Design: Modern or Traditional? 875 Dellwood

by Osman Parvez

Modern design is eye catching but is a modern looking house for you?

In the world of design, fresh concepts usually prevail except when it comes to houses.   Instead of experimenting, most builders stick with the tried and true, giving their creations a traditional look.    

Would the iPhone sell well if it looked like an old fashioned, traditional telephone?   Would you be interested in a BMW if it looked like last decade's Chevy?   

Obviously design matters but why are houses different?   Perhaps it's because they are built to last a very long time.   If history is a guide, what looks modern today often looks dated tomorrow.  Some modern designs will probably not age gracefully.   Yet for some buyers, modern is what they want because it's a reflection of themselves.   It doesn't matter that in 20 years, the house might look like a futurama exhibit from the World's Fair.   They aren't interested in living in a relic from the past any more than they're interested in dressing in clothes from the 1950s.  

A listing caught my eye this morning:  875 Dellwood.   It's a modern looking house and although the photos are mediocre, I think it has potential (look past the photography).    For starters, various aspects suggest clean, open design and efficent use of space.    For me, the lack of color inside is somewhat alienating - but I know many buyers of modern design like the starkness of fully white interiors (think Apple Store).  

Here's where it get's interesting.   The house was originally listed in February '08 for $2.3MM and withdrawn in August.   It was relisted (with a new agent) for $1.95MM in October '08 with a different sales office.   That listing expired in March '09 and it was put back on the market for $1.85MM a couple of days ago (May 20th, 2009).   This is the seller's walk of shame and an indicator for a value buyer to take another look. 

Now let's step into the groovy way back machine.  In 2002 the house was listed for $1.55MM and looked like this: 

It's not clear what the current owner paid, but they did a lot of work to freshen the property's look.  The new listing says it was built in 2004 and the old listing says it was built in 1996.   It's obviously no longer the pink monster that it was.    

The value of this information plays out in negotiation.    I won't venture too far in this direction (counter-productive to our clients), but the history of the house suggest a seller nearing psychological capitulation.    A few other things I unearthed in my intial diligence are also encouraging for a buyer's potential negotiation.  If our current clients were interested, I'd help them to take it further.     For obvious reasons, there are limits what I can discuss regarding our negotiation strategies and tactics.  

If I have time in the next few days, I'll set up a preview and post back with more observations. 

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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

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This document contains forward-looking statements. You are strongly cautioned that investment results are subject to business, economic and other uncertainties. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time. Always consult your financial advisor before making an investment decision.