You know that saying, “They aren’t making any more land”?
Well that phrase resonates every single time I take a look at a new listing.
Some people look at the pretty pictures of the flower garden, while the very first thing I look at is the lot size…
Today I’m listing a property on Lippincott Street just two blocks north of College Street for a million-bucks.
And it is going to prove to be a difficult sale.
Not because of the price is high, but rather because the property is very “unique.”
The house has been in the same family for fifty-eight years, and being the cynical person that I am, if it were me that read the caption, “First Time Offered For Sale In 58 Years!” on the MLS listing, I’d say to myself, “Soooo…..the house is a heaping pile of waste?”
Before you accuse me of being just about the worst salesperson alive – indirectly bad-mouthing my listing, and all – let me add that this property’s “unique” nature represents the entire appeal for any buyer.
Lippincott Street is home to a hodge-podge of semi-detached houses and row-houses; some as small as thirteen-feet wide, and as shallow as sixty-six-feet deep.
On the three blocks of Lippincott Street between Harbord and College, I would estimate of the 150 houses less than ten are detached, and only two have a private driveway.
My listing is one of those two.
And, my listing is on a 30 x 125 foot lot which makes it the ONLY property on Lippincott Street that is 30-feet-wide.
So what about the house itself?
Well, it needs to be gutted from head-to-toe, and you could put anywhere from $75,000 – $250,000 into it.
But the property is one-of-a-kind.
The backyard, which of course is bigger than any single backyard on the street (and 6-8 times the size of some), is home to an endless orchard of mature fruit trees, all 40+ years old and yielding enough produce to start a farmer’s market. There is a cherry tree, an Italian plumb tree, a peach tree, a pear tree, and two hazelnut trees for good measure.
The west exposure provides a ton of sunlight, and the addition of a six-foot-cedar fence would be a nice touch.
Bottom line: the house is old and completely out of date, but the property is a gem. Call it, “a diamond in the rough.”
On Sunday afternoon, I happened to be taking measurements at the property when a property across the street was featuring an open house. There were fourteen people (I counted) lined up to see this semi-detached Victorian, listed at $595,000.
The seller and her agent are holding back offers, and with the lack of product in that price range, not to mention the impeccable condition of the house, I think it could sell for as high as $650,000.
But the property is on a 16 x 118 foot lot, and is semi-detached with no driveway or parking whatsoever.
How does this compare to the property I have listed on a 30 x 125 foot lot?
In the long run, it doesn’t.
I find that people are focusing more and more on the condition of the house and less and less on the property itself.
It seems like people don’t actually care about the land that lays under their dwelling as much as they care about the ceramic backslash in the kitchen and the Brazilian-cherry hardwood flooring in the living room.
Obviously we all have to actually live in our houses, and we can’t buy a large, empty warehouse to call “home” just because it’s on a large chunk of land, but surely the lot size has to come into play, no?
I’ve been shocked to walk into open houses in the past and see a feature-sheet that doesn’t even list the lot size on it!
That saying, “They aren’t making any more land,” should be in the back of every buyer’s head when it comes time to view properties and make a decision. Would you buy a semi-detached house on a 22 x 125 foot lot over a detached house on a 28 x 135 foot lot because the kitchen and bathrooms had all been renovated? Well, obviously it depends on price.
But there is a heckuva-lot more you can do with the detached house on the larger lot than the smaller semi.
There are some very unique “shoebox” properties around Queen/Bathurst that measure 20 x 38 feet. Call it a “condo alternative,” but I don’t care how nice it is – I want more land!
I’d rather live in a sub-par house if it means more land because I can always renovate it later on.
Two of my clients last march gave up their search for the perfect semi-detached, 2-storey house and bought a detached bungalow that had about 60% of the living space, but the lot size is 33 x 130 compared to the 25 x 125 foot semi’s we were looking at, and they can always add a second storey down the road and avoid buying a million-dollar house on the resale market.
Now clearly I’m making some massive generalizations here, but I’m just finding that many of today’s buyers aren’t even asking what the lot size is, and if they are, it’s a complete afterthought.
Personally, my eyes go right to the middle of the page on every MLS listing to see that “45 x 150” or the “16.67 x 81.82.”
That is what I want to know, first and foremost.
It doesn’t matter if backyards don’t interest you, or if you consider having mature trees to be a painful cleanup in the fall.
Houses are unique and distinct from condos in that you actually own a piece of land. You’ve got terra firma under your feet, and it’s YOURS for as long as you want it.
Don’t ever forget that.
You can build as many homes in the sky as you so desire, depending on which level of the stratosphere you want to build into.
But always remember, they aren’t making any more land…