Many large colonials vs large ranch for sale

elle481February 11, 2009

Our home is just about ready for market. We have a very large (3200+sq ft) California style ranch (high peak roofs) with a great floor plan - great large entry with marble floor, common rooms in the center with one wing of bedrooms (4) and one wing with a main floor large studio or bonus room and high ceilings with great light. On the back of the home we have a huge 3+ season sun room and a deck with a gazebo on it. The back yard is equally impressive. The home has wonderful curb appeal. Every RE agent has commented very positively on the home, curb appeal, circular driveway and neighborhood without our promting. The absolutely LOVE the home!!!! There are many, many colonials with equal sq footage on the market in our town and most have been sitting there forever because they are all the same. Most have updated their kitchens and added granite countertops and high end appliances. Our homes kitchen is contemporary white, not upgraded since the late 90's except for appliances which we replaced 5 1/ years ago (all are white though except for the stainless double oven). One bathroom, the one in the bedroom wing hallway, has not been updated and is original from the 70's when the home was built. We never updated it because is looks fine and not offensive (original tile counters and a new toilet) because it would only be used by the three other bedrooms. We had talked about redoing it for the sale but have been told by all the agents, don't bother, it is just fine. Our bathroom was updated and is amazing with granite, great closets and custom full glass shower. The powder room is also new - just a toilet and a pedestal sink. Prices are coming in just about $20,000 apart from all the agents. They all feel that we have something very different and appealing that will sell over the colonials. Many people are looking for ranches, especially older people who don't want a condo and the feeling is we should be able to get a price comparable to the redone colonials. Of course like all of you, we want to sell and not sit on the market but if we do have that "one of a kind" home we don't want to give it away.

I have always been aware of the market and have seen that any well priced ranch doesn't stay on for long. I am afraid though with this crazy market. The Low RE price is a little to low after fees paid out and the middle price just has us squeeking by. Do you think it is wise to compete at the higher end with the colonials that have had the upgrades we don't have? I do understand supply and demand and have seen ranches that have been dressed to the 9's sit there and lower their prices and finally sell.

One of the few ranches in the neighborhood closed in OCT. and sold pretty high and very quickly just before the crash. They were not updated updated either and didn't have as much as we have to offer. I am terrified!!!!! I am just not sure how to price this house. Do I want to be in the same price range as the done up colonials?

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My opinion is that you need to be priced as a ranch. You're not a colonial, an appraiser won't even use those colonials as a comp for your home. Even though there are only a few ranches in the neighborhood, you should be priced to compare to them.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 10:19PM
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One of the few ranches in the neighborhood closed in OCT. and sold pretty high and very quickly just before the crash.

Your crash didn't happen until last October???

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 10:44PM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

Since you have a fairly rare commodity and one that real estate agents love I'd take a chance and go the higher price to start with. You should be able to see in about two weeks whether this will work. If not, you can still reduce the price. At that point your house will not be "old news" and you still have a very good chance of making a sale. I for one would never live in a two-story house, they feel chopped up and uncomfortable to me, and I doubt that I'm the only one. The very best of luck to you and please let us know how things turn out.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 10:50PM
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Where we live, most builders are building large ranch style condos or homes with main floor master bedrooms. It seems as if the Baby Boomers have spoken. That is what they want and they are willing to spend a lot of money on them. They are very tired of their large, exectutive colonials and are ready for one level living. Many are not retiring to the South and look at this as their final move. The ones that don't want the condo (we have them attached and detached up here) look to buy a nice ranch.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 8:12AM
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I would agree that many people, especially older empty nesters, prefer one story living. However, at 3200 SF that may be a lot more house than many empty nesters are looking for.

So... be sure to market to families as well!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 10:55AM
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Elle, I'm a bit confused.. in your 1st post you say there aren't many ranches for sale, mainly colonials; but in the 2nd you say they are building new ranches. How close are you to the new builds and how are they priced verses what you're going to price?

