Ode to the ranch house..

The much maligned ranch, so under-appreciated & often overlooked.

I live in the north-east, for those non New Englanders reading this, home of the center-entry colonial, mansard colonial, Victorians, cottages, bungalows and Cape Cods. Basically 2 story or more homes typically. When you see Norman Rockwell paintings it’s 2 story homes you think classic New England style homes.

Recently a national real estate franchise had a commercial where the buyers were tired of seeing ranches. The voice over is that of an agent saying, “…and this is an x-styled ranch, and this is a y-styled ranch”, basically saying how their agents will show you the type of home you’re really looking for and in the process snubbing ranches.

I found quite a bit of interest lately in ranches. I’m contacted quite frequently by people my parent’s age looking for 1 level living in anticipation of years to come where navigating stairs will become difficult. Here in Medford there are a few areas where ranches have been built in the past, they’re usually on the higher end of the price range. That leaves a lot of current homeowners who end up looking at cities and towns along the 128 belt (Rt. 95/128, for those not local). Most would love to stay in or closer to Medford but there just simply aren’t many ranches here. Land is at a premium this close to Boston and it’s understandable that new construction is built with 2 stories as a result.

So many buyers are looking for a home where a large section of the home may become inaccessible to them in the coming years due to stairs etc. I get a lot of requests for homes with at least 1 bedroom, 1 full bath and laundry on the first floor of the home.
There is a design movement called “Universal Design” where homes are designed for multi-generational use. The homes feature such things as; low or zero height thresholds, wide door openings, solid flooring throughout, laundry and a master bedroom suite all on the first floor. Many also feature easy access main entrances as well as minimal landscaping to ease maintenance.

Many baby-boomers are in the process of retiring and still want to retain their independence that a single family property allows for, not ready for high density condo living in a high rise. Personally I agree with them, as a younger person I also know that a lot of ranches I look at mean easier to expand upon and easier to work on (I’m afraid of heights). I don’t mind cleaning gutters on a 1 story home, but really am wary of climbing a ladder to over 18 feet.
So ranches, you might be maligned in other parts of the country, but you still have your fans here, and I’m one of them.


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