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Thread: Is a corner lot worth more?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Is a corner lot worth more?

    We're trying to decide on two different homes at the moment. One is closer to downtown, but is smaller though cheaper. Only problem is that it's on the "wrong side of town" which could hurt the resale value.

    The other is in a more suburban-ish area (ick) but is a bigger, nicer house that's on a corner lot about twice the size of the lot the other house is on. This one is located in a booming area of the city, just inside the full purpose jurisdiction.

    The one on the corner lot is going to cost about $300 per month more than the other and money will be tight, but we will always make more money and I'm thinking the resale value will be higher. The neighborhood is also nicer with more open space areas and very active neighbors (everyone's always outside walking the dogs, jogging, doing yard work, etc.) Also, being a corner lot, when you look out of the windows you don't look directly inside the window of the next house.

    What would you do in this situation? We are definitely buying one of these two homes. We're already pre-approved and they are better deals than we could find anywhere else and still get what we want. Being that they're trying to move their inventory homes, the sales offices are offering major incentives (the corner lot home is getting about 15k knocked off the top as well as all appliances included).

    I'm wondering if some of the more experienced homeowners on here could give me some advice. Save our money and get a smaller house that may be harder to sell later, or buy the more expensive house that will be worth more in the long run.

    Both homes are brand new and both are within the city limits.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jread
    We're trying to decide on two different homes at the moment. One is closer to downtown, but is smaller though cheaper. Only problem is that it's on the "wrong side of town" which could hurt the resale value.

    The other is in a more suburban-ish area (ick) but is a bigger, nicer house that's on a corner lot about twice the size of the lot the other house is on. This one is located in a booming area of the city, just inside the full purpose jurisdiction.

    The one on the corner lot is going to cost about $300 per month more than the other and money will be tight, but we will always make more money and I'm thinking the resale value will be higher. The neighborhood is also nicer with more open space areas and very active neighbors (everyone's always outside walking the dogs, jogging, doing yard work, etc.) Also, being a corner lot, when you look out of the windows you don't look directly inside the window of the next house.

    What would you do in this situation? We are definitely buying one of these two homes. We're already pre-approved and they are better deals than we could find anywhere else and still get what we want. Being that they're trying to move their inventory homes, the sales offices are offering major incentives (the corner lot home is getting about 15k knocked off the top as well as all appliances included).

    I'm wondering if some of the more experienced homeowners on here could give me some advice. Save our money and get a smaller house that may be harder to sell later, or buy the more expensive house that will be worth more in the long run.

    Both homes are brand new and both are within the city limits.
    A home is an investment. Go with the nicer one, which will be easier to sell later, and also will bring you great profit.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  3. #3
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    I'm not a big fan of corner lots. Yours sounds like a bunch of extra grass to cut. But my main gripe is that rarely are houses on corner lots actually designed to make use of the dual frontage. Instead the house is just another building with the same floor plan as dozens, if not most, other houses in the subdivision. In most cases your backyard is exposed to the public so you'll either have to be ok with that, install a privacy fense or shrubbery (which might violate zoning).

    You also have to aware of the fact that pedestrians will see your front lawn as a shortcut. You also tend to get more trash thrown out of windows onto your lawn. This is both because of the greater frontage and because of people throwing stuff out when they are already stopped at the intersection.

    Which isn't to say you shouldn't buy it, just be aware that there are extra problems that come with a corner lot.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Thanks for the replies so far. Just for more info, the corner lot home has a side garage and a front entrance, making use of both parts of the frontage. There is also a circular "round-about" in front of it, so people only have to slow down to yield instead of actually stop.

    Here is a map. It's the lot directly north of the center of the round-about:


  5. #5
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Twice the snow!

    Two sides of the house have to be kept up in perfect condition so Stan & Stan don't come to harass you!

    When they redo the streets, you get nailed double your neighbors on either side!

    Front setbacks may apply to 2 sides of your home, not just 1!

    twice the dog crap deposited by your neighbors hounds. Dogs love to crap on corners!

