Unusual considerations when owning an unusual home

by Dan Krell © 2013

Luxury Real EstateBe different and be damned…” is a telling quote from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind.  Social commentary aside, the quote can be somewhat of a warning to those who build or purchase that unique, unusual, and one of a kind home.  Although it is just a quote from one of the highly celebrated novels of the twentieth century, “damned” is a strong word to use in a real estate column.  However, because of the many considerations of owning a unique home, there may be an occasion or two you might feel “damned.”

When would you consider a home as being unique?  Mostly, the degree of uniqueness can be to a person’s perception of a home as well as what they consider to be unusual.  However, there is some consensus to what is generally accepted as “mainstream” in the real estate industry; and if a home falls outside these norms through its construction, size, floor plan, etc – it may be considered as unusual/unique.

Some homes are so extreme in their construction, either in size and/or building materials, that it is clear they are unique and one of a kind; there are other homes that may have been converted from commercial or industrial buildings that may also indicate a unique flair.  However, there are many homes that appear to fit in their respective neighborhood, but the custom nature expresses a specific style and preference; which is often found in the luxury home market.

Some considerations you might think about when purchasing a unique home include: financing, insurance, maintenance, and resale.

If you’re set on purchasing a home that is unique, check with your mortgage lender about financing; lenders may have objections on lending on an unusual home.  It is also not unheard of that extreme unusual homes appraise lower than market value due to uncertainty of value.  Unusual homes, including the “Über-luxury” market, may require specialized loan products that are offered by specialized lenders.

Additionally, you should consult with your insurance agent as the home may not meet your underwriting guidelines for home owners insurance.  Many people don’t realize that insurance carriers may rate your home based on construction materials, zoning, size, etc, which can affect the premium.  And it’s not unheard of that an insurance carrier may also limit or even deny coverage because the home does not meet their underwriting standards.

Maintaining a unique home can sometimes be challenging too.  Many unique homes are constructed with materials that may be exotic, uncommon, and/or can be found in commercial applications.   Repairs and labor costs can be much more than the typically constructed home.  Finding replacement materials and qualified contractors to work with those materials may also be difficult.

Home ownership is often a labor of love for the home, and that emotion can be carried into the resale.  You could easily be disappointed in the time it takes to sell the home as well as the sale price.  Be prepared for an extended time on the market because your unusual home may have a very limited pool of buyers, and negotiation could be long and dragged out due to variances in perception of value.

Doing it your way” may be the theme of a popular song and an advertising campaign for burger joint; but when it comes to building or buying a home – being unique and unusual can sometimes come at a cost.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of June 3, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.