A larger home sometimes means a smaller lot

Local realtor James Long shares his column on building bigger homes on smaller lots.

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James LongSometimes there’s nowhere to go but up. That’s a trend that new home builders have followed for years: Building bigger homes on smaller lots. Zillow research found that in the last 15 years, the median lot size for new homes has decreased from about 9,600 square feet to 8,600 square feet — an approximate 10 percent reduction.

But while lot size is shrinking, the new homes built on them are not: During the same time frame, detached single-family homes have increased in size about 24 percent — with the median going from 2,100 square feet to 2,600 square feet. This can translate to areas dense with homes that are shoe-horned into close quarters with the neighbors.  It really goes to show things do go in cycles.  In the 30’s and 40’s building on zero lot lines was very popular.  Just take a look around some of Guthrie’s neighborhoods and you will see that it was very popular to have the houses built very close together, often times being able to just walk across roof top to roof top.

While many homes on smaller lots might offer some greenery in front, along with an area for a deck or patio in back, a tiny yard might appeal to buyers who simply have no interest in maintaining a lot of outdoor space.  With a large lot means needing a space to keep equipment like mowers, trimmers, blowers, etc.  Often time taking up needed spaces in garages or the need to have an out building.  Or of course there’s the option of hiring it to be done, which just comes as another expense to your monthly budget.  So it’s easy to see that a smaller lot will be less expensive and time-consuming to keep up.

The trend for bigger homes on smaller lots occurs in upscale neighborhoods and historic areas — even on the waterfront — so it’s a chance for homeowners to purchase in places that might otherwise have been cost prohibitive. It’s also often the case that neighborhoods with small lot sizes feature more community amenities, such as parks and pools, retail shopping and proximity to transportation.

While small lots might not offer the same resale value as a larger chunk of land, the bigger homes that are built on these lots may allow a homeowner to recoup some of the difference. For many buyers, more living space inside can be a fair trade for a lack of green space outside.

Living in these close neighborhoods can really bring a sense of community and an opportunity to get to know your neighbors.  With the lack of yard space more homeowners are flocking to community parks and green space, where children can play and interact, pets can run and interact, and people can socialize.  So when looking for your next home, when you thought you wanted a big yard, you might want to weigh the possibility of not having to maintain it, but having access to it nearby.

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