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Which would you choose? House or lot?


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Jun 25, 2012, 9:09pm   #1
Allisonfaye's Avatar
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I live in a new house that my DH and I built (well, it is now 8 years old) and we have had some problems with it and we made some mistakes that are not correctable when building it. When we built the house, I didn't realize how small the back yard would be because we are in a new subdivision and none of the surrounding houses were built yet. A friend of mine invited us to swim at the house of an elderly lady friend of hers once and I just drooled over her lot. It was a cul de sac 1.25 acre lot and the house was built in the 50's. It is dated. For the first time, it is for sale now. Ideally, I would love to buy the lot and built a new house but we just can't afford it. We could probably buy the house and either A) live in a while and wait a few years and maybe build or B) remodel. I haven't seen the interior yet but it looks like a good layout. Just dated. It got me to wondering. What would you choose? New house with tiny backyard (and we do have kids) or older home with gorgeous private lot?
Jun 25, 2012, 10:50pm   #2
h
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Older home with large lot for sure, we did, have 1.25 acres. The home has been redone, more than once, lol.
Jun 25, 2012, 11:09pm   #3
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If you intend to stay in the neighborhood, I'd choose the lot, too. Of course, it would depend on how that would affect your long term financial goals and whether you would take a hit on your existing home, but if you could swing the purchase and then either save to demolish and rebuild or to remodel part by part, that's what I'd do. The land you are on will probably not significantly change over the years, but the structure you live in can and does. The perfect structure isn't worth much on a less than ideal lot, IMO.
Jun 25, 2012, 11:21pm   #4
g
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I would stay in the house you live in. Bigger is not better. Older houses have more problems too. When we lived in Florida my favorite house had a smaller lot and I loved it more then any other house we owned (even our 5 acres). We had a nice pool/patio area, covered patio area and landscaped with stones and then small garden areas. The yard also had a 7 foot stucco wall so we had nice privacy too. It was easy to take care of and we could entertain many guests out there.

If you have kids I think living in a neighborhood with kids the same age is better then moving into a old established neighborhood which may not have younger couples with kids. I do think that most people feel the bigger house and lot is the way to go but I feel the opposite. I could be very comfortable in a smaller house with less land. I like the Japanese use of space in a house and garden areas. To me less is more.

We remolded one old house that took six months and sold it within a month of remolding it. Never again will I do that. Too many things went wrong when it was being remolded and many new problems were found along the way.

If you and your hubby built the house I would feel it had to be something special to you at one time. There should be things that you love about this house. As for privacy there are always ways to get it. Kids don't need the biggest yard to be happy. The bigger the yard the more work to do. Also how much time does one actually spend in the yard unless you live in Florida or a climate where you can live outside year round.
Jun 26, 2012, 2:04am   #5
CobaltBlu's Avatar
I think you need to see the interior of the home on the lot you love in order to be sure.
Without that key piece, it is hard to say.

And older home can be a wonderful, or it can be an endless job of throwing good money after bad. i have a friend who just bought a 1913 house and nobody saw in it what he saw, and now it is amazing...a wall knocked out here or there can make a world of difference.

If you are not in love with your house any more, you will always be looking around for something different.

I suspect it is more than the yard because you mentioned that there was a lot you would have done differently, and thats OK. Life is for learning and if you will be happier in the other property, after DUE DILIGENCE and lots of thinkng and planning, go for it.

Please make sure you check thoroughly the costly things that cannot be put off if they are failing: electric, plumbing, septic, well, etc.

One of my relatives bought a house from 1971 and it is as solid as anything built today, and looks like a smashing retro open plan home that needs just a coat of paint, new counters, and carpet. The rest is brilliant. But other homes of that era need the wrecking ball, KWIM. It all depends on what was put into them at the start.

At the same point, gilliana is right, the yard is not as important at the feeling of home-y-ness and comfortability that you have when you are there.

You will know more after seeing the interior

good luck!!
Jun 26, 2012, 9:05am   #6
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For me, the lot was always more important. I grew up in a neighborhood with huge lots, so having close neighbors freaks me out.
Jun 26, 2012, 9:47am   #7
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Our last house was on a cul de sac with a HUGE private wooded lot and we hated it, The upkeep alone was horrible (mowing and edging) we never found ourselves using that entire yard ever for anything, We just built a new house (closing friday) with a smaller lot and i'm more then happy with that, I guess everybody is different though. I could care less about a yard but I live in hot humid bug infested florida.
Jun 26, 2012, 10:51am   #8
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Originally Posted by gillianna
I would stay in the house you live in. Bigger is not better. Older houses have more problems too. When we lived in Florida my favorite house had a smaller lot and I loved it more then any other house we owned (even our 5 acres). We had a nice pool/patio area, covered patio area and landscaped with stones and then small garden areas. The yard also had a 7 foot stucco wall so we had nice privacy too. It was easy to take care of and we could entertain many guests out there.

