McMansions making a comeback? (Atlanta, Smyrna: bank owned, foreclosure, rent)
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These mass produced houses are cheap for how much space you are getting.
I live in Buckhead(30305), I have been successful in business(I own multiple businesses, started my first in college then sold it and started others and bought others), grew up with two highly successful parents, and I own a very nice home but I would never build or buy the type of houses that are in my price point in CCOS, Sugarloaf, St. Marlo, etc. Those houses are for people who want their house to say they are "rich" putting ten percent down and having a low net worth does not make you "rich." Generally people buy those houses to say look at what I "bought." (went to the bank and was lucky enough to get a mortgage)
Compare the listings I posted above.
I dare say that this post sounds elitist to say the least. It is your opinion as to the build quality of ones home, not fact. And please do tell how you can make the assumption that someone who bought a home in Sugarloaf or Sandy Springs has a low net worth? Have you some keen intuition as to everyones personal balance sheet? Some people do not desire to live amongst pretentious individuals and therefore buy what they like regardless of area. Never be too quick to judge what you do not know; they have people whom you probably snicker about or look down upon when you see them in passing and they may be worth 10x's what you are. They are just 10x's less pretentious.
We all are entitled to our opinions, but your previous two posts are over the edge. None of us can attest to the build quality of those homes as fact nor the net worth of the individuals whom purchased them. You like what YOU like, lets just leave it at that.
I actually agree with the above and I agree with mbryant in regards to the pics of the McMansions. I do see them as cookie cutter houses. I know quite a few people in the metro who live in them and they are poor quality IMO and probably only cost $40K at the most to build so builders are making a killing off of these people.
In regards to the bold above, it is actually pretty much a fact that a lot of people are "house poor" meaning they bought their house, wanting to live in a certain place and got in over their heads with the mortgage in order to have a specific type of house in a specific neighborhood instead of looking at what they could actually afford and buying a smaller, cheaper house. They want to live like the Joneses basically. This is especially prevalent amongst younger professional people. I myself am in my 30s and when we were looking to buy a house in 2006/2007 before the housing market collasped there were many "professionals" trying to tell us how it would "only" be x.xx amount more to get a mortage that was 100K more than what we were comfortable with. A lot of people fall for this sort of thing because they want to show off their home or they want to buy in a particular school district or even they want their kids to all have different rooms.
FWIW, I grew up with 3 brothers (I was the only girl). We had a 3/2 house and I shared a room with my older brother until my mom bought a 4/2 house (when I was 15 years old) and after that only our two youngest brothers shared a room. Sharing rooms is not torture for children. I have a smaller, cookie cutter house now that I don't think is well built and didn't think was all that well built when I bought it, but I got it at a good price and luckily I don't owe the bank more than it is worth unlike a lot of people in my and surrounding neighborhoods. We were young when we bought (late 20s) and we could have bought a bigger square foot home for our 3 person family but as it stands we do have 4bds and 3baths but only 1200sq ft and that is enough for us. I don't like to clean though and wouldn't want a huge house. I would like a basement for storage so we are looking to buy a house in SW ATL 30311 zip because they usually have basements but even then I wouldn't get some huge house (and they do have McMansions in that part of the city too).
For what it's worth, I grew up in a 3/1.5 bath home and my father was a teacher (shudder)! I shared a room with my little sister my entire life. Who cares about that? My parents were conservative and didn't overspend and so their three children took on their views about money and none of us have huge mortgages or any credit card debt. You learn what you learn. They now have a lovely large home in my father's retirement and they got that from saving wisely and that's their choice!!
Also, I know many people overbought (obviously) but it was not so prevalent where I came from in Buffalo. It has been flushed out for the most part where I live now and it was never a huge number here. There have been an average of about 14 homes on the market in my subdivision the entire year. I am sick and tired of reading the blatant judgments coming from certain people. Again, we all live where we WANT to live in the type of house we WANT to live in. There are people that come to read these boards and try to gleen some things about the area. This is not good reading.
