Jul 17 2008

Shells, anyone?

Published by at 12:30 am under Downtown,Houses,Real Estate,Resources,Townhomes,Westside

All this talk about crabs has got me thinking of shells. Not hardshell crabs, mind you- rowhouse “shells”.

A “shell” is a rowhouse that has the brickwork and roof and structure still in good shape, but the interior could range from completely gutted to very tatty to very decent. You’re gonna get the biggest bang for your housing buck in a shell. A good shell isn’t easy to find.

Mortgage lenders won’t lend on a house that isn’t up to code. So unless you’re buying a shell for cash, you have to find one that’s in (at least somewhat) livable condition. This means that the electric and plumbing and heating are operational. Finding that “sweet spot” of a shell that’s a bargain and up to code yet still below market price is the Holy Grail of Real Estate.

If you want to go shell hunting with me, what I ask is that you sign a standard “Buyer’s Agency” agreement and also that you have a letter from a lender saying you’re credit worthy. I’m on the prowl for the perfect shell… anyone want to tag along?



6 Comments to “Shells, anyone?”

  1. alex12on 18 Jul 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I am trying to locate a row house in Baltimore that was slated for demolition because of new construction, but the owner refused to sell. The builder had to spare the house, but also made improvements for the resident to the property. It is now next to a modern building, I believe a hospital, but I am not certain.

    If by chance anyone has information about where this may be, I would be very grateful.

    Thank in advance for any help,


  2. rudy don 18 Jul 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I believe the house you’re talking about is on MLK next to the new Univ. of MD complex on the west side. There’s a tiny house (formerly a rowhouse) next to a large building. You can’t miss it.

  3. Jeffon 19 Jul 2008 at 8:11 am

    That’s the one. Here’s the link to the story:


  4. Joshuaon 19 Jul 2008 at 11:09 am

    I’m glad the lady was able to hold on to her home! Sometimes people aren’t so lucky and Eminent Domain is used by the government to get people out of their houses. A great movie about a guy who stands firm in the face of such pressure is “Local Hero” about an oil company that wants to buy up a part of Scotland, I think it is.

    People buying one shell don’t have the kind of pull that large developers and/or the government have to exercise Eminent Domain. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of abandoned shells (“abandonminiums”) in Baltimore City. It can be quite difficult to even determine who owns an abandoned shell. When you finally figure out who owns it, it’s often impossible to find them.

  5. alex12on 21 Jul 2008 at 10:32 am

    Thank you very much rudy and Jeff for your help!


  6. worryon 15 Feb 2010 at 12:41 am


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