Helpful Seller Info

What is the Difference Between a Raised Ranch and a Split Level Style Home?

What is the Difference Between a Raised Ranch and a Split Level Style Home?

When showing homes to first-time home buyers we often end up in Splits and Raised-Ranches as they tend to be smaller in square footage and in the lower price points for their town/marketplace.

Whichever house style we enter first, the buyers often ask me “what’s the difference between this one and the other one”. So I figured that there are lots of folks who are asking the same question and why not share my answer with you all.


Raised Ranch House Style

Raised Raraised ranch style homench style houses were built in the Boston area from the mid-40’s to the 70’s and are occasionally still built today as individual custom homes.

They are typically built in this area on lots with high water tables, lots with stone ledge very close to the surface, or lots on a hillside.

Imagine building a single story ranch style home with a full basement and instead of sticking it in the ground up to the top of the foundation,  you set it on a flat spot carved into the ground anywhere from one to four feet deep.This gives you two stories of living space mostly above grade with full-height windows in the basement to give you air flow and sunlight.

Because of the foundation location, you enter the front door directly at the same grade as the driveway on the basement level and have to go upstairs to the main living level (see sketch).raised ranch schematic

You will enter on the level with a family room, utility/mechanical room, laundry/bath, possibly a bedroom, and if there is one, the garage. There will be a full set of stairs to the side of the front door that takes you up to the main living level where you will find the kitchen, dining room, living room, bedrooms and one or two full baths or a bath and a half.

In many towns they are found along rural roads or what were rural roads at the time in clusters of several homes that were built at the same time.

As these homes are anywhere from forty to seventy years old, their heating/cooling systems, wiring, plumbing, windows, doors, and other systems have probably been replaced or updated. If they haven’t been, they are easy to do and a great way for first time buyers to generate some sweat-equity.

When available, they sell well due to their economical carrying costs, generally low prices, and great use of space. So if you’re looking for all those things, a raised ranch might just be your perfect home.

Split-Level House Style

split-level style houseSplit-Level houses are a variation on the raised ranch style and are also called Splits, Split-Foyer and Bi-Level houses. Splits are built with the foundation sunken deeper than Raised Ranches, usually four to six feet into the ground, and the driveway is excavated level with the bottom of the foundation. Unlike a raised ranch which has full-height windows, the lower level tends to have short windows.

In Splits, you always have to go up a half-flight or more via exterior stairs or a sloping walkway from the driveway level and enter the door to a landing or a small foyer.The doorway is often recessed and sometimes the main level of the house is cantilevered out over the basement level, creating a natural indentation and very clear way-finding to the front door.

Once inside you immediately have to make a decision to go up a half-flight of stairs or down a half-flight of stairs, hence the name split-level (see sketch).split-level house scematic

As with a Raised Ranch, upstairs you will find the kitchen, formal dining and living rooms and the bedrooms/baths. In many of these homes the owners have opened up the original walls between the kitchen and dining/living rooms giving them a wonderful flow and nicely supporting the behaviors of today’s lifestyles.

Also like the Raised Ranch, downstairs you will often find a family room, utility room, possibly some miscellaneous finished space, and the garage (which is usually located under the bedrooms).

Splits were designed to be inexpensive homes giving two stories of living space while minimizing foundation and roof costs.

While most of them have full-height basement levels, there are many that have basement levels that were shortened to cut building costs. So if you’re tall you might want to find one with forced hot water heating systems that don’t require big duct work.

In Metrowest developers built them mostly in large developments (by New England Standards) that have evolved into wonderful family neighborhoods of thirty to forty similar homes. Depending on the original price point, they can have a variety of finishes and architectural details on their fronts, such as faux stone, brick, awnings, and bay/bow windows. They will hardly ever have front porches, and are often fitted with screened-porches or raised decks off the back of the dining rooms with stairs down to grade.

Splits don’t tend to handle additions well, so many folks buy them as starter homes and then sell/move when they find they have outgrown them.  Because of this and the fact that so many of these homes were built, they are almost always available for sale in all local marketplaces.


Whether it’s a Split or a Raised Ranch they be a very practical layout, they sell well due to their economical carrying costs, they have generally lower asking prices, and they make great use of all available space. So if that’s what you’re looking for, one of these just might be your perfect home.

How to Get Top Dollar in The Spring Market

How to Get Top Dollar in The Spring Market

Especially Helpful if you haven’t sold a house in a while

The best chance for selling your property is within the first seven weeks. Studies show that the longer a property stays on the market, the less the seller will net.

Below are some of the key things that you need to consider when pricing/marketing your home:


It is very important to price your property at a competitive market value right when you list it. The market is so competitive that even over-pricing by a few thousand dollars could mean that your house will not sell. It’s interesting, but your first offer is usually your best offer. Here are reasons for pricing your property at the market value right from the start in order to net you the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time.

An overpriced home:

* Minimizes offers

* Lowers showings

* Lowers agent response

* Limits financing

* Limits qualified buyers

* Nets less for the seller

Common realtor stories hold that eighty percent of the marketing is done when we decide on what price to list your home. If you are unwilling to list at current market value, you would be better off not putting it on the market at this time.


