Monday, February 18, 2008

One's Lot in Life

To put it in fashion terms, lot size seems to be the new black, now that the housing bust is in full bloom. During the boom, builders put increasingly larger houses on increasingly smaller lots, in order to squeeze more profit out of their land assets.

Now that the boom has ended, the truth comes out. No one really wanted these homes, at least not at current prices. They only sold, because it was all people could afford. If they had a choice, as buyers do now, they wouldn’t purchase a home with a lot so small and a house so tall, that no sun will shine between you and your neighbors except at midday.

Downtown living is different of course. There, small lots allow for walk-ability, and the houses, for the most part, are charming. In the suburbs, all the houses tend to look alike, and very few people walk or bike to the grocery store anymore (not including Davis). So if you are going to bother living in the burbs, why wouldn’t you want a larger lot?….isn’t that the point, to find more elbow room than you would in the city?

The trend is that people would rather have a large lot, and a less grandiose home, as opposed to the other way around. Of course we fall into this bucket, so perhaps it’s my personal bias interpreting comments made by others.

We checked out several homes this weekend, all with above average lot size. I didn’t really fall in love with any of them….but I am not sure how much longer I will be able to hold out.


Paul said...

Be strong, BT, be strong!

Although it was funny ... As I was walking back from the mail boxes this morning, I was also thinking about what was most important, and in this market, lot size was #1 (after location, of course), on my list.

Jacob said...

Yea, lot size is definitely a high priority. I still wouldn't mind having a large home like 3000 ft2, but the lot size would have to be proportionate. Some of these gomes with 3000 ft2 homes on 4000 ft2 lots are just insane.

It doesn't have to be too big. If there is room for a deck, a pool, a garden and still some room left over to walk that would be good for me. Even if I never actually put a pool in I would still like to have the option.

Maybe after all these homes that cant sell get demolished I can buy a nice sized lot on the cheap and build something nice.

mcb44 said...

Lot size and setting are the first criteria we look for. If those don't make the cut than the house doesn't matter.

Ed said...

I completely agree. If it were not for lot size considerations, there would be a LOT of houses within our reach in our target area right now (Folsom.)

It is to the point we would consider building, but that's a real hassle too.

I'm almost convinced the "perfect" house doesn't exist for us. :(


Cmyst said...

Lot size is very important, but as jacob said, "it doesn't have to be too big". Just big enough! I want space enough to have usable yard completely surrounding the house. For the 1500-2000 ft2 houses I like, single-story, that seems to work out to a lot size of between 7000 ft2 and 10,000 ft2. One of the reasons that I don't even look at new construction (aside from Mello Roos, no mature trees, soul-less streets, and POA's that make it even MORE soul-less) is that the yards are laughable.

Husmanen said...

Lot size is a big issue with us too. We look in Folsom, East of East Bidwell and 95% of the homes fall out because of lot size.

This weekend we looked at a home in EDH, lot size was great, has a pool, local view, light fixer, but it fell off the list because of traffic noise. After lot size traffic noise is a deal breaker for us.

Buying Time said...

Husmanen - sounds like the exact house we saw this it a white two story with blue trim and dormers, been on the market for quite some time?

Sold in '05 said...

Lot size may be a better investment than you think.

If things in the overall economy continue to collapse along the lines they are now moving, we will be replacing gnomes, decks, pools and ornamental trees, with vegetable gardens, goats, chicken coops, and fruit trees.

That extra yard space may really come in handy.

G Spot1 said...

When you guys are talking about a big or decent size lot, what size exactly are you talking about? 1 acre or more? Or more like .25-.50? Just curious. I'm looking at homes around 3000 sq ft, and I'm finding that I need at least .25 acre to feel comfortable, although .33 seems to be ideal. 1/2 acre is very nice, but I start to wonder if I can keep it up. I have seen plenty of 3000+ sq ft homes on less than 1/4 acre, and it really just doesn't work. If you have a pool in your backyard you have nothing else.

Jacob said...

.25 Acre would be the min for me. Ideally I would love to have between 1-2 usable acres.

.5 Acre would probably be fine. Anything less than .25 would probably not work for me now.

Of course some of those homes with 1-2 acres are still $800k so I dont know if they will ever come down enough for me to buy, but am hoping so. Seen a few online that were like $200-$250k in 1999 or so, so even at 10%/year appreciation that would be tempting, just gotta break the sellers of that 20%/year appreciation they still expect.

Husmanen said...

Buying Time

This house is bank owned, has just put on the market, went inactive for a few days (may still be inactive) for clean up and is located at 4591 Beechwood. The agent shingle now says 'coming soon'. It is a light fixer.

The asking price is $495k, way to much given you can rent homes in the area from $1700 to $2000/month. Of course my bid would have been based on the fundamentals not a pie-in-the-sky asking price. Otherwise you are catching knives.

watchingthebubble said...

Okay, I'm not crazy! During the boom, whenever I would ask sales agents at new developments what the lot sizes of the homes ranged from, they either "didn't know" (yeah, right!), or they'd get this offended look on their faces as if I'd asked them if they view kiddie porn. I used to think to myself, "What's the use of having a 3,000 sq ft. house on a barely 5,000 sq ft. lot?

Lot size is very important to me, and it has to be commensurate with the size of the house. But then again, I grew up in a house with what is now considered a huge setback and a nice sized back yard.

Hold out for what you want for as long as you can until you get it.

Buying Time said...

WTB - ROFL I didn't realize others got that same look. And of course I thought the exact same could you not know the lot size...they have the plot maps.

As far as the actual size...I agree has to be suited to the home. Since we would prefer a single story home, it means the lot would need to be bigger as well.