Swamplot Price Adjuster: The Heights of 2-2ness

The Swamplot Price Adjuster runs on your nominations! Found a property you think is poorly priced? Send an email to Swamplot, and be sure to include a link to the listing or photos. Tell us about the property, and explain why you think it deserves a price adjustment. Then tell us what you think a better price would be. Unless requested otherwise, all submissions to the Swamplot Price Adjuster will be kept anonymous.

Location: 1447 Oxford St., Houston Heights
Details: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths; 1,498 sq. ft. on a 6,600-sq.-ft. lot
Price: $421,500
History: On the market since the beginning of last December. Price cut $5K in mid-April.

How long could Swamplot readers go without some good old-fashioned price-sniping in the Heights? The latest submission for the Price Adjuster focuses on this little 1920 home on the corner of 15th St.:

There’s just so much a 2/2 can go for in the Heights. Also, it has no garage. The kitchen has been updated but it’s not a nice kitchen. Nice backyard for sure with trellis and a bit of storage, but at the end of the day, it’s still a 2/2.

Well, then . . . what price would sell this place?


Our nominator plays with some numbers:

I’d like to think it’s more $350-375K at most, but I can see some fool purchasing it for $385K. It’s not nice to [call] anyone a fool, but that’s what it is, foolishness. They originally started at $426,500 and HCAD is at $343K. And cmon it’s zoned for Field, which is a exemplary school, but no one fights to get into Field.

Readers, now it’s your turn: Does this home need a price adjustment?

49 Comment

  • The kitchen reminds me of a lab at college or high school. I feel like someone is getting ready to put a cat on the counter to dissect it.

    And no to the subway tile!

  • My partner and I looked at this house. The pics are old because there hasn’t been anything in the house since late December. The guess on the price is probably pretty close to accurate…and most others in the Heights should take note because there is A LOT of absurd pricing out there.

  • Bleh. The backyard and trellis are the most attractive features of this house. Accurate description of the kitchen, KJB. I’d say $350K, tops.

  • As a heights owner I could see how someone could get caught up in the buy-in cost, but not being zoned to harvard and only 2 bedrooms, I personally would only offer $320 and that’s only if I never planned on having kids or guests. Too small. Best part of the house is the nice yard.

  • I’d bring it down to more $400K.. Someone buying a 2-2 probably isn’t looking for an elementary school anyway.. This is a relatively larger lot and judging by the posted pics, is in good condition.

    I could see someone downsizing once the last of the kids leave the house could utilize this house. Decent outdoor features and not so much room inside to clean. If you’ve not priced the Heights lately, this isn’t too out of the ordinary.

  • sold our 2/2 plus office for $317 last fall – just a few blocks away. Thought that was a bit low, but this price is absurd. I’d say $325 at most.

  • Near perfect example of a small Heights house. More than a bit overpriced for current market, but if someone plans on staying for a long while and it fits their needs, I can see paying in the high $300s.

  • Depends, how many townhomes can you fit on that lot? haha,

  • Respectfully, all of the previous posters have overbid for the property.

    I generally like the place. And if I were in the market, I’d probably give it a visit. That being said:

    For $225K, I’d like the place a lot.

    For $200K, I’d probably consider making it my home.

    For $175K, I’d own it.

  • Random Poster,
    The lot is worth at least $150k, so good luck getting that house below $300k.

  • I have to admit, I love the colors. Then again, I’m a freak for shades of gray. The backyard is nice, and while the kitchen isn’t overwhelming, it’s not nearly as bad as many I’ve seen. In fact, it’s a little under-stated, which says something positive in my mind. (Mind you, however, that there’s an unnatural contrast between the backyard, the front yard, and the interior.)

    But, people, a little crown molding to break up the ceiling would be nice, and is that bathroom mirror curved, or did you bring that horrible tile to nearly the ceiling on the opposing wall?

    There’s at least $100k in Heights tax on there, maybe even $150 for what it is. I bet on close inspection, there’d be some covered-up deficiencies (like those I saw in most Heights houses I looked at) that would take off another $20-30 in my books. So, I’ll settle at $275k.

  • Hmmm, it’s an aggressive price to be sure, but I don’t think it’s way out of line. Solid house? Check. Nice lot? Check. Hot location? Check. Relatively updated? Check.

    Heck, if the kitchen were nice and there was an existed garage, I think it would be priced close to right. I bet it fetches close to $400,000 at the end of the day.

