Don’t follow the crowd. Be a leader. Do not conform to what everyone else is doing. Well, unless we’re talking about real estate. That’s when conformity becomes important.
What is the principle of conformity? According to the Real Estate Glossary, it’s the idea that a house will more likely appreciate in value if its size, age, condition and style are similar to, or conform to, other houses in the neighborhood.
Case-in-point: This photo was taken by a blog reader of a neighborhood in Sacramento County that is less than ten years old. Houses are typical earth-tone colors with stucco siding and tile roofs, and yards are postage stamp lots. The owner of the house below installed a very elaborate set of stairs that is not found anywhere else in the neighborhood. There is truthfully nothing wrong with the design of the stairs at all, but the problem is they don’t fit with the community. When a feature like this stands out in a neighborhood, it can often feel like a sore thumb. One additional issue is that the stairs basically remove the front yard too, which could impact resale value.
Application of the Principle of Conformity: The stairs are not an extreme non-conformity example, but they do help us get conversation going about what types of improvements are best for a neighborhood. If you are considering improving your property, you may wish to consider updates that are consistent with the neighborhood already and enhance the overall image of the community. It’s good to be known for having the best house on the block, but maybe not so good to be known for having a really odd property feature. This means you probably shouldn’t lay down concrete over the entire front yard if its common to have sod for the neighborhood. You may wish to reconsider doubling the size of your house when everything else surrounding your property is tiny. You’ve really been wanting that bright hot pink color on the exterior, but the new paint probably won’t be a magnet for future buyers. You’ve always dreamed of living in the Bat Cave, but maybe stucco and tile ought to suffice for the time being. Basically, you don’t want to add features that harm your wallet or leave prospective buyers in the neighborhood thinking, “Hmm, I’d rather not live next door to that house.” When that happens, it certainly smells like a negative impact to market value.
What examples of non-conformity in real estate can you think of? Do you buy into the principle of conformity for real estate? How might non-conformity impact relationships with neighbors?