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Old 04-07-2008, 04:06 PM
Location: Des Plaines (unincorporated)
4 posts, read 22,079 times
Reputation: 10


OK, so we're looking at the high-300's price range for our single family house, and here's what I'd like help with: I know (don't ask me why, though) that split-levels are more desirable than ranches.
The prices illustrate it very clearly - we could find quite a few ranch houses (with full basement) in our price range, and very few split-levels.
My husband would like an explanation of why I don't want to look at ranch houses, only split-levels.
Can anyone shed light on the subject?
The ranch houses I'm talking about all have full basements, otherwise I wouldn't be considering it at all
So space-wise, it seems like they'll be very similar, so why the price difference?
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:01 PM
28,455 posts, read 85,354,654 times
Reputation: 18728
I know what you are looking at in the sub $400K for both ranches & split levels in Northbrook/Glenview. I have owned property there and those are great towns.

You'd be crazy to rule out ranches. If the ranch is well configured it can be more livable than a split level from day one, plus resale and expandability can be greater.

Don't confuse a true ranch that has the entry on the same level the main living space with the "raised ranch" that typically has steps leading from the entry UP to the main living space and DOWN (or at grade) for rec room/garage. Raised ranches can be quite a challenge to remodel/expand. Even the configuration of some kitchens make it hard to have things like a deck/patio. If you are lucky enough to find a true ranch in that price range with a familyroom on the main level it may be a addition, which is not as well integrated as the original home. I know exactly the frustration you may be feeling. Despite the fact there are more homes on the market than in years past there are not an abundance of desirable homes at attractive prices. I suppose this is because the economy is still strong among the majority of people in the Northbrook/Glenview market...

If you find yourself preferring split levels I am guessing these are the kind that have a large familyroom a half flight down from the kitchen and the bedrooms a half flight up from up from the kitchen. At open houses, especially for first time buyers, these can seem more like a traditional two story. Be careful. If you get one without at least a powder room on the main level it can be a challenge to have older folks even visit...

I am going to go out on limb and guess that in your price range the VAST majority of simple ranches have been gobbled up by either flippers who may have turned them into two stories OR done full teardowns. The ranches that are left are probably in the less desirable areas/tiny lots/other negatives.

The split levels that you are seeing probably never attracted as much interest because it is A LOT MORE work to make them bigger and/or the footprint would not allow as big a teardown -- the floor area ratio of the familyroom counts as "basement" but teardown buyers in Northbrook/Glenview want a FULL two story...

You are looking at the "leftovers" of about a decade of teardown & flips. Some of the split levels are REALLY NICE, it is just that it was more work to redo them flippers wanted to undertake.

If you find a home that will meet your needs TODAY and for AT LEAST the next five-seven years (in terms of kids/bedrooms/bathrooms) there is no reason NOT TO consider a split level a fine place to live -- flippers and teardowns are/were a whole different motivation in the marketplace and with tight mortgage qualifications they've been driven out.
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