for most people a high priority
8) Large bedrooms was a very common desire for our buyers as well as lots of closet space, both very difficult to find no matter where you are in Philadelphia!
9) Original features was a must for some and a complete turn off for others. Very interesting thought.
10) Many said they would only live off of the Girard Ave corridor or the Frankford Ave corridor in the "hot" section of Fishtown.
11) While others wanted more for their money and bought in New Kensington (of which I still call Fishtown though many residents would scold me for it. Sorry!)
12) Ability to easily convert the home to accommodate Central Air was for some people extremely important.
I can go on forever. It is just amazing how many options are in Fishtown! I think that is one of my favorite things about the neighborhood. Every home is so unique and every homeowner can infuse their own personality into their property. There is no such thing as an ordinary row home in Fishtown.
I hope my response helps you and inspires you!
Please be aware that there are usually incentives for teachers to be able to live and work in the same town. Check with your school admin office about this.
If you don't teach in Philly, then consider living elsewhere to avoid the high taxes. If you live or work in Philly (either) you'll pay city tax). An area that will be on the rise and is affordable is Bristol Borough - and they don't have the 1% earned income tax. Just something to consider. But if you work right in center city then try and live either in center city or just South of there for the better areas that are still affordable.