Need a new name for house?

Annie DeighnaughJuly 11, 2012

Talking to local real estate agent who wanted to see our home. She was complaining that though technically we are in a 2 BR ranch with a finished basement, (which is great for tax purposes) if advertised as that, it would never evoke images of what our house is actually like. She said there should be a new term to cover houses that are designed for one-floor living that don't evoke images of a standard 50s ranch.

Front facade

Rear facade

In fact, I'm not sure what you would call the style of our house. (Note where dormers are is unfinished attic space.)

Any ideas?

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I would call it a one story villa with a finished walkout lower level. You may have a larger issue with having only two bedrooms. Is there a room in the lower level with egress and a closet so that you can claim three bedrooms?

But that said, "ranch" is the word that many people will search on so you don't want to not use it.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 9:36AM
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Classic American estate cottage?
21st Century traditional?
Whatever you call it, it's a beautiful house.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Don't tell me you're selling your house! Isn't this your forever home?

I like the description Graywings provided. If I were a real estate agent, I wouldn't feel the need to stick a label on the house per se, but would say:

"Elegant, custom built, one story house located in quiet, scenic, sought after neighborhood. Quality materials, beautifully-designed floor plan, loads of character and curb appeal set this property apart. Call for an appointment to see this gorgeous dream home!"

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 9:55AM
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Your thread reminds me of my favorite two bedroom house from the dream house thread. A two bedroom house was a tough sell around here.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 10:02AM
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Don't know if this builder knows whereof he speaks, but the poster house for the company's "French Country Classics" series is like yours -- only not quite as inviting.
From GardenWeb Photos

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 10:31AM
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Lovely home. Didn't realize you were selling. Like the poster above said, 2BR sounds like a hard sale. I would work some magic and make a third one somewhere. Can the attic be finished? If so, be sure that's in the add.

We deleted the upstairs (large room over 3 car garage, 1 bath and 1 bedroom) since we did a lower level that's the same square footage as our main level. Didn't need a 6/5 house. But we built the home so that if someone wanted to finish the space they can. Floor joist will support the weight.

Kashmi, Jack Arnold is not a builder. He's an architect, who happened to design our home. Ours is an English cottage, but he mostly does French.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 10:43AM
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Here in California, many coastal houses are built on hillsides, as yours is, with the main living area at street level. The lower level is never considered a basement. I understand that the basement designation is for tax purposes where you live, but I wouldn't use it for real estate advertising, nor would I use the word ranch. I like Graywings suggestion for description purposes.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 10:44AM
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I suppose two bedrooms would be a negative for many, but for some house hunters, it would actually be a plus. That floorplan fills a niche. Some people just don't want extra bedrooms. The two-bedroom scenario would be ideal for dh and I!

Actually, if Annie's house had only one bedroom, I'd still be thrilled to own it! The house has so much going for it. I realize though that lots of people have children at home and receive out of town guests regularly.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 10:55AM
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My home the model was a 3 br, and along with our builder we re-designed it into a 2 br suite home and even added sq ft. to it! and I believe here in FL. anyway, this would be an easy sell..perfect for retiree's we have huge rooms, high ceilings and a huge media room, with a Q sleeper.
So we have a huge master suite and a big guest suite, one at each end of the house. No basements in FL. total sq' is 2700.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Allison: Oops. That's what I get for only Googling but not reading. Thanks for the correction.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 11:26AM
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Wow, your home is gorgeous! I have seen the term "walk out basement" used in some home listings. Perhaps you could also state "full windows in basement" or something to evoke the imagery of the light filled basement I imagine you have. My parents have a similarly designed house where in the back the "basement" is fully above ground so it's more like a two story in the back, one story with basement in the front.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Sorry...just to clarify...we are not selling, but the agent was selling the place next door and had watched our home being built from inception and so she asked of she could see it. We get a lot of people asking to see our house....

To explain the layout, DH snores like a jack hammer and I'm an insomniac watching tv all night, so the only way we get any sleep is in our own rooms. So our master suite area is really 2 bedrooms with a bath in between. I understand there are many boomers who like this layout, and it works well for us. Especially when one of us is sick, it's great to have your own bed.

Downstairs (terrace level?!?) there is actually the largest bedroom in the house with an ensuite bath which we use as a guest room now. Our thinking is in the future, should we need a live in to care for us...a granny nanny if you will...that would be her space. We also thought that should mom need to live with us, that would be her space...but that didn't work out.

