Spike House for Sale — Only $1.5 Million

On June 20, 2010 · 6 Comments

People who manage property consolidations refer to a single landowner who resists all purchasing offers as a "spike." The lone holdout can sometimes spike a complicated deal single-handedly to the detriment of surrounding landowners hoping to profit, and developers trying to assemble a large enough parcel to justify an apartment building, office complex or shopping center.

Motives vary. It may be impossible for a homeowner to break emotional bonds with a property for any price. Maybe they’ve lived there since birth and they want to remain on the same spot for their golden years. Others may be willing to relinquish their claims but only for exorbitant sums that have little basis in reality. Either way, this is what can happen when a developer can’t strike a deal with a spike and finds a way to work around that sole remaining parcel.

Refused to Sell House
SOURCE: Washington Post

Reputedly the owner of this property turned down offers as high as $2.75 million for his dilapidated house on a tiny slice of dirt. He held every card until the developer reconfigured the design. Now he’s facing foreclosure and asking $1.5 million for the parcel but he’s unlikely to get anywhere near that amount. Would you pay that much for this?

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Personally I’d love to buy a Spike House for the sheer enjoyment of owning a whimsical anomaly that would certainly command attention from passers-by. I could sit on the front patio and regale people with tales of geo-oddities. Yes, I’d be that guy, that crazy coot in the rocker spouting non sequiturs. Unfortunately the price isn’t right for this particular (sur)real estate. I’ll have to defer my dream, just like my dream of selling my home and buying one of those ginormous recreational vehicles the size of a bus and driving it to every county in the United States. These are the dreams that my wife has already informed me will have to be done by myself because she’s not planning to participate.

However if the property interests you, feel free to check out a couple of articles before you plunk down a million and a half.

The house itself is in poor condition so any prospective owner is actually buying it more for the dirt under the house. Maybe a business could be squeezed into the space but options are fairly limited.

A Spike House is not the same as a Spite House, by the way, despite their similar sounding names. A Spike House, as I mentioned above, occurs when a landowner refuses to sell-out. It’s passive. The resident hasn’t done anything other than live there peacefully while the neighborhood around him has changed. A Spite House involves an action, and it occurs when someone decides to give a one-finger salute to the entire neighborhood. Wikipedia has an entire list of Spite Houses.

I’m familiar with Spite Houses too. Here is one is just a few miles away from the Spike House.

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Neighbors refused to endorse a zoning variance for an in-fill residence so the developer constructed a home that did not require a variance: three thousand square feet and only twelve feet wide, in an architectural style completely different than anything nearby. I actually toured this home at an Open House when they were trying to sell it. They must have hired a gifted architect because it’s surprisingly roomy.

Much of the structure orients towards the large outdoor surface on the left side rather than towards the street like in the traditional manner. However the large windows facing towards the street on the top floor on either side of the master bathroom tub, allowing one to flash the entire neighborhood either by design or by accident didn’t do much for me.

Spike houses and spite houses. I love them both.

Are there structures like this where you live?

On June 20, 2010 · 6 Comments

6 Responses to “Spike House for Sale — Only $1.5 Million”

  1. Jesse says:

    Fantastic stuff! The Spriggs story is great (unless you’re Spriggs).

    I wasn’t familiar with the term “spite house” but I recently came across an excellent example of one here.

  2. I think my favorite spike house would have to be Edith Macefield’s, in Seattle. It’s just such a charming little place. And I love how she made them cut a notch in what would otherwise be a flat front building.


  3. I once wrote about a *spite* house, also in Seattle.

  4. Aaron of Minneapolis says:

    Looking through StreetView images of that spike house in DC, it seems it sat empty for a few more years before being gutted and remodeled. As of the most recent StreetView (June 2014), it’s now a restaurant.

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