My little beach house sits on what was once a run-down looking street with oversized lots (for the town). I bought it with my ex when we were married. He didn’t love it, but I did. It was one level, no steps from the driveway to the back door, a big fenced front yard and a medium back yard, perfect for dogs.
We are both dog people.
Long story short, I bought him out in the divorce, knowing that my income would never qualify for a loan to purchase another house in the same town. Boy, was I ever right about that.
As I’ve watched my property taxes creep up year after year (never more than 2%, but still), I have also watched my street begin to flip. First, a contractor bought a dumpy three bedroom on a half acre four doors down in 2017. He bought it for $900,000 and just listed it for 2.6 million. That seems steep for my street, which is two streets over from the ocean.
Then another neighbor added a freestanding mother-in-law unit on his lot and added a second story to the original house to grab an ocean view. The sub-contractor trucks were parked every which way for months, so the surrounding neighbors had to delineate their property lines.
One neighbor installed a classy wooden fence in front, and the people across the street from him put in a split rail fence and roses.
Meanwhile, two very old neighbors died. The smaller house at 1250 sq feet sold this summer for $950,000. The new owners come every weekend from Burlingame to do more improvements. First, they poured a stamped driveway (it had been gravel before), then they tore out the old jade plants and put in a bunch of drought tolerant plants. Today they have ten sample paint colors on the front. It’s like living across from Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Then the house next to it and closer to mine, at 1650 sq feet, went on the market last week at $1,150,000. The back yard is dirt. The guy was over 100. The kitchen is from the 70’s, dark brown pressed board cabinets.
When I came down this last time, the for-sale sign was already gone. I went online and saw that it sold for $250,000 over asking. It must’ve been a bidding war.
My yard is four times the size, but I have a shared driveway. Many of the older houses do. Although my neighbors and I have come to an agreement about usage of said driveway, the husband still runs out to protect his precious asphalt when I get a stove delivered, or a washing machine, or a grandfather clock.
At least he said Merry Christmas to me the other day. Progress.
I was going to challenge my property tax bill this year. There is no chance of doing that now. I would have to show that the value of my house is less than what the county thinks. The county has it right. If I were to sell now, I’d get a good price.
But who wants to do that? I walked the dog to the ocean this morning, less than two blocks. She gets that walk every day. The crazy one gets to play ball in the big fenced front yard. Yes, I’ve lost a few tennis balls over the fence, but that’s okay. Used tennis balls are cheap.
My street is looking flipping fantastic these days. Now, if only the people across the street with the faded blue house and the dirty curtains at the windows would move, or paint and clean.
Dream on, Susan.
That’s what this house is good for. It’s a good place to think, write and dream.