Location, location, location; everyone knows that these are the three rules of buying property. But, in New York City, sometimes we have to go a couple of stops farther on the subway to afford the home of our dreams. This is certainly true for those who would like to buy a townhouse. Consider that, as of October 2015, the average list price of a Manhattan townhouse was $12 million. Yet, if you are willing to move to Harlem, townhouses are priced at $2,900,000 on average. * When we first came to Harlem in 2004, our townhouse was on a beautiful tree-lined block. However, many of the homes nearby had fallen into disrepair.
As we undertook our gut renovation, dumpster parked out front, no fewer than four other homes on the street had dumpsters positioned for full demolition. When we emerged financially and emotionally from the stress of that fourteen-month ordeal, pleased with the result, we wondered how we might protect our investment.
In addition to the usual maintenance, upkeep, and of course, insurance, there is another means of safeguarding your property value – a strong block association. The value of a well-organized and well run block association must be taken seriously. While not easy to unify a group of volunteers with diverse backgrounds and interests, it is very rewarding, as it keeps the block safer and cleaner and its residents happier. Here are some of the common activities undertaken by block associations:
Acting as liaisons with the local police department, to report incidents and trends, and provide an understanding of the issues particular to the local precinct.
Conducting spring clean up and planting, to unify the flowers blooming in tree beds along the street.
Summer block party – a great time for neighbors to get to know one another informally and enjoy the spring plantings, then in full bloom.
Halloween celebration – one block on the Upper West Side is famous for shutting down their block, with homes embracing the holiday with intricate Halloween tableaus on their facades.
Holiday party – another wonderful chance for neighbors to connect.
What are the real benefits of all this hard work? When neighbors know one another and build relationships, they tend to view themselves as part of a greater whole–the block–rather than just the owner of a home. They notice suspicious activity sooner because they know everyone, making the block safer. People tend to take more pride in their homes; they put more work and investment into their facades, and keep the sidewalks tidier. Blocks with community gardens frequently get organized to create a beautiful green space. The end result is a safer, more beautiful block, with terrific curb appeal from one end to the next. This is absolutely one of the best ways to enhance your property’s value.
If your block doesn’t have a block association, click on the link below for some useful tips for getting started. Some blocks have even gone as far as to become registered non-profit organizations.