My neighbor passed away yesterday. The couple across the street were in their late 80's, and for the last two years have been living with their son in another state after health issues intruded on their independence. They came back home for a week or two several times, but with her Alzheimer's and his heart trouble and inability to drive anymore, it was difficult for them to stay there. Living with their son, although an imperfect solution, was necessary but the couple never gave up on the thought of coming home, and never actively pursued selling the house.
And now she is gone. It was fairly sudden, a surprise to their friends here in town but not to their son, who had seen his mother's precipitous decline in the last month. He called my other neighbor next door this morning to tell her the bad news because this lady, also in her 80's, had been a close friend. The funeral is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, and soon after that, hard decisions about their house will have to be made since it would be impossible for the widower to live there by himself. So now the changes in the neighborhood that I have been fearing may be starting.
My next door neighbor lost her husband nearly ten years ago, and every year I wonder if this is the summer she decides that upkeep of the house is just too hard alone and that she should move into a condo like her friends; her son lives in another city and worries about her living alone. The elderly gentleman three doors up the street collapsed in his yard last week and is now in the hospital having a pacemaker implanted. My neighbor to the rear died two years ago, although his widow still lives there with two of their five children. More changes are brewing; other people up the street are getting older and have health issues. I feel like a major neighborhood turnover is about to take place.
This is an established subdivision, meaning that it was built over 40 years ago, and many of the houses are still owned by the original buyers. We bought our house in 1993 from a widowed elderly lady who moved here in 1972, and only sold to relocate closer to her daughter. A few of the houses belong to people who moved here after we did eighteen years ago, but they are the exception. People here have been in the same spot for many years and know one another - it's a real neighborhood. Unfortunately, that means that when people start to either die, or move for health reasons, or downsize in their old age, it will happen in a landslide.
But who will move here when the turnover happens? These are old-fashioned houses, and not in a good way. They are mostly ranchers, without bling and pizzazz, no granite countertops or crown molding or stainless steel this and that. They are simple, sturdy construction, mostly brick veneer, but that doesn't catch buyer's attention nowadays, they who want eye candy in their houses, open floor plans, high end touches - and these houses don't qualify. They're also cheap, compared to new construction. You could probably buy any house on this street for way less than $100/sq. foot, if it were listed today. That's amazingly inexpensive for their size, quality of construction and lot size. They would be perfect starter houses for families with children, but this area is in a so-so school district. It's also inside city limits, so residents are hit with both city and county property taxes. Not attractive to middle class families.
So we are probably a target either for house flippers or income property investors. And if renters start moving into the area, it is likely that it will decline further because in this town, people don't want to own houses in areas heavy in rental property - it brings down the property values for everyone. A chain reaction of decline causing more decline. These things have been on my mind since we retired, because we always assumed that we would move sooner or later. But we can't find a house or condo that meets our rather specific physical needs, at least we haven't in the last three years, so we stay. Now we are possibly starting to witness the changes we have feared.