Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday in Suburbia: One of These Things is Not Like the Other...

House Hunting Tip of the Week: Don't buy the Nicest House in the Neighborhood

The other week a new listing came on the market.  While the exterior was rather blah, the interior appeared quite lovely.  New kitchen with GE Profile appliances, lots of wood floors, big open floor plan with an additional office space on the main floor, and I was thinking "hey, this could be it."  Then I did my homework and searched for what was going on in the rest of the neighborhood.  Well, this is odd...this listing is 35% higher than all the other listings.  Now in this market there's a lot of variance within neighborhoods depending on when the people bought, how much they owe, did they take out a second mortgage to finance that renovation?  However there was one other odd factor in play here - all the other homes were less than 2000 square feet, while this one was over 3000!  Whaaat?!
My real estate agent went to preview the home and get the dirt.  Turns out the original house built on that lot was a lot like the other late 1980's homes in the neighborhood.  But that original house burned to the point where the owners started from scratch - new slab and up.  Which is great because the new house is only about 5 years old; good news for age of systems, roof and siding!  The not-so-good news is that the owner WAY over built for the neighborhood.  They are surrounded by "starter homes" that are little 3 bedroom 2 bath homes with mediocre finishes ringing in at 1800 square feet.  And, selling for a chunk of change less than this new kid on the block with his high end appliances, swanky finishes and 3200 square feet...he looks like a McMansion next to everyone else.  Guess what?  I'm not interested in being the rich guy in the neighborhood.  It is my hope to be the poor guy in the neighborhood; not poor in the sense that I have more house than I can afford, but just in the sense that I have the smaller, less fancy house of the neighborhood.  I might as well have everyone around me raising my property value than everyone around me lowering my property value.
I really thought everyone operated under this same notion...apparently not.  McMansion is now under contract less than 2 weeks after being put on the market.  Lucky seller, but in my opinion an unlucky buyer.
One of theese things is not like the of these things doesn't belong...
(Houses randomly taken from Zillow - they are for illustrative purposes and are not located in the same neighborhood).

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