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Million bucks and no personality

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis January 13, 2014 09:42 AM

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Big, new and blah - that's too often the case when it comes to some of the new homes being built today in Boston's more affluent suburbs.

Amazingly, you can spend a million or more on a new house in a town like Needham and wind up with a bland box with no personality.

In fact, $2 million may just be the new million when it comes to overpriced and overheated Greater Boston real estate market, at least when it comes to getting something that truly feels a bit grand rather than just cookie cutter.

That's the word from Barbara Jones, a contractor devoted to renovating older homes and reselling them rather than tearing them down and building something new and all too often, completely dull as well.

Here's a piece of mine that just ran in the Globe West. It profiles Jones and another groups of local contractors who are buying older homes now to restore and resell them.

Residential teardowns in Needham are soaring, with 94 in 2013, up from 61 in 2012.

Typically this number represents older homes - whether we are talking 50s capes or homes from the early 1900s - that have been leveled to make way for $1 million and up McMansions.

However, just spending a million doesn't guarantee you anything spectacular, it just gets you a new, relatively spacious home. That's a lot in the Boston area, but it's hardly what a million dollars used to buy you.

If you want lots of nice interior touches or details, those flourishes are going to cost you dearly - think of spending $2 million and up on a house, Jones says.

Better then to buy an older home with some character and preserve all those expensive, interior details than tear it down and build some big, ugly and bland million-dollar box, she argues.

So what does this say about where prices are headed? Is $2 million the new million in today's Greater Boston real estate market?

Are looks and personality important to you when looking at a home?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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