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#1 of 35 Old 12-20-2008, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all,

DH and I are considering taking advantage of crazy low interest rates and moving into a SFH sooner rather than later. We are currently in a nice 2BR condo in Dorsey Hall (Columbia/Ellicott City) and had planned to move in 2-3 years.

We love this area, but we:

a) don't like all the 70's split foyers/levels and lower end colonials in our price range (around 400) and don't want to play the 500+ for the nicer houses.

b) want to get a little closer (just a tiny bit!) to Baltimore for when kids start at the Waldorf school (not for a long time, but we want to stay in the next house for a long time!)

So we are thinking about Catonsville (most likely outside the beltway, especially far western). I know NOTHING about Catonsville except for being at the Babies R Us on 40 (yuck!).

Please tell me about

1) crime
2) population (education, politics, friendliness, families)
3) activities (recreation classes for kids, festivals, parks, etc)
4) and which areas/neighborhoods would be the easiest transition from Columbia/EC?

Thanks!

Elizabeth
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#2 of 35 Old 12-21-2008, 01:17 AM
 
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I would totally go look at the neighborhood down from the tire park playground at the Patapsco State Park. Lots of young families and nice safe neighborhoods. Good sized classic house styles with no 70s style Columbia type homes.
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#3 of 35 Old 12-21-2008, 11:15 AM
 
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old town Catonsville, near Oakland Terrace is nice. Don't know how much the homes go for now. We were looking about a year and half ago, so they were probably more expensive

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#4 of 35 Old 12-22-2008, 02:56 AM
 
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Most of the neighborhoods that fall into the Westchester or Hillcrest elementary schools are nice areas. Friends of ours just bought a nice house off Edmonson in the Hillcrest elementary school area and the LOVE it. They have gotten involved in the community association and went to picnics and such over the summer (they moved in in July).

They love Catonsville, we have a few houses on our short list in Catonsville as well. Let me know if you have any other questions about it! Maybe we'll see you soon!!

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#5 of 35 Old 12-22-2008, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Most of the neighborhoods that fall into the Westchester or Hillcrest elementary schools are nice areas. Friends of ours just bought a nice house off Edmonson in the Hillcrest elementary school area and the LOVE it. They have gotten involved in the community association and went to picnics and such over the summer (they moved in in July).

They love Catonsville, we have a few houses on our short list in Catonsville as well. Let me know if you have any other questions about it! Maybe we'll see you soon!!
You're coming back!!!
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#6 of 35 Old 12-22-2008, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I would totally go look at the neighborhood down from the tire park playground at the Patapsco State Park. Lots of young families and nice safe neighborhoods. Good sized classic house styles with no 70s style Columbia type homes.
We love it there, but there is not much on the market there now (good for those already there, not so for those looking to get in!) But we're going to keep our eye on it. We're hoping to buy in Feb. so maybe once the holidays are over somebody will put their fabulous house on the market!

Thanks everyone!
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#7 of 35 Old 12-22-2008, 11:44 AM
 
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I grew up in Catonsville, and just moved back w/ my dh and 3 boys. We now live 1/2 mile from where I grew up, and my parents still live in my childhood home. Did you still want more info? BTW there is a catonsville AP yahoo group, only a few members in it, but after the holidays I'm hoping to try and meet some people on it. I would really love to meet up with anyone from mothering too who live nearby!! I hear of homes going on the market all the time; I know of friends trying to sell their house now, its in the paptsco park community someone already mentioned (by the tire playground--all houses are considered expensive there, 500+), I don't know the range you are looking at, but our friiends are looking to sell for 620 which is what they bought it for 3 years ago, so its technically a deal. The houses in my neighborhood sell for half that amount, we are near rollingwood pool...there are good deals, if you keep your eye out, and jump quickly!

In case you wanted more info, here goes:

1. crime--from my experience, crime is mostly car theft, petty stuff, and things teenagers get caught up in, like pool hopping, egg-ing houses, all stuff that isn't great but really mild in comparison. since we moved back here in june there has been car theft on our street (only on cars not locked), and our neighbor caught the guy. Regardless, I feel VERY, very safe here. neighbors really work together and look out for one another.

2--population--in terms of politics, its way more conservative than liberal IMO. all the schools here are great, including the public, but the public schools are pretty crowded (though its b/c they maintain smaller class sizes, no more than 25, so the number of classes go up). I went to a small catholic school here and loved it.

