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Rehabbers Club

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How To Choose A Rehab

ESSAY: Finding a rehab house by Rehabbers Club member Dave Lewis

The Rehabbers Club is a group of folks who love to share their experiences working to restore City properties.

We stay in touch through the fabulous Rehabbers Club Listserv,get together and show off our projects at Rehabbers Club Tours and expand our collective knowledge through Rehabbers Club Classes.

Also, check out our Recommended Contractors List on the Resources here

How should you go about finding the right rehab project? It can be a daunting task, to be sure, and it is likely to involve you in both a physical and emotional way. Unlike dating, where there’s room for trial and error and adjustment; rehab-hunting is more like choosing a spouse, with whom you will commit your every resource, from a showroom. In this case, St. Louis is the showroom, and lists you get from the Internet, LRA, and realtors, are merely catalogues to peruse.

Unlike cultures where some grownup gets to pick your spouse, you’re on your own in this venture. It may eventually provide you with the perfect structure where you can act out your every dream and make it just like you imagine. It might also ruin you, make you bitter, waste your time, and be disappointing in every way.The intention of the people in this group is to help you avoid the pitfalls and ease the process of finding, repairing your dream home and enjoying your neighborhood.

Don’t lose sight of your dream!

More important than finding the perfect house, is finding the right place to settle and live. That would mean discovering the right neighborhood that you’re happy with or that you can adjust to suit your desires. You won’t know that until you do some research. Neighborhoods ARE the neighbors. You can just move in and take what’s there and try to outlive all the disagreeable ones, you can try to chase them all away, and you can do what’s necessary to attract desirable neighbors. Likely you’ll do all of the above if you position yourself correctly. To get the feel of a neighborhood, you need to live there. So my suggestion is to make an educated guess as to where you’d like to live and get an apartment there.

Before or after moving in, go to neighborhood meetings and get to know people. Consider their advice! Once there, take long walks and become familiar with your surroundings. Meet more people and be social. Visit rehabs in progress and let your neighbors get to know you. Find out where the action is and who you want to be friends with. Soon, you’ll be in with the “in crowd”, and with them, sort out the who’s who of the neighborhood. You’ll discover who’s moving, who’s selling, and who’s renting. You’ll figure out where the stability is and you’ll learn where the instability comes from. You’ll learn where your resources are, which kids to trust and who has the skills that you may be able to tap one day. Pay particular attention to the youngsters, they may one day be your adult neighbors.

As you interface with the neighbors, and they with you, you’ll be well positioned to know what houses are going to be available for you to purchase. You might be lucky to learn which buildings are drug houses, too, where disgruntled landlords may be willing to get out from under non-performing properties. Vacant buildings are often available for your inspection, or are prime candidates for your research. As you narrow your search by eliminating buildings you just don’t like, and those that are not available, you’ll soon develop the drive and initiative to go after some of your choices.

By this time you know how the neighborhood positions itself around your dream home and can better picture yourself rehabbing and living in that home. All the while you’ve been getting your ducks in a row in terms of financing and design. You can decide which professionals you can work with toward actualizing your dreams. In many cases you may be able to purchase the property directly from the owner, and you’ll need to know how to do that.

I’m going to stop here, and assume that you’ve read the many posts on our listserve about purchasing and rehabbing. My intent here is only to promote an idea about finding a property to rehab. From here you can mostly refer back to the list. There are folks there who are already familiar with their neighborhoods, and are eager for you to be their neighbor.

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