This is yet another cottage in Grass Valley, very similar to the dozen or so that have been listed and sold so far this year in Grass Valley. It was built in the 1930’s but look like it was last remodeled in the 1980’s. It is clean and well maintained, the landscaping in mature and bit over grown, the neighbor’s houses are all on zero setback lots reflecting the tiny size of the parcels. The home is warm and pleasant inside, but only a through home inspection would reveal what sorts of differed maintenance might be present. I would not call this home a “fixer” but any home that has gone more than 20 years without a facelift probably is due for a renovation. Most of the cottages are a bit smaller than this one, and very few have the advantage of a third bedroom, but a closer examination of the floor plan reveals this home likely was not always a 3 bedroom home. It was likely a 2 bedroom home and years ago somebody added a little room at the back, maybe even just walled in the porch. In any case, functionally it is a three bedroom, even if the third bedroom placed in a location that does not optimize the floor plan.
I am generally biased against manufactured homes, and I did not have high expectations when I visited this home at 12951 Sadie D Drive, a 20 years old ranch floor plan 3 and 2 with no garage. Yet what I found was a very nice highly livable home with good light, well maintained landscaping, good hard surfaces for parking, and a clean move in ready home. Only defect I saw was the gas seals on the double pain windows has failed throughout the house, so the home needs new windows. That’s probably a $5000 fix. This home really comes in as decent value compared to all the fixers and other junker homes in this price range.
About two years ago the owner of this flat ten acre parcel split it into five separate 2 acre parcels. He has the entire package listed for $399,000, but I thought it might be worth while to get out and see what they look like, and get a sense for the land, the location, and tree cover. Maybe he would be willing to sell just one or possibly two parcels, so I had the listing agent drive me out to the land in his car and I shot some video while he talked about the property.
There were a couple things worth noting. While each property is about 2 acres, the seller never fully completed the split, so technically there are just three parcels. The road basically works its way around the north end of the ten acres, and dead ends in the middle of the lot with no driving access on the southern portion. There are only 2 wells and three septic systems. I had a good conversation with the listing agent about selling just a portion of the lot, maybe just one parcel. The listing agent said the seller hadn’t considered that possibility, but he would bring it up with owner and get back to me with some sort of proposal.
What I really liked about the property and what attracted me to go see it in the first place was the privacy, the availability of power, the paved road access, and the strong wells and septic systems. What surprised me when I got to the property, and was disappointing, was deep shadows of the Washington Ridge that loom over the property. Even though the property is flat, it sits on a spur of land that comes off the north facing side of Washington Ridge. The big trees that love cold wet winters have done well here, and I am sure it is beautiful during the summer, but in winter this land will be dark and cold. It was 5 degrees colder at this property than my office, and my office is roughly the same elevation. When I was there a 3 pm the sun had already gone down behind the Washington Ridge, so temperatures were dropping and the entire ten acres was enveloped in later afternoon shadow. Back at my office the sun was still shining bright and it is a warm winter day with lots of day light left. Out at the land, 4 pm will come, and you will need light in the house to see. Trees could and would need to be cut to build a house, but it would be hard to have a full sun garden, even in mind summer.
No interior pictures, as the home is occupied by a tenant who also owns a large unfriendly dog. So, I just shot a little of the entry way and driveway. Downslope half acre lot, three bedrooms, two bathrooms standard ranch floor plan, 1344 square feet, built in 1981, no garage, walk in flat at the entry, 14 feet drop to the rear of the house, no basement, just unfinished storage under the home. Yard is too steep to be usable. No garage, and no place to build one. The driveway is steep, but flattens out a bit near the house with enough parking for two cars.
The interior of the home is better than average. Some hardwood flooring, granite counters in the kitchen, bathrooms appeared to be remodeled between 10 and 20 years ago. The tenants did not appear to be taking very good care of the home, and they have a big dog. There was some obvious pet damage to the interior of the front door, but no pet odor in the house.
Listed at $249,900, this is better than average floor plan and better condition home for the price. The lack of a garage is and the steep lot are price depressors. How much buyers will extract in concessions due to the tenants will be known only after someone makes an offer.
Consider this home in the context of the home right down the street that was listed in the fall but did not sell and was taken off the market by a frustrated seller last month. Back in August, my preview of this home which is right down the street, I was interested to see if the market would confirm the hope of this seller, which now know, it did not!
