No Master Suite in High-End Home -- Hickey?

sweebyAugust 5, 2009

Totally unscientiffic survey --

But in a neighborhood where older 'nice-but-basic' homes go for $800K (lot value) and really-large, nice, new homes go for $2 million, what would you pay for an upgraded, large-ish, renovated to 'like-new' older home with no 'master suite' -- just 4 nice 'regular sized' bedrooms and 4 baths. Or would you not even consider it? (Assume that none of the existing 4 BRs could easily be enlarged enough to have enough closet space for two or a large enough private bathroom for two, and that an addition may not ever be possible.)

And a garage that floods (8" of water) almost every time there's a heavy rain...

I'm asking for a reduction in property taxes...

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cmarlin20

No master suite, it isn't high-end.
In my area, homes like that list for just a little over land value. Someone will buy who wants the area but can't afford the nice new, but will live in it now and fix it later.
Ball park to make the point, maybe $1mil.

ooooh, I forgot the garage, now I'm back to $800k, it sounds like a teardown.

If an addition is never possible is it a good teardown lot?
Can a nice new be built on it?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 12:28AM
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jane__ny

Water in a garage doesn't make your house a tear down. GEEZ, people get water in their basement and fix it. I'd rather deal with a garage. Will affect the price you can ask, but it certainly doesn't make your house a tear down. Why don't you fix the problem?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 1:22AM
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sweeby

"Why don't you fix the problem?"

Can't. Against zoning regulations to 'improve' a structure that's out of compliance. Well - could paint, but couldn't raise the foundation, which is what it would take to cure the flooding... And the out-of-compliance issue is set-back related, so incurable.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 8:17AM
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pirula

sweeby,

We live in exactly this kind of neighborhood. As you may remember, we gutted the joint almost entirely and reconfigured almost every room. Our 1971 rambler came with a master suite in the academic sense: the bathroom was attached to a bedroom, and measured, I kid you not, 3 X like 4. Shower only, and you had to step around the toilet to get in the shower. We expanded it about 2 ft to make it livable, and made that bedroom our son's. So now the boy has an en suite too.

Then we took another small bedroom and made it a true master off another existing bedroom where we literally quintupled the windows. Added a small bay to the new master bathroom so we could have a tub. It's not large by today's master standards, approximately 8 X 8 with the bay giving additional space. But it's beautiful.

This house, was considered a tear down by some of the 13 people who made offers on it back in 2003. Especially given that it's on a prime half acre in a coveted neighborhood. The sellers had raised their family there and cared who they sold to. We were lucky to get it. It was a lovely home, just dated, dark, and a bit choppy. It's now wonderful. I can't imagine anyone wanting to tear it down now, but I know that's just my own prejudice.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 8:36AM
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Billl

If you are serious about trying to lower your taxes, ask the city what the appeals process is. In some areas, it is DIY process. In others, you will need a real appraisal. Either way, informal internet polls aren't going to be of any help.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 9:01AM
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marti8a

sweeby, can you do French drains or any other kind of landscaping water diversion?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 9:25AM
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chisue

In my area you'd have to find a couple of comps that are appraised lower or sold recently for less -- or get an independent appraisal yourself.

Our neighborhood is similar to what you describe. Nine years ago we bought a teardown on an acre. Five years ago a similar thing happened next to us: Old ranch on less-desireable acre sold for over a million; became a teardown replaced by a 5000 sq ft home.

Two years ago the widow I'd urged to list for a long time finally put her little 1950's ranch-on-an-acre on the market for a tad over a million. Her lot was even less desireable, but still nice, and on our 'coveted road' -- in real estate lingo. Bad timing. It finally went under contract last month; last list price was $599,000.

So...you might get a reduction by requesting a re-appraisal by your taxing district or by submitting one you've paid for. I'd investigate chances before paying for one.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 10:05AM
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sweeby

Great News! (dripping sarcasm)
The Appraisal Review Board concluded that not having a master suite doesn't negatively impact our value at all!
And they're confident that a bit of paint and new siding will somehow cure the garage flooding issue.

Now if they can just convince the buyers...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 10:30AM
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chisue

sweeby -- I don't think you're arguing the right points. Are there other homes like yours that are assessed lower? You only have to find ONE nearly identical property. They can't raise that person's assessment; they have to lower yours.

We had a lucky situation in our prior home. Three houses away from ours was a near-twin. Its owner had clout in the county. His assessment was very low. When we were reassessed every third year, I'd just send in his assessment and get the same numbers on our house. That worked for years, until Mr. Clout died.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 2:40PM
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Pipersville_Carol

Back to your original question: I'd consider a house without a master suite.

With 4 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms, there's got to be a way to create direct access from a bedroom into a bathroom by simply moving a doorway. At least one of the bedrooms has got to have a common wall with a bath, no?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 8:04AM
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chisue

I thought sweeby was asking how to get his assessment (and taxes) lowered. Yes? No?

I think today's buyer wants a 'master suite' that's more than just an ordinary-size BR w/connecting bath. Gotta have a place to put the 'stuff' (big closet or closets).

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 10:22AM
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sweeby

Chisue was right -- My motive was getting my property taxes lowered. (And I failed utterly.)

