Targeting Santa Monica homeowners in order to build mini-mansions

The housing market in Santa Monica, California is apparently in good shape: homeowners are being targeted by those who want to tear down their smaller homes and build bigger ones.

Santa Monicans are being targeted by real estate agents representing developers looking to turn small homes in desirable neighborhoods into mini-mansions that can be sold for double the original asking price.

The agents tend to single out older homes, often taking up a relatively small portion of the parcel on which they sit, offering a cash purchase and a promise by the buyer to take care of normal closing costs, provided the homeowner does not broadcast their intent to sell.

Residents report notes left on their doors, direct mail bearing a picture of their own home and even direct phone calls soliciting sales.

That practice is called by many names, including off-market listing, pocket listing or quiet listing, and while it is completely legal, it often is a bad deal for sellers in hot markets like Santa Monica, said Don Faught, president of the California Association of Realtors…

Sosin led the charge in the late 1990s against “McMansions,” homes built to the margins of their property lines. They overshadowed neighboring properties, and led to the death of many mature trees that had to be removed so that the home could be built out.

Her work resulted in new rules around single-family homes, requiring set backs and imposing controls over how much of a parcel can be covered.

The attempts to build to even those restricted maximums are unwelcome, she said, because they only succeed in making neighborhoods more expensive to move in to and replace quaint, well-loved homes with larger versions.

It sounds like the resident quoted above is ready for a teardown battle, should one develop, but the article makes it sound like people are generally unhappy with this approach. The real question in my mind is whether these sorts of real estate tactics are successful. Does this suggest developers are worried about how the community will react to more public plans to build bigger teardowns or is this primarily a way to get real estate at a cheaper price before it hits the open market? Either way, I would want to know how many homeowners actually sell their homes in such a way and how they negotiate the peer pressure in the neighborhood versus the offer from developers.

Also, is the use of the term “mini-mansion” intended to avoid using the term McMansion? I would expect McMansion in this sort of situation, particularly from unhappy residents…

h/t Curbed

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