There is a new housing development that I've been driving past lately on my way to take Charlotte to story hour at the library. Since we live in a part of town that's pretty fully developed, there aren't many new neighborhoods being built--mostly small "in-fill" cul-de-sacs of a handful of houses. This one looked a little bigger and actually had a sales office in the garage of a dedicated display home, so I was curious. Yesterday I had some time to kill while my house was being cleaned (I feel guilty being idle while other people work...normally she comes on days when we're not home). I ran a couple of errands first and then decided to go check out the neighborhood.
The "starting" price range is similar to our neighborhood's current market values, so I actually expected the houses to be bigger or nicer or have much larger yards or something. Apparently not. For those of you who have never built a house, the "starting price" includes a very bare-bones house, with none of the "upgrades" that the pretty display houses include. The display house actually had a starting price that was the same as a very recent broker price opinion on ours (obtained for the purposes of the mortgage, not because we're going to sell soon). It also had the same square footage. I would not have bought that house. Besides layout differences (which are a matter of preference), for the money you did not get the stained wood trim & railings, larger a/c unit, jetted whirlpool tub, deck, or finished basement that we have. All of the nice features in the display were "upgrades"--9ft ceilings, hardwood kitchen floor, rounded archways, etc. Also, our neighborhood has a community swimming pool and playground area, and walking path to a park--their neighborhood has 40 homesites (that's it, nothing else). To be fair, they sod the entire yard where our builder used seed for the back (that was 7 years ago...the grass has grown in fine since then). Basically, I was happy to see that our house (and whole neighborhood) would compare very favorably with this newer one, and that it's proximity and price range may do good things to our own home's value.
I had told the salesguy that I was just curious about the development in hopes of sparing myself his pitch. What I got instead was something I wasn't expecting--advice about how many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that they really can afford to buy a house. I nodded and smiled through his little speech and left amused, but didn't correct him. I was wearing a shorter jean skirt, t-shirt and sandals, no wedding ring (I don't bother wearing it around the house, and frequently forget to put it on), and I had just Trystan with me. I guess I looked like a young mother with a new baby who was thinking about buying a first house. He probably would have been shocked to hear that I'm a 30 year old, married, software developer, mother of 2, who lives in a house as nice or nicer than he was selling. If we were looking for another house (we're not, I swear), we'd be looking to move up, not over.