3--activities--4th of july is huge here, the parade awesome, fireworks great. its so much like a small town here, though catonsville is not really small and is pretty diverse. at xmas time santa comes in on a sleigh into town, every year in the neighborhoods different groups go carolling (I remember loving to do it as a kid), halloween always means parties and seeing just how many kids there are!! kids run around outside here ALL THE TIME--"unsupervised" in a way, but it is very safe. the biggest thing I notice here is trust--people inherintly trust eachother which is so meaningful to me, and something my dh and I (who have lived all over the US since we graduated college) never found anywhere else.

4--if you want, I can chat w/ you offline about the different neighborhoods, types of people living there, what they offer, etc so I don't make this more of a novel! If you want it, kids really grow up here together, and often times people move back (like my husband and I, we were high school sweethearts), and our kids grow up with longtime friends. But you know, knowing everyone can have its ups and downs!! In most neighborhoods people are very friendly regardless.

HTH and hope to meet you if you do indeed move! Sande (mom to an almost 5 year old, 3 year old and 7 month old boys)
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#8 of 35 Old 12-22-2008, 07:00 PM
 
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We live in Catonsville and love it. We live close to the trolly trail that goes to main st Ellicott City. I agree to stick with Westchester (will be our dd's school) and Hillcrest school districts. To me they are the safest, nicest areas. I love the small town feel, especially the 4th of July.

Although if we had more money, my neighborhood of choice would be Oella (still 21228). We live close enough though.

Maybe we should have a Catonsville get together?
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#9 of 35 Old 12-22-2008, 08:15 PM
 
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Ugh. Wrote a long post and it got deleted. The gist of it was that I love Catonsville, have lived here 16 years and would never want to move. It's safe but I wouldn't sleep with the doors unlocked. I wouldn't do that anywhere though. Our car was egged a few weeks ago but other than that I've not had any problems. Make sure you stay in "Olde" Catonsville. If you're unsure of the area, feel free to pm me and I'll give you my 2 cents.

You won't regret moving to Catonsville. The people are great, there are great old houses and lots of families. Trick or treating at Halloween is great because you can just keep walking and walking and not have to jump back in the car and drive. There are a few good restaurants on Frederick rd. now. I love being able to walk to the library, post office, the restaurants and my parents live 4 blocks away. It's ideal. Everyone I've talked to who comes to Catonsville for the first time says they can't believe they never knew how great Catonsville is. Hope it works out for you!
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#10 of 35 Old 12-22-2008, 11:47 PM
 
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We live just over the Catonsville line (in Baltimore, an awesome neighborhood called Hunting Ridge. I love the neighborhood and love the "community feel" here). But it does seem like we're always doing things closer to Catonsville (unless we're going downtown). I'm kind of wishing we knew more about Catonsville before we moved (we are relatively new to MD) because it seems like everyone loves it there so much!! That's wonderful.

Well if you have a Catonsville play group (and you want an non-Catonsville person to come), I'd be up for getting together.

I have a four (and 1/2) year old son and a baby girl on the way (in March).
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#11 of 35 Old 12-23-2008, 03:08 AM
 
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You're coming back!!!
We'll see We're also thinking about moving further into Baltimore...so, we'll either end up in Charles Village, Catonsville, or over near the zoo somewhere....nothing like a wide variety of neighborhoods, huh? We do spend a fair amount of time in Catonsville though, so we'll see how it goes....

Maybe we'll get to see you on the 2nd? I'm planning on being there, unless I'm in labor or not feeling up to it.

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#12 of 35 Old 12-24-2008, 10:21 AM
 
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Double E, if there is a gathering please come, my almost 5 year old son would love to have an older boy to play with.

Maybe I'll organize one at my houose for mid-January, from both mothering and the ap yahoo group...we'll see if I can gather some energy after this exhausting holiday season this year

Merry Christmas! Sande
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#13 of 35 Old 12-24-2008, 10:24 AM
 
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great.... thanks
my son would love it to (i'm sure). and i'd like the adult interaction!!

hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!
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#14 of 35 Old 12-25-2008, 02:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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for those that know the catonsville real estate market, does this price seem high?:

http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17042854

I drove by and love the street, and its super close to old catonsville (well, its IN old catonsville, but I mean the shops, etc) so I get that it should be above 450, but its just over 2000 sq feet (not small, not big), it has no dining room, just a townhouse style space for a table. The second floor only has 2 bedrooms, the other two are basically a finished attic with no bathroom. Average sized lot, no garage. From what else I have seen in Catonsville, seems it would be in the 475 range. We might be willing to go that high, but if it is really worth 512, I think we should just get it out of our heads now.


on the other hand, if we want to save some $$$, what about this: thoughts? its only 1100 sq feet, so it is over $300 per sq foot (really high): http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17221040 Anyone know about that neighborhood/street? We drove down Sanford from Frederick and didn't care for it, esp the northern part. This any better?