Don't screw yourself. We were in a similar situation; it took a year to sell. There were many bilevels by us, the ranches were 3 bedroom 1 bath, not many 4 bedroom or 3 bedroom plus office. There was new construction by us.

It turned out buyers didn't buy or they'd jump on the few decent deals then would low ball.

What market (state) are you in?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 1:49PM
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Hi Roselvr! I'm in CT, the land of the executive colonials (and as crazy as it all seems, they are all getting bigger @ 5,000+ sq'). The new construction ranches are PUD's and attached condo types, and most of them are not near us. The ones that are near us are price $100,000 - $200,000 over what we would be asking (around $640,000), plus their common charges and taxes are very high. CC alone add up to more than what normal upkeep on a regular house. They are also one on top of the other - no privacy or property and most places don't have pools, clubhouses and the like (but neither do we). On the other hand, they are all new construction which is a big draw for many. Also, even though they are classifed as ranches, they all offer a second floor loft and 1 or 2 bedrooms and bath. Many retiree buyers are moving from NY metro to "the country" and find a lot of CT a bargain from what they are comming from. Many people who have been buying in my area are moving up and staying in town because of the community. I am thinking just list it at the higher price which is still within reason and see what the market tells us. A few weeks seeing what sells around us should tell us if we are in the right price point. The home will be marketed to both empty nesters and families.
My stomach can't take much more of this and I just want to get it over with!! I feel for those of you who do it every 3 years! Will keep you all updated at what goes on!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 4:52PM
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You might want to take a look at Remax's predictions for 2009 in CT. If I had your house to sell, I wouldn't nickel and dime it....if I really wanted to sell.

Here is a link that might be useful: CT per Remax

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 6:11AM
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We bought a 2500 sf ranch in 2006 from an elderly couple who could no longer take care of the house. The ranch IS easier to maintain than a colonial but the square footage was just too much for a couple. I can't imagine a 3200 sf house appealing to retired empty-nesters.

You really need to price your house according to its style and condition. In our area, contemporary houses take a hit on price because so many people rather have the large two story colonial. Our sellers got lucky because DH and I happen to despise that style and are willing to pay a premium for a ranch wiht an open-floor plan.

As for marketing your rather large house, I would market to families with an eye on parents/in-laws moving in - in other words, extended families. I noticed when we were buying and selling that real estate agents who were born outside the US often had experience with extended families living together. As the US becomes more diverse, this may become more common.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 7:25AM
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You may get lucky and get a buyer like me. I'm retired, my husband still works, and we don't envision leaving the DC suburbs for years, if ever. Our kids are grown but we want space for them to stay with us. Our nieces and nephews live with us on and off so we want room for them.

I live in an area dotted with older colonials in need of rehab or new, huge 5000+ gigantors. I don't want a condo (no garden) or a townhouse (stairs). The older colonials in my target areas often don't have the space needed for a first floor master addition. A rennovated ranch with a nice lot is ideal. I'd rather have a smaller home on a big lot than vice versa. It's less expensive for me to hire someone to mow the lawn than it is to maintain a huge house. I can compromise on the space a bit - 2500 sq. ft. is ideal. I could work with your size.

However, my realtor tells me that I'm in a rare category. Most trade-up buyers are still looking for the "norm" in their area. So, the colonials are more popular than the ranches. Still...

As a buyer, who has just put a contract on a home much like yours, I will tell you that price is still your greatest lever. I've been watching the house I like for the six months it's been on the market. It was overpriced for a deteriorating market. I bid on another house, which fell through. Later on the same day, the house I've been watching made an aggressive price cut and we jumped in with a full price offer.

I think all sellers have to deal with the emotional reality of today's economic picture. Your target group of empty-nesters may be very nervous right now if they've seen their retirement money shrink since the market crashed. Yet, if the norm at your price point is an updated kitchen with granite and stainless steel, you can bet your buyers will want an updated kitchen or will expect a price reduction.

