Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the August 7, 2002 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
House Hunting? Consider Trenton
<d>Ken Verbeyst is getting so many calls from investors
eager to learn about real estate opportunities in Trenton — and
how to cash in on them — that he no longer has time to guide individuals
through the process step by step. Instead, Verbeyst, a real estate
broker with Prudential New Jersey Properties on Nassau Street, has
put together a seminar on the subject.
On Thursday, August 15, at 6 p.m. Verbeyst hosts a seminar on investing
in Trenton real estate at the Urban Word cafe. He gives a brief introduction
before turning over the floor to mortgage bankers and CPAs. While
the seminar is free, Verbeyst says it is by reservation only. He plans
to limit attendance to about 75 people with a real interest not only
in reaping a profit in Trenton, but also in making the city a better
place to live. Call 609-203-0495.
Verbeyst, a Hopewell resident, has purchased a home on Hamilton Avenue
in the Chambersburg section of Trenton. He was attracted by its size
— seven bedrooms, four fireplaces — its high ceilings, and
its details, including "Trenton" tile. "It’s ceramic tile
that was made in Trenton," he says of the latter. "It’s a
mosaic. It’s fabulous. You have to see it."
But as large as the home is, and as lovely its interior, it was something
else that drew him to the property. "It has a garage," he
says. And not just any garage. "It’s an eight-car garage, all
brick, with I-beam construction in the roof," he says with a joy
only known by the formerly garageless.
"I have a property in Princeton," he says. "I know what
a nightmare parking can be." The property is Verbeyst Cleaners,
a family business his grandfather started in Trenton in 1899 and moved
to Princeton in 1903. Verbeyst switched careers three years ago, leaving
the dry cleaning business for real estate. "My former wife (Beth
Verbeyst) runs the business now," he says. Their deal, he says,
is "you run it. I park there."
Verbeyst is restoring his Trenton investment house, and planning to
rent it, ideally to a professional, perhaps an engineer or architect,
who will use the space as a residence as well as an office. Farther
down the line, he plans to retire there. Already the garage space
is rented. While few will find an eight-car garage in Trenton, a city
that, like Princeton, grew up well before anyone could have imagined
the three or four-car family, he advises investors to think about
parking when they look at houses.
"Look for off-street parking," he says. "It’s golden.
You’ll want it." His other advice to those considering investing
in Trenton includes:
is passionate on this topic. Cramming too many people into a poorly
repaired building is the last thing the city needs, he says, advising
anyone planning to spend $10,000 on a house and another $10,000 on
renovations to stay away from his seminar.
be sure to look at its neighbors — all of its neighbors. Nearby
houses undergoing renovation are a good sign, boarded up houses are
there is virtually nothing for sale, and prices are rising. Fixer-uppers
abound in other neighborhoods, but buyers should be aware that many
need new heating, plumbing, and wiring in addition to cosmetic work.
It will often be necessary to budget as much — or more — for
renovation as for purchase price.
working with plaster, and replacing wiring. Others, patently, are
not. Be aware of how much of the work you can do yourself, and be
realistic about how long it will take.
providing the cash and going in on a purchase with a partner who knows
his way around a table saw. In fact, a number of people might form
a partnership to purchase several properties. In that case, says Verbeyst,
it might be a good idea to consider forming an LLC, a limited liability
that neighborhoods such as South Clinton, the area closest to the
train station, and Chambersburg, which is still within walking distance
of the trains, are good bets for residential investment. He also likes
anything with a river view, including portions of the Island neighborhood,
which is just west of Route 29, and Lamberton Avenue, which runs parallel
to the new tunnel. He doesn’t see South Broad Street, the area surrounding
the new arena and where the Urban Word cafe is located, as prime residential
territory, but thinks it has commercial potential.
are fetching $800 a month, says Verbeyst. Demand for rental housing
throughout central New Jersey is exceptionally tight. Investors should
have no problem renting space in their houses, but appreciation requires
trickier math. Prices in stable Trenton neighborhoods are climbing,
but, he says, some neighborhoods may not come into their own for five
events at the arena, dropping in to the Urban Word, and walking about.
And he is dreaming Trenton dreams. "When I retire," he says,
"I’m going to turn the top of my garage into a roof garden."
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