Would love to meet you all in the New Year (we're close enough now to come up, only about 15 minutes away in Ellicott City).
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#15 of 35 Old 12-25-2008, 03:46 PM
 
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the first one, the street it is one is chock full of gorgeous big old houses, and its a walk to st. marks, fredrick rd, library, etc, (location, location) so I don't think its overwhelmingly high but I'm sure you could get it for less in this market. there was a house on that street that just sold a few months ago, maybe your agent can tell you the details and what it sold for (it wasn't updated if I recall). there is also a LOT of traffic on that street, something to keep in mind.

the second house is in a cute neighborhood, I know folks that live nearby & love it, there seems to be lots of kids etc. the price seems a bit high IMO for 1.5 bath though. we got ours for way under the asking price b/c we had no contigencies & wrote a letter to the sellers telling them how badly we wanted the house, from who I've talked to writing letters isn't uncommon.

hth & good luck! sande
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#16 of 35 Old 12-25-2008, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks everyone!

so that's exactly what I thought about the melvin ave one. we're thinking, but will likely let that one go!

the other one is tiny, like tiny!!! did you see the pic of the third br, DH says it is a closet and I don't disagree. Might not be feasible as we want 3 kids, so there'd be 2 kids in the small room and 1 in the closet room. Maybe not. But I love the house in theory.

So what about inside the beltway? Like here: http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17285115 or here: http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17862518 But I worry that inside the beltway will be more like baltimore (more urban, more crime, etc). Any thoughts?

Thanks, you guys are priceless!!

Feel free to tell me about houses for sale in your neighborhoods (we'd have ready-made neighbor friends!)
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#17 of 35 Old 12-26-2008, 07:42 AM
 
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So what about inside the beltway? Like here: http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17285115

Many years ago (pre kids) I lived in the apartments across the street from Tanglewood. The houses in that neighborhood always looked very charming but small (from the outside). I used to walk my dog through there and it was always quiet.

The drawbacks to me are the school district and the fact that it's right across from the apartment complex. When I lived there, the complex was safe and I never had any trouble. I just personally wouldn't buy a house next to an apartment complex.

Keep posting houses! I love looking for new houses and in this economy, we aren't moving any time soon.
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#18 of 35 Old 12-26-2008, 10:51 AM
 
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But I worry that inside the beltway will be more like baltimore (more urban, more crime, etc).
I agree.

I'll keep it in mind if any houses come up for sale here...there is a 1 acre lot FS that you'd have to build on.
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#19 of 35 Old 12-26-2008, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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hipsands---where are you? (feel free to pm so you don't have to post for all the world to know where you live!--unless you don't even want me knowing!)

ETA: oops, just looked back at your first post, going to look up rollingwood pool. thanks!
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#20 of 35 Old 12-26-2008, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So what about inside the beltway? Like here: http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17285115

Many years ago (pre kids) I lived in the apartments across the street from Tanglewood. The houses in that neighborhood always looked very charming but small (from the outside). I used to walk my dog through there and it was always quiet.

The drawbacks to me are the school district and the fact that it's right across from the apartment complex. When I lived there, the complex was safe and I never had any trouble. I just personally wouldn't buy a house next to an apartment complex.

Keep posting houses! I love looking for new houses and in this economy, we aren't moving any time soon.
Thanks for the info on Tanglewood, we like the house, though it is small, but you all confirmed our gut feeling on going inside 695.

Isn't it funny--you're not moving in this economy and we almost HAVE to move in this economy (in a tiny 2br condo, afraid we'll get stuck if it depreciates much more!)

Well, you wanted to see more houses, so: what do ya'll think of this street/neighborhood? http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE...home/17922794# What about that Bloomsbury Community Center that is so close: a good thing (for farmer's market, activities, etc) or a bad thing (loitering teens, etc?)

Thanks! I really feel like I should be paying you all a commission or something! You'll definitely be invited to our house warming!
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#21 of 35 Old 12-26-2008, 09:01 PM
 
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I like the 512k house. I agree that its overpriced and think you might be able to get it down in this market, by getting your agent to look at the comps for the last four months and talking to the other agent. What I really like is it looks like it needs no work. Kitchen and baths look great. Best of all, that yard is ideal for kids. Nice and big, already fenced, room for a garden by the looks of the pictures already in process... If I could get it down in price that would be a winner. That said, I got a four bedroom that was a bit overpriced (I really wanted and needed to move into this neighborhood) for 80K less in Columbia. To me how a house looks is far less important than does its space and floor plan work for my family needs and is the yard level and ready for kids to play. The back yard and back porch sold me on my house. I say the porch is "my favorite room" because in fine weather I live out on it.

