A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from April 01, 2011
“Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood” (real estate adage)

"Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood” is a real estate adage cited in print since at least 1972. The theory is that the best neighborhood is always desirable, and home improvements could raise the value of the house and make resale easier. It’s far simpler to improve the house than it is to improve the neighborhood.

An older real estate adage is “Location, location, location.”

Google News Archive
26 March 1972, Anchorage (AK) Daily News, pg. 24, col. 1:
Percy reveals fast-buck
scheme for slum houses

WASHINGTON—Sen. Charles Percy is shocked by what he calls “a guide to bilking the public” that tells fast-buck real estate operators how to clean up on face-lifted slum houses.
‘There’s one point on ‘choosing the worst home in a good neighborhood’ that’s priceless.”

30 September 1979, New York (NY) Times, “New Jersey Housing: From Rags to Riches in Monmouth” by Ellen Rand, pg. NJ16:
In their 13 years of experience, the Weirs have adopted a number of guiding principles, among them:

. Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood.

28 March 1981, Oregonian (Portland, OR), pg. C10, col. 8 classified ad:
This is it! Worst house in a good neighborhood. No where to go but up.

Google Books
New Real Estate Game:
Building wealth under the new tax laws

By Norton Hollis
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Co., Inc.
Pg. 148:
An old adage in the fixer-upper business is still sound: Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood, not the other way around.

Google Books
April 1991, Popular Science, “Buying With An Eye For Remodeling,” pg. 51, col. 1: 
Another rule of thumb, particularly when buying real estate, is “pick the worst house in the best neighborhood.”

Google Books
Fix It and Flip It
How to make money rehabbing real estate for profit

By Katie Hamilton and Gene Hamilton
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
Pg. 19:
Buy the Worst House in the Best Neighborhood

Google Books
You and Your Money:
It’s More Than Just the Numbers

By Alvin Hall
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
Pg. 148:
This truth is the source of the old adage about the three most important factors in choosing a house: “Location, location, location.” It’s also the source of the old (and still valid) rule of thumb that a prime real estate value is likely to be the worst house in the best neighborhood. After all, you can always fix up the house, but you can’t fix up the whole neighborhood.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • (1) Comments • Friday, April 01, 2011 • Permalink

“Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood” (real estate adage)

This is so true and I’m glad I read this. My boys want us to get a house in a nice subdivision with a soccer field nearby since they are into that sports, but our budget is not much. So we might go for an old house on a nice, spacious lot in an “expensive” subdivision. Then maybe in time, we can repair the house.

Posted by Anna@ Clear Rock Homes  on  05/22  at  06:06 AM

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