For many buyers, the path to homeownership takes a slightly more customized approach. Instead of purchasing an existing home, they decide to design and build from scratch or substantially renovate in order to suit their needs. Our region has a strong legacy of residents working with architects and builders as they craft a custom home to facilitate how they want to live.
At this year’s Sarasota ArchiFest, co-presented by the Sarasota-Herald Tribune and Michael Saunders & Company, Harold Bubil moderated a panel investigating the value of architect-designed homes. Realtors® Kim Ogilvie and Nora Johnson weighed in alongside builders, Nathan Cross from NWC Construction and Josh Wynne from Josh Wynne Construction.
Watch the video below for key highlights from the panel or scroll to the bottom to watch the entire 30-minute discussion.
Do architecturally-designed homes have a special value?
“People want a story of all the details,” Johnson explained. “I think when an architect has been involved it shows a lot more forethought and that detail does hold a lot of value.”
Ogilvie agreed and shared an example of two side-by-side homes on garden lots that recently sold in the Harbor Acres neighborhood of Sarasota. She noted that one property sold last year with a sale price of $513 per square foot. The neighboring home designed by a noted architect is now pending and was sold for significantly higher, at $713 per square foot. While the numbers speak for themselves, Ogilvie further went on to explain the “newness” of the home shouldn’t be overlooked either. “New is the biggest trend there is.”
When is a home a teardown?
Many buyers are faced with a difficult decision when they find an older home on a piece of land they love. The question for them becomes, “Do I renovate? Or is it better to tear it down and start fresh?”
From an architectural perspective, it’s important to do your research. Who was the architect? When was it built? A number of homes in our region are the legacy of the Sarasota School of Architecture – which in and of itself will hold value both from a monetary and historical perspective. Johson explained in the panel that in making this decision it is often not only a matter of finances but timing. Do you have a year or two to wait as you go through the process of designing and building?
And for sellers, Ogilvie points out, “My cautionary tale is if you have an older home on grade, there are going to be buyers for that. But don’t go plowing a lot of dollars into that. You’ll never get it back out.”
For buyers, Ogilvie also referred to a formula used by Sarasota-based real estate appraiser, Don Saba. Saba explains, “My research through the years indicates that if the site is worth 80% or more of the overall value, then the highest and best use is to raze the existing structure and to construct a new home.”
When you do find a home or property that’s right for you, consult with an architect who can help guide you towards making the best decision based on the land and existing home.
Modern vs. Med Rev
The panel also compared the desirability of design styles within the current Sarasota market. Bubil asked the panel why there has been such a strong shift in consumer preferences from Mediterranean-Revival architecture to modern design in recent years.
“People are looking for a more informal lifestyle,” replied Johnson. “They like the wide open floor plan. They like the connection to the outdoors…I’d like to think it’s a little bit of a nod back to what was here in the Sarasota School of Architecture.”
Builder Josh Wynne agreed. “I think it’s a cultural thing,” he explained. “The reality is Sarasota is a known artist and architectural destination. We have a modernist pedigree of architecture here that pretty much rivals anywhere else in the country and I think we have a smarter resident really. Somebody that’s really embracing a newer way to live…[Modern homes] live better. It’s more efficient. You can live closer to the land.”
From a value perspective, Ogilvie went on to say that nine times out of ten a modern home will sell for more than a traditional Mediterranean-Revival home.
What about the cost of building new?
“[With modern] it’s way more,” explained Wynne. “It is not less because you see less. It is not easier because you see less. It’s a more difficult house to build. It’s definitely more finite…We don’t get to cover up mistakes or ill considerations with a crown molding. You can’t hide a reveal with a fat casing. Everything matters.”
Cross went on to clarify that in the case of these architect-designed, one-of-a-kind homes, it is impossible to provide owners with a preliminary estimate of the cost per square foot before they have plans in hand. “There is no such thing in what we do. Everything is different. Everything is one-of-a-kind. Everything that we do is a prototype. It’s never been done before.” He explained once they have the blueprints, they carefully review the specifications and come up with a very specific number taking into account all the design and details.
Watch the video of the entire panel to learn more about the value of architecture in real estate.