Looking for advice on buying a Usonian Home

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Dr. Lee
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Location: U.S.A.

Looking for advice on buying a Usonian Home

Post by Dr. Lee »

Help. I have been negotiating with private seller to purchase a FLW Usonian Home. I have experience in Real Estate but am finding it hard to place a value on the property. Any advice?



There are not to many properties that I have been in and felt that there was "something special" about the home.



Forgot to mention that if a local developer buys the house it will be knocked down and a parking lot will be put in it's place
Last edited by Dr. Lee on Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

RJH
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Post by RJH »

Would be happy to help Richard@HaynesHouseLLC.com.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Which house is it? Generally, realtors have found that being a FLW house does not add much value. The price should be in line with other houses of similar size in the area. But if you don't buy it and it becomes endangered, the Conservancy would definitely like to know about it. If that happens, e-mail Ron Sherubel at <preservation@savewright.org> to give the Conservancy a chance to stop the demolition.

Richard
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Location: Illinois

Post by Richard »

"...knocked down and a parking lot will be put in it's place." Hmmm???

Wouldn't one think that it would be likely that this would have made at least the local if not the national news by now?



Anyway, living in a FLW home is a unigue experience which may affect your life on several different levels. It can be quite rewarding and at other times aggravating.



Don't sweat the premium Dr. Lee if you can afford it. You may be among the small percentage that once you have set foot inside this house, there is no turning back. It is a commitment on several levels as well.



I believe that Mr. Grant's assessment is correct.



Good luck.



Richard
Homeowner

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

Following up on what Richard said: are you sure it's Wright? Storrer's books (FLlW Companion, The Architecture of FLlW) are the standard catalogs.



Peter

Richard
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Post by Richard »

To follow up on what Reidy said. (For the uninitiated.) There are FLW designs, homes built from plans after his death, apprentice designs, and FLW inspired designs.
Homeowner

Dr. Lee
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Post by Dr. Lee »

Thanks for all your input. it has been very helpful.



To answer some question and follow up comments.



1. I am currently negotiating with seller. No realtor is involved.

2. It things fall thru i will let conservatory know name of house.

3. Yes, house has published name and #.

4. Local govenment know that it is for sale and that developer wants the land for parking. I would guess it would be a few years before he gets permits to demolish.

5. My office was built in 1776. That is a challange to "live in" / "work in".

rewarding and aggravatijng.

6.Premium for home is about 50% above market. Ouch!

7. House was build before his death.

RJH
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Post by RJH »

I am just going to take a guess at this. Could it be the 1950 J.A. & Muriel Sweeton house in Cherry Hill, NJ?



I understand that house is adjacent to a large office building and I can see the developer buying the Sweeton house for the sole purpose of knocking the house down and expanding the office building

Richard
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Post by Richard »

Dr. Lee,



The price problem may be that it is not yet listed and therefore one of two things may be happening.



1. He is asking whatever the market will bare and you are the market. No one else is out there to verify or justify the price. You may be being taken for a ride.



2. As it is not listed, the real market has not had a chance to have it's effect on the price. If he is 50% above the value of comparable homes, the market has not had a chance to bring the price down. If it sits on the market for a while with no takers he either lowers the price, takes it off of the market or lets the listing languish which is not a good thing.



You are in a bad negotiating position.



Typically, a developer is the type of buyer who will overpay so that he

or she can put a larger opportunity together. However, a FLW fancier is similarly likely to get emotional enough to overpay as well - even at a 50% premium.



Richard
Homeowner

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

I'll regret these words if the house is bulldozed away in 6 months, but this looks like a bluff to me, too. If the seller were willing to sell the place as a teardown and had a serious offer of a 50% premium at a time when prices are starting to come down, he'd take it. If he were eager to sell at a realistic price, he'd find an agent and take the agent's advice. Stories abound in Wright circles of houses that sit on the market for years because owners think that architectural importance translates directly into money (as with paintings).



If you're in a position to pay way over market, save the place and restore it, the world will be in your debt, but we can't ask you to to that.



The Conservancy might be able to recommend an appraiser with the special expertise this property needs.





Peter

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The seriousness of the threat to the property should be evaluated. If the developer really wants that parking lot, and the homeowner is indifferent, you probably don't stand much of a chance of success. If the developer represents, or is associated with, some well-known corporation, the Conservancy and public pressure (yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity) could help prevent demolition. But the 50% premium is realistic only if the location of the property makes it commercially viable, in which case it may be only a matter of time until the house becomes unlivable. Ultimately, that close to commercial development, it may be necessary to relocate the house in order to save it.

JimM
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Post by JimM »

The telling point throughout this thread is the apparent disinterest the current owner displays concerning responsible stewardship. That component usually is part of these "negotiations". Trying to strongarm Dr. Lee, while waiting to see how much more a developer might pay, shows great disrespect for the true "value" of the house.



The owner has not chimed in here for balance, and it is their property to do with as they please, but it appears things do not bode well for it, whichever it is. If and when Dr. Lee does contact the conservancy according to his "strategy", we can only hope it is not too late.

RJH
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Post by RJH »

I want everyone to know that I have telephoned FLWBC this morning and alerted them to this possible teardown. I sincerely hope that they respond swiftly.



I received an email from Dr. Lee confirming my suspicions that it was indeed the Sweeton house in Cherry Hill, NJ. I wasn

Richard
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Post by Richard »

In deference to Dr. Lee, might it be appropriate that any attempts to thwart the demolition and aid his purchase be conducted in coordination with Dr. Lee? It is his deal after all. Furthermore, if he were to agree to coordination and there is in fact a real threat to the building, shouldn't the Conservancy be prodded to alert the local media in Cherry Hill immediatley?
Homeowner

Dr. Lee
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J.A. Sweeton House

Post by Dr. Lee »

It is great to see and hear the concerns of all regarding saving #325. FLWBC has reached out to me and I have had a long conservation with them. I want to let those following this saga to know that the owner does want what

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