The Stats:

  • MLS# 1974001
  • Asking: $499K
  • 6 room cape
  • 3 Beds – 1 Bath
  • Taxes: $7600
  • Prior sale – 11/2004: $310K (from Zillow)

This house popped up on MLSLI just this past week and it immediately caught my eye. As you can see from the picture, it’s a sweet, little cape with tremendous curb appeal. The middle gable sets off the two, side, gabled dormers, giving the place a kind of gingerbread house look.The landscaping is well done and the yard looks pleasant. Most importantly, it’s right in the village, about two tenths of a mile from the train.

On the other hand, it’s only got one bathroom. That’s a major negative for us. Quite frankly, one of the reasons we’d like a house is to get at least another half bath. It’s being listed at $499K after being bought for $310K less than three years ago. Now it’s possible that there were some major renovations made in the intervening three years to justify a 60% price jump, but I’d have to see that for myself.

The open house listing indicated that not only would there be an open house this Friday, likely targeted more at other local real estate agents than prospective buyers, but that there would also be open houses on both Saturday and Sunday as well. Three open houses in three days. It’s an open house full court press. The owners must be very “motivated” as they say in realtor speak.

The house is on a fairly busy side street off the main drag in Babylon Village. It’s right across from the large, Babylon post office and a large condo complex. There’s almost no on-street parking near the house. Most of the spaces are reserved for Village employees.

It’s a small house. The master bedroom is on the main floor and is pretty small for a master. If we put our king size bed and a couple of dressers in there, there wouldn’t be much room left. The living room was also pretty small, with the fireplace and windows taking up a lot of the space. Finding a good spot for a nice-sized TV would be a bit of challenge.

The kitchen is, to put it plainly, not the home’s best feature. It’s a decent size for a small house and it’s been recently redone, but it’s cheap looking. El cheapo cabinetry from Home Depot sets off the faux granite, laminate counter tops, creating a miasma of bad kitchenry.

I took a quick peek in the basement. It was a clean and dry space with enough headroom to walk without stooping, although probably not enough room for me to use a treadmill without bumping my head. The foundation looked solid and a new boiler is a nice plus.

The upstairs holds the second and third bedrooms and they’re bigger than you might expect in a smaller cape. Bedroom two is a very nice size, currently decorated in an explosion of little-girl pink. Bedroom three is a bit cramped, but perfectly serviceable for use as an office. Both bedrooms are bright and airy and get a lot of light.

After the tour, I told the realtor that I might be back over the weekend with my wife. She then gave me the hard sell.

“This house is priced to sell. Four ninety nine in The Village won’t last long”, she said, stressing The Village as if she was referring to Greewich in Manhattan, not Babylon on Long Island , “If you want this house, I’d make an offer quickly”

She also mentioned that the couple that owns the house is looking to move and that they found the house they want to move into, so they need to sell quickly. That sounds like the two house tango to me, a bad decision in the current market.

I just said that is was a small house with one bathroom and I didn’t think it was worth a half million dollars. I didn’t point out that there were two similar houses, at or below her $499K price point, right around the corner and they both had been languishing unsold on MLS for months. I also didn’t point out that a similar home, right down the street, had just closed for $375K at the beginning of June.

I just turned to leave and the realtor asked me if she’d see me this weekend. I said that I’d probably swing by with my wife on Sunday and then I left.

I’m wondering whether I need to be a bit more forward with the realtors about my opinions on pricing. I need to build up my resistance for when it’s time to negotiate for real.