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The curse of the supersized house

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis July 15, 2013 08:12 AM

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Do you really want to be the guy with the huge new McMansion in a neighborhood of 50s capes and ranches?

I mean why would anyone want to live in a house that dwarfs everything around it, including the miniscule lot on which it was built?

Don't buy or build the largest home in the neighborhood - it's one of the most basic rules in real estate. And sadly, it is one that is increasingly ignored in land-starved and over regulated Greater Boston, where new homes are scarce and space-starved homeowners go wild when given the chance.

Check out this disturbing report from Arlington, where one frustrated homeowner is suddenly being surrounded by new, supersized homes that look like they were plopped in randomly from some Dallas suburb.

Here's what "aristonice" had to say on the comment board the other day.

In a town where older homes are often under 2,000 square feet, aristonice is seeing an explosion of teardowns in which the new homes are so big as to be "completely ridiculous in our neighborhood."

I live in Arlington, in a pretty densely populated area. Most homes were built between 1920-1950 and sit on parcels that are one-eighth of an acre (if that - mine is one-tenth). It's rare to see a house with 2,000 sq.ft., let alone 3,000. Within the past year, a few houses have sold, only to be razed by the new owners. The new homes they've built aren't "ugly" per se, but look completely ridiculous in our neighborhood. One is so large that the owner's pretty much insured that there's no backyard, and very little front yard to speak of. Over-building for the parcel and the neighborhood just looks silly. I've seen some good projects where owners of modestly-sized houses (think 1,500 sq.ft.) added an addition in the back, or finished an attic, and have added square footage in a way that complements the lot. Not these new homes.

What say you? Would you be OK living in a house two or three times the size of everything else in the neighborhood? Will these overeager homeowners ever get their money back? Or is supersizing the way to go?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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