Both of these homes were on the market last year. 13456 La Barr Meadows sold last November for $90,000. originally listed in the fall of 2016 for $220,000 the homes failed a septic inspection and the seller was forced to dump the house at a substantial discount. The contractor who purchased the home planned on installing a new septic and doing a remodel. The new septic was probably penciled in at $40,000 and remodel might be $30,000. The home could then be resold for $250,000 and the investor would do OK, but something went wrong for the investor. According to new listing agent the county wanted architectural drawing for the work being done, and this caused a delay in approving the plans, and the crew that was working on the project go reassigned, so the investor decided to flip the house “AS IS” unfinished, and without the new septic. It still needs a new septic, and it needs finishing, maybe $20,000 more, starting at tape and texture, new fixtures and appliances, and new finishes. Apparently new investors think there is still some meat on the bone, because when I spoke to the listing agent today she told me they had multiple offers at $150,000 on the home, and they were in multiple counter offer with several buyers as of today.
That’s when she told me about the second house, 13518 La Barr Meadows, owned by the same investor, which was also half way finished, also had delays in completion, and was not on the market yet, but would so be listed. 13518 La Barr Meadows is also a familiar address. It sold, again last November, to the same investor, for $185,000. It is a 1500 sf 3/2 on 1 acre of land with a one car garage. It is a two story house, and also needed to be gutted. It did not have septic problems, its problems were due to a visible crack in the foundation that was clearly causing water intrusion into the downstairs area in the house. I ran into a realtor that was working with the owner to determine what the home ought to sell for if they sell it AS IS and don’t do any further repairs on it. Tough call, because the crack in the foundation is serious, but no engineering has been done to determine exactly what the right ought to be. It might be a small patch and repair, maybe $10,000 or $20,000, or it might require much more extensive work, possibly a $100,000, depending on what the engineer says. That is the dilemma of the current owner. They don’t want to fix it themselves, but they want to know how much they are going to have to discount the property to get it sold give what they think it will cost a next owner to get the foundation repaired.
This is gentle property, close to town, just .2 miles from pavement, with a power pole and a well. It would still need soil testing to determine the suitability for a septic system, but the gentle slope makes this one an easy build. How does it compare to some of the other vacant land I have been looking at?
I have looked at over 40 properties priced under $200,000 in the last two weeks. This one is one of the best, with the easiest build and a good view from the building the apparent building envelope.
So, why hasn’t it sold?
Probably the biggest reason it has not sold is the shape of the parcel. The parcel is an very long triangle with half the property located in a narrowing point that provides no usable portion because it is too narrow, and very little in the way of a privacy buffer as there is an existing home at the top of the point. That being said, there are 3 or 4 acres right down in the center of property that are far more private than most of the property I have seen so far, and there is nice view right where a house could be located. Just one house down below the street grade.
It is always difficult to put a comparable price on land. Land is worth whatever a buyer and seller can agree it is worth, but this one already has 6 months of exposure to market place and has not sold. That’s real indication of true value. I think somewhere around $150,000 would be about right. The land is worth $130,000, well, power and road access add another $20,000 to $30,000. This is one I will continue to watch.
There are no end to the variety of homes that come on the market over the course of a year. This one is most similar to the home in Alta Sierra listed earlier this year:
That home has been listed for 71 days now, and still has not sold.
The difference with that property and this new listing, besides being located in Grass Valley and not Alta Sierra, is this home is not a fixer. It is still far too old to qualify for conventional financing, but the owners have taken great care of this home over the years and not only does it look good for the age, but it has a number of upgrades that would make it a comfortable place to live. But it only sell to a cash buyer, and how many of them are there right now, who would want this home, knowing that when they go to sell it, it will also not likely qualify for conventional financing? Not a good investment, but maybe a great home for a retired person who wants a nice home at a fairly low price? Just have see. The fact that one at 10822 Alta Sierra has not sold isn’t a great comparison because that home needs so much work, it is practically a tear down. This one is move in ready.
17076 Norlene: listed for $89,000- 1.67 Acres, with a drainage that run through the property. This is a narrow lot with pond that cut the property in two parts.
17080 Norlene: Listed for $99,000- 1.57 Acres, lot that a gentle slope and good tree cover.
This home needs a lot of cosmetic repairs, but it has solid bones and a very nice lot. This one looks like a great investment for the sweat equity buyer.