The suggestion to find a 'comp' is a good one, but probably impossible, as NOTHING in our neighborhood - to my knowledge - has no 'master suite'. (I checked on Realtor.com and all of the listings say something to the effect of "impressive master suite"...) These are 'forever homes', so IMO, not the kind of place where a compromise like that is likely to be made...

Pipersville, two of the bedrooms have private baths, but they're both too small (11x12 w/ 5x6 bath) and (11x14 w/ 5x8 bath) to be considered 'master suites' in this neighborhood.

We plan to try to get a zoning variance that will allow us to expand, but it's going to be an uphill battle...

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 12:20PM
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chisue

You probably already know what I'm going to say, but consider it anyway, OK?
Could YOU do a teardown? Think about the end result. What will your remodeled home be worth? What would a brand new house -- maybe single level -- be worth? (In dollars and as a 'forever' home?) Could you ask a realtor's opinion?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 5:33PM
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sweeby

"Could YOU do a teardown?"

Not in a million years... Hubby has put his heart and soul into this house, rebuilding almost every inch. Tearing it down would be like ripping him apart, limb by limb.

But we do have high hopes for getting a variance. It'll be tough, I know. But then, we're very, very patient. And the unrenovated 'can't fix' parts are getting very, very ugly...

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 9:21PM
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ballysharon

There are many charming, large older homes on the East coast with no master suite. It was "done" at the time when they were built. It's not a deal breaker in my opinion.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 9:58PM
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ballysharon

There are many charming, large older homes on the East coast with no master suite. It was "done" at the time when they were built. It's not a deal breaker in my opinion.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 10:03PM
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ballysharon

That should read Wasn't done....sorry about the double post.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 10:07PM
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chisue

OK, I see. You've already done a lot of remodeling; have more to do; and your DH likes doing this work. I was looking at this mostly from a financial perspective -- didn't know the 'backstory'.

I brought up the teardown possibility because you said your neighborhood has experienced them. It sounded as though you have the same situation we did: Greater value in the land than in the existing house.

We bought here mostly for the lot and for the neighborhood. We planned to remodel but were swayed by input from our appraiser/neighbor.

The remodeled house would have met our desire for a single level home, but it would still have been a 1950's house -- with small bathrooms and kitchen, 8-foot ceilings, poor insulation and 'innards' (wiring, plumbing, HVAC). It was not 'historic', nor particularly interesting. When we finished building our end-product was not only what suited us better, it was much more valuable, market-wise. Our neighbor was right on that count. We spent about the same on 'new' as we would have (always a guess) on remodeling, but we had something more saleable.

None of this makes any difference if you are so attached to what you have already remodeled, and are ready to do more. Right for us; maybe not right for you! LOL

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 12:53PM
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lyfia

Knowing where you are it would be, but of course the tax authority doesn't care. I'm not sure if you can appeal this latest one as well. I know in our county you can appeal again.

One thing that also works is getting an appraisal done and presenting that. I did this on my first house in Austin. This can back-fire on you though depending on what they are using as the value of the house.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 9:42AM
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mary_md7

Some friends whose 60-somthing year old home had a flooding garage were able to remedy it by having french drains installed. Is that a possibility within the contraints you have?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 4:21PM
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sweeby

Gravity is working against us mary_md. We have drains and pumps, and they do a pretty good job, but when the power goes, the pumps fail. Fortunately, the house is sited high enough, but the garage...

Does anyone know if Functional Obsolescence is valid grounds for protesting a property tax assessment? That was my claim, and the review board nodded and smiled and appeared to agree -- then came down on the value a whole 0.05% based on the "comparable" sales the appraisal district appraiser listed. I argued that since they all had master suites, they weren't "comparable", but never got a clear reply. I then asked flat-out if Functional Obsolescence was even a valid claim, and they said the hearing was over and basically refused to answer.

My thoughts are that if it's a valid claim, it might be worth appealing or trying next year, but if it's not, then scratch that...

So - Anyone know?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 9:19PM
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lyfia

I have no idea, but imagine it could vary based on states too.

It may not because of older homes are depreciated when they do the calculations so maybe they consider it to be part of that.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 7:10AM
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hadley

You may have been denied a decrease because nobody cares what the current market value of your home is. Assessed values may have little to no relationship to market values depedning on how often the state requires the town to update them. As long as all homes were assessed within a certain amount of time, then their assessed values will be consistently in line or out of line with market values and the town can simply change the tax rate against the aggregate assessed value to generate the revenue it nees.

In other words, in our town, no one cares what the market value of your home is because the assessments are currently four years out of date. It doesn't matter because everybody's are off by the same proportion. If we all got assessed tomorrow and the "values" suddenly dropped, the town would simply up the rate to make up the difference.

So check the tax records, not real estate ads or sources, for all the homes in your area that may be similar to yours. The tax records are public, you may have to go to town hall to view them and get copies. You want to find ones that match up as closely as possible that have a lower assessed value. The record should show the house "inventory"--footprint, square footage, # of rooms, # bedrooms, # baths, etc., as well as, perhaps, a condition/finish level and other factors such as structural age, view, etc.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 11:58PM
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parma42

"We have drains and pumps, and they do a pretty good job, but when the power goes, the pumps fail."

What about a battery back-up pump system?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 11:41AM
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