(we also have space for an elevator, but won't add it until/if we need it.)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 12:11PM
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I've seen similar house plans and they're called "Country House." Do a websearch and you'll see a lot of similar houseplans.

I think the term "ranch" needs to go. It's a hodgepodge of different kinds of homes and house designs have come so far since then.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 12:59PM
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Our home is like yours in some ways. We describe it as main level living, and we have a lower level. It's open on three sides and is in no way a basement. Finishes are quality, the same as on our main level. Our GC was not allowed to use the word "basement." I had a basement for 20 years last house!

Glad you're not moving!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 1:00PM
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Beautiful Micro Estate!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 1:08PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

what makes something a villa? what makes something an estate (besides dying that is....)? I wouldn't call our house french country...english country?


    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 3:30PM
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Calling a house a "ranch" has nothing to do with the style. Rather, that word simply refers to a one-story floorplan. The style can be called anything that sounds appropriate. I'm surprised your realtor doesn't know that.

Unfortunately, any living space that is not completely above grade--- even the wonderful lower level that is evident in your picture----is valued by appraisers at a fraction of the above grade living space. Here in my state it tops out at around $30 per sq ft for very high end homes if the finishes are exactly equal to those above, including bathrooms, ceiling heights, flooring, bath fixtures, built-ins, lighting, etc. It's kind of silly, but there you are...

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 4:46PM
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You can call it anything you like in your listing, Single Story Traditional with a full walkout basement or terrace level (realtor speak). Even if you have to check off the box that says ranch on the MLS form (you could just as easily select cottage) all listings come with pictures so I doubt anyone will envision a 1950s ranch for long.

I agree with kswl that anything below grade won't be counted much by an appraiser. We have a guest room and bath in our finished basement, but it didn't count in the appraisal. As far as the appraiser was concerned, we have a 3/2. Of course the tax assessor thinks we have a 5/3 because, because DH's tiny office has a window and a closet and they don't care where things are located!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Yeah, I don't get how they count things. On the lower level I have my craft room with a closet which could become a bedroom, but for building and septic purposes, they didn't count it as such as the guest room has an en suite bath, so there's no "main" bath on that floor. Had we turned the entrance to the bath to the hallway, then they would've counted the craft room as a bedroom and we would've had to enlarge the septic system.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 6:09PM
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Beautiful, inviting home! Glad your not selling, I'd love to see the inside too!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 6:44PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

kswl, in the back, my lower rooms are actually on grade and we have a full open staircase leading down to the lower level...would they still be considered basement level and appraised for less? I guess I want my cake and eat it too...low appraisal for taxes, high appraisal for resale!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 7:03PM
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Generally speaking, below grade means anything you have to walk downstairs to get to from the front door. Your lower level is below grade. Atlanta is quite hilly, and many houses are constructed like yours, and are very nicely finished, but from an appraiser's standpoint anything lower than the front door is below grade. It won't count as square footage, but it will add some value.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 7:26PM
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We knew all that going in, but I want what I want. Many lake homes (which ours is) is considered/called an upside down house. They do/used to appraise them differently. Either way, doesn't matter to me.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 7:47PM
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I love your house. It looks enormous, so multi-functional. I would love a bedroom set up like yours. My dh also snores like a freight train and I find it hard to get to sleep at all.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 10:31PM
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Porkandham is right, unfortunately, even a level that is partly below grade is not considered part of the living area reported to the MLS or for tax purposes. It is not ignored in an appraisal though, just not given much value per sq ft. Here the norm is $10 to $15 per sq foot. However, when comparing homes in an appraisal, yours must be compared to at least two others that also have finished basements of similar size, rear exposure and finish quality.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 8:41AM
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In my area, a finished lower level is tax-assessed at half the value of the above ground floors of the house.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 9:07AM
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Our previous house has a full basement that is fully open to grade only on the short end, but it had full-height ceilings and plumbing, so when we finished it into spa bath, laundry room, acres of purpose-built storage (including a wine closet and a cedar closet), a workshop, and a big family room (with a fireplace), it didn't add but half the main floors' per-square-foot value to the appraisal, but it helped to sell the house at full price in four weeks.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 9:26AM
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I want your house! I especially love the separate bedroom idea. My DH snores like a champ also and I have taken to sleeping in a different room now that all the kids rooms are empty. I always said I would like my retirement home( we're getting closer) to have 2 master bedrooms.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 10:00AM
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