We have represented a few buyers in the purchase of a home in some "up and coming" neighborhoods, primarily in Brooklyn. I refer to them as up and coming in the context of buyers whom may have overlooked such areas in the past are now exploring them, certainly they were intact neighborhoods before this phenomenon occurred. The social and economic circumstances that lead to the decline of such areas is much to complex to tackle here, however let's hope the changes taking place help the entire community become more dynamic, with better services etc for all the residents.
This strong sales market has brought new players to the development business, some trying to exploit this very active sellers market. Neighborhoods such as Bedford Stuyvesant have many once beautiful homes that are now in need of complete restoration. Some of these new developers are doing less than a stellar job and completing renovations and bringing the properties back on market for resale. We have seen shoddy work, non-compliant renovations and basically just covering up the old mess with sheet rock, paint, carpet etc.
Before you spend money on a home inspection, do your own thorough look around and something we have found to be of the utmost importance; ask the listing broker for a list of previous work completed by the current developer (flipper?) Find out the name of the developer and do a thorough GOOGLE search, pour through Brownstoner for information on the builder. Many times a building will look pretty decent, we do our best to scour through the property, building records, DOB etc to garner as much info as we can, however you need a licensed building inspector/engineer to really get a proper understanding of what is going on. But the best place to start after viewing a property you are interested in, ask about the developers previous projects, we have found this to be a great leading indicator of what kind of work was done. Whenever we cannot get a clear answer to this question, it's never been a good outcome.
At least if you are buying a property that needs a gut renovation you know what you are getting into and can plan/budget accordingly to create your dream home. Buying a property that you think has undergone a renovation only later to discover the electrical work was not done to code, plumbing has been hobbled together, a structural wall has been removed and the added beam is not sufficient to support the load will break your heart and then your bank account! No one wants to feel like they have been taken and suddenly the dream of buying your brownstone has become a nightmare.