Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oh....Range on the Home

Many of the online tools I use, while very helpful, do not allow you to specify a range (except for price). In most zip codes this would not be a problem, but in the land of largess along the 50 corridor, it can be somewhat frustrating.

In particular, a home size range is needed to weed out the enormous homes (over 3000 sqft.). I guess all the search tools assume that bigger is better, so they only let you specify the bottom of a range.

Of course in some small way, its nice to actually have this problem. Two years ago, a 3000+ home would never have shown up in my criteria.


Paul said...

In the long term, if energy prices continue to climb with increased global energy demand, if retiring boomers decide they don't want McMansions any more, and if folks are compelled to actually buy homes they can afford, I suspect there might be a major change in demand for the McMansions. You are wise to avoid the value traps of big homes. Land, on the other hand, will likely be an investment that is increasingly in demand.

Alek Davis said...

Question: What's the most flexible home search tool out there?

Most of the ones I tried have significant limitations. I would like to be able to specify multiple zip codes and other search criteria and be able to reuse the search. Ideally, I'd like to subscribe to my search via an RSS feed.

So far, trulia, realtor, and ziprealty seem to work better than other searches, but they also have issues. Trulia returns all these foreclosure listings without the house numbers (you ca only view them if you get paid membership). I also don't see RSS feeds from my Trulia subscription (I set it up just a day ago, so it ma be OK). Realtor does not let me enter multiple Zip codes in one search, and it forces me to use the beta site (which pretty much sucks). RSS also does not seem to work from Realtor. Same problem with ZipRealty.

Buying Time said...

I really like Ziprealty cause you can create searches based on multiple criteria and it will e-mail you listings that meet those parameters. You can also "save" homes that you like and it will e-mail you if there have been any changes to the listings (like lower price, or if it goes inactive/pending).

If we end up in a major recession/depression, those McMansions may likely be converted from SFH, to MFH (multi family home).

PeonInChief said...

Actually, no. One of the reasons for the particular lay-out of modern McMansions is that it makes it very difficult to convert them to multi-family use. It's difficult to convert one giant room into a flat, and many cities required that the second-floor wiring/plumbing be installed so that a kitchen couldn't be added there.

Jacob said...

Interesting, I didn't know that. How do you stop a kitchen from being added tho?

I use ziprealty mainly. It has the info I want. The only thing I don't like is the jackass realtors on there change my saved searches and add in ones that have their contact info so it emails me and I have to go and delete them...

Anyone have any stats on what it costs to maintain a 3000 ft2 home vs say a 2000 ft2 home? Maintenance, heating, cooling, insurance etc.

PeonInChief said...

You don't have the capacity for separate plumbing lines upstairs, and don't allow for circuits for stoves and ovens, or gas lines for gas stoves/ovens. In the olden days, it was legal to connect bathroom and kitchen plumbing. In fact, bathrooms were often right next to the kitchen because the plumbing was right there. It's been a long time, though, since that was legal and prohibiting a second plumbing line is an easy way to keep kitchens off the second floor.

Buying Time said...

Wow PIC I had no are a wealth of knowledge!

Well I guess than leaves EFH....extended family homes =)

And I hear that is already on the rise (parents moving in with kids and vice versa...siblings moving in etc.)

alba said...

Where are your RE buddies at? I thought the full MLS system contains a field for SF. Another reason to make it available to all on the internet.

I reluctantly use ZipRealty.

Deflationary Jane said...

Well Placer did have a spike in the median family size from 3.3 to 3.43 in the period ending 6/30/07. Wait until 08 >; )

sacramentia said...

30000 ft2 home vs say a 2000 ft2 home?

Hard to say - the biggest costs come from heating an cooling. In the winter the majority of the heat leaves through the roof, and in the summer the majority of the heat comes in the windows with direct sunlight. Tree's and a homes orientation on a lot can make a dramatic difference.

The rest of maintenance is about the same since you have all the same parts that break. Dishwasher, fuse box, oven, A/C unit etc...

My current home is 4200ft and has a lot of trees and my power bill last month was less than $200 because I don't get a lot of direct sunlight. Previously, I had a 1950 sq ft home with a west view and cheaper windows that cost more to cool in the summer. And I have friends with similar size homes with trees who see $600+ bills each month.

PeonInChief said...


I don't know why I know thing like that. A lot of green housing people have talked about the problems of heating the downstairs in these houses, particularly when they have cathedral ceilings.

smf said...


There are no codes that won't allow kitchen and bathroom plumbing to be run together.

In fact, it is done all the time. Believe me, we have done that in our engineering office plenty of times.

There are several things that may stop someone from making a multi-family dwelling out of a McMansion.

The first problem may be that the zoning codes of that area simply don't allow MFRs there.

If they do, the costs associated with the required changes could be astronomical. All of this is only if the landlord wants to provide for separate utilities for all tenants. But most would anyways.

1. The electrical service would have to be updated to provide for separate meters and increased service size. The house would need to be rewired as well to assure that all electrical circuits are segregated. Rewiring of a house is $$$$$.

2. New plumbing lines would have to be run all over the place, which means a pretty hefty teardown of walls to be able to install pipes. And no guarantee that the sewer line is big enough to serve all tenants.

3. The air conditioning system would most likely be changed from one large unit to several smaller units. Then all the ductwork would be rerouted as appropriate.

4. Same for any gas piping.

5. Where would the tenants park? The typical McM does not have enough space to fit at least 4 cars.

In other words, you 'could' do it if the locale allows it...but it would be easier to simply tear the building down to almost a shell or simply tear it all down than to try to fit it with the existing floor plan.

PeonInChief said...


I lived in San Francisco for a long time and it was a common conversation among plumbers there, as so many houses had what would today be illegal plumbing. But it sounds like this would only be the beginning of the trouble in doing a conversion.

smf said...


I spoke to our plumbing engineer here and he confirmed what I told you.

But as noted, the conversion itself would be governed mostly by zoning laws, and I doubt many McMs would be allowed to convert in the first place.

PeonInChief said...

Hmm, maybe it's just the difference between SF and Sacramento, or maybe there are other rules for converting old buildings. (SF has lots more older buildings. I lived in two that originally had outhouses. They had indoor plumbing by the time I move there.)