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Thread: House Hunting Cyburbian, 2015 edition

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    House Hunting Cyburbian, 2015 edition

    Like I've said before, the real estate market here is ...weird. I have to give up my urbanist cred, and consider a single digit Walk Score, to get something that's considered livable without dumping $100K or more into it.

    Here's our top candidate, towards the high end of our price range. (Still less than2.5 x income, michaelskis!) Part of a cluster development. 10 minute drive to work for me, 3 or 4 for her, and passable bus service. No 7' ceilings. No main bathroom off the kitchen. No passthrough bedrooms. Not on a major street. Not dark. Tasteful 1990s kitchen. Ductless AC. Municipal utilities, and cable/broadband. (You'd be surprised how limited broadband Internet is around here.) The only weirdness is a shared pea gravel driveway; it's on what would be our lot, and the two other houses in the pod get their access from it. (I've been doing planner-style due diligence.) For the price, it was surprisingly ... clean and normal. Nice, even. And that got us really excited.

    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    All I can say is Ithaca is cheap compared to Chicago...

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    A lot of folks have to make locational sacrifices when finding a new home. My walking score is around 25 but in choosing our house I had to balance between proximity to friends/family, condition of repair, proximity to work, happy wife, and available budget. In the end low walking score won out. Sometimes that's just how it is.
    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

  4. #4
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    All I can say is Ithaca is cheap compared to Chicago...
    Many Places are less expensive than Chicago.


    $365,000 in Escanaba Michigan will get you this house overlooking Little Bay De Noc in Lake Michigan. Not actual water frontage as the City park is between the house and the lake. But it is awesome anyways.


    In Grand Rapids Michigan, this goes for $350,000. Its in a great neighborhood walking distance to downtown.


    This townhome goes for $355,000 in a suburb of Raleigh NC.



    It is all about perceptive though. The median family income in Escanaba in 2012 was $26,437, where as it was $38,643 in Grand Rapids and $86,151 in the Raleigh Suburb where that house is.
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Sorry, this may be un-planneresque of me to say, but I don't even consider a walk score with the house. Obviously what I can afford is big, but I looked at schools (I have kids), a short commute, quick access to the basics like groceries, the neighborhood in general, and the condition of the house. My walk score actually shouldn't be that bad. The kids walk to school and I could walk to Target and Walmart if I were so inclined.

    The only thing bothering me on Dan's house is the weird driveway. I'm just not much of the sharing type.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    It is all about perceptive though. The median family income in Escanaba in 2012 was $26,437, where as it was $38,643 in Grand Rapids and $86,151 in the Raleigh Suburb where that house is.
    So many of the articles you see comparing housing market prices tend to gloss over this fact (not that there isn't genuine injustice going in certain housing markets where median house prices equal five lifetimes of annual income)

    What 200k buys in da UP What 200k buys in San Francisco
    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

  7. #7
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    So many of the articles you see comparing housing market prices tend to gloss over this fact (not that there isn't genuine injustice going in certain housing markets where median house prices equal five lifetimes of annual income)

    What 200k buys in da UP What 200k buys in San Francisco
    True, although they forgot to park the truck driveway of the UP home.
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

  8. #8
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I find that fewer people in big cities would want to purchase anyways. Maybe that is because they never could afford it, but it does seem like that assumption that you have a right to own a home is less prevalent in bigger MSA's. Personally, I don't think homeownership is a right. Honestly, we should be looking at less single family homes and more rental units. If you want a single family home, it shouldn't be easy, as they are a lot of work and are all money pits. I don't wish home ownership on people. If you want to put yourself through it, then you should have to be prepared and have the bank run you through the wringer to assure you can handle what you are about to get into.

    With that said, it is very easy to find affordable housing in Ohio. Come to flyover country. We have large lots, great housing stock (pre-2008!), and lots of availability.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I found a potential one here the other day. Only issue, it really hasn't been updated since 1966, when it was built. Pastel pink tile in the bathroom, kitchen is a little rough, but passable. It has a 1 car garage down below it which is nice, most don't have garages here. 0.34 acre lot right in town. Neighbors are a church parsonage, and the other 3 lots are all church property or vacant. It's a possibility. Not sure I'll move anywhere on it though, I don't think this is a real friendly real estate market so selling it might be impossible.

