Excited about little houses in my neighborhood!

gayle0000January 11, 2009

First...this is not a question on Real Estate matters. This is more of a "food for thought" and thinking out loud post.

My neighborhood is all small houses. I bought mine in spring 2008. I bought mine about $10K above the "going rate" comps. Previous owners gutted the kitchen & bath and restored it after a fire. Everything is new in here where it counts including windows, siding, insulation & electrical. Original 1940's nooks, built-ins & details were kept & cared for. Plus, I love my house so much, I was happy to pay the price I did.

Right now, 3 of my neighbors are doing kitchen and/or bath remodels. Two of the 3 are doing it because they plan to sell. The $$ they are putting into their upgrades will likely bring their homes up to the price point of what I paid for mine. From what I've seen, gathered, & learned from my neighbors, most people's homes here could use upgrades.

Yay! This is making me think my neighborhood is headed for an up-turn, and some of my own dreamy but not-really-necessary upgrade ideas aren't so off-target.

I'm not looking to move/sell anytime soon. I also believe that as long as I can afford an upgrade and I love it for me, it's worth the $$.

I also know (from a former career in the Real Estate biz) that too many upgrades & high end finishes don't necessarily get the financial return one would hope for when the upgrades exceed everything else in the area...so you go higher end for you and don't worry so much about financial gain.

Okay, I'm rambling now. I'm just glad to see my neighbors upgrading whether they stay or go. It's a good sign. It's justifying my interest in putting more $$ into my house.

Anyone care to share thoughts & opinions?

Gayle

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laurenk88_pa

I'm in a small (1285 ft) 3 bedroom townhome. It's the largest size unit in my community. Most townhomes are 2 bed, with just living room and dr/kitchen (some are open floorplan, some are not.

When I bought it I got a great price because it's older (1967), not so much storage, no "great room" type floor plans. It's perfect my my son and myself. I also got a great deal on it because it need updating as far as paint/aestetics and the kitchen go.

Everyone says your kitchen is so small you can get granite counter tops and not break the bank, and you can put hardwood in the dining room and going on about the quantity of improvements I can make.

But no matter how much I turn my 3 bedroom townhome into the Taj Mahal, I will only ever be able to recoup so much due to the community. It'll still be older, with starter couples, or older folks who've been there forever.

So I won't do granite, but something nice, unless I get a better deal on granite..., my kitchen is too small for stainless steel appliances and I doubt my dream reclaimed wood floor will go into this place, because no one will pay extra for it.

So actually I am glad this is my starter place, because i have to keep it real. So when I find my forever home, then I'll get my dream floor! I still won't get stainless steel appliances though...I'm not very fond of them!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 2:53PM
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crystal386

My street is a mixed bag--there are ranches mixed with capes and colonials--and directly in back of my property a new neighborhood went in a few years ago that consists of all large, expensive homes.

My husband and I figure we'll probably stay in this house to raise our boys--we'll be making a final decision on that in a couple of years when the market (hopefully) starts to improve. In the meantime, we'll be doing projects that will be of benefit to us if we stay, but also be of benefit in selling. New garage door, new flooring in basement, etc.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 12:22PM
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makingthishome_katie

We're hearing other people run power tools and seeing them hauling supplies into our apartment building, too. It's very exciting. I think it's important to invest in old homes. My opinion is in the minority, as most people would rather tear them down and build something new. But I love the features of old homes. Wish we had more old home charm in our place if anything!
Yeah for your improving neighborhoods!
Katie

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 12:58PM
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marti8a

Katie, I'm curious, did you buy your apartment in Berlin? Will you take these cabinets with you when you move out?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 3:30PM
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colorcrazy

Gayle, I'm glad to hear that your neighbors are fixing up their houses. I hope they are doing tasteful upgrades. Our neighborhood, like Crytal's, is a mixed bag. We have a few houses from the 20s, a bunch like ours from the 30s, some ramblers from the 70s and some (McMansions)that have been built in the past few years. While the market stays low, they will stop tearing down houses. But if the market goes back up, eventually the whole neighborhood will be McMansions.

It is so sad because our yards are small and the old houses are in proportion so there is grass and flowerbeds. The old houses have hardwood floors and glass doorknobs with brass plates. The new houses are pretty, but they seem like intruders because of their large footprints.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 10:08PM
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nancyinmich

My old neighborhood was built in the early 1950s. The basic house was 900 sq ft, with three kitchen options that added a little more floorspace. Since then, many have had additions. Our house had two - an attached garage that was built the year after the house was, and a room next to the kitchen. Since the house was on a 3 ft high foundation, and the garage was at ground level, there was a second floor above the garage that gave us a 12' x 23' room (that is the space with a ceiling height of 5 ft or higher, there was additional space with ceiling height under 5 ft.). According to the neighbors who lived there then, there was an enclose staircase going up to this room from the living room. The room was used as a bunkhouse when there were 7 kids living there. A later owner opened the staircase up to the living area,, so the space was lighter and seemed bigger. I also had a former patio that was enclosed out back next to the kitchen. It was only 10' x 10' and was the main path to the back door, so it made a poor dining room. It was also about 24 inches lower than the kitchen, so needed to give up some floor space to some stairs.

One neighbor's addition added a bedroom and a second bath, plus a larger, eat-in-kitchen space. The other homes near me were pretty much on the same footprint that they started with, though walls were removed to open up the kitchen and dining space to the living room in some of them. We sometimes went door-to-door during holidays or during our summer party, just to see how the houses had evolved over the past 50 years. Our street and two others were wood frame houses with asbestos/cement siding. Most had been covered up with aluminum or vinyl over the years. The other streets were brick homes. A lot of fix-up had been done, and most had at least a few flowers out front in the summer, if not some impressive landscaping. It is a little neighborhood about a half mile square, and despite a lot of foreclosed houses right now, it continues to look nice. The density of housing (30 - 40 ft frontages for most) meant there was more noise and car traffic than where we live now.

Now we have a 1675 sq ft ranch in an area built in the late 1970s with ranches, split levels and small colonials. People are less friendly, probably because we don't all have living rooms with picture windows facing the streets so that the comings and goings of neighbors competes with the TV for entertainment value! Cars here zoom past just as fast, but their radios don't boom as loudly as at the old house. The old neighborhood tended to have young couples, a few young single men, a few middle aged divorced or single women, and a few original owners who had lived there for 55 years. Here, there are more European and Asian and Middle-east immigrants with multi-generational families. With so many languages, you can't count on being able to talk to the neighbors. There are kids on the street, playing basketball in the driveways, walking down the streets sharing their angst, and little kids visiting their grandparents. Since our family rooms generally face our back yards, we just don't see each other as much. I met more people when I gardened out front this year than I have met in the previous two years. So, luckily, both my neighborhoods of reasonably-sized homes have been kept up and show pride of ownership.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 12:40AM
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