    300$ a month is a lot of other things you could do in a year with your kid or significant other each month.

    Considering how bad the GOP has screwed our economy and our interest rates, can you afford it if the payment goes higher? Can you afford the gas to get to work now? How about a heating bill that is 100% higher than present? Understand there is a housing bubble out there, are you prepared to sit on your investment for 45 years to make 5%?

    Food for thaught!

    Good Luck!
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    No snow or heating bill.. I live in Austin

    I've thought about the dog crap and I'm sure I'll have to go scare a few people into keeping their dogs off my lawn.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Boru's avatar
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    Does the corner site have redevelopment potential? I dont know what way it works in Austin, but a corner site in a residentially zoned area in Dublin (IRL) generally means that a second house can be put on the larger plot, or a larger house can be developed on the plot. Is it worth thinking about the larger plot in terms of future redevelopment? It could make you a lot more 5 years down the line. Is the site near transportation links? Do Austin City Council (or whoever is the administrative borough) go for susurban densification on plots such as yours, or are there signs that such projects may be acceptable a few years down the line? If so, then the larger plot may be a sounder investment in the medium term (5-10 years).

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    On a corner lot, you'll get a lot more headlights shining into your windows at night.

    At least you have a roundabout. I'm on a corner, and have had 2 cars miss the turn and end up in my yard.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    I grew up on a corner lot. OUr house was set way back off the roads and our back yard was much smaller than others in the neighborhood which made if difficult for us to have a garden, swing set and some green space to play catch in.

    $300 is a bunch of money and if things would be tight when you start off they are only going to get worse. Don't forget about stocking money away for repairs, and other essential things associated with the house. Also with taxes and insurance always going up (the never go down) within a few years you could find youself paying another $100 a month to live in you house.

    I vote keep looking for another house. Sorry

  10. #10
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    What about a home that has two frontages, two sides, and no rear?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  11. #11
    maudit anglais
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    I have a corner lot, it has its pros and cons as discussed above.

    Quote Originally posted by jread
    The one on the corner lot is going to cost about $300 per month more than the other and money will be tight
    This is the biggest point you should consider. DO NOT put yourself in the position of being house-poor if you can avoid it. It would really suck being in a nice house but not being able to furnish it or have to seriously cut back in other areas of your life because every penny you have is going to pay the mortgage. If (god forbid) something major happens to the house, you'll be screwed.

    The worst house in the best neighbourhood is another good adage to keep in mind.

    Based on the map you provided, it looks one of the streets you're fronting on will be fairly busy? That could negate the increased value you may otherwise get from having a corner lot. If you're in it for the long run (i.e. buying a house to raise a family v. flipping it in a few years to upgrade) and think the neighbourhood is on the way up, I would consider the smaller but closer to downtown house - especially if it gives you a shorter commute. I don't know much about Austin - how "wrong side of town" is this place?

  12. #12
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I had a house on a corner lot and didn't like it at all.

    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    ..... I'm on a corner, and have had 2 cars miss the turn and end up in my yard.
    Is your home on a corner lot? You have neighbors on two sides and the wetland along the rear property line. The frontage of your lot is more like the inside radius of the curve in the street. Or am I not picturing this right?
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  13. #13
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    I agree with most of what has been said here...sorry to crush your dreams

    Actually, we have been looking for a lot and a corner lot is one thing I do not want. Like someone said, when they have to redo the roads, you are charged for both sides of the frontage. Sidewalk repair/replacement same thing. Depends on how the lot is laid out, but most corner lots don't have as large of a backyard to freely roam.

    Do you have kids? I worry enough about having one street out front to have the kid run out into, two would give me panic attacks. You can put up a fence, but in the front yard (of which you would have two) usually only shorter fences would be allowed, and then in the corner you usually have a corner clearance issue.

    Also, I look at how the house to the north is situated. If directly north of your lot is the garage, you will have a little bit of privacy. But, if it is bedrooms or living area, your privacy might be compromised. Our neighbors are on a corner lot, so our living room faces their back yard. Not that we sit and stare at them, but our picture window faces right out there and we can see everything, even if we want to or not.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    WOW, I am amazed at the advice against the corner lot!