  • Looks like this is being priced not for what it is, but for what it could be.
    It’s on a full-size lot, with alley access. Add 1000 s.f. and a garage, and it could list for north of half-a-million. In order for this to make sense to a purchaser, however, the price probably needs to be <$400k.

  • I think it is beautifully renovated.

  • Second bathrooms in the Heights seem to be worth more than garages, location on Oxford desirable, and 15th St isn’t too busy… Say, $345,000 as the sales price, probably would appraise ok too. The other wrinkle is that apparently houses in the low to mid $300s are ‘affordable.’ Still the $220-$260/SF that the cottages are bringing seems inflated to someone who’s lived in the area for 20+ years.

  • Looking at the Realtor’s web site, it appears that the house in question is offered for lease at $2,350 a month.

  • Definitely could fetch high threes. I know of several owners in the nighborhood fielding offers over 200k just for lot value. I know plenty of one child families who live in 2/2s in the Heights so I would say that not being zoned for Harvard or Travis could hurt it.

  • And no to the subway tile!

    It may be the original tile. Along with the tile in the bathrooms. There appears to be a lot of “original” in the house. I do wonder about the original kitchen cabinets. A friend lucked into a house not far from here with the original cabinets intact. Took a while to get rid of the layers of paint, but worth it. I’d have painted the cabinets white. Give it that original feel.

    It’s amazing the detail they used to put in “middle class” homes. Many “upper class” homes today don’t have the door and window framing the oldies but goodies do.

    I’ll say $375,000. In a better market, $450,000.

  • 1. Unappealing photography is hurting this listing. Why do realtors, who are so careful with the ubiquitous/ridiculous photos of themselves, not get that?
    2. That lot is worth 250. Easy.
    3.Do y’all have any idea how many childless folks there are in this ‘hood? Lots of gays, some singles, and loads of empty-nesters who have moved to town after raising their kids in the burbs.
    4. I’ll go very low 400s if it is in excellent condition. I wouldn’t pay it, but I couldn’t afford to move to the Heights now anyway.

  • @drone, one person’s “horrible tile” is another person’s “awesome! original tile!” I’m in the camp with those who think the original tile adds to, rather than subtracts from, the value of the home.
    I can’t tell you how many bungalows, Victorians, and other 1910-1940 houses I’ve looked at in Montrose in the past year where the remuddlers have totally destroyed the character of the bathroom with the ultra-trendy stone floor and walls with the disgustingly unsanitary jetted whirlpool tub.

  • M. Matt – Problem with original kitchen cabinets is they are not deep enough for dishwashers or modern sinks and there are usually very few of them.
    In my current home, the remuddlers took one kitchen cabinet door and made bathroom storage. We found two more cabinet doors in the garage attic and incorporated them into some hall storage. And when we could afford it, we ripped out the horrible kitchen they left us.

  • The tile in the kitchen and bathroom looks original to me. I think it is great. What is out of place is the black granite and poor choice of cabinetry. For me, the best Heights houses are the ones that design AROUND the original finishes with modern touches that don’t stand out as incongruous. In the kitchen, for example, I think that painted cabinetry with glass inserts would have been more attractive, paired with a lighter colored granite, or even stained concrete countertops.

    Without the garage, I say this thing trades for 385K.

  • All I can say is ….. yuck. Kitchen’s flat ugly. Every room screams gimme crown molding. It’s not that hard to install crown molding. I’ve done it many times. The tiles might be original, but appear too pristine to be original. Maybe, but probably not. Some of the colors are nice, but many trim choices just look out of place. There’s no picture of the garage at all, so it’s probably something that should just be torn down. Check out the google street view. It’s pre-renovation. I will also bark about the foolishly crappy quality of the pictures. Just pay me my commish, don’t expect me to do a professional job. This place has potential, but the potential hauls significant $ along with it to be all that it can be. This is a small house with a one car garage (that nobody can see what it’s conditions is) on a good sized corner lot that shouldn’t be targeted at a family with school aged kids. To be finished properly, it needs another $100-$150k at least. There are probably a lot of other properties nearby that fit the bill better than this one at the current price. Should be $320-$350 which is probably about what they have in it.

  • Are we looking at the same house? I think it’s actually quite cute. Paint the kitchen cabinets white or dove grey, paint the ocre-colored bathroom walls white, paint the black trim White Dove by Benjamin Moore, and you’ve got an adorable bungalow that would get snatched up in a heartbeat. Seems to me that most of you who are bashing this house are probably not the target audience anyway. If you hate cute, historic renovations to bungalows, then by all means, DON’T MOVE TO THE HEIGHTS.

