Where to buy a house in Albany?

spanish-style house in AlbanyStephanie emails:

I just moved to the area for the next few years, and I am looking to buy a house. However, I do not know what the good areas are around in Albany!
I am looking for something that is equidistant from SUNY Uptown campus and downtown Albany. I would love a safe area, that is nice or up and coming. I would want to sell in a few years, so the market value would need to stay the same (or preferably!) improve. Additionally, any advice on where to begin looking for houses would be great. Can anyone help me? Please?

Have a suggestion for Stephanie? Please share!

Comments

Melrose, western part of Pine Hills, somewhere between Helderberg and Whitehall Rd. or around Buckingham Pond. I don't know if there's anything around here that qualifies as "up and coming" other than maybe the new condos on Jay St. or 17 Chapel. Or splurge on one of those brownstones on Willett or State St. Or buy one of those old warehouse condos in north Albany because I have a feeling that's the next cool place to be.

My wife and I used to live in a house on Rosemont St, between Western and Washington... I think that it was relatively equidistant between the uptown and downtown suny campuses. It was quiet, a nice neighborhood, and if you don't mind single family homes, it's pretty awesome. :) I still miss that attached garage... and relatively flat backyard... *sigh*

The whole Western Ave. corridor from SUNY to Madison Ave, and the Washington Ave. corridor from SUNY to downtown has some nice neighborhoods (if you avoid the student sections). The New Scotland Ave. area is also close to downtown, but accessible to the SUNY uptown campus via Route 85.

Stephanie does not say what price range she is looking at. However, she should not expect to make money buying and then selling any house in the next couple of years. She'll be lucky to break even. Doesn't matter how "nice" the neighborhood is. There are up front costs in buying a house that you are unlikely to recoup in a few years.

I agree, Rosemont is a cool little street. Especially with those little adobe-style homes. Funky.

I live in the Buckingham Pond area and love it! I have been there for 16 years and have gone from late nights downtown or on Lark to stay at home and solitary walks to most recently chasing after a toddler. The area has suited every phase so far. Close to downtown, close to UAlbany, a very nice park, trail, playground at the pond that meets a diverse set of needs. If you end up close to New Scotland - walkability to some great take-outs: falafel/pizza place, greek, and chinese. :)

Also the value of my place has gone up over time (so say the real estate hounds that email me those 'just sold your neighbours house cards' that I can get rid of!)

Good luck and welcome!

I'd be wearing of buying in this area for just a few years. Houses tend to stay on the market for a while, which could tie up your funds while you're trying to move to your next spot. I've been looking at listings for a few months, and as a buyer it's great to see list prices slashed 10, 20, 30k, but if I were expecting to sell soon I'd be weary. Although maybe at this point the prices have nowhere to go but up?

After the winter we just had, a driveway is a must if you have a car--the Center Square area likely won't lend itself to one. Garage would be great; a place to put your snowblower and shovels.

From the complaints I read on Twitter from Pine Hills residents, I'd steer clear of neighborhoods were students rent.

the area around ridgefield park - ridgfield, partridge, etc. is up and coming!! There is a wide mix of people here- young, old, single, familes..etc. Plus, we have an awesome park with playground, community garden, clay tennis courts and spray pool. Nearby are the little league fields and basketball court. This area is walkable to the Madison and New Scotland business districts, plus on the bus line. It's closer to downtown than uptown. The Pine Hills has long been the residential heart of the city.

The whole Western Ave. corridor from SUNY to Madison Ave, and the Washington Ave. corridor from SUNY to downtown has some nice neighborhoods (if you avoid the student sections). The New Scotland Ave. area is also close to downtown, but accessible to the SUNY uptown campus via Route 85.

Stephanie does not say what price range she is looking at. However, she should not expect to make money buying and then selling any house in the next couple of years. She'll be lucky to break even. Sales are still down. Doesn't matter how "nice" the neighborhood is. There are up front costs in buying a house that you are unlikely to recoup in a few years. I've thought about selling my house (bought 5 years ago) and I know I would lose money (especially after the realtor takes a percentage).

As a Pine Hills resident, I'd like to note that the neighborhood is big and diverse. While there are some student-heavy sections, there are also many lovely blocks full of wonderful residents - single, couples and families of all ages.

One can walk to almost anything you'd need - library, grocery store, movie theater, and we have a neighborhood elementary school. There is also close proximity to the Route 10 bus that goes between SUNY's uptown and downtown campuses.

The house across the street from us was sold within the last year. It was on the market for just a few months and there was a bidding war over it. The housing market has many variables.

Or you can read this:

http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/03/why-i-am-never-going-to-own-a-home-again/

and then rent in one neighborhood while exploring others to see which suits you best. Especially since this seems to be a somewhat temporary move.

You should look at the Normanskill neighborhood (New Scotland area between St. Peter's Hospital and Bethlehem. Terrific, safe area that is very residential, yet on a bus line and convenient to uptown and downtown. Several properties are available in the area as well.

I really hope the reader considers a few of the other commenters' advice and decides not to buy.
This past year, we just sold our first house in Albany's Melrose area for a more than what we purchased it for 7 years ago, even in this market, so that was good. But as a word of caution, we bought the house we live in now for the same price as the sellers paid when they bought their house 4 years ago, and after they put significant money into the place, so they were not as happy with their final outcome. In this market, and in your timeframe, I'm willing to bet the latter scenario is more likely to be the one you would face.