    I would go for the corner lot in a heart beat. I hate dealing with people and feel closed in with people on both sides of me. I would defiantely take the garage off the side as I hate even worse having a garage on the front of my house.

    I have lived on a corner lot and yes people, mostly the postman cut across.
    I had more items stolen out of my yard, from my corner lot.

    But as a realtor they call me the corner lot queen cause I have only sold one house in the middle of the street. All the rest have been corner lots, including the one I have listed.

    :et us know what your decision is.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Queen B
    ...But as a realtor they call me the corner lot queen cause I have only sold one house in the middle of the street....
    Dang, you are good! How did they do that, build it on the median strip?

    Realtors often list a corner lot as a desirable attribute, and there are people who like them because they are larger or they may not be as close to neighbors. As for myself, I do not like them for all of the reasons others here have mentioned. I told my realtor not to show me anything on a corner.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    We lived on a corner lot in a village setting for 3.5 years and loved it!

    The best way to reduce people walking across the yard as a shortcut is through strategically located landscaping. Make it look/feel like the remaining shortcut across lawn definately goes across private rather than public space. Easiest to do on small lots with the use of raised landscaping beds.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  17. #17
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    In typical suburbia, I would not go for a corner lot. In my experience a large portion of one's lot is wasted and fragmented. The side adjacent to the street will probably have to have the same setback as the front which then squishes the house into the opposite side/corner, therefore reducing the amount of useable contiguous yard.

    On the other hand, in a more urban setting, where the street side requires less setback it wouldn't be much of a concern; more direct sunlight, esp. if you're on a northwest corner (south and east exposures).

    But I think the number one factor is not urban form, but extra cost per month. If that additional $300/month stretches you to the limit, it may not be worth it, unless the house is considered more investment than "home".
    Last edited by mendelman; 16 Aug 2005 at 10:55 AM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  18. #18
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Me and Ms. P have lived on a corner lot for several years now and still love it. I "boxed in" the rear yard with a detached garage and it made a well defined space.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    financially its a no brainer seems like...new, nicer house in subdivision will likely appreciate more, be easier to keep up (complaints about too much grass cutting is silly on a 12,000 sf lot).

  20. #20
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Corner lots suck for all the reasons previously mentioned not to mention the fact that they are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of global warming.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  21. #21
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I would go for the closer, cheaper house. Why? It is closer, and it is cheaper. Many of you are so sure that the other house will appreciate more... but the opposite might prove true if gas prices continue to rise.

    I live on a corner lot now and I quite like it... there are some minor nuisances such as traffic noise (not a busy street, its just that cars are so much bigger and noisier now than they were 10 years ago), a small amount of litter from time to time, and occasional vandalism of our fence.

    But for all of this we are beside a forest.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Ok, will try to add some more info and answer a few questions:

    BOTH homes are a little further out than I'd like to be. They're in the city limits and located in rapidly-developing areas, but they're not in the historic, downtown neighborhoods where my victorian dream house would be. The thing is, we're young and not very rich, so these new developments are affordable for us. My victorian dream home downtown is about $300,000 for a 2 bed/1 bath with the roof falling in. We just can't afford that. We don't have the time or the money to work on restoring an older house either. I know that new homes aren't perfect but at least everything is new and it will be that much longer before it needs tons of work.

    The smaller and less expensive home is on the "wrong side of town" in that it's East of I-35. It's far enough south that it's in a very nice area and not located near the seedy neighborhoods that East Austin is known for. The general public, however, doesn't know this. People in Austin immediately associate "East" with "bad". Unless this changes in the next few years (which it probably won't), it will be hard to sell a home on that side of town without people actually coming out and seeing how nice the neighborhood is. As far as this smaller home, it is adorable and we really like it. It's a new neighborhood but it has detached, rear-garage parking and uses alleyways. The designs are also a throwback to the older, historic designs. Cheaper and cuter... but very small. The lot is microscopic (our dog could maybe spin around in a circle in the back yard) and it will be hard to fit all our furniture in there... that is if we even could. In a lot of ways it feels like an apartment instead of a house. It would be a place we would "settle for" and then flip in a few years, hoping to upgrade. All the while saving that extra $300 per month.

