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Pros and Cons of Corner Lots for Homebuyers

Homebuyers don't like to compromise. When it comes to the yard, the bigger the better. The utopian vision is a home with wide, open spaces, a perfect playground for kids and a place for grownups to relax or entertain. That's what drives many to the corner lot, where the yard may be more unique or larger than the usual rectangular lot. But corner homes, however unique, don't always provide what homebuyers are looking for. It pays to research corner homes carefully.

Rarity and demand can drive up the prices for homes on corner lots. It's simple geometry--each city or town block has four corners, and thus, only four corner homes. In the metropolitan area of Chicago, for example, where typical lot widths are only 25 to 30 feet, corner homes offer a little more breathing room. They might cost more, or they might not, depending on the configuration of the lot. Some advantages are aesthetic; some concerns are practical. In addition to offering more outdoor elbow room, a corner home can be seen sometimes from two or even three sides. That allows gardening enthusiasts to showcase their landscaping. On the other hand, that means more grass to cut.

The corner layout sometimes puts entrances to home and garage closer to the street or sidewalk. The shorter distance from the curb means less driveway or walkway to shovel in the winter and less ground to cover carrying the groceries. Sometimes there's a side entrance to the home right off the sidewalk, making access definitely easier. The potential downsides to being closer to the street or sidewalk are more traffic noise and less privacy. In some lot configurations, the side setback from the street and pedestrians may be extremely narrow, up close and personal.

Sometimes the corner configuration comes up short in the areas of safety and functionality. If the front door faces the street running along the long axis of the lot, it means the main yard is a side yard. Most usable outdoor space is on the side, while the back of the home butts up against the neighbor's property line with little space for a traditional backyard. Some owners make the best of it by installing a patio or small deck, screened by a fence or shrubs for privacy. Others don't mind having neighbors on both sides. But if you're visualizing a large, private backyard, this type of corner home won't fit your picture. Consider the added safety factor when your children are playing--will you be able to spot them from your window?

Sources used to create this article include writer David Mack and the Chicago Sun-Times.

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