Home Buying in 07446>Question Details

Jenny, Home Buyer in New York, NY

We are considering buying a split level house in Bergen Cty. that was built last year (approx. $1.2m).

Asked by Jenny, New York, NY Thu Mar 27, 2008

told that split levels don't keep their value as much as colonials. Do you think it is a bad investment (we plan on staying 7-10 years or so)? Thanks.

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Hi Jenny,

I definitely notice pretty much across the board that the Split Level is an outmoded design. Most buyers just do not care for the steps. The levels tend to become functionally isolated from each other. The flow for both entertaining and family life is awkward.

In your price range, the overwhelming preference is for the Colonial style with an open floor plan, especially between the kitchen, breakfast area, and family room. I would probably not advise investing in a $1.2 million dollar Split. I also find it hard to believe that it was built last year, unless it was rebuilt over an existing Split. Nobody is building this architectural style in this price range in northern NJ. The Split Level is pretty much a creature of the 1950's-1970's for the most part.

In my opinion the Split Level has become functionally obsolete and I think it has been relegated to third-tier housing for the most part.

Web Reference: http://www.marcpaolella.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
Hi Jenny:
I agree with Marc that I am suprised a contractor would be building a brand new split level as recently as last year. It is either an existing split which has been really modified to be a larger, luxurious version of the first. Many builders can use exisiting foundations and walls and get just a "remodel" permit instead of a new construction permit with less expense and red tape from a town (depending on the town).
After the WWII and the sprouting of inexpensive, small capes all around New Jersey (not too many colonials after 1929!), the split level was the latest rage in the 1950's all over New Jersey and New York
(think of Levittown, New York). By the 1960's builders discovered they could save a ton of money in foundation costs by building a box called a "bilevel" what was once known as a raised ranch but you entered at the mid-level. By the late 1970's splits and bilevels were not so popular because the new "me"
generation wanted bigger and better colonials than ever before.
Whether you are looking at a contemporary split, side-to-side split (four way), front-to-back split, or dipsey-doodle split (what's that?--mostly to do with the living room overlooking the sunken dining room), be careful because they are dated in design. I always warn my customers that when they go to sell the home, they will only attract below 20% market share of customers wanting that style home. That means almost 80 percent of today's customers are looking for a center hall of some type whether a large 2-storey colonial or a smaller ranch (for the down-sizers).
Unless your split is totally redesigned to suit today's style of living, it won't hold its value compared to the much more popular colonial.
I am including a link to my market snapshot to get complete information on any of the towns you are interested in including the latest listings and market data:
Contact me if you would like to receive any particular style home as soon as they arrive on the market.
Good luck with your search for the perfect home. Here's the perfect way to do it.
Sandra Bolcar
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
A buyer's perception of value should be considered, when looking at the potential of buying or selling a home. As an Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR), when I am helping clients to purchase a new home, I try to establish their needs today. Everyone has a different lifestyle to consider. Perhaps you require a quiet office space or your parents visit for months at a time. What you might consider is the perfect house will be different than someone else. If you have school age children we will explore towns with schools that suit thier needs. The location is extremely important, if you are looking forward to resale. Some feel Colonials and Ranches are more valuable than other style homes but, I would be doing an injustice to my clients if I did not show them every property within thier price range. It is human nature to change our minds. Please contact me, if you would like to discuss your options. It would be my pleasure to help you find the home of your dreams. Rainie Gardenier 201-236-1174
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 17, 2013
I can show you several listings in the Bergen County area. Please contact me sscala@leconterealty.com. 201-679-9644
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 27, 2012
I have always felt that Splits don't flow terribly well. I have yet to have a buyer walk into a split level house and fall in love with it. Most prefer the Colonials. So based upon Economics 101 the demand for Splits will be relatively low vs the demand for Colonials so they probably will not appreciate as well. Another major issue that my buyers and I have seen with Splits is the basement is either non existent or very small relative to a similar size Colonial. That being said, I do not have a crystal ball but if you stay 7 - 10 years and the home is in a desirable area you will probably get your money out and make a profit. I would ask myself a very important question though. If I am concerned about it being a good investment or a bad investment why would I buy a split?

In short the answer is I wouldn't. I want the style of home that is going to maximize my chances of a profit 7 - 10 years from now. The best way to do that is to by the most popular style home on the market today. I would go with the colonial assuming all other things are equal.

Hope this helps,
Marc Pollak
Sales Associate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 21, 2010
Hi Jenny-

If we were to evaluate homes in the order of "Most Desired" and "Maintaining Value," for our market area it is year over year as follows:
1. Colonials
2. Ranches
3. Splits
4. Cape Cods
5. Bi-levels (increasing in popularity again due to the potential extended family option)
6. Contemporaries

While I agree with my colleagues that this style of home is less desired than a colonial, I think it is worth mentioning that the Split Level has many different sub-styles that are desirable. For ex, the "Sugar-Maple Split" is built on a larger scale all around and has the open flow many desire, and in addition hold their value better than a Traditional Split-Level. Add to this this that one area where a split can be desirable is to someone who might have difficulty managing long flights of stairs as Splits cut stairwells into shorter segments and ease this challenge.

Anyway, just a few thoughts, but hope that helps your query.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 21, 2010
You mentioned sugar maple split level. How is this different from standard split level? Could you kindly explain? Many thanks,

Flag Mon Oct 1, 2012
Sometimes, I like revived threads, because new people jump in with new perspectives....and people who were not on Voices when the original was posted still read threads.

This question hit home for me since I just had an appraiser issue an appraisal using splits as comps with colonials. So, perhaps the answer depends upon who you ask.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 5, 2010
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in ,
2 year old thread.... let's watch our dates boys and girls.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 28, 2010
Hi Jenny-

Your question really holds more than one answer, but simply answered the Colonial has remained the most sought after home style in Bergen County for many years, and thus is perceived as holding greater value in the eyes of the consumer. In addition, appraisers also perceive the Colonial as greater value.

But there are other factors that influence value, and certainly not to be overlooked:
1. Location: homes on a cul-de-sac will tend to hold greater value than homes on a mian road
2. Improvements: homes that have upgraded kitchens and baths hold greater vale than those that don't
3. Positioning: what section of town makes a difference in value, how a particular home compares to other on the market impacts value
4. Supply & Demand: one of the oldest rules of real estate. The more homes on the market in a given area, the more a trend for depreciating value occurs. Conversely, if demand is high and supply is low, prices will go up
5. Community: how good are the schools, community support

So many itmes influence value, but speaking directly about split-levels.....in our area of NJ, split-levels do bring in a large buyer audience and run pretty neck and neck with ranches for top 2 choice with buyers. But putting the popularity contest aside, research or have your realtor rsearch items 1 thru 4 above to determine where this exciting and large investment should be made. Choose these wisely and your 7-10 yr investment most certainly will pay off an help you to your next level

Sean Farley, Terrie O'Connor Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 28, 2010
Many people are still buying split level houses because they lend themselves very well to additions, and you then get more space than in a traditional colonial. Bergen County is filled with them and many additions have turned a cookie cutter split into some amazing houses filled with soaring ceilings and huge gourmet kitchens.
Bergen County is my specialty, if you would like to contact me, I can give you my opinion on the priceing for the specific house you are looking at.
Sharon Kozinn

Web Reference: http://www.sharonkozinn.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
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