Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Micro-View of Real Estate

We sold our house in Grosse Pointe Farms on August 13, 2014 to a company engaged in updating and the reselling homes. Our property, call it the McKinley house, went on the market again January 4, 2015—which makes it 4 months and 22 days later. In the process what had been an old (1926) but mechanically very sturdy house—with the exception of a garage that, I think, was kept upright merely by the low branches of some very sturdy little trees—has been transformed, per the new seller, into a “fantastic English Colonial completely updated” and priced at nearly 74 percent above the price we got for it—a price which we considered quite adequate.

Well, the mark-up makes sense—and must have cost a pretty penny. The place has been transformed. Among the features: all new hardwood and granite flooring downstairs and in the bathrooms, completely new kitchen with marble counters, a new back drive and patio, very nice paint everywhere, a new front door, and new front stairs.

In an effort to give the house more spacious rooms and a “circular flowing floor plan,” the developers created larger openings in the living and in the sunroom thereby reducing usable space quite a bit—our old couch and big arm-chair would no longer fit in there now. They did away with storage space upstairs and shortened one hallway (at the end of which I had a huge shelf with tons of books). In the basement they erased a highly useful double tub used for laundry purposes.

Among the negatives, from our point of view, is that they took away all of the radiators and added forced air heating to the already existing air-conditioning system. One of the principal features of the McKinley house had been pleasant and very quiet heating which never dried you out like forced air does.

Now to that garage. We were certain that it would be torn down and replaced with a new one. Well, the developers fixed up the old one by adding some beams here and there. They also gave it some new siding. But it’s still the old garage. And no doubt it will do its job for another 25 years.

We wish the new owners a pleasurable use of the old McKinley house. They will not miss what we would sorely miss if by some chance we’d have to make the move back. The old becomes the new. And the location, to be sure, couldn’t be better for a family with children. The schools are within walking distance—as is the Library. But the library’s nearness isn’t noted by the e-brochure that brought us this intelligence (with our old neighbor, Paul, acting as intermediary).


  1. Not listing the closeness of the library as an asset seems to be common. We live exactly a mile from our local library, and a well-used one at that. I considered it an asset when moving here 4 years ago. I don't think the listing for our house mentioned it. In the year and a half that I've been on the board of our subdivision, one of my duties has been to keep track of home sales in our little corner of the universe so I check listings regularly. Not once in that year and a half do I remember having seen any mention of the closeness of the library in a listing. Interesting too, since many of the people moving into this subdivision are middle- to upper-middle class families, many of whom are affiliated with Michigan State University and have young children. You'd think that educated people with young children would value living close to a library, and knowing that, the realtors would mention it in their listings.

    1. Good points, Joyce. What real estate people DO mention is schools -- and libraries are closely related. The explanation may simply be that real estate maps do prominently features schools but not libraries. In that business selling is everything, and anything that helps the sale IS mentioned -- when they think about it.


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