The Transformation

The single family housing in our town is undergoing a transformation. I sometimes wonder if this transformation is another sign of the changing makeup of what we view as the middle class here in the United States.

The original single family housing in our town dates from the late 1950s and early 1960s. The vast majority of this housing consists of ranch-style tract housing. Each has a little over 1000 square feet of living space. In 1957, these houses sold for about 18 thousand dollars.

This is around 152 thousand in today’s dollars. Many of these houses now sell as “tear-down/rebuilds.” Developers buy them, tear them down and build new homes on the property. The new houses usually contain 4000 or more square feet of living space. The typical asking price for these new homes is over 1.0 million dollars. The latest of these new homes in our neighborhood sold for a little over 1.2 million dollars. This is about 142 thousand in 1957 dollars.

The following pictures show the difference in size between the original and new houses. The picture on the left shows a completed new house to the left of a late 1950s vintage house. The picture on the right shows the same house with a new house under construction to it’s right. Click/point on the pictures to enlarge the photos.

This table shows a comparison of an original versus new house.

What’s the moral of this story? In 1957, people who could afford an 18 thousand dollar mortgage bought homes in the town. In 1957, 142 thousand dollars was equal to the 1.0 million dollar cost of today’s new homes. A large majority of these people could not afford to buy a house here back then if the price of a new home in 1957 dollars was equal to the price of a new home in today’s dollars.


I’m Big, I’m Brick!

mmchroad20130501The latest McMansion rising from the rubble of a 1950s vintage house a few blocks away is not only larger than average, but it has a brick exterior.  One doesn’t see too many new homes with all-brick exteriors going up here.  The main reason for this is that they are quite expensive compared to those built with vinyl or fiber-cement siding and brick or stone veneer trim.  The labor is more costly and so are the materials.

In addition to the higher cost of brick, there are other cost drivers.  For example, local building codes require steel I-beams to support the weight of all-brick houses.  The code allows most new houses with vinyl or fiber-cement siding to use less expensive I-beams made of wood products such as laminated veneer lumber.

mmchroad20130503The house is on a lot next to a another McMansion that was built earlier this year.  This house has fiber-cement siding, over 3700 square feet of living space and sold for about $1.2M.

As one can see in the pictures, “I’m Big, I”m Brick” is somewhat larger.  So I expect that the sell price will be substantially more than $1.2M.

Yet Another McMansion

The house in the background went on the market about two weeks ago for an advertised price of $1.2 million US dollars.  That’s not unusual for this area as the price of housing has always been extremely high and almost all of the new houses being built are McMansions.

As the house went through the various phases of construction, I had this nagging feeling that something about it was different.  And then one day it occurred to me – the house has a one-car garage.

Now I have nothing against one-car garages, but one of the standard features one sees in the McMansions going up around here is a two-car garage. 

Would you buy this house if you could get one with comparable floor space and features at the same price, in the same neighborhood, with a two-car garage?

Going Up, Part XVIII

504 Stephen CircleThe second McMansion in our neighborhood is now under contract and the prospective new owners are said to be hoping to be in the house before Christmas.  There has been a flurry of activity around the house for the past few days.  I suspect they are working on the developer’s punch list and getting ready for the walkthrough and inspection by  the buyer.

The initial asking price for the house was $1.384M.  It will be interesting to see what the actual sell price was.

Update, 31 December 2011 – the closing price on house was $1,216,500.  A real bargain! 😉

Going Up, Part XVII

504stephen110901Construction is finished on the second McMansion to be built in our neighborhood.   The final landscaping has been completed, as has the deck we mentioned in Going Up, Part XVI.  As the builder said: “There’s only one more thing to be added for final completion; the Sold sign in the front yard.”

504stephen110902The back of the house, including the deck.

504stephen110903The north side of the house.

504stephen110904Another view of the house from the back yard.   Notice the First McMansion in the background.

504stephen110905The south side of the house.

502stephen060841Here’s the first McMansion, which sits between our house and the second McMansion.  It was built in 2006.

500stephen110901To put things in perspective, here’s a picture of our humble abode.  Our total first floor square footage is probably not much more than that of the master bedroom suite of the newest McMansion, which includes the bedroom, a sitting area, a huge master bathroom, and a walk-in closet that is nearly as large as the bedrooms in our house.

This is the final entry for the second McMansion. But don’t be too surprised if we start another of our “Going Up” series of posts in the not too distant future.

Going Up, Part XVI

504stephen110804On the morning of 13 August 2011, two carpenters appeared and started building a deck. Although they were interrupted by a couple of rain showers, this is what they accomplished by day’s end.