WASHINGTON – Aug. 2, 2016 – More builders and private individuals are turning to teardowns to open up lots. They're eyeing aging homes to demolish and replace with a modern house that they believe will be more appealing to today's homebuyers.
In Houston, the teardown trend is especially evident. Permits for teardowns have climbed 22 percent in Houston this year alone.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates that nearly 8 percent of all single-family housing starts in 2015 were from teardown-related construction. That equates to about 55,000 homes in 2015. In 2014, about 31,800 single-family homes were torn down, NAHB estimates.
Barry Sulphor, a real estate professional in Los Angeles, says he's noticed an increase in clients who ask him about tearing down a home to build new. He recently sold a $1.35 million lot to a builder who plans to build a new house there that will be nearly $4 million in price when completed. Another home he recently sold for $2.15 million to a retired couple was torn down because the couple said they "love the creativity of working with architects to design luxury beach properties," Sulphor says. The couple plans to build a new place that will be estimated at $5 million when completed.
But some buyers who plan to teardown can meet resistance. Sulphor says it's important for buyers to make absolutely certain the current condition of the home can't be salvaged before considering a teardown. Preservationists may fight back.
The National Trust for Historic Preservations has called teardowns a growing "epidemic" that is "wiping out historic neighborhoods one house at a time. As older homes are demolished and replaced with dramatically larger, out-of-scale new structures, the historic character of the existing neighborhood is changed forever."
Builders argue that new houses can "breathe new life into older communities."
Source: "Teardowns on a Tear," National Mortgage News (July 28, 2016)