Most people are turned off by even the smallest amount of uncleanness or odor when buying a home. Sellers lose thousands of dollars because they do not adequately clean. If your house is squeaky clean, you will be able to sell your home faster and net hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more. If you are planning on moving, why not get rid of that old junk now so that your house will appear larger? Make more space. Odors must be eliminated especially if you have dogs, cats, or young children in diapers or if you are a smoker. You may not notice the smell, but the buyers do! Most agents have a difficult time communicating to their sellers about odor. If you employ an agent to get the most amount of money for you, please don’t take offense if he must confront you about odor problems.


The only way any agent can show a house is to have access to your front door key(s)!

I and other top buyers agents will not show your home if both the key(s) and access are not easily available. We do not have time to run around town all day picking up and dropping off keys or organizing around your, your listing agent’s, theirs and their buyers’ busy schedules . We want to show and sell homes!

If it isn’t easy to show you’re helping your competition, because their homes are.

While I’m at it, when your home is being shown  please do the following:

* Keep all lights on

* Keep all drapes and shutters open

* Keep all interior doors unlocked

* Leave soft music playing

* Take a short walk with your children and pets

* Let the buyer be at ease and let the agents do their job


Paint is your best improvement investment for getting a greater return on your money. Paint makes the whole house smell clean and neat. If your house has chipped paint, exposed wood, or the paint looks faded, it is time to paint. If your carpet is worn, dirty, outdated, or an unusual color, you may need to seriously consider replacing it. Many houses do not sell because of this problem. Don’t think that buyers have more money than you have to replace carpet. They don’t. They simply buy elsewhere.


Your front yard immediately reflects the inside condition of your house to the buyer. People enjoy their yards. Make certain that the trees are trimmed so the house can be seen from the street. Have the grass mowed, trimmed and edged. Walkways should be swept. Debris cleared away. Remove parked cars. This all adds to curb appeal. If a buyer doesn’t like the outside, they may not stop to see the inside.

6 Common Selling Mistakes That Could Lose You Money

6 Common Selling Mistakes That Could Lose You Money

Overpricing and waiting too long for reductions.  You’ve contacted a realtor to list your home and they give you prices of comparable homes’ selling prices. You’re not in a rush, so why not list your house at the high end, or even more? I’ve heard this many times before … and your rationale is almost always one of these three:  it only takes one buyer who is willing to pay more;  your house really is nicer than those “comps” probably were; or if someone really wants your house, they’ll be willing to pay a little more to get it. And of course, you can always lower the price at some point.

Well, there are many reasons why your realtor is not doing you any favor by pricing your house high for the market. Buyers are doing lots of looking and comparison-shopping these days, and quickly gain the ability to gauge a house’s market value. Remember, they are not looking at your home in a vacuum. Pricing your house too high only helps your competition sell. The longer your house is on the market, even if you do start reducing the price, buyers view it as “stale” and wonder why no one else wanted it. Even the best marketing strategies won’t sell a house that is priced unrealistically high.

Trying to pick the ideal time to market your home . Here are some need to know points about market timing:

The best month to make an offer on a house is January.

The best day of the month to make an offer on a house is the first Tuesday.

The best time of the year to sell a house is the Spring.

The best day of the week to list your house for sale is Thursday.

Forgetting that everything is negotiable.  The words, “I have an offer for you” from your realtor are music to your ears – that is, until you hear the number following the dollar sign, and (gasp!) the conditions that accompany it. Before you panic, remember that buyers assume that their offer is a first step in a back and forth dance between buyer and seller. Try not to personalize the issues – the buyers have never even met you, and this is, ultimately a business deal. It is important to work with your realtor who is used to the real estate negotiation process and with some patience and perhaps a little compromise a deal can be reached.

 Underestimating the importance of “Showing Condition” You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “curb appeal.” The same type of instant and overall impression occurs inside your home as well. You want your home to show as positively as possible, and that means the rooms should be as light, bright, and large as possible. One way to do that is to cut down on clutter or extra furniture that makes a room seems smaller than it is. The more uncluttered a room is, the more spacious it feels to a house hunter. Unfortunately, housekeeping counts too. The cleaner a home is it both makes a positive impression and creates an impression that the house has been well maintained. Many housecleaning companies offer a one time top-to-bottom cleaning for people putting their houses on the market. Sellers have said to me, “But they’re not buying the house furnished – they’ll be redoing it anyway,” or “They’re not hiring me as a housekeeper, so what do they care?” Although those are logical arguments, buyers tend to not be able to get past things that make an immediate negative impression. Also, many people do not have the “vision” to be able to see a room or house differently than it appears in front of them.

Staying Home During Showings.  Your instinct may be to be present during showings for any number of reasons: to assess the buyers’ reactions, to supervise, or to point out tiny details the showing agent may not know to mention. I can tell you in no uncertain terms from experience, both my own and that of my clients, that this is one of the worst things you can do. As a buyer, it is quite uncomfortable and leads to two common results: a quicker than normal walk through without paying attention to details and an unwillingness to ask questions or make comments that are part of their decision making process.

Not Listening to Feedback. Whenever you house is shown, the realtor will get feedback from the buyers (or their realtor) about what they liked about your house, and what shortcomings they may have perceived. There are some things you can do nothing about – for example, the fact that your backyard slopes steeply, the amount of traffic on your road, or that your house is next to a business building. Some things, however, you can change, and if a specific item comes up several times it is a good idea to address it. Buyers often assume that an area of your house that shows neglect or disrepair reflects on the same lack of attention to unseen areas. Your goal is to sell your house, not to win an argument defending why your side yard fence is unpainted and rotting.

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