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If I won the lottery...


. . . I would buy this house, or maybe this one.

There's a cluster of four or five big houses that've been under construction near my place since last fall; two of them were completed and put on the market back in November, and they had an open house that I attended on November 21 (when I wrote most of this entry, but the MLS listings didn't have photos then and I wanted to wait 'til I could link to photos). I wandered in out of curiosity, even though the $1.2 million they were asking at the time is ~just a wee bit~ beyond my price range.

Both houses are gorgeous. Each has four bedrooms and three bathrooms (two with bathtubs), big bedroom closets, big back yards, nice big porches, and decks that wrap around the house. And twice the square footage of my townhouse. One of them is across the street from where the city's going to turn an empty lot into a small park sometime in the next year or so. Each of the houses has a nice (and large) kitchen, and a living room with a fireplace, and spacious high ceilings. They have some oddities in their space use--like, one of them has a built-in garage that's not much wider than the one I've got, but is about twice as high, so lots of unusable space in the top half; and all the bathtubs look a little small, and the washer/dryer space is only big enough for a stacked front-loading pair. And none of the bedrooms is quite as large as I would've expected.

But still, really lovely.

I thought they'd been sold a couple months ago, but the signs out front now say the price has been reduced, and the MLS listings show the price as $1.1M--almost a 10% reduction, but still out of my price range. I could kinda sorta almost pretend to be able to afford the payments (by cutting contributions to my 401(k) and scrimping on other stuff, and hoping I didn't lose my job anytime in the next 30 years, and squinting at the numbers so as to not have to look at them too clearly), but the $13k or so per year in property taxes makes it unmanageable.

I gather that some developer is trying to get an area a block away from these houses rezoned from small business to residential, and intending to construct a hundred housing units on the space right next to the freeway. But I'm not clear on whether that's likely to happen, nor on whether it's likely to increase or decrease property values in the neighborhood if it does.

Anyway, if anyone's got a million dollars lying around and is looking for a nice house in Mountain View, stop on by.

(And yes, I know you can get a four-bedroom house in other parts of the country for a whole lot less money. I'm tempted sometimes. But then I remember how miserable I get if I don't get enough sunshine.)


but what on earth would you do with four bedrooms?

Think of all the bookcases one could fit in them...

Yeah, it's true that I don't normally have a need for four bedrooms. But it might be nice to have an office separate from my bedroom (if nothing else, it would reduce clutter in my bedroom), and maybe I could put the treadmill in the office so it wouldn't be cluttering up the main guest room, and I would love to be able to host writing retreats and have multiple guests at once and let a friend stay for a couple of weeks without making it difficult for another friend to crash there for the night, and so on. (Actually, my current place can probably sleep six or seven guests if necessary, if they're friendly and don't mind sharing beds and/or floors. But I'd rather have real guest accommodations for multiple people.)

Also, as Shmuel noted, bookcase space (or, more precisely, wall space) is at a premium.

Also, the big living room and kitchen are at least as much of a draw for me as the four bedrooms; my current living room and kitchen are both rather narrow, which is one of the few serious dissatisfactions I have with my current place.

So, the pictures for both houses are, um, very similar... as in they are the same pictures. Are the houses really identical inside?

When I follow those two links, I see two different pictures. Are you sure you followed both links?

Yeah, but then click on the "View More Photos" link on the page for each house.


Make an offer! You never know what they will accept after a price reduction. Without making an offer, it's hard to tell just how much pressure the seller is under to make a deal. But make sure to look at some other appropriate comps first to ensure that you are comfortable with the price.

In your calcs, have you factored in the deductibility of the interest on your mortgage and the deductibility of your property taxes? (Albeit you may get hit by AMT, which can effectively limit such deductibility).

Anyway, there's a lot of talk about an impending housing downturn, but if you are a long term holder, then a short term decline, if it happens, is noise.

The air in Mt. View smells like money...I just read that one of the key drivers of CA's unexpected $7 billion tax receipts windfall is GOOG employees exercising stock options.

Anyway Jed, I have several other diligence items for you to consider if you want to pursue the house, give me a call if interested.

Big houses drive me crazy.

We live in a one-story three-bedroom rambler: our room, kids' room, office. Our room is the product (long before our era) of an expansion performed by people more possessed of aesthetic than functional capability: they added a lovely window seat and sloping roof and whatnot, but it's badly insulated. So, last winter, we closed it up and moved into the office, where the couch is a foldout bed (which just barely fits between the desk and the closet).

I was amazed at how much happier I was, day to day, with that room deleted from the house. With a smaller area, I was forced to clean -- we had to make the bed and stuff it back in in order to use the desk and closet during the day, had to dispose of any clutter in the room before unhinging the bed at night. I was forced to optimize, bringing in only those close I was really going to wear, picking the books I really was going to read that set of months, leaving the rest in the chilly, abandoned, sealed-off room.

It produced the same kind of sense of freedom and euphoria I get a taste of when I'm on vacation in a clean, simple hotel room with only a few possessions, or in the little one-room cabin in the woods where we go camping.

My neighborhood is full of little 50s ramblers that have been turned into gabled, blocky, three-story monstrosities. They would be reasonable houses for families of twelve, from my point of view, but demographics tells me that they are occupied by families of 2 to 4. I can't help being appalled -- "you gave up some of your lawn and your trees to have six more rooms to store your crap in??"

> only those close

ahem. clothes.

I guess that put a damper on the conversation, huh? :-/

Well, Ben, I'm not going to say that anyone took it as such, but your post could easily have been read as an insult to those who like big houses. Some people prize the ability to get away from other members of the household, and some people who live alone just like to have lots of space. Wanting a big house isn't necessarily a character flaw.

Gerry: Huh, you're right about the photos. Weird. I remember the houses being similar inside but not identical. Not sure what the deal is with the photos.

Jay: Thanks! I'm talking to my real estate broker, which may end up discouraging me from pursuing this; still thinking about it. If I do pursue it, will call you for further discussion.

Ben: Sorry not to respond sooner. I wasn't at all insulted by your comment; more amused at how different people's reactions can be. Me, I always end up wanting more space, wherever I'm living. My current place is about one and a half times as big (by square footage) as my old place, but I still want a wider living room and kitchen, and would be pleased at having another bedroom and slightly bigger bathrooms.

I was amused by the phrase "with that room deleted from the house"--made me think of Heather's story "Single White Farmhouse."

You say "With a smaller area, I was forced to clean"; sadly, with a smaller area I just have denser clutter. Those who've visited my residences can attest that even in small spaces I rarely get around to cleaning. One extra cost in a bigger house for me is that I would probably be forced to finally hire a cleaning person. (But I should probably do that here, too.)

And for me, hotel rooms are lacking in both space and Stuff. But then, when I'm traveling I always pack way more Stuff than I'll actually need, too. When I went to the UK for a couple weeks a few years ago, one of the college friends I was traveling with brought a single smallish backpack, containing about two changes of clothing; I brought pretty much everything I could carry.

As for lawn and trees, these houses I'm looking at have pretty big back yards in addition to the interior space. I like that--though I've also demonstrated that I'm no good at taking care of a yard, so I'll probably have to hire people to do that as well.

It's probably not very socially/environmentally responsible for one person to live in a huge standalone house and take up all that space. And it's definitely expensive. But I love the idea anyway.

I should also note that various people at various times have made their homes available to me for extended periods, and I always wanted to pass that generosity along. (A couple of old friends have said at various times that my place feels like a comfortable place for them to stay; that means a lot to me.) I can kind of do that in my current place, now that I have a guest bedroom, but I'd like to be able to do it more.

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