In our area, the transactions are happening in the lower price ranges. Comparatively, very few properties are moving that are priced above $600,000. In my zip code and the two surrounding me, only 10 houses have sold in the last 6 months priced over $700K. Our median price is now below 2004 levels, except for the very close-in suburbs. I can't blame the credit environment, entirely. I had no problem getting a loan on the other property. However, the lending products that helped values get so high are gone.

If you haven't done so, ask your realtor to provide a serious market check up. I don't mean just a CMA but a 6 month look at what's moving, what's sitting, and at what price tiers in the market. Our colonials aren't moving because there are so many of them and they all look alike. Our colonials aren't moving because they're still over-priced for a declining, recessionary, fear-spiked market. A very telling sign is that new homes are selling for less/sq.ft. than many existing homes. Sounds like the NY area really influences your market. How is that area doing?

Now, I'm not saying you are priced incorrectly. I'm saying you should be very clear about why you want to sell and market accordingly. In my area, ranches sell for less than colonials of a similar age, condition, and size. If your home sits, consider lowering your price before wondering if the wall colors (although we empty nesters still hate other people's wallpaper) are turning people off. You may not receive much feedback on price. Buyers are sometimes too polite. I truly believe that these days, it's all about the money buyers actually have and can afford versus the vapor values of even last year.

Hopefully, I'm all wet and your house is under contract as we speak. Good luck with your sale. Your home sounds perfect for someone like me.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 10:48AM
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I live in CT as well (in an executive colonial, LOL). I don't know whereabouts you are, but for that price I wouldn't want to see a 70's bathroom or contemporary 90's white kitchen. My first thought would be, ugh, I have work to do. So your price needs to reflect that. There is a glut of ranch retirement-type housing so I wouldn't market it that way. "Custom 4BR home" sounds better than "ranch".

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 2:19PM
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You all bring up great points that are very helpful for me. As for the size (3200 sqft), the actual home is not huge because the sunroom and studio are included in that number. The studio could be used as a bedroom, au pair or in law. A lot of colonials on our market just have 8 or 9 huge rooms with a lot of wasted space. This place is very livable and comfortable and has a wonderful flow for entertaining.
We did have one realtor suggest we redo the one bath and up the price, but we felt that for the price we would pay for that we would be trading off $$ for $$ and the lower price listed would be better. All the others felt the bathroom was a non issue and not to bother redoing it. None of the RE agents had any problem with the kitchen and said leave it. What has been happening in our area is people have been pouring $$ in kitchens and making them what they think the buyer would want and the buyers really want to do the kitchen their own way. Because of that the buyers feel they still will be redoing a kitchen and spending money. With the kitchen the way we have it they can do it they way they want. I am feeling that we need to review the market and price accordingly and realistically. I remember 6 years ago when we sold our last home our agent was a dreamer and we went along with her and listed way over priced. The market was crazy at that time, prices were climbing and everyone was guessing at listing prices. I realized within two weeks that we were in bad shape when agents brought buyers to our home and ended up selling them similar homes that were priced at what the other agents suggested to us. The funny thing was we had an updated kitchen and the others did not! We had her reduce the price but it was too little too late. We ended up with several more reductions and finally sold several months later for much less than our original price. The housing market also started taking a dive and we were riding along with it. Had we listed it correctly at the begining we would have walked away with more money. Looking back, we did everything wrong, including getting an agent that did not live in our town as was her agency. This time we made sure that all the agents were local and very savvy on our town and its market.
Hopefully if all goes according to plan, we should be on in a week or two and we will have our answer pretty soon.
The PODs a comming and I am ready to go!!!!!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 6:10PM
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People often have something fairly specific in mind when looking.
I would really try to get imaginative about convincing people to come see what you have - could change acolonialists mind.
If there are other houses for sale in the nearby neighborhood - try to piggy back an open house when the other houses are having open houses is one way. I've often found myself heading out to one specific open house and then see others and stop in just to see.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 7:29AM
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If you are going to leave the bathroom and kitchen outdated, then you need to price accordingly.
Outdated bathroom = about $10,000.
Outdated kitchen = about $25,000.

