Out with vacation McMansions but keep going with pricey, exclusive, luxurious homes

An article about a popular new development in Park City, Utah suggests millennials do not want McMansions but the rest of the text suggests they are not giving up on having nice homes:

https://www.benlochranch.com/

What Benloch Ranch represents is a collision of trends in real estate and demographics. Millennials of homebuying age are rejecting the sizes of their parents’ homes, so-called cookie-cutter McMansions. And the second-home market, hastened by COVID and the same millennial-buying population, is booming. The pandemic has forced buyers to value outdoor spaces and activities more than ever before. Benloch Ranch currently has a waitlist of 175 for its single-family lots…

The development’s amenities include more than 20 miles of trails, a ski hill, a skeet shooting range, an ice skating pond and 900 acres of open space…

A lot of millenials don’t want these big houses anymore. We’re redefining the size and scale of the house and altering the price point so it’s more affordable.”

According to data released by the Park City Board of REALTORS, the median price  single-family home rose roughly 26% year-over-year to $2.5 million. Benloch Ranch offers single-family homes starting at $695,000.

The pitch is an attractive one: lean into the terrain and the idea of sustainability, feature interesting architecture, provide amenities, be close to an exciting scene and in at the start of a new development. This is a shift to new preferences of millennial buyers. The vacation homes of today and the future may look different and there is money to be made.

At the same time, this is about vacation homes in a wealthy community. This development has potential because millennials with resources can afford a vacation home starting at $700k. Sure, there are no more McMansions with all of that wasted space and tacky design but this kind of life is only available to those who can buy into it. The price for these homes would be beyond the reach of many residents of the Salt Lake City region, let alone many residents of the United States.

Does this mean the McMansion vacation homes of an older generation will not find buyers? This will be worth watching, both for vacation homes and regular homes. If McMansions go out of style, this could be reflected in lower prices or modifications – imagine multiple units – or even redevelopment.

President Obama and McMansions on Martha’s Vineyard

The president is vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard and this has become part of a local controversy over McMansions:

But film-maker Thomas Bena says the house the Obamas are renting this year is a prime example of the kind of mega-construction that is threatening to destroy the character of the island.

Bena has spent 12 years making a film called One Big Home, which is being shown to islanders this weekend. It documents an issue that is as tricky for residents of the Vineyard as it is for beach destinations everywhere: how to protect small communities from the distortions created by an influx of wealthy visitors who come for just eight weeks of the year. The film chronicles Bena’s crusade against the proliferation of outsize homes in the town of Chilmark, where he lives with his wife, Mollie, and daughter, Emma.

Bena argues that the giant homes – often referred to as McMansions – are not only out of proportion with their environment but are wasteful symbols of the over-reaching vanity of their absentee owners. Over the past 20 years, what started as an aberration is now a trend – Mansionisation, or the practice of building the largest possible house on a plot of land…

A backlash has started, with people in Martha’s Vineyard – and in the Hamptons on Long Island – questioning the wisdom of land being turned over to mansions that sit empty – but heated – for 10 months of the year. In Los Angeles, the city planning commission recently voted to eliminate various loopholes, including one that grants a 20% square footage bonus for building “green,” that has been contributing to bigger-is-better mansionisation…

Bena believes McMansions have contributed to a new sense of “us and them”, local people and summer visitors. “In the summer you feel that tension wherever you go,” he says. “People put a smile on their face because they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them, but it’s there.”

It seems that there are three issues at hand:

  1. The construction of large houses – McMansions – within long-standing communities leads to tensions in many communities, not just prime vacation spots. The situation is exacerbated here because the large house owners aren’t in the community all year long and so there is likely less interaction between them and the long-time residents. Of course, having neighbors that know each other doesn’t necessarily limit the anger regarding McMansions.
  2. The limits of tourism to transform existing communities. On one hand, tourism is often viewed by places as an excellent opportunity: other people come in, spend money (and can be taxed at higher rates – see the hotel taxes in many major cities), and then go home (the community doesn’t have to provide long-term local services like schools for the tourists). This may be preferable to polluting factories or evil corporations. On the other hand, tourism can bring in an influx of people who have their own ideas of what they want and can swamp the smaller local population.
  3. Having the President visit provides an opportunity for locals to draw attention to their particular concerns. Should they be proud the President is visiting or unhappy that such visits can be disruptive? This may just depend on one’s political leanings and which party is in office.

In this case, if outsiders want to spend big money on large homes (providing some local construction money and increased tax money) plus spend some time there during the year (spending more money), what limits should a vacation spot put on them?

Florida vacation home McMansion built on the wrong lot

I’ve seen this story in a number of places but only some are calling it a McMansion: a large Florida vacation home was built one lot over from its correct location.

Their three-story vacation rental house with an estimated construction value of $680,000 actually sits on the lot next to the one they own in the gated Ocean Hammock resort community.

“We are in total disbelief, just amazed this could happen,” said Mark Voss, who owns a property management and real estate company in central Missouri. “We may have moved (to Ocean Hammock) someday. But, with this headache and grief, we’re not so sure. The Midwest is looking pretty good right now.”

The Voss’s builder, Keystone Homes, which is based in Ormond Beach but builds primarily in Flagler County, has contacted the two lot owners and other parties and is trying to negotiate a settlement, said Robbie Richmond, company vice president…

The house has five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. It also includes a home theater, game room and screened-in pool.

The builder and owner say the initial survey of the land for construction is at fault. On one hand, this story is getting headlines because it seems like an egregious mistake, perhaps the builder version of the doctors who perform surgery on the wrong arm or leg. On the other hand, one lot over is not actually that much land and the article notes that there are about 10 vacant lots in a row without any distinguishing features.

Boing Boing likely claimed the home is a McMansion – which appears to have some validity – to help draw readers.