    2 bedroom 2 bath at around 1,403 sq. ft. for 105k.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Let's all pick houses for Dan. I found this lovely Cape Cod on a downtown lot. It's a planner's dream, although it's a bit small for me.
    http://www.realtor.com/realestateand...08-79288?row=5
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    Let's all pick houses for Dan. I found this lovely Cape Cod on a downtown lot. It's a planner's dream, although it's a bit small for me.
    http://www.realtor.com/realestateand...08-79288?row=5
    How much room do two people really need?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    How much room do two people really need?
    Dan needs space for his new dog(s).

    As a newcomer to the "mine is now FS" club, there's much that could have been done to style this place up a bit. (Close-ups of a hosta? And the chipped wrought iron and handrail? Sheesh, grab the paint brush!)

  13. #13
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    What? You don't like the mirror just leaning on the fireplace mantel? I figure Dan can use the chipped paint to bid the price down and then paint it himself. Unless he's like RJ and can't do the handyman thing.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Dan,

    Looks like a pretty good deal. It appears like you'd have a nice big yard, as well. A shared driveway wouldn't be a big deal to me as long as there are covenants in place that don't allow neighbors to park their big honking camper and boat, etc. on there. That's the one thing I don't like about certain non-HOA neighborhoods is you drive around and it feels as much like a campground or junkyard as it does a nice, quiet attractive neighborhood (at least that's the case in AZ in a lot of places).

    Another thing those home price comparisons never take into account when comparing costs in different markets is property taxes. They conveniently forget to mention that though you are paying a reasonable home price in upstate NY you are paying at least 3-4X as much as you would for a home of similar value in a place like AZ or CA or NV. Obviously that has a huge effect on monthly payment, and we all know that's really what it comes down to when we talk about affordability for the vast majority of people.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Rygor View post
    Dan,

    Looks like a pretty good deal. It appears like you'd have a nice big yard, as well. A shared driveway wouldn't be a big deal to me as long as there are covenants in place that don't allow neighbors to park their big honking camper and boat, etc. on there. That's the one thing I don't like about certain non-HOA neighborhoods is you drive around and it feels as much like a campground or junkyard as it does a nice, quiet attractive neighborhood (at least that's the case in AZ in a lot of places).

    Another thing those home price comparisons never take into account when comparing costs in different markets is property taxes. They conveniently forget to mention that though you are paying a reasonable home price in upstate NY you are paying at least 3-4X as much as you would for a home of similar value in a place like AZ or CA or NV. Obviously that has a huge effect on monthly payment, and we all know that's really what it comes down to when we talk about affordability for the vast majority of people.
    Well, yes and no. In some places it's virtually impossible to find any livable house in a decent neighborhood for the same price as a perfectly decent house in Upstate NY, so the "values" aren't really comparable. Many areas of California are like this.

    In a lot of the coastal areas, homeowners' insurance can easily run several thousand dollars annually even for relatively modest homes. A friend who worries excessively about taxes pays only about $600 for taxes on her home near Myrtle Beach but she also pays $1000/year to her HOA plus about $3000 for insurance with $10 or 15K deductible.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Ideal for my fair city's new Planning Supervisor

    What a boatload of work. Won't work for Dan, no dog capacity.

    http://www.grar.com/property/mls/15039604


  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Man, I thought I found the perfect house for me here.

    1.41 acres on a private drive, right up against a fairly large river, wooded, somewhat private, decent price! I decided to do a little digging because some of the newer additions didn't look quite right to me. Turns out it only has a 2 bedroom system (there are 3 in the house), AND the septic system is actually on the lot across the street, owned by someone else. That isn't worth my time to get involved with.

    FWIW, I think anyone who's done any work in planning, septic systems, or building inspections, would kill it as a real estate agent.

  18. #18
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AG74683 View post
    FWIW, I think anyone who's done any work in planning, septic systems, or building inspections, would kill it as a real estate agent.
    I agree. It is amazing to me to hear someone say, "I didn't know I would have to get a permit to expand the house... the realtor said it wouldn't be a problem!". Or the NIMBY arguments of building on vacant lots, etc.

    Maybe that is my calling? Probably not.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  19. #19
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Like I've said before, the real estate market here is ...weird. I have to give up my urbanist cred, and consider a single digit Walk Score, to get something that's considered livable without dumping $100K or more into it...

    I'll say it again. Hardie board.
    ...and you can put solar on it, with some tree-trimming expense.

    And the price? Wow.

    Best,

    D
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  20. #20
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AG74683 View post
    FWIW, I think anyone who's done any work in planning, septic systems, or building inspections, would kill it as a real estate agent.
    Actually, such people be too qualified or would know better.

