For seemingly no reason?
Or for reasons unexplained?
Or for legitimate reasons, that can be explained, but that are based on luck, happenstance, and timing?
In the news this week were three separate houses which have dropped in value because of circumstances beyond the owners’ control, either hypothetically, or quantifiably. It all depends on whether you ask the owners themselves…
We all know “that house on Bertmount Avenue,” right?
Realtors – you all know the one.
And real estate enthusiasts, you surely have seen, or at least heard of this house.
It’s been written about quite a bit, and surely it’s been photographed incessantly over the years even though there are signs out front that explicitly tell gawkers not to take photos. But a sign like that, on a house like this, is like asking us not to look at the streaker in the park.
In case you’re not familiar, here’s a shot from Google Maps:
I don’t want to pass judgment.
So I’ll let you guys do it for me…
Would any of you argue that perhaps, just maybe, this house looks out of the ordinary?
It’s on a prime Leslieville Street, steps from Queen, in a family-oriented area.
So could you argue that maybe it’s having an impact on the “vibe” of the street, and to a lesser extent, the home prices?
Anybody who lives on Bertmount would probably shout, “We love our street, and that house doesn’t speak for us, nor do we feel affected by its visual impact.”
I’d probably agree.
The area is so hot that most buyers wouldn’t care, and thus most home-owners wouldn’t be affected.
But there is at least one home-owner on the street that would be affected.
Can you guess who?
How about: the person who lives next door…
You’re literally “joined at the hip,” and I have to think that being next door to the doll-house, let alone joined as the other half of a semi-detached, could make a quarter-million-dollar difference in potential sale price, in the red-hot 2015 market.
At least if a buyer was looking to purchase on this street, they’d know in advance about the potential affect on value.
But I’d like to share with you three stories in the news recently about houses that were affected in value after the new owners moved in:
1) Bloor West Yuppies vs. Hydro Pole
In today’s news, if you can call it “news,” there was a story about a Bloor West couple that feel a hydro pole installed on their front lawn has caused their house to plunge in value.
If you’re not willing to sit through the 15-second advertisements for Ford or Corona or whatever the hell CityNews Online is going to show, then this picture can help you to visualize:
The video segment starts with the reporter asking, “How do you feel when you look outside your window?”
The home-owner responds, “I don’t look out the window anymore. It’s just….it’s just heartbreaking.”
The online article reads:
Shirley and Todd Ankenmann loved everything about the home they purchased in Bloor West Village in 2012. So much so, they paid $156,000 over the asking price.
But the million dollar property would soon have a 10-cent view after Toronto Hydro erected a pole on their front lawn.
“Just heartbreaking,” she says.
Do you know what’s heartbreaking? Just about ANYTHING else in the news these days.
I know I set out in this blog post to talk about the effect that a random circumstance can have on your home’s value, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say “boo-f’ing-hoo” to these two people.
I can’t believe they went on TV with this! Aren’t they embarassed?
I read the online comments on the National Post version of the story, and we all know (myself included…) how readers are five times more likely to post something negative than positive, but 100.00% of what I read was calling these two jokers out for their complaining.
Although my favourite comment had to be this one:
Talk about first-world problems. I think there are a lot of folks, in a lot of places around the world, that are dealing with true heartbreak of their own right now – losing loved ones, dealing with natural disasters – who might disagree on the definition of “heartbreak.”
Personally, I think that pole has close to zero impact on the value of the house. The CityNews quote of “a ten cent view” is silly. They have a view of the street, not of a ravine or park.
This is much ado about nothing. In my professional opinion, there’s no plunge in house value here. Hydro poles are all over properties in Toronto.
2) New Jersey Residents Being HAUNTED!
Now that is a bit more intense than an unwanted hydro pole…
Imagine a stranger stalking you and your family, and naming himself – “The Watcher.”
It’s one thing to be stalked, but to be stalked by a guy that names himself – that’s a whole other level of Criminal Minds stuff…
Imagine getting a note that reads: “I am pleased to know your name now, and the names of the young blood you have brought to me,” in reference to your CHILDREN!
The owners of the house, who paid $1.3 Million, have moved out of the house.
Of course, they’re now suing the sellers.
I don’t think they’ll have any recourse against the sellers, but nevertheless, I also don’t think they helped the value of their house by going to the media with this.
Had they dusted off their hands and said, “Well, we bought this house, it’s being haunted, and we’ll sell it and move on,” maybe they’d have got out with a small loss.
But now that this is on the Internet for the world to see, I think they’ve cost themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost value.
Maybe it’s their fault, or maybe the media just picked up the story.
But either way, I do put some of the blame on them for making the situation known. The previous sellers didn’t say anything, and it clearly worked in their favour.
It’s too bad – the house is gorgeous, and in a great area!
But unfortunately, this circumstance was just completely out of the owners’ control.
3) A Truly “Worthless House”
This is incredible.
A Nova Scotia man finds an Indian artifact on his property, and decides to have the taxes reassessed to show the house is worth a buck.
Here’s the article:
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Normally, a brand-new seaside home on the outskirts of Antigonish, N.S. could easily fetch as much as $400,000.
But after homeowner Mike MacDonald stumbled upon a Mi’kmaq axe on the two-acre property, he was quickly able to convince the Province of Nova Scotia that his new home was now effectively worthless.
“Such a property would be considered very valuable under normal circumstances,” reads a decision by a Nova Scotia appeal tribunal.
But with the artifacts throwing the property’s future into limbo, “the value will be set at $1 until the future use of the Mi’kmaq artifacts is determined,” it read.
The rock-bottom assessment — which MacDonald only obtained after several appeals — frees him from paying any property taxes on the beachfront land.
So in the first story, we have a couple cry-babies who are upset about a pole, and the supposed impact it’ll have on the value of their house.
In the second story, we have a couple being terrorized by an anonymous stalker, who have moved out of the house which has clearly been impacted in terms of value.
And in this story, we have an opportunist who doesn’t want to pay any taxes!
Well, I feel sorry for one of the three of them..
But you have to give credit where credit is due, and credit the ingenuity of this Nova Scotia resident who found a way to avoid paying the tax man.
Although, when it comes time to sell his house, or obtain a mortgage, or refinance, he might find out he’s shot himself in the foot.
Real estate is probably the most expensive asset any of us will ever own, so obviously we’re going to be sensitive toward its value, as that value goes up, down, or is impacted.
When circumstances impact our houses’ values, it feels a lot worse in cases where it’s out of our control.
There’s only so much you can do in advance to minimize potential fluctuations in value.
And you certainly can’t pick your neighbours…
That reminds me – there’s another odd doll-house in Toronto, this one is in Little Italy, where I shot a blog video back in 2011. It’s not as scenic as the one at Bertmount, but this one is a bit more violent when you consider Scooby-Doo has a rope around his neck and is hanging from a tree…