As for our old Melrose neighborhood, it's a nice area, and for less than my old mortgage, you can rent an enire floor of a two-family or for a little more, rent an entire house. When you factor in the price of the house as well as albany's high taxes, which will likely be going up more every year, it's a losing proposition to buy for just a few years.
Rent (craigslist or through a local realtor), and be much happier when your landlord is shoveling your driveway and walk next winter while you count the money you are saving.

OK, I'd admit I biased but a friend sent me a link to this posting. And I'm in the process of selling my house that might be what you are looking for. I live in the Upper Washington Neighborhood....its a few minutes drive to either SUNY Uptown Campus or Downtown Albany (where I work). Also, accessible to bus routes and shopping. It's a great house. And There is open house this weekend if you are interested....if it's not for you that's fine. But take a look:

http://www.43buellstreet.com/

I'm going to reject the premise of the question, which is that you can flip a house in a short period of time based purely on location. I don't think that exists here.

I would rent for a year, explore the neighborhoods, and enjoy a lifestyle of free of unexpected repairs and worries...

tee hee how quaint "where the market value would need to stay the same (or improve)"..as if someone could actually predict the magic area (in any city) where that would be the case.

since it doesn't sound like buying and holding for long term is the strategy here, I concur with others about renting.

A lot depends on your price range, but my favorite neighborhood I've discovered this year is Marion Avenue, just a block away from South Manning. I don't much dream of fancy houses, but these all have character and style, and won't be losing value.

What if Stephanie isn't dangerously naive, but instead is well-off and won't be taking a mortgage? Somebody like that would ask about desirable neighborhoods with stable or rising property values. Would that case change any of the comments here?

LQ

If you're looking at the "starter home" end of the market, the neighborhood to the south of Western Ave between SUNY and Route 85 might fit the bill. The houses there tend to be smaller and thus cheaper to heat and maintain, it's safe and stable, and walkable to the stores at University Plaza (yay Uncommon Grounds), CVS and Stewarts etc. You can always get buses on Western Ave, and you'd have your own parking spot. If you looked around it probably wouldn't scream "up and coming" but there are more younger folks and people with young kids than you'd imagine at first glance.
Also, you have the advantage of not needing an army of landscapers like those folks on Marion Ave (jealous? moi?).

I love Marion Ave too. Half million dollar houses. Somebody who can afford to buy in that price range isn't getting their real estate advice from All Over Albany.

To Brian, selling the house at 43 Buell, you might want to have your realtor spell check the listing:

"Prime Dead-in street" and "Beautiful Japense Red Maple"

On topic, I recently moved here myself, and am happy to see that the area where we found a rental house (New Scotland relatively close to Buckingham Pond) is suggested by a few folks here. So far, really enjoying the area. Can't say I enjoyed my first Albany winter, however!

Hi there everyone,

I appreciate all the advice! I promise that I am probably more on the naive than the dangerously rich side... but when I said "a few years" I probably should have said a decade. All of your advice is really great, and I am going to take it all into consideration! I was more concerned about the neighborhood depreciating than getting better.. but I really just want to live somewhere nice, and safe. But thank you to everyone who is helping me trying and find a home here!

Thanks again

we've lived in the Delaware Ave neighborhood since 2004 and love it. It is up and coming, walkable, has lots of shops and a fantastic theater, is close to parks and the Normanskill Farm (lots of hiking,scenic areas, dog park,community garden). I've heard it has the highest avg. Income of any neighborhood in Albany, i dont know if this is true but there are many professionals living here. Many of the side streets, especially North of Del. Ave. Are dead ends and are quiet. The houses are well built and have lots of character, though one can't always tell from the outsides due to details being covered by vinyl siding and vinyl window replacenents. The Neighborhood Assoc and Merchants Group are very active and one has been able to see the neighborhood improvements year by year so it's a good place to invest IMHO.m

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Morning Blend

Police arrested the former boyfriend of 19-year-old Vanessa Milligan in connection with the death of Milligan and her unborn daughter in Lansingburgh. Gabriel Vega is... (more)

Where the wild things aren't... yet

The reported mountain lion sightings near Cambridge in Washington County recently is a familiar story. [Post-Star] Mountain lions? Here? In 2011 The US Fish and... (more)

Figuring Sh!t Out with Amy Biancolli

Amy Biancolli is a self-described mom, ink-stained wretch, and survivor of suicides. We would describe her as a gifted and thoughtful writer with an ability... (more)

In a brewery (not so) far, far away

Lucasfilm -- you know, the production company behind Star Wars -- is challenging a trademark application from Syracuse's Empire Brewing Co. over a beer called... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Ladder No. 1, a different ridge, Chatham, the Walkway over the... (more)

Recent Comments

... Let's also lower the city speed limit to 25 while we're at it. Maybe then these morons will not go 45 miles an hour down Washington Avenue. Why should cities surrender themselves to the automobile and automobile drivers? - the very forces that killed cities to begin with. ...

Where the wild things aren't... yet

...has 2 comments, most recently from Cheryl

Albany Common Council passes red light camera ordinance: comments, votes, thoughts

...has 32 comments, most recently from Leah Golby

Figuring Sh!t Out with Amy Biancolli

...has 1 comment, most recently from Sarah

Drawing: Postmodern Jukebox at Troy Music Hall

...has 58 comments, most recently from Ro

Where to sell old gold and silver?

...has 8 comments, most recently from SteveO