If you have kids I think living in a neighborhood with kids the same age is better then moving into a old established neighborhood which may not have younger couples with kids. I do think that most people feel the bigger house and lot is the way to go but I feel the opposite. I could be very comfortable in a smaller house with less land. I like the Japanese use of space in a house and garden areas. To me less is more.

We remolded one old house that took six months and sold it within a month of remolding it. Never again will I do that. Too many things went wrong when it was being remolded and many new problems were found along the way.

If you and your hubby built the house I would feel it had to be something special to you at one time. There should be things that you love about this house. As for privacy there are always ways to get it. Kids don't need the biggest yard to be happy. The bigger the yard the more work to do. Also how much time does one actually spend in the yard unless you live in Florida or a climate where you can live outside year round.
Just to clarify, the house isn't bigger. It is actually a bit smaller.

Originally Posted by natalie78
For me, the lot was always more important. I grew up in a neighborhood with huge lots, so having close neighbors freaks me out.
Yeah, me, too. The houses where we are are so close together. I can see in my neighbors window.

I am also not crazy about my immediate neighbors.

I don't know. The realtor just called and she says there is a lot of interest. I was thinking because it is under contract with a contingency and the buyer hasn't dropped their price and they have no activity, they may have decided it was overpriced. The next door neighbor's house sold recently and based on that comp, it is a bit high. But they may still not be ready to come down if they are still getting interest. Not feeling optimistic.
Jun 26, 2012, 10:51am   #9
g
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You also have to think about possible crime and if neighbors are home. My one friend rented a house on a cul de sac in Florida and the two neighbors were only there half the year and the other people worked so nobody was home during the day. The houses on her street were broken into more then once. Her house never was because she had three large dogs.
We live in a development with tons of kids. It is the only reason we bought here. We used to always live in houses on a lake or at the beach in Florida. Now that we moved our only concern was having kids in the neighborhood. My house is not my dream home in any way, but having my kids happy with great friends is more important for peace of mind and I know they are safe here.

It is a buyers market now and most houses are selling for a good price. I think it is hard to sell if you bought at the height of the market 8-9 years ago like we did. Our house would sell for about $120,000.00 less then what we paid for it 8 years ago. Our neighbor turned down a offer for $490,000.00 for their house a few years ago and tried to sell while renting it. New neighbors moved in last year and bought the house for $330,000.00. They got a great deal. I can see where you are coming from if you are not in love with your house. I personally do not like the style of my house and hate that our back neighbor will not cut his trees that block the sun for our pool area and makes tons of leaves get in our pool. My dream home is for sale in our neighborhood. It was the only custom built house (not builder's floor plan) and is the most beautiful house I ever saw. I fell in love with this house the first day we drove in our neighborhood when we were moving into our new home. It is for sale and I would love to buy it but we can't. So I am trying to decorate and do what I can to make this house comfortable for me.
Last edited Jun 26, 2012 at 11:01am.
Jun 26, 2012, 3:13pm   #10
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I don't think crime in this area is a problem.

