Thursday, July 24, 2008

Realtors with a Sense of Proportion

Drive to the Big, Huge House. Mine's the Little Crappy One Next Door.

A realtor's blog, the ensuing discussion among realtors is very interesting. Most found the original post a good fun read. Fallonia now remembers that some people go into real estate because they like houses.

Wow - I dont have a problem with big houses per se, but have we just completely abandoned the idea of character in our architecture?

Take a look at history and having first generation teardowns is not too uncommon. Even in places like Georgetown and Old Town, the 100-200 year old federalist/victorian houses we all see and appreciate so much are generally not the original, but second generation places after the poorly built wooden structures were demolished.

So too in these cases the 1st generation ranch homes are being torn down, but look at what is being put up in its place. Is brick on the front, vinyl on the side going to become a time honored architectural feature? Has the idea of connecting the "walkway" to the sidewalk instead of the driveway just a bygone feature of the days when neighbors would walk over and visit each other? Has the idea of building anything other than a box (no curved exterior walls) been banished forever?

I will admit, I am spoiled by living in such a wonderful place where tourists actually come to see houses like in my neighborhood. 100 years from now, will we look as fondly on the McMansion era as we do with the other eras throughout history? My gut tells me no. 02/29/2008 09:59 AM by Anonymous.

The problem with this area is that many of those houses are sitting empty and in foreclosure. As a result entire sections of the neighborhood are falling in disrepair and show signs of neglet. It is a sad site and will take years to straighten out. The older original owners are the ones that now can't sell their homes at any price that are taking the brunt of the counties lack of oversight on building these homes. 02/29/2008 12:46 PM by Pat (Realease, INC)

LENN: Thanks for your extensive comment. I agree -- the new homes sell because of the features. I was working with some new home buyers this morning. We'd looked at resales last weekend and new homes today, and the features of the new homes just appealed to them so much more, even though the neighborhoods are not yet established and they are still building and will be for a few years to come. I don't mind the mix of homes either, but until some of the smaller homes disappear, there does remain a somewhat awkward imbalance between neighbors. 03/01/2008 04:15 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

ANONYMOUS: Thanks for your very eloquent comment. I agree with you that historians will likely not look back on the McMansion period as a time of enlightened architecture. Brick front, vinyl siding is certainly not the most attractive look.
03/01/2008 04:16 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

BILL: You are probably right with your advice. Buying the less expensive home in a changing neighborhood can be a great investment. 03/01/2008 04:18 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

PAT: Thanks for your comment. Foreclosures in any neighborhood certainly harm overall property values and don't make for a good market. 03/01/2008 04:20 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

COLLEEN: I know that there are many areas of the country that are experiencing similar things in different neighborhoods. 03/01/2008 04:20 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

Brian, There's a lot of those "McMansions" here in Long Island. Most people thinks they are an eyesore in the neighborhood. I live in a 100 years old Victorian with a front porch and love the architectural details. If McMansions is called progress, I guess we can not stop them. 03/01/2008 04:32 PM by Rosalinda, Broker-Brookville, New York Real Estate (Century 21-Laffey Associates)

ROSALINDA: Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience in Long Island. Obviously there is a demand for McMansions otherwise they would not be built. There's definitely much more interesting architecture out there. 03/01/2008 05:14 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

I am personally with Rosalinda on this one. I live in the crappy house next door - on a large plot of land which is next door to an 8000 sq.ft. McMansion with zero style and no taste whatsoever. Someone said it looked like a tacky Italian nightmare (the guy was Italian - so he could say that.) They stuffed it onto a 0.24 acre lot and wonder why no one wants it. After 18 months on the market, they rented it. If and when I ever sell, I'm laughing all the way to the bank. Even though they made an expensive mistake, it brings up the value of my "crap" - which at least has style and charm. But then I think most new construction is garbage. 03/01/2008 08:52 PM by Ruthmarie (Keller Williams Realty)

RUTHMARIE: Thanks for your comment. I am sure that you will benefit from an increased value on your home. Can you see the sunlight from your windows anymore, or is it blocked by the neighbor's home? 03/02/2008 07:09 AM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance) 03/02/2008 08:31 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

Brian - the trouble is they OVER-REACHED! They can't sell the damn thing! They've been trying since 2005 in a city where almost anything sells. The area already has some very, very heavy-duty homes. There are a lot of McMansions along with some very elegant homes from the pre-war period and even the turn of the century. Mostly Colonials and Tudors (some of the Tudors are quite Gothic). I already HAD value from expensive homes surrounding me. But these homes have a reasonable amount of LAND associated with them. The value in my property is also in the land. I bought when land was cheap (1996) and it was on 0.67 acres. There are very few areas that have that much land associated with them in our densely populated area. 0.5 acres seems to be almost a built in maximum - with this area being one of the few exceptions. I didn't need this idiot cramming 8000 sq.ft. on .24 acres! And although I haven't subdivided yet, I probably could and will at some point. The shadows will be on the empty lot should I do that affecting its value - in probably the wrong direction.

Just so you understand...the side of my house faces a main road. The house itself is on a very high-end street in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the area (if not the most desirable.) Initially, this house was the gatehouse to a very large mansion that has since been torn down. Hence its small size. They guy who built made the fatal error of constructing an enormous amount of square footage in a small space ON THE MAIN ROAD - with the bulk of the house facing the main road. It's practically sitting in the street. That house is like living in a fishbowl - you are there for all to see because the set-back is non-existent - and all the windows facing front mean you will never have any privacy. The other problem is that the home was geared for sheer mass and I suppose "tasteless" is the operative word - actually, I'm being kind. The mother of a friend of mine asked my friend whether the zoning had changed and and whether the new construction was a restaurant! Someone else suggested it had all the grace of a dentist's office! The topography allows for sane building on that road provided there is enough setback for a thing called TREES and landscaping - and perhaps some fencing. He would have made far more money with 3000-4000 sq.ft. home that was well landscaped providing a shield between the street and the home. I fenced in the back yard and allowed the maples to grow in. The result is when I'm outside in the warmer months on my deck or in the yard, the traffic does not intrude. Its almost like a clearing in the woodland. Which is why I didn't subdivide yet. 03/03/2008 12:39 PM by Ruthmarie

And the new point of the day, from the mouth of a realtor:

Hi Brian,

I built a 3100 sf home next to a 1100 sf CMU block house. Many of the homes in my neighborhood were 2 bedroom 1 bath beach cottages. I tore down a 1000 sf house, also made w/ block. We lived in the little home for 4 years but wanted to start a family. It is hard to add on to a concrete block house on a slab and end up with a nice result.

In our neighborhood you can definitely tell the built for profit homes from the built to live in ones.
03/05/2008 07:27 PM by Mark, ABR - Virginia Beach Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance - REMAX

Is worth a peek.

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