I don't think you have seen my house since we re- did the kitchen, have you?
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#22 of 35 Old 12-27-2008, 01:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I like the 512k house. I agree that its overpriced and think you might be able to get it down in this market, by getting your agent to look at the comps for the last four months and talking to the other agent. What I really like is it looks like it needs no work. Kitchen and baths look great. Best of all, that yard is ideal for kids. Nice and big, already fenced, room for a garden by the looks of the pictures already in process... If I could get it down in price that would be a winner. That said, I got a four bedroom that was a bit overpriced (I really wanted and needed to move into this neighborhood) for 80K less in Columbia. To me how a house looks is far less important than does its space and floor plan work for my family needs and is the yard level and ready for kids to play. The back yard and back porch sold me on my house. I say the porch is "my favorite room" because in fine weather I live out on it.

I don't think you have seen my house since we re- did the kitchen, have you?
I think your kitchen was still in process last time I was there, but mostly done (maybe?).

We are pretty particular about certain things and not so much about others.
1) Neighborhood/street: beautiful and/or quaint, safe, friendly
2) Architecture: something somewhat interesting, or at least "clean" i.e. open, 9'+ ceilings (love the '20s)
3) gut feeling: a lot of homes make us feel depressed, luckily we have the same gut when it comes to houses

We'd renovate/add on for the right neighborhood/lot and house character. Which is why I am still loving this tiny thing with the closet bedroom!: http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17221040 Esp. if we could get it for 325 or less (which it should be at 1100 sq feet!!) in 5 or 6 years we'd just add on 800 sq feet or so. We drove by it today and love the neighborhood.

The 512 is officially out of the question. I'm learning about conforming limits or whatnot. Jumbo limits in the area are almost 500k for 2009, but it seems the 417k or up rules on money down are the same everywhere (I guess, I don't understand it all). We'd have to put at least 50k down, but possibly 75-100, with next to no equity left in our condo (thanks to the real estate crash) that would have to be all from savings, which is not that healthy! So we are now looking for 440 or less, and really thinking of going 350 or less to free up money for renovations/addition, etc.
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#23 of 35 Old 12-27-2008, 02:40 AM
 
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Teeny tiny front hall closet - tough with kids. I walked out of homes after walking in the front door and seeing no or tiny closets. Drove my agent nuts. That or a non-level back yard would disqualify a home for lots of kids for me. The closet bedroom doesn't bother me so much. When oldest is 6 you can get him a loft bed with desk, comfy chair or small couch and dresser underneath. It's like your own private fort. I grew up in a tiny little bedroom and my oldest daughter is on one now.

The yard looks nice. Looks like a good play yard. We fenced ours one week after settlement, had to for the kids.
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#24 of 35 Old 12-30-2008, 11:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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okay, our short list right now (not all catonsville)

back to this one after DH pooh-pooed the neighborhood/street: http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/12477646 Any thoughts on that area? I like it more than he does.

And this: http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17301217 It is small and on a busy street, but we like it, so we'll probably at least give it a look. Thoughts on this one? How busy is it really on S Rolling?

And not in catonsville, but we want to see why this is so cheap (for size/lot): http://www.redfin.com/MD/ELLICOTT-CI.../home/10024470

And finally DH wants to look at this, but it is so not my style, so we'll see. Great deal though (in need of a little work): http://www.redfin.com/MD/COLUMBIA/49...4/home/9901590

More to say, but gotta run. love to hear your thoughts!
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#25 of 35 Old 12-31-2008, 09:37 AM
 
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the first one, we drove by that back when we were looking (it was out of our range but it was close to another we liked). we really wanted sidewalks. that community (oella) is pretty cool, there is a lovely trolley trail (paved wooded area) that goes through c'ville to ellicott city for 1 1/2 miles, on the other side of westchester rd from that house. westchester is a busy street and has no sidewalks...

we know the couple selling the house off s. rolling so know that ahead of time...traffic is busy off s. rolling esp at rush hour, but the community it is in is great and just down hilton is the large patapsco state park entrance, plus a very short walk to the school (hillcrest elem.) and library.

don't know anything about the other 2...HTH
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#26 of 35 Old 12-31-2008, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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okay, so...