Also you will notice many of the exurban houses are not fully furnished. This is because they would rather their house to appear grand. It is a quantity over quality kind of thing.
I agree with your points 110%...but I also think some people buy these massive homes and have no sense of scale or design. Or didn't plan on the cost having 4 HVAC systems entails, so, that fourth floor ends up fairly empty. I cannot tell you how many homes I've been in around Cumming/Duluth/Niskey Lake/etc that have either NO furniture in some rooms, or the lone chair in a huge entry way on the 3rd floor, or furniture in the "non-public areas" that is definitely not the quality one would expect to see in a $1M home. Sort of like the Victorian parlor had the "nice" furniture to show the visitors.
On the other hand, I have also been in many old school ranch homes in Buckhead/Cascade, or early 20th century homes in Midtown which are disproportionately decorated on the inside with too-large scale ormulu mirrors, ridiculous chandeliers that you bump your head on, and gaudy murals from the 60s-80s. (Go to a couple estate sales, and you will see what I mean! I was just in midtown at a lovely WWI era home and it had the dropped ceilings, thick carpeting, and mirrored walls that ...must have been the thing in the 70s?!).
I agree the older mansions of Druid Hills/West Paces are stunning, and there are many newer ones there that are in keeping with the neighborhood while keeping a unique style, but its a rare thing to build a Callanwolde or Pink Palace quality home today. Too often "custom" today means "pick the prefab pieces out of a catalog and tell us what color you want and we'll cut it to fit." Also, few people have the know-how or wherewithal to actually maintain/restore an older house, so I guess its easiest just to buy new.
These planned surburban neighborhoods that have the vague mishmash of architectural styles don't bother me as much anymore since they tend to be in their own subdivisions (to each his own!). I agree that there is a perception of what "wealth" is (net income vs net worth) and having a new huge home, with the ironwork, wine cellar, stone and gated paver driveway is pretty much a "brand" - touted on ATL reality shows as much as the glitzy modern apartments of NYC are (versus the preWar apartments that may only be 10 rooms, but are way out of reach for even those who have money due to co-op approval).
What is more aesthetically jarring to me is are the infill homes that tower over smaller houses and completely are off base with the historic look of the area (as mentioned here before, the Ruined Decatur blog covers this topic well). Sure, its rare to find a pre-war home that HASN'T been added on to or expanded-- but plopping a 5000 sq ft home down that is some sort of Craftsman on steroids amid humble 1200 sq ft brick 1940s houses is weird to me. I don't consider those "McMansions"-- just incongruous to the point of tastelessness. Likewise, its just as odd for me to go inside a modest 1920s kit home in a middle class neighborhood and see super high end appliances, marble everything, and exotic woods on the floor. I think this "flipping" style of renovation/upgrading will look as dated as Gramma's "fancy" pink&silver flocked wallpaper bathroom with brass faucets haha. It reminds me of the rules of dressing for wall street-- wear your Brooks Brothers and English leather shoes, but don't show up in a flashy Hermes tie or fancy Thomas Pink shirt if you just got out of college.
I would like to put out there that American architecture has a long history of inconsistent "borrowing" from various styles-- sometimes thrown on the same house either by design or during various renovations. Hence you have straight up "Tudors" then there are "Tudor Revivals" and "Tudorbethans" and "Eclectic English." So the "McMansions" seem to follow that same style, generically borrowing from French/English/Italian and 20th century American details...while those homes seem bland to me, I suppose neighborhoods of flashy Queen Anne styles might have been just as odd to people who formerly were surrounded by simpler style homes in the Reconstruction era. I just hope that as people get comfortable with larger homes again, they don't tear down the remaining distinct styles of our past.
I'm sorry, but I read this and you sound like you are coming off just as you accuse people living in those neighborhoods.
