Swamplot Price Adjuster: Some Unfinished EaDo Business

The Swamplot Price Adjuster runs on your nominations! Found a property you think is poorly priced? Send an email to Swamplot, and be sure to include a link to the listing or photos. Tell us about the property, and explain why you think it deserves a price adjustment. Then tell us what you think a better price would be. Unless requested otherwise, all submissions to the Swamplot Price Adjuster will be kept anonymous.

Location: 2312 Sperber Ln., East Downtown
Details: 3 bedroom, 3 1/2-bath, 2,006-sq.-ft. unfinished townhome on a 1,400-sq.-ft. lot
Price: $151,700
History: Current listing up since mid-April

For your consideration: this special property, just over the tracks from EaDo. Submitted by a reader, who comments:

Here’s another one from the Waterhill debacle. There’s a set of 3 townhouses in the corner of this EaDo neighborhood that all appear to be in tear down condition.  HAR description states “Great opportunity for investor or builder to purchase 3 partially completed townhomes, never lived in.” HA!  I beg to differ!  I bet homeless people have been living there off and on for the last 2 years! HAR lists this stand-alone unit for $151,700.  Is it really worth that?

Then . . . well, what is it worth?


Our nominator weighs in:

I wouldn’t pay more than $75k for the land value and cost of the concrete slab.

And you? What do you think this property is worth?

26 Comment

  • No builder will warranty the slab so that will have to be pulled up as well.

  • I wonder how much of the copper wiring remains. And the appliances. I bet it’s been stripped bare (more bare than it already is). How about “I’ll pay you to take it.”

  • These look like a very similar row of abandoned half-built townhomes at McGowen and Jackson…I’ve wondered what the story was with those.

  • Same deal in our ‘hood. “Never been lived in,” except for the hobos. Corner of Rutland and W 22nd. Took them over three years to complete two of the three. We are approaching four years on the last one. One has sold and now has paying residents. No telling how much mold is growing behind those walls. Scary.

  • The framing job looks worse than it really is because MDF discolors easily, but Waterhill has such a horrible reputation that I wouldn’t trust the slab or the neighborhood infrastructure.

    Having said that… If I were a builder, I might consider this for acquisition (at a lower price than $75psf) knowing that the eventual buyer would be a chump.

  • Please stop with the “EaDo”.

    There is no such place.

  • These are everywhere, including Washington Avenue — been watching those rot for the last 2+ years? Some poor worker is single handedly trying to save the one in back that faces the restaurant/Patrenellas(sp?). Fighting a lost cause, in my humble estimation..

  • That’s not MDF by the way, it is OSD. Basically MDF is made from sawdust, which doesn’t hold up to moisture very well. If that house were made with MDF, it wouldn’t even last if water were sprayed on it with a garden hose.

    OSD is not much better, but made from wood chips. Cheap grade of plywood.

  • Good point on the Washington townhomes, everybody and their mother has seen those rotting in that prominent location.

    How in the world are they going to sell those things?!!

  • The future of Houston.

    World Class!

  • Terry, to clarify, it is OSB–Oriented Strand Board, you are referring to.

  • Oops! Thanks for the correction Landman…

  • Glue and wood chips, really inspire confidence in a climate where we get 100+ inches of rain annually.

  • cm: we actually get 52″ of rain per year on average, but that’s enough.

    OSB isn’t bad as long as you cover it quickly with some sort of vapor barrier (Tyvek or felt) and veneer (siding, brick or stucco). It actually stays straighter than plywood which tends to ripple over time if it stays dry. Plywood tends to ripple as it expands and contracts with the weather.

    Given that, as builder, I wouldn’t pay more than the land value minus demolition costs for them. Say $20 per foot. At that price the banks would rather take the loss and see them rot than sell them. Eventually the City will have to demo them. It’s a shame but with the current liability laws in this state a builder can’t afford to take the risk.

  • The city might have to demolish them but it will not be for free.

    They will bill the owner.

  • SCD,

    What is your opinions of the townhomes on Washington Ave. and Bonner that have been decomposing for the past few years?

    Is it at all possible to do anything to these units except for demo?

    I am concerned that the developer is still trying to salvage what is left by stuccoing up the units (one at a time) and probably re-selling them later.

  • ps, OSB does do much better than plywood in the elements as long as you seal the cut edges.

  • Why would banks let something be half built, one would think there would financing for the initial cost of building, slab, lumber, labor, I frankly don’t fully understand why they wouldn’t see it through to completion and opposed to taking a heavy loss and incurring a city demo anyway.

  • Terry,
    The ones on Washington and Bonner are in worse shape from whatI see. I actually did look at buying them and couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t go up the stairs, and the homeless have done horrible, horrible things to them. They at least have property value that will keep going up regardless of what happens so the bank might hold on to them for a while and eventually something good will happen there.
    cm: the bank would rather take the loss than become builders. The law in Texas puts certain long term responsibilities on the builder and the banks don’t want to get into it. I’ve talked to a few banks about finishing, or at least drying in, some of them and for them it’s cheaper to let them rot and write them off than to prolong the process and get financially deeper into a project that will probably never turn a profit.
    That money is making them +5.5% profit now if they invest it elsewhere, which over a very short amount of time, more than makes up for the loss. Bankers care about money not urban blight.

  • That would never fly in the tech world, or maybe it does vapor ware? Haha..

  • They (and all the others like them strewn around town) can be converted into lofts for racing pigeons. In turn, the racing pigeons can be positioned as a unique Houston tourist attraction, like Astroworld used to be. Pigeonworld…it has a certain ring to it.

  • I’ve been told that the Washington Townhomes were not funded by conventional bank financing. Some kind of sketchy mob-like debt placement.

    The City of Houston should be embarrassed that these have been allowed to rot in such a prominent location for so long. Something should be done about it…It’s bad for the neighborhood, bad for visitors to the area….just bad for everyone…

  • Maybe Patranella’s could see some actual sunshine again? Have any of you seen the poor Hispanic guy desperately trying to save the ones on the back side? I give him an A++ for effort, but he has got a long way to go, certainly hope he makes one his home when he’s done, if ever, looks like he’d need an army or a bulldozer..

  • Tourist Attraction…..like Austin and their bats.

    Houston and the pigeons. Not quite the same ring though. Still, possibilities.

    We already have the ducks at the Police Academy.

  • awwww the ducks. So cute.
    In conjunction with Buffalo Bayou development, I envision Duck synchronized swimming performances!

  • Turn the dome into the first indoor duck pond for synchronized swimming? Fantastic notion..