Monday, June 2, 2008

"Affordable" "Homes" in the City

MLS #453798
1408 Hampton Street
2 Bedrooms, 1 bath
Sq. Ft.: 766
Year Built: 1948
Acre: .33

Dave Phillips, CEO of CAAR, Charlottesville Albemarle Association of Realtors, has a lot to say about "Affordable Homes" in a preview of the cover story for the next issue of "Real Estate Weekly." See "What Affordable Looks Like" on the CAAR Blog, excerpted here:

"Typically, homes closer or more convenient to the community core (where jobs and services are located) are more expensive. To be more exact, the land that the home sits on is more expensive. Land in Rust Hollow is much more affordable than land on Rugby Road.

There are affordable housing options in the core areas, but they are different than those found in outlying areas (more about that later). For instance, there are over 120 homes on the market within the Charlottesville city limits that are priced at $250,000 or below. That is not only an adequate inventory, but it could be argued that we have a surplus of affordable homes for sale in the city."

Phillips has a point about "homes" close to the community core--location location location. But note that a Realtor will always call domestic property a "home," giving the idea of Mom, Family, Belonging. An average citizen will call the product what it is: a "house." A "home," we all know, is personal and personalized, an idea and ideal of place as a selling tool. A "house," though larger, is the equivalent of any object: a t-shirt, a soccer ball, a trash can. It might be desirable, but you can often do without.

In Belmont, as we've pointed out here and here and here, location trumps every other consideration. Prices are insane for houses in a transitional neighborhood (a neighborhood we think is stagnating) merely near the Downtown Mall and shops/nightlife, not near a plethora of "jobs" and "services." Belmont is overpriced because of irrational exuberance, a few flippers, and several years worth of misperceptions. Many neighborhoods are following this overpriced trend--such as Fifeville and much of the New Construction around town--though even more neighborhoods have so many unsold properties that "Price Reduced!" signs are popping up like daisies.

Affordable? If the definition of "affordable" is zero down and a 50 year loan at 50% of earned income--well, yes, "affordable." This would be the scenario for the people who are interested in houses under $250K right here in Our Fair City. Those houses, they ain't no great shakes, folks. (We think every brick rancher should be well under $250K, if only as a spanking for bad aesthetics--but they're not.)

The counties, of course, are another story. But now there's gas prices to figure in, as well.

So we can't wait to see the article. Because when we do a property search on the CAAR site, we come up with shacks like that pictured, above, in the Rives Park area. In Lynchburg, which outranked The Hook in the Top 20 Overpriced Housing Markets, this itty bitty house would be less than $50K. Hmmmm....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This house and the house next door are another example of the bubble problem in Belmont. Especially since the former "yard" for the 1408 house is being sold as two separate plots each only $99k or buy two for only $149!! What a deal! I believe 1408 Hampton with both plots is assessed just above the current asking price for the house and a 1/3 acre by itself. If you look at the owners you notice the 935 Monticello property has now been removed from the market too. At least Monticello ave is slowly losing its glut of houses for sale. Maybe one will actually sell though!