They move the people out, raise the value and sell it at a profit.
Furious Styles’s monologue in “Boyz N The Hood” was my first explicit notification of the sometimes-nefarious forces behind the “g word” — gentrification. We don’t get a lot of land speculation in the Maine suburbs, but the DMV sure does.
The idea is to target decrepit houses the owners are desperate to get rid of as well as those who need housing and basically run wild with lowball offers and runaway loan deals on purchase and home repairs. There’s an entire book about this industry, “Broke USA.” The “poverty industry,” as Gary Rivlin dubs it, wants to simply rip off your neighborhood — it’s deeper than trying to flip your property, these leaches just want to get you in debt and often project themselves as being community assets.
There are about a half dozen vacant, boarded-up houses on A Street SE; at least three of them have signs as seen above and to the left, advertising impossibly good deals and quick real estate transactions. But the proprietors are smart enough not to put their names on the signs or even on their voice messages. 800 346 9889 goes straight to the mailbox of someone named “Spoon” who wants callers to leave their name and number. I declined.
A bit disturbed by the appearance of these signs, I tried to use my very modest vertical leap to rip down a sign wired onto a telephone poll after a night of revelry revelry. I failed, because whoever put the sign up really wanted it to stay there. Shown in the top photo, a beautiful old house that has looked like a frowning jack o’lantern for months if not years has a sign that someone keeps knocking down. One of the schemers keeps propping it back up.
From a handful of tomes I have read on the topic, real estate transactions should always go through a reputable lender, the kind willing to put their name on their legally placed signs. Vacant properties in Old City are certainly worth in the six figures even if the house is a teardown. And like Rent-A-Center or Aaron’s, no credit check and no money down on real estate repairs or purchases means being charged multiple times what a product is worth in interest. So if anyone can jump higher than me, I’d love if you could pluck these signs down.