    The larger, more expensive home is in a desirable area for the younger people buying in South Austin. There is mainly only residential development around it but when you drive down there, you see a lot of properties zoned for commercial/retail with "coming soon" on the signs. In fact, a shopping area is going to be built right by the subdivision. It's a booming area with a lot of growth in its future. It's also on the "right side of town". As for the house there, it's more of a "home". It's beautiful and it's a place I could live for a long time. The community also has open space areas, two dog parks, a swimming pool and rec. center, etc. The commute to downtown will suck a fat one, but it's not as bad as it is for people living in the actual suburbs. At least it's still in the city proper. Like I said, this is a place that we'd be more likely to stay 10 years or longer. I also think that it will be worth more in the long run... I'm just hoping it's worth enough to justify that extra $300 per month. BTW, the lot size is only 7,600 sq. ft. The smaller home's lot size is only 3,700 sq. ft.

    Damn... it's really tough to decide. I know that money isn't everything but I would like to avoid maxing myself out as well. Also, neither of these are the type of place I want to eventually end up: downtown neighborhood with various densities that's very walkable. I don't see us being able to afford a place like that anytime soon, though

  23. #23
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    well....from your description, it sounds as if the bigger lot house is the one...as long as it isn't a major finanical stretch. Let the greater potential for appreciation buy you that historical victorian in about 10 years.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  24. #24
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    What part of Austin is the "house on the wrong side of town" in (I am pretty familiar with the city)?

    Just knowing the City and its transportation nightmare, I would probably go with the smaller, cheaper house closer into the downtown. You do not want to bite off more than you can chew financially plus driving any great distance in Austin would stress anyone. These older areas in Austin seem to be getting bought out so quickly that I would consider this house a wise investment if you stick it out for about 4-5 years at least.

    I have lived on a corner lot before and it has its share of problems and benefits. The biggest downer is the increased traffic and catching headlights through the window. I like leaving windows open without blinds, so this was bothersome for me. A benefit is that it gives you a little more elbow room by not having a neighbor on one side. Also, you don't want to bite off more than you can chew financially. Just because you "qualify" for that mortgage does not mean you can afford it. This has been a huge problem in Austin that has led to an awful lot of foreclosures.

    The corner lot neighborhood seems awfully nice and has some good community amenities. Also, it sounds like the people that live there may have a lot of the same interests you do and may have some sense of community and social interaction. The roundabout will help to block some of the headlight beams and gives you something more interesting to look at than a conventional intersection. The side garage is nice as it will improve the curb appeal. The way your post reads, it sounds like you are leaning toward the corner lot neighborhood and seeking the endorsement of your fellow planners to head out towards suburbia. Based on the amenities and some of the design, I'm not as inclined to call this neighborhood suburbia crap. I think it would be a wise investment, but only if you can really afford it. I would also pay it a visit at night and also get up early to do a practice commute to work to see what it's like.

    My preference would be to the smaller, cheaper house because I like having a little extra dough around for fun stuff. I would research resales in this area to see what it's like. If I could afford the corner lot one, I would find it hard to resist based on the amenities you described, plus it sounds like it wasn't just some crap rubber stamp subdivision.


    EDIT: Just saw your reply above. I would definitely go with the corner lot one.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  25. #25
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jread
    BTW, the lot size is only 7,600 sq. ft. The smaller home's lot size is only 3,700 sq. ft.
    I have a corner property that is in the 6,020 sq ft range. It drives me nuts. I fee like I have 3,000 sq ft because of the lot dimensions 70w x 86d.

    My lot and the adjacent interior lot to me we're a resubdivision of two lots that faced my side street. Now we face the boulevard. It probably made the properties more desirable back in the 1920s.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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