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St George's County, Maryland becomes a target for investors

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By : John Smith    99 or more times read
I joined investor Karl L. Graznow Jr and his business partner Patrick Ricker at a semi-derelict house they just bought on 29th Street, Mount Rainier. Even I had difficulty seeing through the mould and mildew covering the walls and past the urine soaked carpets.

“Another one they let sit too long and became a crack house,” sighed Graznow as he scoured the rooms for signs of rodents, roaches and other infestation.

Notwithstanding the condition of this and other derelict houses on the local market, investors like Graznow and Ricker have been snapping them up since the housing bubble burst three years ago. That’s because they’re located inside the Capital Beltway, are inexpensive, and are within communities where other re-development programs are already underway. Location still rules, with price not far behind. The partners have bought and renovated 8 homes during the last twelve months, mostly in Hyattsville and Mount Rainer.

There were over 13,000 foreclosure filings in Prince George’s last year – the greatest number in the State. To put things in perspective, the area has only 13.8% of Maryland’s housing units, but experienced 31% of the foreclosures.

“That’s why investors are zooming in on areas like Hyattsville, Capitol Heights and Mount Rainer,” a local housing and foreclosure expert told me. “They’re established communities with older houses conveniently located near the District Line.”

State Delegate for Prince George’s Doyle L. Niemann agrees. He has sponsored several bills around foreclosures in recent years and also prosecutes mortgage fraud as assistant state attorney. “Mount Rainier and Hyattsville are vibrant and attractive communities, even in the current economic recession.”

I chatted with State Secretary of Housing and Community Development Raymond A. Skinner to find out what happens to houses after they go into foreclosure. Although Maryland does not track this, he thought that investors would prefer bargains in older communities where prices are relatively low and the houses should sell onward easier.

Rebekah Lusk, who established Bright Lusk Properties in Hyattsville should please the city planners. She says she chose to buy in Lewisdale because she wanted to be part of redevelopment. “All our properties are renovated and rented out,” she told me. “That’s great, because we want to be active investors involved with the community. We won’t be flipping soon – the market is saturated anyway.”

It’s good to see foreclosed real estate in St George’s County, Maryland being bought and recycled into housing once again. Hopefully socially conscious investors will be rewarded too.
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