All in the Neighborhood

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All in the Neighborhood

Father and Son Team Up to Renovate Vacant House

When Michael Rubin Sr. retired from teaching, he dreamt of taking a well-deserved vacation and spending quality time with his wife and family. His plans, though, were put on hold once he and his son, Michael Jr., decided to purchase a home in need of renovation from the Cuyahoga Land Bank.

“Michael Jr. was paying more than $500 in rent every month with nothing to show for it,” says Michael Sr.  “I explained that for that amount of money, he could own a home and begin planning for his future.”  When Michael Jr., a 27-year-old Information Specialist agreed, father and son set out to find an affordable home to renovate.  “There was a house two doors down from my own that had been vacant for more than two years,” says Michael Sr.  “We did some research and found out it was owned by the Cuyahoga Land Bank.”

The house, located in Cleveland’s Lee-Seville neighborhood, is not only close to his own home, but it is just a few doors down from Michael Jr.’s sister’s home.  And, an aunt and cousin both own homes on the street.  “People joked that we were trying to buy the whole neighborhood,” says Michael Sr.

The Rubins purchased the property through the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s Deed-in-Escrow Program, whereby the purchaser agrees to renovate the home according to Cuyahoga Land Bank specifications.  In a situation like the Rubins, where there are multiple bidders, preference is given to owner occupants with an additional requirement that the buyer must live in the home for three years after purchase.  The title is transferred once renovations are complete.

Although the original purchase agreement specified a 120-day renovation timeline, the Rubins were granted extensions due to the extensive renovations they completed on the home.  “It was supposed to be a three-month project,” laughs Michael Sr.  “It ended taking us almost 15 months because we did much more than what was required in the agreement.”  The Rubins installed new windows, replaced the roof and siding, and updated many of the major systems including plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling.   “We ended up completely gutting the inside and rewiring the whole house,” said Michael Sr.

Even though neither Michael Sr. nor his son had any carpentry or construction experience, they did the majority of the renovation work themselves, counting on friends and family with experience to lend a helping hand.  “We did hire an electrician, but other than that it was just my son and me.”  After a tutorial from a master tiler friend of his father’s, Michael Jr. completed all the tile work himself in the bathroom and kitchen.  “My son did most of the work, and he did a fantastic job,” says the proud father.  “And it was a great experience for my son to acquire some skills and the confidence in doing those type of renovation projects.”

Michael and family are delighted with their decision to purchase a house from the Cuyahoga Land Bank.  “Everyone we dealt with at the Land Bank was great,” says Michael Sr.  “We would absolutely recommend buying a home through the Cuyahoga Land Bank to friends and family.  As a matter of fact, we already have!”

“I like the Land Bank’s policy that you have to live in the house for a few years after the renovation,” says Michael Sr.  “People who do that will have a vested interest in the neighborhood – as it should be.”

Since starting the renovation, Michael Jr. has started his own family.  “The timing was perfect,” says Michael Sr.  “Our children and grandchild are all just a few houses away.  My wife is extremely happy!”  With everyone settled in the neighborhood, next up is that well-deserved vacation!