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Oh, yeah, I thought of you when I read that article. This line--"The results were bracing: Nelson forecasts a likely surplus of 22 million large-lot homes (houses built on a sixth of an acre or more) by 2025—that’s roughly 40 percent of the large-lot homes in existence today."--really fascinated me. If the forecast is even close to correct, that's a HUGE overhang.


It gives me a slight amount of hope for my inner ring suburb--we're one of those mixed retail, walkable communities and in the past few years we've redeveloped vacant car lots with luxury townhouse condo things, rebuilt the library and all the grammar schools and the junior high, and gotten a new train station. I don't think retail's doing too well, but both the indie sewing store and the grilled cheese restaurant have had to expand. This is in the aftermath of trying to get most of the western end of town taken for the eminent domain use of putting in one of those walkable destination centers with national retail.

I think they're wrong on the "old houses are better" argument though.

Lisa S.

As someone who has no end of headaches in re: the plumbing and wiring in my old house, I think you're on to something, Kerry.


I gotta disagree on the "old house" issue. I'm sure you've got headaches, Lisa (I grew up in a house built in 1927, so I feel you) but it's one thing to have infrastructure issues with pipes that went in when Roosevelt was president and had the craftsmanship to last 40-50-60+ years and another when it's "Oh, you didn't expect that with a 15-year-old house? Well, it's because it's built of crap by a contractor who cut every corner possible."

With regard to the housing issue: yeah, I figured that would happen. You can make small houses big - add a room, or do a teardown if you're evil - but once you've got a McMansion on your hands (whether on a small lot or 3 acres) out in exurbia, you gotta hope people still want to live in those babies twenty years from now.


Part of the reason the poor concentrate in urban areas is because they don't need to carry the expense of a car to live there. Life in an outer-ring suburb will *always* require that you have your own wheels (see Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel & Dimed to see what it's like to try to get to a *Mart-type job when you're living out in the boonies without one), so I don't think we're going to see large-lot homes flip over to slums. Abandoned, yes, but not slums.


Abandoned, yes, but not slums.

Yeah, especially when you consider that quite a number of these developments get built out in the middle of NOWHERE--even the druggies and squatters are going to be like, "No way, that's too far." Of course, they'll be ideal places for meth labs....

I wonder if it's going to be like the old estates on the East Coast. A lot of them are now public buildings of one sort or another (shops, libraries, etc.), while some are museums. Of course, with those, there's a instinct to preserve them because they are historic--I don't see people 20 years from now paying $5 to tour a vintage 2003 McMansion.


I just made this move. Just this summer, I sold my cookie-cutter house built in 2002 in a subdivision on the outskirts of town to buy a house of the same size built in 1924 in the downtown area. Part of it was due to aesthetics, I felt and still feel that my older home has more character and appeal than my newish home. But the main motivation was the location. I work downtown and my house is now less than a mile from my office. Plus, my old neighborhood was rapidly being filled up by rentals and I got tired of the endless drama that is associated with a combination of college kids and renters. My new neighborhood is primarily settled adults and while the 'hood is just two blocks over the crime rate is significantly less than where I used to live.

And yeah...old houses have their set of quirks like plaster walls that have turned to some hard as steel type substance over the years and heating bills through the roof but I'll take them any day over the shoddy construction and cookie-cutter floor plans of my other place.


Our previous house from the 60's: solid wood doors, plaster walls, hardwood floors, real enamel tub. Our current house from the late 90's: drywall, pergo floors, hollow core doors, plastic/resin tub-slash-shower inserts. We deliberately bought in a modest neighborhood near the town center specifically to avoid the isolated-in-suburban-development phenomenon where you have to get in your car to go get the mail because we know the workmanship in this house - or at least the materials - aren't up to what we had before.

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