Lets go with your theory that there are those with low net worth and high net worth but overall high enough salary for a higher end home.
What is wrong with someone not being able to afford a $8 million home in the most ideal Buckhead zip code? but buying a $ 2 million (or in more cases ... $600,000-$800,000) home in Duluth?
I mean it seems pretty simple to me.
But I suppose people are just saying look at me, because they can only afford the $2 million price point and not a $8 million price point?
but that aside... the problem I have with your over all theory is most of the most desirable Buckhead neighborhood was built for wealth of a much smaller city, than Metro Atlanta is today. Most of the land there is built-out, yet we have grown by leaps and bounds.
As the city grows, we also grow the number of wealthy people, which surpasses the amount of properties Buckhead can handle. That is why you see some expensive homes built OTP. ITP/Buckhead, given the zoning can't handle the demand growth by itself. In many ways this is good for Buckhead as it has helped them grow in value over time, but it is also a clear indication that Metro Atlanta needed to grow in housing stock (at all price points).
The other problem I have is people keep forgetting where many jobs are locating. Many of the newer engineering/tech heavy industries that are new to Metro Atlanta are increasingly located OTP.... and I don't just mean at Perimeter Center. They are along I-75, 85, and 400 in those mid-rise office buildings and often have a light industrial component on-site or nearby, since they are engineering heavy (aka...trying to physically create a product for development or build specialized industrial products on site). You also get alot of mini-campuses, like Cisco in Lawrenceville.
These bring high paying jobs to the north metro OTP, which increases demand for homes at higher price points OTP and not necessarily in Buckhead
I just find this kind of silly. I mean in many ways with these arguments 80 years ago people building homes for the first time in Buckhead were McMansions (for the reasons you described above) and the people living in the old mansions along Peachtree were the ones with the real old wealth.
It is a clear mixed issue between the number of people (demand), proximity, and zoning/ability to build.
BTW, most of the early century bungalows in town (here in ATL and elsewhere) were purchased right out of the Sears Catalog (literally) and are the definition of cookie cutter, only older. But being cookie cutter isn't what makes something a McMansion. And I would argue that the vast majority of the ATL burbs are not at all chock full of McMansions as is often the perception.
My definition of McMansion is tearing down a old < 2000 square foot home in the middle of similar homes in a somewhat dense area and putting up a 3500+ square foot home. But doesn't fall into the category of a mansion.
A neighborhood with big homes of the same type, is just that, a bigger neighborhood.
The people with real money are the ones that spend $200K on a single hardscape and landscape projects. As far as build quality, yeah the people in Buckhead pay for that quality. My step-dad built / renovated homes all over Buckhead for several years. Back in 1994 when I was 16, I worked on a home off of Tuxedo for a few weeks. I spent two weeks, literally drilling a single hole, into ridiculously priced ceramic roof tiles, imported from Spain or Italy.
But even in Buckhead proper there's still just run of the mill, older homes, with basic quality construction. And they'll sit right next door to the one I mentioned above.
One of my friends growing up lived in a 1970s suburban neighborhood in Clayton Co that we dubbed "Its a Small World" because literally every house (while essentially around 2500 sq ft) was a different style: Tudor, Spanish Stucco, midcentury modern ranch, neo-Victorian, split level, cottage, baby Tara with columns, "barn shaped house", colonial, cape cod, etc. So sometimes cookie cutter can be a good thing!
It was very odd...almost makes me wonder if it was intended to be an "exhibition" neighborhood to showcase the builder's diversity for future projects. I believe that whole area is now empty, cleared out for the runway that was never built in the 90s.
Okay, here's an example of a McMansion. I know both of the owners of these two homes as one is my buddy's house and the other one is his bosses. This houses sit directly next to each other. His boss lived in smaller home while he tore down the older house next door and built his new house.
His house is very, very nice, and big, but by no means, a mansion.
This is off Pebblebrook road in the Smyrna/Mableton (wannabe Vinings) area.
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