Gentrification Meltdown

My late father criticized me when I moved out of the neighborhood where he and my late stepmother lived. “That building probably has graffiti on the walls,” Dad grumbled. Yet the rent in the new place was way less expensive than the rent I had been paying. My dad and stepmother could afford to pay the high price of living in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Chicago. They relished rubbing elbows with the well-heeled. I had grown tired of dealing with the area’s elitist climate, and I wanted to live in an area with real people. I found a neighborhood where people leaned out of their windows to wave to their friends. Kids giggled as they ran down the street in packs to get to their next adventure. Mom-and-pop stores were the norm.When my late youngest sister heard about my move, she declared, “Well, I prefer to live with my heritage!” We had grown up in predominately Black neighborhoods, and the multi-ethnic area to where I moved was unacceptable in her view. I had ended up living in Dad’s home after a falling out with my mother, while my sister opted to live with our paternal grandparents. There were few people of color in Dad’s neighborhood, and I became another rare Black face. My grandparents lived in the low-end of the ‘hood, surrounded by all the negative issues that often were the top of the ten o’clock news. However, several years later, weary of having to deal with what we derisively referred to as the “ghetto, housing projects mentality,” my sister moved into my neighborhood.

No city neighborhood is perfect. The usual crimes took place on top of racial and cultural clashes due to the changing makeup of the area. Most long-term residents didn’t break and run. Instead, they welcomed the fact the area was increasingly resembling the United Nations. Their willingness to stay put helped keep the area stable and kept much of the social decay at bay.One day, the neighborhood was declared to be “hot” by real estate developers. The changes gradually seeped in. My sister and I were strolling by a building that was popular due to its castle-like architecture. A new owner had bought the place and cleared out all of the tenants. A sign announced that condominiums were now available at some astronomical prices. “Who do they think can afford to live there?” my sister snapped. That building stayed empty for a long time.But soon, other buildings were flipped over to condo status at an alarming rate. Area residents fought against the spreading gentrification. I attended several meetings and protests as well. But the real estate developers and local politicians had more power on their side. The upscale boutiques, trendy bars and restaurants, and other corporate businesses that allegedly better represented the new image of the neighborhood set up shop.People began to disappear. I noticed that a lot of families in the church I attended had left. Many were multi-generational families that had been priced out of the neighborhood. The area had been known as one of the main spots in the city where immigrants first landed in order to make new lives for themselves. Now the immigrants were being discouraged from having a presence. The organizations that advocated for that population as well as for other marginalized groups in the area were branded by the real estate developers as meddlers standing in the way of “progress”. Message boards and blogs on social media were filled with the rants of the new condo owners, most of whom openly wished that the “others” would get out of “their” neighborhood. When I asked if they honestly believed the area would be better if there were only White people living there, I couldn’t get a real answer. I was blasted with suspicion concerning my motives for continuing to live in a location where my type wasn’t being welcomed anymore, not only due to my race but also the fact that I wasn’t making a six-figure income.

I still live there, but I wonder how long. The modest income I used to earn had begun to show strain when gentrification caused apartment rentals to go sky high. Being laid off from a full-time job right before the market crashed in ’08, and having to accept fewer hours and less pay since that time has put me in a position of struggling to hang on. The building my late younger sister used to live in is now a condo building. She made less money than I did, and she would not have been able to buy if she was still there. I don’t see people hanging out of their windows to greet their friends anymore. The kids have gone, as they had to leave when their parents could no longer afford to be in the area. The mom-and-pop businesses have expired along with everything else that made the neighborhood unique. We’re left with this so-called progress that has shut most of us out.

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How to Sell Your House Privately

To sell your house privately can be an exciting challenge for most people but can also be a daunting task especially if you’ve never done it before. While selling your house privately is never as easy as you think, it’s certainly a feasible way to avoid paying thousands of dollars in commission to a real estate agent. If you’re confident you can do it or just want to give it a go, you’ll need to know the ways in which you can market your house so that you receive a quick hassle-free sale as well as achieving the best sale price possible.

Here are several ways that you can market and sell your house privately…

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 1: Internet
The Internet is probably the most utilised form of contact for buyers looking for a house so you should have your house listed on the Internet, but on probably no more than two websites (any more than two is unnecessary). Unfortunately the major sites and don’t allow private sellers to list their houses for sale. However there is a loophole…several private listing real estate websites actually subscribe as members to the above websites. So if you list your house with these private listing sites they’ll automatically list your house on whichever of the major two sites that they’re subscribed to (for a price). Otherwise you can simply list your house for sale on a private sale website such as

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 2: Flyers/Leaflets
According to statistics, something like 80% of homebuyers buy a house within 5km of where they currently live. This being the case, it’s a great idea to create your own flyers using Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher and have them printed professionally by a printer. Flyers are usually dirt cheap so shop around for the best deal. You’ll probably need around 5000 to make a splash in the area (in metropolitan areas) and something like 15,000 flyers would create a good coverage of your local area.

You can deliver them yourself (if you have the time), or you could use a mailbox distribution company such as Salmat or PMP Distribution (These are Australia’s two largest distribution companies). Your cost of delivery will probably be a minimum of 5 cents per flyer under a certain delivery amount (say 30,000). This is quite cheap when you consider that you’d either have to deliver them yourself (you could probably only deliver a few hundred per day) or have to pay a commission to a real estate agent.