  • M. Matt – Problem with original kitchen cabinets is they are not deep enough for dishwashers or modern sinks and there are usually very few of them.

    My friend took the time to find someone who knew what they were doing and saved the original lower cabinet doors, the bottom cabinet doors were all glass-front along with the upper cabinet doors, who also knew how to match original tile, took a while but worth it, and merely extended the lower cabinets out and then out the original cabinet doors back on the new framing.

    Certainly better than tearing out the original cabinets and replacing them with Home Depot Specials of the Month which is what these look like.

  • MM – There is no limit to the artistry that can be done IF you have the budget.

  • My friend’s budget was “when she’d saved enough for it.” A little here, a little there.

  • @GM – Oh, I like original tile, that’s why the 60-year-old tile remains in both of my bathrooms. I just don’t like _that_ original tile, with its brick-like shape.

  • What was it worth in 1980?

    That’s what it’s worth now.

    Want it for those prices? Just wait.

  • This is crazy. At $400K+, you can buy a similar size house in more desirable inner-loop neighborhoods. Not that the Heights isn’t a nice neighborhood, but given the choice between a Heights bungalow or a tear-down in West University, I’d chose the second option.

  • I don’t see a trellis in the back yard. I see pergolas.

  • While not “historic”, 1443 Oxford St (next door) @ 2760 sq ft sold for $482K – $552K last year per har. Assuming the mid point give you ~$187/sq ft. Yes, not a perfect comp, but it is certainly a data point to consider

    That said, somebody will probably pay $350K for it

  • I’m no expert, but to me that kitchen is a joke with the price they are asking. where do I start? Cabinets look cheap (are they even 42″?)and don’t retain the classic lines of the home. White subway backsplash looks horrible with dark granite. Stove is cheap and looks awkward sitting right next to it’s equally cheap dishwasher. Cabinet and wall colors just don’t mesh well at all.

  • Wow, these comments are amazing…quite obviously you aren’t the target audience for a renovated Heights bungalow. Not to sound like Jeff Foxworthy but if you don’t like subway tiles, craftsman style, small (to Houston) homes or high prices per square foot you aren’t a good person to guess on the price of a house in the Heights. Similarly I wouldn’t make a guess on a Katy home because I wouldn’t ever have the desire to live there. Having intimate knowledge of the home in question and being a Heights resident I too put this house a little on the high side but it is not out of whack for the Heights. Sorry to break the news to you.

    The kitchen condition is your opinion, fine, I like it, I might do somethings differently but I certainly would do things differently with every kitchen I have seen.

    The rest of the house has been renovated down to the nails to the orignal condition with some moved walls and doors. Everything is either original or custom built. No detail is overlooked or short cut. Crown molding wasn’t there when it was built and may not be a good design match anyway. The floors are reclaimed oak from a church here in Houston and the brick columns, patio and walkway are reclaimed brick from a tobacco warehouse in NC. All beautiful and have sentimental value but not much in terms of return to the average buyer.

    The garage is brand new, unfortunately a 1-car, but well designed and built.

    In any city except for Houston a well renovated, period matching home with subtle modern ammenities asks a premium, here you get listed and sniped at for your effort. This house’s value to me is in the 400-410 range and that is what it will get in the end.

  • Big ditto to Wannabe’s comments. If you don’t know anything about the area, then while your opinion is interesting, it’s not particularly relevant because you aren’t the target buyer.

    I don’t even particularly LIKE the Heights, but some of these comments are the land values in that area are surprisingly ill informed.

    For those of you who find this house so revolting, do you actually know anything about period homes of that era? Are you familiar with land values in the Heights?

  • How about those thinking it will go for over $400K show us some comps? As in a sold comp… I see plenty that would support a lower sales price

  • It’s cute, it reminds me of my grandma’s house. I wonder if you could do what they did in the old days, slap on a third bedroom. That’s what her house was like, and the floor slanted and squeaked as you walked around it.

    I bet the backyard is similar, enough room for a garden and shade tree.

  • Why have this price adjuster feature? Couldn’t the market figure out the price without the ramblings of a bunch of snarky real estate agents? You should be talking up properties in Houston. A rising tide lifts all boats. Take it to heart.

  • Wannabe, you clearly have in interest in this house selling for a whole lot. We understand your position.

    You seem to be missing the point however, the purpose of these posts are clearly NOT to find ways for Realtors to make more money or to make it easier to sell at the current listed value. It’s a chance for us readers to come in, nitpick, bicker, argue, and find whatever flaw we desire to carry on our little battles over whatever feature of a house we like or dislike, and pass judgment on the efforts of others. In that way, it’s most like any other post – but these are special, a lot like a ‘free fire zone’.

