Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bigger not always better

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Value is a relative and fickle thing, especially when it comes to pricing homes. The article on proposed legislation limiting the size of new houses underscores a common misperception that bigger is always better in any market (‘‘Arguments shift in house size rift,” June 25 article).

I was more than nervous last winter knowing that we would be putting our newly renovated 2,532-square-foot home of 15 years for sale into the worst housing market in 30 years. In renovating, we felt real value was maintaining the architectural lines and style of surrounding homes of the neighborhood. We weren’t interested in doubling our heating, cooling, cleaning, mortgage and tax assessment costs. Our four bedrooms and three baths fit our needs and most families that we know. It was a practical renovation that was well done.

The acid test, however, is the ability to sell when you want for whatever you think it’s worth under deteriorating market conditions. Ironically, a brand new, 5,000-plus-square-foot home went on the market two weeks prior to and two doors down from our home in late April. Our open house led to a slightly above asking price bid, which we accepted the next day.

High gasoline prices this year have led to an abandonment of trucks and SUVs for fuel-efficient cars that fulfill consumers’ basic needs. Will high cost energy-wasting mansions be the next to fall in price? Bigger homes may, in a sense, be more ‘‘valuable” but only if the buying public perceives them to be.

That new mansion two doors down is still waiting for a buyer.

Chris Rhim, Bethesda