Would You Sell Your Home to a Developer to Tear Down?

Nashville, TN or It City, as our local media calls it, will grow by a staggering million more residents over the next few decades. In fact, a recent CNN Money article highlighted Music City as one of the top ten fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States.

With the flood of affluent new residents, Nashville's inner city neighborhoods have blown up and some land values have appreciated faster than the value of the modest-sized homes built on them. Last December, the Nashville Scene published a cover story, Demolition Derby, exposing that developers spent $3 million in 2013 to tear down 549 residential properties. Opponents argue that many of these homes have been replaced by oversized three-story duplexes that don't blend in with the charming fabric of these neighborhoods.

My neighborhood, East Nashville, has seen its fair share of teardowns and infill. This includes the seemingly careless rapid demolition of historic homes. An local news article from January shared neighbors' concerns over the dramatic changes.

A fiery debate in our neighborhood's Facebook Group recently addressed the large volume of letters residents have been receiving from “shady” residential developers offering to make a “fair offer” for their properties. Many are insulted that developers are referring to their homes as “teardowns” and others are concerned that historic architecture and unique character is at risk of being destroyed.

What About My Home?

Many long-time East Nashville residents are fearful and resistant to any type of change and I find that misguided. Inner city neighborhoods, in a metropolitan area adding one million people, should expect infill and work to be a part of the conversation by talking to other residents, participating in neighborhood groups, and attending rezoning meetings. I would be pleased to see East Nashville proceed thoughtfully with caution and sensitivity to current residents, but help everyone see that the rising tide will lift all boats. I'm looking forward to seeing my property value rise in coming years.

I absolutely love my 1950s ranch house, located on one of East Nashville's busiest streets. Due to the hard work of my neighborhood association, the opposite side of my street will soon be protected by a historic overlay. The majority of the homes on my side of the street are owned by a single family who has rented them out and they have fallen into various states of disrepair. It's inevitable that at least a portion of my side of the street will eventually succumb to some type of mixed use development. My .75 acre property borders a commercial district, so it would be ripe for future development. Right now, it's hard to say exactly what my decision would be if I were presented with an attractive opportunity to sell.

Readers: Would You Sell Your Home to Developer to Tear Down?

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Discussions — 31 Responses

  • Income Surfer April 14, 2014 on 10:40 am

    I absolutely would Addison, but I may be biased because I’ve worked as a real estate developer (on and off) for several years. The location and type of your property is ideal for infill redevelopment projects. Believe it or not, it’s very fortunate that your properties are that large. Most older neighborhoods in my area have small lots (like 50 x 100) and really small houses (1,000 sq ft). Those neighborhoods decay because, despite their excellent geographic location, their houses are too small for new families to move in……while at the same time the properties are too small to expand the houses. Unfortunately, the families move out to some sill McMansion in the suburbs.

    I’ve been part of developing several residential projects and it’s really tough to have the right mix to make a development stable for the long term.

    • Addison Cash Income Surfer April 15, 2014 on 7:48 pm

      Wow, interesting. Thanks for sharing your expertise, Bryan!

  • John @ Sprout Wealth April 14, 2014 on 12:51 pm

    That’s a tough question, though I guess it might depend on your feelings on the house as well. Overall, we’re wanting to move in the next few years to a bigger house so I’d imagine it would be fairly easy for us to say yes. That’s also assuming we’d get good value out of it. The area we’re living in Omaha is building up quite a bit so you never know! 🙂

    • Addison Cash John @ Sprout Wealth April 15, 2014 on 7:47 pm

      I’ve heard Omaha is experiencing a lot of growth! Sounds like you may be faced with a similar situation. Best of luck!

  • Well Heeled Blog April 14, 2014 on 1:30 pm

    If it is the right opportunity, the right price, and the right decision for my family – absolutely.

    One thing to consider, if you want to stay in your neighborhood, is whether you can afford to stay there after you’ve sold your existing place.

    • Addison Cash Well Heeled Blog April 15, 2014 on 7:45 pm

      Really great points. My neighborhood is becoming less and less affordable every day. I would be sad to move.

  • Natalie @ Financegirl April 14, 2014 on 2:46 pm

    Personally, I would agree to a developer tearing my house down for the right price. However, I can see how doing this en masse could be detrimental to an area, changing it’s culture, for example. It will be interesting to see how far they’re able to go in Nashville and what it will look like when it’s all said and done.

    P.s. I’ll be traveling to Nashville in July for the first time, and I’m so excited!

    • Addison Cash Natalie @ Financegirl April 15, 2014 on 7:45 pm

      Agreed with all of your points, Natalie. Nashville is changing so quickly! Let me know if you need any recommendations for your Nashville trip! Excited for you! 🙂

  • Quinn @ Wealth Out West April 14, 2014 on 4:48 pm

    It would completely depend on the price and my relocation options. I wouldn’t have any emotional objections.

    • Addison Cash Quinn @ Wealth Out West April 15, 2014 on 7:42 pm

      Good for you, Quinn. We’ve had affordable housing problems in Nashville, so I’d have to consider that, as well.

  • Alicia @ Financial Diffraction April 14, 2014 on 4:55 pm

    If I was thinking about selling, I would. I mean, yes it is nice to be able to drive past your old place and say “I lived there 20 years ago” but if it wasn’t going to be your house either way, then… go for it. That being said, if I was happily living there and received a letter, I think I’d find it a more difficult decision.

