Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Manhattan Beach: McMansions and Zoning Changes... Higher Prices for Smaller Homes?

Will Manhattan Beach zoning changes stop McMansions?

The November 21, 2007 Beach Reporter had an article about McMansions and Zoning changes that have been addressed by the Manhattan Beach City Council. The City has addressed a number of issues including lot mergers and increased setbacks. As with all city building code changes there are good changes and ones that are marginal at best.

On one hand as a resident I'm glad to see a more open space requirements especially in the trees. It was getting hard to tell where one home ended and another began. On the other hand I think the city may have missed the mark on what they wanted to accomplish especially on the lot merger issue. Everyone got on the bandwagon with that one... but I'm not sure anyone stopped to think about the ultimate outcome. So it will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next few years. I'm not going to address all the issues that are involved in the new requirements you can read those for your self.

I know a lot of people think these changes are going to stop the McMansions and force builders to build charming smaller homes. Not true... especially with the decrease in open space for front yards. Let's face it no one is going to build a charming little 2000 sqft home on a lot that costs $1.2 million for the dirt. People will continue to build as much house as they can.. and 2 feet isn't really going to bring down the size or the price on new home.

Therein lies the key. I know a lot of people thought that if new homes are smaller they will also be cheaper.. not so grasshopper. New building requirements that limit size will just push up the prices of homes... especially on larger old homes that were built using pre-McMansion rules. Homes with square feet that exceed ZORP changes continue to sell at a premium.

Lowering density always makes property more expensive in the long run. People will continue to pay some hefty prices to live on some fairly small lots in the Beach Cities. Right now there is a lot of new construction inventory. I'm betting that with the new changes... the new construction is going to begin to quietly sell off as consumers realize that new homes will be smaller.

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