1) house we love, needs very little (wood on second floor) in so-so neighborhood with no sidewalks (also a concern for us) but near great walking path (is it considered safe?)

OR

2) house we'd want to do a good deal of work to (mostly curb appeal kind of stuff--"face-lift" so to speak, and paving driveway), possibly a small addition (family room or similar on main floor for play space), and a second bath upstairs, in a great neighborhood (we really like it too!) on a very busy street but with sidewalks. DH is very handy BTW, so the work is a hassle, but doable.

What would you all do (not just hipsands)? Just curious, obviously we have to determine what's right for our family.

We are hoping to go look at them this weekend.
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#27 of 35 Old 12-31-2008, 05:41 PM
 
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And finally DH wants to look at this, but it is so not my style, so we'll see. Great deal though (in need of a little work): http://www.redfin.com/MD/COLUMBIA/49...4/home/9901590

This isn't bad for Columbia. Basement needs complete redo.


More to say, but gotta run. love to hear your thoughts![/QUOTE]
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#28 of 35 Old 12-31-2008, 05:57 PM
 
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Melvin is a nice street and I think that's pretty fair for what you're getting. But there is a school on Melvin so you'll get a lot of traffic, plus people cut through that street pretty often. It is gorgeous with the trees and huge houses though and there's a playground for 3+.

Locust can be a good street. It depends on what side of Magruder you're on. One side is one way but I don't like the feel of it much. I think that's a great price, although I'd want to look at it and see the backyard. It does back up to Sanford which is mostly duplexes and not the prettiest street but don't judge a street by the houses necessarily!! There are very nice people on Sanford and most likely, you would have good neighbors if you backed up to it.

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for those that know the catonsville real estate market, does this price seem high?:

http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17042854

I drove by and love the street, and its super close to old catonsville (well, its IN old catonsville, but I mean the shops, etc) so I get that it should be above 450, but its just over 2000 sq feet (not small, not big), it has no dining room, just a townhouse style space for a table. The second floor only has 2 bedrooms, the other two are basically a finished attic with no bathroom. Average sized lot, no garage. From what else I have seen in Catonsville, seems it would be in the 475 range. We might be willing to go that high, but if it is really worth 512, I think we should just get it out of our heads now.


on the other hand, if we want to save some $$$, what about this: thoughts? its only 1100 sq feet, so it is over $300 per sq foot (really high): http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17221040 Anyone know about that neighborhood/street? We drove down Sanford from Frederick and didn't care for it, esp the northern part. This any better?

Would love to meet you all in the New Year (we're close enough now to come up, only about 15 minutes away in Ellicott City).
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#29 of 35 Old 12-31-2008, 06:00 PM
 
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I personally wouldn't want to live on Bloomsbury. It's part commercial, has the high school, is busy and isn't that attractive. Although in the summer and fall you would be practically on top of the farmer's market and you're close to Lurman Theater. But personally, I wouldn't want to live on that street.

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Originally Posted by Holiztic View Post
Thanks for the info on Tanglewood, we like the house, though it is small, but you all confirmed our gut feeling on going inside 695.

Isn't it funny--you're not moving in this economy and we almost HAVE to move in this economy (in a tiny 2br condo, afraid we'll get stuck if it depreciates much more!)

Well, you wanted to see more houses, so: what do ya'll think of this street/neighborhood? http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE...home/17922794# What about that Bloomsbury Community Center that is so close: a good thing (for farmer's market, activities, etc) or a bad thing (loitering teens, etc?)

Thanks! I really feel like I should be paying you all a commission or something! You'll definitely be invited to our house warming!
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#30 of 35 Old 12-31-2008, 06:26 PM
 
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You're getting too far away from Catonsville for me to really know about these areas but I can ask my husband. He might know. Let me know if you want me to do that or if you got enough responses!

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Originally Posted by Holiztic View Post
okay, our short list right now (not all catonsville)

back to this one after DH pooh-pooed the neighborhood/street: http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/12477646 Any thoughts on that area? I like it more than he does.

And this: http://www.redfin.com/MD/CATONSVILLE.../home/17301217 It is small and on a busy street, but we like it, so we'll probably at least give it a look. Thoughts on this one? How busy is it really on S Rolling?

And not in catonsville, but we want to see why this is so cheap (for size/lot): http://www.redfin.com/MD/ELLICOTT-CI.../home/10024470

And finally DH wants to look at this, but it is so not my style, so we'll see. Great deal though (in need of a little work): http://www.redfin.com/MD/COLUMBIA/49...4/home/9901590

More to say, but gotta run. love to hear your thoughts!
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