    • Addison Cash Alicia @ Financial Diffraction April 15, 2014 on 7:41 pm

      Absolutely, Alicia. I’ve sort of imagined by house always being there. There’s nothing unique or special about it, just that it’s my house.

  • Brian @ Luke1428 April 14, 2014 on 5:14 pm

    Having my house torn down after selling it wouldn’t bother me, as long as I received fair value for it. There are many other houses to buy.

    • Addison Cash Brian @ Luke1428 April 15, 2014 on 7:40 pm

      Good point, Brian. Hopefully I’ll have the ability to think pragmatically when the time comes!

  • DC @ Young Adult Money April 14, 2014 on 5:20 pm

    While people will without a doubt have emotional ties to their homes, I believe that once you sell your home you can’t be overly concerned with what the new owner does with it. If I received a higher offer from a developer versus someone looking for a new residential home, I would take it.

    • Addison Cash DC @ Young Adult Money April 15, 2014 on 7:39 pm

      I don’t know why I’ve had such attachments to homes I’ve lived in. My dumpy old apartment building was torn down recently and it made me super sad! You’re totally right, though.

  • Anneli @thefrugalweds April 14, 2014 on 6:25 pm

    I think it’s purely economics, Addison! If you can make a handsome return on investment, I would be open to it. At the end of the day, a house is an investment – though people attach a ton of emotional capital on it (apart from their life savings).
    But I would hold out though. Especially if your property is essential to the project, playing just a little hard to get might just get you a higher yield on the property 🙂 The developers are viewing this as an investment – you should too! Keep us posted 🙂

    • Addison Cash Anneli @thefrugalweds April 15, 2014 on 7:38 pm

      Great suggestions, Anneli. I’ll definitely keep everyone updated on what happens!

  • Liz April 15, 2014 on 12:10 am

    We’ve had a similar issue in a neighboring city. Adorable, charming, older homes are being bought out by builders to build oversized super expensive homes. Not only are the new houses super expensive, but they stick out terribly in the neighborhoods. I know I would be very tempted to sell if I received a great offer. But it is sad to see they neighborhoods loose their charm.

    • Addison Cash Liz April 15, 2014 on 7:37 pm

      Agreed, Liz. It’s always sad to see an historic property torn down! We’ve lost too many in Nashville already.

  • Lauren April 15, 2014 on 1:47 pm

    I hate seeing historic homes and buildings be torn down for new construction. I don’t think I would sell to a developer, unless everyone else on my block did and it turned into a demo and construction zone.

    • Addison Cash Lauren April 15, 2014 on 7:29 pm

      I do too, Lauren. My house is a 1950s ranch, so it may not be the type of historic home you’re thinking of, but I personally think the mid-century homes are really cool.

  • Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com April 15, 2014 on 3:33 pm

    I would definitely if the price were right. There are many other places and houses to buy with the money.

    • Addison Cash Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com April 15, 2014 on 7:27 pm

      You are right. There so many other options to choose from including tiny houses! 🙂

  • FI Fighter April 15, 2014 on 3:49 pm

    Yeah, I would be fine with it, but that’s b/c I always tend to look at homes as investments, and I don’t allow myself to get emotionally attached. I know it’s different for everyone, but I value time more than anything… And more money gets me more time. Well, that’s the way I look at it anyway.

    • Addison Cash FI Fighter April 15, 2014 on 7:25 pm

      You make a good point, FI Fighter. Time is more valuable to me than money or any material things.

  • Suburban Finance April 15, 2014 on 9:51 pm

    I think it really depends on my sentimental feeling to the house, and what my neighbors decide to do. Also, if I think the developer is bona fide and will actually will make the area look and functioned better, I think I’ll be more inclined to sell my house.

  • Mel @ brokeGIRLrich April 20, 2014 on 1:35 am

    Aw, I’d be so heartbroken if my parents sold their house and it was torn down, I mean, my brother’s and my heights are marked in the cellar doorway. All our dead pets are buried in the backyard… ok, that’s actually a little morbid. But mostly, I think it’d be upsetting.

    Now personally, if I owned a home and had no real sentimental attachment to it, then heck yeah. Show me the money, man!

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    […] My neighborhood is smokin’ hot right now. I’ve mentioned this several times and even asked readers how I should respond if a developer wanted to purchase my home to tear down. […]

  • Inquirer January 23, 2015 on 11:29 am

    Got a related question but somehow different. We have a large home in a nice DC suburb, have built great equity over the years. House still in great shape however built in the 60s. In a 4 months period mortgage will be paid off. We realized it is time to remodel but have doubts about this now and remodeling might not be a good idea. In the not so distant future in our neighborhood it would still be a “remodeled” old house surrounded by new houses of much greater value. New houses in the area sell for 2.3 M or so. My wife and I should be retiring within the next 3 yrs. We have been toying with the idea of tearing down the house ourselves instead of selling it to a developer, build a new house in our large .5 acre lot and then sell it ourselves since we could probably not afford a brand new mortgage after retiring, but got lots of questions about how to approach this specially how to go around with the financing part. Any suggestions/advice?

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    […] by almost $18,000 over the past year. Given the high volume of weekly letters we receive from developers, I think I could sell my home for somewhere closer to the $250,000 […]


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