What makes a house a “tear down”

[photopress:tear_down.jpg,thumb,alignright] Here in Kirkland, a lot of people complain that the builders are tearing down homes and putting up “McMansions” in their place.

I can walk up and down the streets of Kirkland and “label” each and every house I pass. “Remodel project”, “tear down”, “fixer”, “builder’s dream come true”, will sell “as is”, etc… The number one reason a house becomes a tear down is due to years and years of deferred maintenance. Often these homes are owned by people who inherited them or who purchased them many, many years ago when they were dirt cheap. The increase in taxes over the years suck up any money the owners might have had to make improvements. They have just enough money to get by and the moss overtakes the roof, the wood rot overtakes the fascia boards and siding, the trees get bigger and bigger and crack the foundation, birds make nests in the rotted fascia boards. It’s like a used car that finds its way to the scrap heap, once the cost to repair exceeds the book value.

“Book Value” of a house equals the value of the lot. The value of the lot is based on it’s “highest and best use” and based on its “potential”. If the lot would have a view IF it were a two story house, than the highest and best use of that lot is to put a two story house on it. If that gives the lot a value of $650,000, then that is the value of the dirt. People have a tendency to value a property by what is on the lot and say, “Oh I wouldn’t pay more than $350,0000″ for that house!”. If the lot is worth $650,000, then the house can’t sell for $350,000, no matter how awful it is.

Take the house in the photo above. Would you spend $650,000 to LIVE IN IT? If you would pay $125,000 to live in it, and a builder will pay $650,000 to tear it down…well then I guess everyone has to agree that it is a “tear down”. But they don’t all agree that it is a tear down. People never all agree on anything, do they?

They don’t agree because they like having a little tiny house next to them that doesn’t block their view. They don’t agree because they don’t want the noise of the builders putting up a new home next door from morning until night, day after day, so they can never take a nap in the afternoon again until the new home is finished.

They might all agree that it should be torn down, but they want it to become a new park or playground…as long as no one every comes to play in it and make noise 🙂 They never ALL agree that it should be torn down and become a “McMansion”, especially if they live in the cute little bungalow next door.