Drove by the house again today. Something is going on with the one next door that sold. They are either getting ready to demo it or remodel. I would like to discuss with the realtor why my house is so much more expensive than the comp. The county records show similar lot size but listing says 0.25 acres bigger on my lot. I tend to trust the county over the realtor. Also, my house needs a new roof. May be a $$ pit. :(
Jun 26, 2012, 3:24pm   #11
g
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Sadly every realtor hubby and I ever dealt with has lied to us. I do not trust a thing they say and would buy by owner over a realtor. We never had a problem selling our house ourselves. But buying was always a nightmare. Our beautiful house in Florida needed repairs to the roof and termite damage which the seller did not due as of the walk through to close on the house. The real estate agent and her boss said it was too bad and they will keep our escrow money and tie it up while they sue the sellers to make the repairs. It delayed our closing with waiting for the sellers to repair the house.
In the house we live in now the realtor lied about the square footage-they included the basement as square footage and we questioned it over and over. We outright asked if the first two floors had 4,200 square feet because that seemed too big. We said they had to be including the basement with it. They said no the basement was not included which was the reason hubby bought this house. The MLS listing said it was for the first two floors only and not the basement, this was outright fraud. In the other developments the houses were going $100,000. less for the same square footage our house has on the two floors (2,800). With the basement it comes to 4,200. We did not realize the true square footage until after we moved into the house. We were buying from out of state and hubby looked at the house one afternoon. The realtor knew hubby wanted to buy the biggest house for the money. The realtor who was the seller's best friend also lied about things listed on the list that tells of previous problems to the seller. Our house was hit by lightning and damaged but the seller/realtor did not mention this. We found out from the neighbors. We have had electrical problems in the house after we moved in. I feel so many real estate agents will stretch the truth or give their version of the truth to make a sale. Sorry to the honest real estate agents out there, we have yet been lucky enough to use one.
I think county records should be correct because they have surverys and tax papers with lot sizes on records. But then again when we were selling our house on 5 acres in Florida the county sent us a record saying there was not a house built on our lot, we were the second owner. We had to send them a survey to prove we had a house. It was insane. As with any house you may buy I would get a survey and also title insurance to make sure things are OK.
Last edited Jun 26, 2012 at 3:29pm.
Jun 26, 2012, 4:11pm   #12
natalie78's Avatar
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My realtor lied about the size of our lot, too. But, I still have the biggest lot on my street, so it doesn't bother me so much. But, the lots are still smaller than I would have liked. In hindsight, I wish we would have kept looking and passed on this house. I really like my house, but lot size is a real issue for me.
Jun 26, 2012, 4:23pm   #13
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Originally Posted by gillianna
Sadly every realtor hubby and I ever dealt with has lied to us. I do not trust a thing they say and would buy by owner over a realtor. We never had a problem selling our house ourselves. But buying was always a nightmare. Our beautiful house in Florida needed repairs to the roof and termite damage which the seller did not due as of the walk through to close on the house. The real estate agent and her boss said it was too bad and they will keep our escrow money and tie it up while they sue the sellers to make the repairs. It delayed our closing with waiting for the sellers to repair the house.
In the house we live in now the realtor lied about the square footage-they included the basement as square footage and we questioned it over and over. We outright asked if the first two floors had 4,200 square feet because that seemed too big. We said they had to be including the basement with it. They said no the basement was not included which was the reason hubby bought this house. The MLS listing said it was for the first two floors only and not the basement, this was outright fraud. In the other developments the houses were going $100,000. less for the same square footage our house has on the two floors (2,800). With the basement it comes to 4,200. We did not realize the true square footage until after we moved into the house. We were buying from out of state and hubby looked at the house one afternoon. The realtor knew hubby wanted to buy the biggest house for the money. The realtor who was the seller's best friend also lied about things listed on the list that tells of previous problems to the seller. Our house was hit by lightning and damaged but the seller/realtor did not mention this. We found out from the neighbors. We have had electrical problems in the house after we moved in. I feel so many real estate agents will stretch the truth or give their version of the truth to make a sale. Sorry to the honest real estate agents out there, we have yet been lucky enough to use one.
I think county records should be correct because they have surverys and tax papers with lot sizes on records. But then again when we were selling our house on 5 acres in Florida the county sent us a record saying there was not a house built on our lot, we were the second owner. We had to send them a survey to prove we had a house. It was insane. As with any house you may buy I would get a survey and also title insurance to make sure things are OK.
Originally Posted by natalie78
My realtor lied about the size of our lot, too. But, I still have the biggest lot on my street, so it doesn't bother me so much. But, the lots are still smaller than I would have liked. In hindsight, I wish we would have kept looking and passed on this house. I really like my house, but lot size is a real issue for me.
Did either of you get an appraisal? The appraisal should have shown the square footage. ( I used to be an appraiser).
Jun 26, 2012, 5:16pm   #14
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Kind of an interesting update. The realtor just called and said the contract that is on it fell through because the buyer couldn't sell their house. I knew they couldn't sell it but my friend told me they refuse to lower their price. So she said she can show it to me but we have a long chat and she admitted she didn't know the true size of the lot. I brought up the comp and she was trying to tell me why her house was better (which was fine) but she really didn't have anything terribly compelling to explain why other than that the other house backs up to another house and the backyard isn't as nice and big. All good reasons but my house is priced substantially higher. So maybe this is possible. Also, I told her I couldn't pay $x (what they have it listed for) and she said or ALMOST said 'Oh, they don't need to get $x and stopped herself. I happen to know some details of this situation so I am going to at least look at it. Who knows? I know if we don't tear it down, this seller would be happy. She has lived there for 40 years. Going to see it tomorrow. The seller will be there which is kind of strange.

I know we could sell our house because we live in a very highly desirable neighborhood and three houses have sold here in the last couple of weeks. I know exactly what our house is worth and as long as we don't get greedy and overprice it, it should sell quickly.
Jun 26, 2012, 6:18pm   #15
Echoes's Avatar
NoWhere Atoll
The house you're currently in needs a new roof? That could create a problem when trying to sell.


The place you're looking at .... are there other kids around? Have you checked on the schools? Taxes? What about things like high-speed internet?

If all those things are OK with you and the house is in good shape, I'd go for it. I'm on nearly 7 acres and I'd never go back to having neighbors 30' away as long as I can avoid it.

Outside upkeep can be a problem as noted above, but if you don't have the time and can afford it, you could hire someone from the area.
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