These are estimates, because I do not know the size of these rooms nor how outdated they are.
The point is, you need to reflect these in your price, because, even though you are hearing otherwise, most buyers DO NOT want the hassle of redoing these things after closing.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 8:10AM
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Be careful what the realtors tell you. They ALL want your listing. They will tell you anything you want to hear. After they get the listing and the house sits for a couple of months they start telling you the truth and telling you to lower your asking price.

I'm very familiar with the CT (central) market. We just downsized a couple of years ago. I scoped my area for FIVE years, before we built(2500 sqft). We built a home with 2000 sqft on the first floor, and the rest on the second. Bonus room is not finished because we don't need it. I took a poll, asked many friends, our age, and agents about building a ranch larger than 2300 sq ft, or other. They ALL said "other". All liked some rooms upstairs.


I totally agree with you. I would stay away from calling it a RANCH. I'd just call it a home.

Most couples with children do not like ranches.
Large ranches are not that popular around here. If someone sold a large ranch for a high price, they must have found a rare buyer. Honest. I'm telling you the truth .The realtors are trying to get the listing.

Although 3200 sqft may not be large, it is perceived large. Empty nesters like myself would NEVER look at anything over 2500 sqft. For me that's downsizing. Most emptynesters cut the sqft by much more than we did. There are a lot more ranch buyers in the $300-$400 bracket then higher. Ranches go quickly, but it's the smaller ranches that go. I hate to tell you but a large ranch will only be appealing to a very small percentage of buyers. Your house sounds beautiful, but there are more thrifty Yankees looking for small when they are closer to retirement. They try to lessen the upkeep, utilities etc.

I don't know what shape your house is in, but I would spend some money on staging, instead of re-doing. It's much cheaper and it helps sell quicker.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 7:45PM
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I apologize for the way my post came across. What I was trying to say about a "ranch" is that the feedback I got from people is that most perceive a ranch to be a plain, straight building, selling at a discounted rate. Although you have a rare home, buyers must see it to appreciate it.
This may put you at a disadvantage for a sale.

There are a lot more buyers at the "starter" or small downsized homes than for a unique house, especially in this market.
Check out the sales in the Friday's paper. You will see that homes (in central CT) under 400k sell faster, then homes over 650k sell to a degree. Homes between 400k-650k suffer when the ecnonomy downturns.

