Monday, December 17, 2007


It takes a certain eye to see your home this way.

In general terms, here’s what ... custom-home developers are looking for when they drive by your home, if you live in the area from ... Park up through ... Hollow:

• Older homes, often ranch-style built from the 1940s to the 1960s.
• Houses 1,200 to 2,400 square feet.
• Deep lots that can accommodate new construction and leave space for a yard.
• Mature trees on the lot.
• The character of the block, i.e., the condition of the homes near the property, the setback requirements, etc.
• Other teardowns. “It takes a real gutsy builder to be the first one in an area."

Once you get a feeling for whether a property is a teardown—meaning its primary value is in the lot—then you run the numbers and see if you (or the potential developers to whom you sell) can make a tidy profit. In general, you want to be able to sell a new home for three times the lot (or teardown) value. If new homes are going for $750,000 in the neighborhood, you won’t want to pay much more than $250,000 for the lot. (When you get into multimillion-dollar homes, you can get away with 2.5 times lot price.) Then you talk to real estate agents, look at what houses have gone for in the neighborhood, check how many days they’re sitting on market, and talk to potential buyers.


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