    My experiences so far have been that a real estate agent is typically there just to get you through the actual transaction and access the houses. I have often known way more about the house and neighborhood than the agent, but that's more about my professional experience than their ability to tell buyers that 'you can paint that wall a nice neutral color'.

    Instead, I think more experienced current planners should move into real estate development. We know the pitfalls of a development review process, can read and interpret zoning codes to our benefits and understand when the hurdle is just too high.

    Paging Hink.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I've always thought I would do well in the commercial side. You know, actually knowing things like permit process and building codes. I'd have to learn about that triple net lease crap and how to fleece my tenants, but that shouldn't be hard. Residential is more about placating people and convincing them this one is the right home so I don't have to show you 40 houses.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Real estate: for those who coun't make it in fast food

    I'm in the process of selling my first-ever house. Good grief.

    Agent had me sign the contracts. Didn't provide me a copy.

    An offer came in last night (Friday) at 8 pm. It expired at 10 pm. He left me a long rambling voicemail about it.
    Sorry, I don't transact business during weekend hours. Didn't bother replying until this morning. It took two voicemails and text to hear from him.

    The offer required me to obtain and pay for a property survey. Lessee...it was platted in the 20s, the lot size is 50' x 54'. What exactly are we hoping to learn here? He helpfully said, "they can go to the county and see an air photo." I said I can send 'em a PDF of the parcel map.

    I was supposed to be set up on the office's showing notification system. That didn't happen ("it's vacant, you aren't living there.") Yes, but I am removing items from the basement and garage. Would be nice to know when to vanish, and if I can park in my own driveway.

    He priced it low, IMHO, for a quick sale, and he has an investor who wanted to look at it. Now I'm not a Real Estate Professional tm but I'm pretty sure that's playing both sides of the street.

    He sent me a text at 9 pm to advise me that he was showing it to the investor. Um...with pull-chain lighting, a major one of which isn't working yet?

    His late-night description misplaced the new laminate flooring (upstairs not down) and apparently he didn't notice that the picket fencing surrounds the house.

    On the bright side, it's been officially listed for two days, and has already had five viewings.

    Even brighter: the garage affords me sorting space. A pile for the ReStore, a pile for Goodwill, a pile for Craigslist...

    In just a few days this minor aggravation will be a memory, and I can get back to my new spread (a 45' x 100' lot with a much bigger garden).

  23. #23
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I have a like/hate relationship with realtors. I need the exposure on MLS which can only be done through a realtor, but find that I have to repeatedly check behind the realtors so they don't misrepresent anything, don't overpromise, and they understand the deed and income restrictions on the property.

    veloise, I'd double check the listing for accuracy, get clear on when the house can be shown and how much notice you need to have, the price does seem a little low given what you put into it. Buyers typically pay for the survey. I'd also address the issue of when offers are submitted and how long they will be valid so he can share that with the buyers' agents, by law/regulation if your agent receives an offer he has to share it with you.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjel View post
    ...

    veloise, I'd double check the listing for accuracy, get clear on when the house can be shown and how much notice you need to have, the price does seem a little low given what you put into it. Buyers typically pay for the survey. I'd also address the issue of when offers are submitted and how long they will be valid so he can share that with the buyers' agents, by law/regulation if your agent receives an offer he has to share it with you.
    When the listing appeared, the message came from his boss, so that's who I replied to. Agent used the "typed it late at night" excuse. It's correct now.

    The notification system is in place. Today's folks arrived at 6:45 as I was shutting things up. They had two more showings this morning before the agent even got back to me.

    I'm not paying for anyone's survey, nor closing costs. If they want to lowball me they can proffer a couple grand lower than the listing price (and I'll still say no).

    Agent added "offers considered Monday" after I informed him I'm not in the habit of doing business on weekends. A two-house window is just insulting...this ain't Ebay.

    All my bikes are now out of there, and I even put my stashed campaign signs into the recycle bin. If my favorite governor runs again, I'll get a new sign.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I have come to the conclusion that I have no idea of what I want in a house location that will still be within our price range. Over the weekend, I found a few lots out in the country where I thought it would be nice to build a smallish energy efficient house and have room to add on in the future. But then I also liked the new townhouses near my apartment, but then some of the single family homes in the region in newer subdivisions with a clubhouse and a pool seem to be a possibility too. Let's not forget some of the houses in the historic districts in downtown Raleigh... although my wife will not let me buy another big project like that again.

    Oh, well, we have at least a year before we are going to get serious about moving anywhere.
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

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