Let us know how you make out. Post some pics if you can.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 9:22AM
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Hi All! Yes, I am begining to re-understand about particular style homes. There had been a beautiful mid century modern ranch in our area for sale a few years ago that needed sprucing up inside to bring it back to it's original 50's grandure. The architect on the outside was just amazing! I know the price started high due to it being so unusual. I guess the owner and REagent thought there was a market for it in "Colonial Haven". Well it sat there for ever and the price just kept on dropping. Had I not moved to were I am I might have considered it at the fire sale price it was even though it was too small for us. I also remember a Frank Lloyd Wright ranch home for sale in lower Farfield Co., CT, just after we bought our home. That had a tough time selling (his rooms are pretty small). It wasn't going anywhere until the agent realized he had to specialize the advertising and target the correct buyers. I forgot how long it was on the market and what it eventually sold for though.
Thank you all for reminding me that I DO have something different and not everyone is as enamoured with a ranch as I am. I guess you might say "Ranch people are a rare breed!!!!" ;)
Well, back to my boxing and sprucing!! One thing I was happy about though was none of the agents thought we needed staging and were happy with the way I decorated (it did take me till this move to finally find my style!). Felt really great about that since when we were selling our last home (THE COLONIAL!) the word "dated" came around a few time and I cringed! We ripped out perfectly good wall to wall and painted brown trim white. Funny thing, I had a brief though of doing that from the begining when we first bought the house, but the carpeting was in wonderful shape, plus I am from the wall to wall generation and I really did find it to be warm and comfortable, ( an aside for the younger generation - growing up the the 50's hard wood floors ment your family was poor since only the well off people had wall to wall, plus it did make your home feel warmer and you didn't have to deal with all those dust bunnies!!!) and the brown molding was great because all you had to do was dust it, there was no upkeep! As soon as we ripped out the carpet, had the floors sanded and painted the trim, the house looked amazing and we kicked ourselves for not doing it earlier. (hence I now am with it and have beautifully sanded wood floors, area carpets and white trim!)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 2:39PM
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Count me in as a lover of "ranch" style homes. I'm not crazy about the term ranch or rambler, though it makes me think of a standard tract home. I think referring to it as "one level" leaves a more favorable impression. Just my two cents.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 5:39PM
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Well, the house is going on the market in 2 weeks so I will keep you all updated. I did find out that the designer and architect are well known for their modernistic style and that will be noted on our listing. There are no large ranches on the market in our area in our price point. What is on is small and overpriced and not that much lower than what we plan to list at, plus they are what you would call your typical run of the mill ranch or rambler.
We have been painting like crazy. Funny, as so many of you have said, once you start with one room or moldings, you start to critique the other rooms. It just seems to be taking forever and I sometimes feel as if I have lead boots on!!! The POD is loaded and leaving in the morning and 6 rooms are set to be staged (not that I thought they were bad before but now they are "uncluttered"). We will be leaving the carpets to be cleaned till the very end. What has been making me crazy is that I haven't really cleaned because of all that we have been doing and the house looks terrible with stuff all over in the wrong places! It is just so unlike us. That is why I am looking forward to getting one room at a time back together. AND THE RIDE BEGINS!!! Thanks for all of your help!! ~Elle

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 11:40PM
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What a nightmare! I feel your pain. We are going through the same thing, but won't be able to list for another month. We need to do repairs on our deck and paint the outside trim. The weather is still too cold to paint outside.

We can't find anything. The rooms are a total mess, paint cans everywhere. We had to empty all the bedrooms to get the floors sanded which was an unbelievable headache. We managed to fit our king size bed in our small home office and slept there for a week. Seemed ridiculous to move everything out to move everything back into the rooms again.

This is so stressful, we are getting on each others nerves and just want this over.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 12:35AM
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So hopefully jane ny, you and I aren't the only one's in the same boat, and the Spring market here in the NE will actually start when it's supposed to and last a bit longer (and prices will stablize a bit!). We are having our photos taken by our RE group, this TUES, and I told my DH that right now we need to just concentrate on getting the rooms to "looked staged" and worry about finishing the cleaning, painting, mulching, etc. till after that. Photos don't show dust, dirt, soap scum, untouched-up molding, walls that will haven't finished yet, and so on!!! That way, we still have a little less than two weeks to concentrate on all the other stuff and WILL be READY!!! What surprises me is how optimistic I was when I first started this process HA!!! I just checked my CMA's and saw they were dated the first week of Jan. I honestly thought back then that we would be ready for market by the second week of Feb.! I must say though, I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, thank goodness! Now off to MORE SHOPPING and STAGING!!! ;) ~Elle

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 9:57AM
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I started August 08. I'm shooting for end of April.
I noticed, this week, 78 houses came on the market. All winter I'd see one or two. 78, wow, my stomach dropped! I have to get this finished.

Good luck, and keep us posted.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 8:02PM
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I sold a 3000 square foot ranch in Darien (birthplace of the exec.colonial) back in 2002. very different market, but same ratio, I am betting, of ranches to colonials. We marketed ours to two groups, tear down contractors and people who might want to add onto it. It sold quickly (again, different market) and the people who bought it eventually did add on to it by going up.
People in our market had a bias against ranches until they actually went in one.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 4:44PM
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