HANNIBAL, Mo. -- The corner of Fulton Avenue and Bluff Street near downtown Hannibal has been abuzz with activity the last six weeks and will continue to be busy during the next two months.
Vans and trailers of contractors and electrical and roofing crews routinely are parked outside the five houses tightly packed together on the corner, and the houses appear in transition with half of their siding and roofs complete.
"There's been too much as-is selling for decades here," said Scott Bean, chief operations officer of J.T. Rivers Real Estate, which is based in Frisco, Texas. The company buys and flips houses.
Investing labor into the Hannibal community is something J.T. Rivers plans to do for the next 10 years, Bean said. Taxes and prices are relatively low in Missouri, and the prevalence of dilapidated homes makes the city an ideal place to realize a return on investments. As a bonus, Hannibal's new program Community P.R.I.D.E. -- planned renovation, investment, development endeavor -- sells select southside neighborhood homes to developers such as J.T. Rivers for $1 and waives fees for a building permit or inspections.
"This is an investment here. We're in here for the long haul. Creating action is what we're all about. The city has plans, and that's where we come in and execute the plans," Bean said.
A quick sale
Six weeks ago, J.T. Rivers began renovating the first home it purchased through the P.R.I.D.E. program, 323 Fulton Ave., a three-bedroom, one-bath single-family home. The company hired local crews to assist in the renovations, and together they installed a new roof, HVAC system, flooring, appliances, countertops, cabinets, paint and trim.
"We take out all of the Band-Aids. The big ticket items are taken care of, and we're trying to reconfigure things to make it all flow more," Bean said. "We're renovating quickly, but we're doing it in a mindful manner."
The homes J.T. Rivers renovates are staged with furniture and decor, and, for an additional cost, families who purchase the homes can buy the furnishings as well.
"Most people around here would love to move into a property as-is, like this," Bean said. After about 10 days on the market at an asking price of $68,500, 323 Fulton Ave. is under contract and the sale is scheduled to close about April 12, said Prestige Realty agent Kristy Trevathan.
By way of comparison, Trevathan said a typical home sale in the southside neighborhood requires between 90 and 120 days.
"A quick turnaround is not the norm," Trevathan said, adding that it's unusual to sell a house that quickly anywhere in the city. "We are low on listings in Hannibal, so supply-and-demand factors into the quick turnaround." The initial success of the Community P.R.I.D.E. program and its first home sale is good news to city officials.
"I'm very pleased," City Manager Jeff LaGarce said. "We know there's a demand for quality homes in that price range, and I'm glad the market is reacting to the opportunity."
J.T. Rivers has purchased and plans to renovate six homes in Hannibal -- 323 Fulton Ave., 500 Bluff St., 502 Bluff St., 907 Bluff St., 911 Bluff St. and 308 Swan St. -- and it plans to purchase additional homes in the near future. Bean and his crews want to help home-owners renovate their own homes, too.
"This spring, we'll work with the city, put dumpsters in select neighborhoods, and we'll provide free labor to fix up homes if people provide the materials," he said. "We want to get involved in the community." The company's willingness to do this is a boon for the city and real estate.
"We support this because it's good for the neighborhood and should have a positive impact on neighbors," LaGarce said. "I know they want to help clean up and improve the neighborhood, and that's good for the surrounding areas and makes property more investable."
Trevathan, the listing agent of the 323 Fulton Ave. property, agrees.
"Part of the success of this (revitalization) project is that J.T. Rivers purchased six properties. It's more extensive than just fixing one house, and they did a good job freshening (323 Fulton Ave.)," she said. "The project is extensive enough that people can be confident in the other houses they do."
Unselfishly, J.T. Rivers "doesn't want to be the only ones in town" investing in purchasing and renovating homes, Bean said.
"J.T. Rivers told me they wish more people were investing in the southside because it would enhance the area twice as quickly, their own investments would be more valuable, and the homes would be desired by homebuyers," LaGarce said. "The more investors improving homes and neighborhoods, the more valuable properties in those neighborhoods become, which is good for those investors.
"I wish we had more talented people investing on the southside at this point, but we recognize it's still early in the program. I would like to schedule a meeting very soon with the investor community -- people who build homes, rehab homes and contractors. We met with them last summer when we were developing the program, but haven't met with them since, not as a group, anyway. We'd like to re-emphasize the opportunities they have."