For ideas on how to design your flyers, simply copy the best ones that you receive in the mail from the larger franchised agencies such as Ray White, LJ Hooker etc. Remember to use a ‘catchy’ headline at the top of your flyers eg. ‘HUGE family house on a BIG 1200sqm block’. Expect a 1% response rate on your flyers eg. Deliver 5,000 flyers and you likely receive around 5 calls.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 3: Newspaper
Newspapers are the most traditional way of advertising a house for sale. There are two ways you can advertise in the newspaper. You can have a ‘display ad’ which is simply a ‘picture ad’ along with a certain amount of text allowed (these are the most expensive ads but you can specify the unit size of the display ad from a small one unit up to an entire page depending on your budget).

The other type of newspaper ad is a ‘classified ad’. A classified ad is a text-only ad that allows headings, bolding, underlining, bordering and even some coloured text to make the ad stand out. All of these features come at an additional cost but classified ads are the cheapest types of newspaper ads available. Prestigious and/or expensive houses usually work best as display ads since this is where your target buyer is looking for these types of houses.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 4: Magazines
Advertising your house for sale in magazines is a more niche way of advertising your house simply because magazines usually have a specific niche that they’re targeting their publication to eg. ‘Country Property Magazine’. This is not necessarily a negative; in fact it can be very positive because you have more qualified homebuyers looking in these publications for a house. Most magazines will have display ads as well as classified advertising available; again it depends on your budget as to what ad you’ll use.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 5: Word of mouth
Word of mouth is often overlooked as a possible way to market a house. You can spread the word through family, friends, workmates, business colleagues, schools, membership clubs that you’re involved with, sporting teams. You could create some flyers and hand them out, send out a broadcast email for friends to forward or even organise a private open house for friends and friends of friends.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 6: Signage
Signage is a great way to attract local interest in your house. It’ll create a stir in the neighbourhood and may even help you achieve a sale if one of your neighbours friends wants to move to the area. You can have a sign made by most printers; the material or product to ask for is a ‘corflute’ sign to advertise a house for sale. Most printers are probably involved with a local real estate agency and create them often. It may set you back a few hundred dollars but shop around and see what you can do.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 7: Open House
Your end goal with all of your marketing is to get potential buyers to inspect your house and one of the most common ways for buyers to inspect houses for sale is through open houses. They offer buyers a somewhat anonymous way of inspecting a house without any sales pressure. It’s a great way to screen buyers to see which ones are ready-to-buy so that you can spend the most time with those buyers. Create your own Inspection Register and get the names and contact numbers of everyone who inspects your house. This is not only good for the sales process but also for general security of your house. Have a set presentation for when you first meet potential buyers to let them know about some of the features of your house. It’s a good idea to have brochures or flyers on hand to give to buyers.

Questions to ask potential buyers are:
Have you been looking for a while or are you just getting started? (if they’ve just started looking they will need to be educated about prices in the area. They can potentially be time wasters as they don’t have any reference points to compare your house with others. In addition to this, the type of house they think they’re looking for could be completely different from the one they actually buy after they’ve completed some research.

Are there any features that you particularly like about the house?
How does this compare to other houses you’ve seen?

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 8: Investor Groups
There are always investor groups or buying clubs that have a database of members that are constantly on the lookout for investment opportunities and could be suitable for you to approach to sell your house. A few downsides to these groups is that they’ll want to buy the house for the lowest possible price and generally won’t be emotionally driven to buy the house which can affect your end selling price or even negotiating power. If you have a particular urgency in selling your house then this option could be for you. A lot of these types of clubs promote the fact that they buy houses for cash with a quick settlement period. Several of these groups include and The Investors Club

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 9: Postcards
Postcard marketing is a more unique and modern way of promoting your house for sale. They work the same as flyers except that your ad is printed on postcards that are then distributed to letterboxes. It’s best to have them distributed by companies such as Salmat and PMP Distribution.

Sell Your House Privately – Tip # 10: Publicity
Publicity is probably THE most underutilised way to sell a house privately (or through an agent). Publicity is great for a number of reasons; first of all, its free, and secondly and most importantly, publicity promotes your house from a third party perspective. Instead of you saying ‘my house is so great…’ you have a third party saying ‘this house is great, you should go and see it!’.

Some of the top real estate agents have connections to local newspapers and publications and use them regularly if they have a house to sell that has some unique aspect to it. To gain publicity for your house you’ll need to stick with local publications as they’re the ones looking for local news, stories, people, business info etc. Here are several points of interest that you can exploit (write a press release about) that may get you’re house into the local paper:
Unique house
Odd colours or features
Unique street appeal
Amazing gardens (rare flowers or plants)
Famous previous owners
Well-known street
Local businessperson owns the house
Award winning house

Here are some catchy headlines to give you an idea of what to write a press release about:
‘How this house went from being an asbestos health hazard to a dream house in 37 days’
‘For Sale…the cleanest house in (suburb)’
‘Why this is the most quirky house on (Smith) Street…’
‘Why I painted one room of my house seven different colours…’

Try to think of weird and wonderful things about your house and really hone in on one specific point that makes your house newsworthy. Email, post or fax your press release into a specific person that writes about property related matters in your local paper. Include a photo as a teaser.