    In particular, you’ll find that many of us think the Heights are generally over-priced, for many reasons – not all the same. Your presumption that we’re all not qualified to judge the pricing on Heights homes is laughable. Many of us _have_ made such judgments in the context where it matters most: with our wallets and our agents. Many of us were also not happy with what we saw for the price, and voted with our wallets on similarly-aged neighborhoods that didn’t carry the high price and high crime tax of the Heights. Some of us, like myself, found our 40’s tiled bungalows in neighborhoods even further from Katy than the Heights.

    So, in closing, thanks, but the game is to judge the house – not the players.

  • Your presumption that we’re all not qualified to judge the pricing on Heights homes is laughable. Many of us _have_ made such judgments in the context where it matters most: with our wallets and our agents.

    I suppose it depends on whether your judgment is based on what the home is worth TO YOU or whether you are judging what the house is worth TO THE MARKET (sorry for the caps – I’m not yelling – there just isn’t an easy way to show emphasis). The fact that “many” people think the Heights is overpriced is meaningless – if other people besides yourself think that home prices in the Heights are spot on and actually buy the homes, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks.

    For the record, the way you feel about the Heights is how I feel about West U. I think the neighborhood is completely overpriced and I would never pay the going rate for West U. But – clearly, many people disagree with me, as those houses continue to fetch what I consider to be ridiculous prices. I can argue as long as I want that West U is overpriced and I can take my money elsewhere, but all that means is that I’m clearly out of step with hundreds of people who feel differently.

  • In what weird universe is a 1500 square foot house “small?” Houstonians seem to have a weird love of paying to air condition empty space.

  • Art Vandelay:

    Good luck finding a $400,000 tear-down in West U. Unless you like trains in your back-yard.

  • I guess if you really just HAVE to live in the Heights it may not be a bad price. I’d rather have a nice older townhome near the Memorial Villages area for the same price. You get a more wooded area and almost no commercial development in the neighborhood.

  • LT makes a very important point – that markets are primarily groups of like-minded people. This like-mindedness includes not only personal taste, but also one’s willingness to pay current prices for it. Many comments here are from people who do not comprise the market for this house. What is the value of these comments? Like LT, I would argue that most are near-worthless as market indicators. However, some comments are from people who may not technically be part of this house’s market, yet are familiar enough with it to comment intelligently. The challenge of these Price Adjuster posts is telling them apart. The pleasure is watching them clash.

  • Like CV, the pleasure is in the clash.

    It’s quite funny to see people get so worked up over a price. Remember the Cherryhurst kerfuffle?

    In the end, unless you are thinking of buying the place, the price is irrelevant.

  • A rising tide lifts all boats.

    It helps when the boats don’t have leaks in which case the rising tide eventually floods the boat and causes it to sink…

    We are in a sinking market. But as PT Barnum said, there’s a sucker born every minute…

  • Calling a neighborhood overpriced is almost always stupid. If there’s a huge supply of houses on the market, then yes, it is overpriced. This is certainly not true of the Heights, therefore, by definition the prices are appropriate – there is a steady stream of buyers willing to pay them.

    It’s almost as dumb as the “get more” complaint: “I wouldn’t buy in ____, because I can get more in ___.” I bought in the Heights because i got the most of what I want for my money, rather than getting more empty square footage, more commuting, less walking, etc. somewhere else. “More” is highly subjective and means, “what I personally want.”

    Which everyone should get.

  • Priorities usually trump all. Outside of the Heights, the houses get younger and a bit more generic, but the lots get bigger. My brother and his cats are delighted with his Heights cottage. I’m within a couple of miles of him right outside the Loop, and my dogs love their huge yard. I can’t walk to 19th Street and don’t have a nice front porch and huge kitchen, but a room addition would leave him with no back yard whereas I could add on a room opening onto a pool and still have a nice stroll to the hammock under the trees. Who’s to say what is “better”?

    If this house is bought and torn down, someone felt the price was worth the location. If it’s kept intact, someone felt a 1920’s cottage was worth the price.

  • I live a block from here in a 100 year old 2-2 on a deep lot with a 3 car garage and alley access. Couldn’t imagine getting more than $350.
    For those who like to parse the Heights thing – either you like it/get it – or you don’t. If you don’t like the scruffier aspects of it, go to Bellaire or West U., we would appreciate it.