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Green Building News

Prescott Passive House Saga Continues, with a Discount

On the market since summer, the house earns Passivhaus certification and is re-listed with a 11% price cut

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The Prescott Passive House in Kansas City, Kansas. The list price of the house, which has been on the market for several months and recently earned Passivhaus certification, recently dropped to $159,000 from $180,000.
Image Credit: Studio 804
The Prescott Passive House in Kansas City, Kansas. The list price of the house, which has been on the market for several months and recently earned Passivhaus certification, recently dropped to $159,000 from $180,000.
Image Credit: Studio 804
The building’s near-black exterior siding, matched in color by operable exterior louvers, is actually Douglas fir that has been charred according to the Japanese shou-sugi-ban method, which includes brushing and washing the charred planks, then treating them with a natural oil.

With its recent certification for Passivhaus performance and a LEED for Homes Platinum certification that it landed earlier in the year, the Prescott Passive House in Kansas City, Kansas, has wrapped itself in some hefty green-credential vestments. The problem is, these articles of high greenness still aren’t enough to offset whatever reservations prospective buyers might have about the neighborhood or the house, whose original, $180,000 asking price has been dropped 11.6%, to $159,000.

GBA cited the marketing woes of the three-bedroom, 1,700-sq.-ft. Prescott Passive House back in July, noting that the $180,000 price of the house – the sixth residential project of the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Planning’s design-build program, Studio 804 – wasn’t high enough reflect the true cost of labor and materials, but was calculated to merely keep school program solvent while targeting prospective buyers earning 80% or less of the area median income.

Studio 804 noted that it collaborated with Community Housing of Wyandotte County and the Prescott Neighborhood Group to produce a home that would serve as “as a catalyst to both educate the homeowner and the community.”

The best house on the block

That mission may still be intact, but some of the lessons being learned are not necessarily the intended ones. The house has met its performance and sustainability goals, and became the first residence in the state designed to meet the Passivhaus standard. From a technical perspective, it was a worthy teaching tool for students participating in Studio 804, which is led by Dan Rockhill, a professor at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. It seems that roughly half the commenters on the various websites that have posted items about the house (including GBA) like the way it looks; the rest don’t, or point out that the building seems out of character for the neighborhood.

The neighborhood may in fact be an excellent place to nurture construction of high-performance homes, but it also presents sales challenge. “It’s going to take a certain kind of person who’s going to want to live there,” Rockhill told the Lawrence Journal World & News this week, noting that Prescott Passive House was intentionally placed in an area that’s struggling economically in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood.

And that appears to be the rub.

The average residential listing price in Kansas City is $125,789, and the median sales price in the area is $65,000, according to real estate search service Trulia. The average listing price for homes in the neighborhood that includes Prescott Passive House, according to Trulia data for September through November, is about $59,830, although the average sales price is somewhat higher, at about $61,200 – still a major price disparity between Prescott Passive House and the local average. So, it seems, the tension between the ambitions to revitalize the neighborhood with a high-performance home and the realities of the current real estate market will be difficult to overcome.


  1. milan | | #1

    KC passive house
    if that house is as cool on the inside as it is on the out- i'd buy it in a second - IF i lived in KC.... the thing with art is- people have to go to it, it doesn't go to people. In other words, art (in this case architectual art) is what it is, either you like it or you don't. I think studio 803 vision and ambition is complimentary and we need more people like that in this country!

  2. Interested Onlooker | | #2

    Hi Richard,
    Your earlier posting gave the list price as $190k.

  3. GBA Editor
    Richard Defendorf | | #3

    Re price
    Sorry for the confusion there. In a recent email, Dan Rockhill told us that, in the early going, the house was in fact listed at $190,000, but he also noted that he would have sold the property at the time for $180,000 to a qualified buyer earning less than 80% of the median income. So the original pricing strategy had two tiers, one for buyers who earned 80% or more of the area median income, another for those who earned less. At the current, $159,000 listing price, he added, the house still hasn't attracted a buyer.

  4. Anonymous | | #4

    A Passive House sale
    I agree location and price is key. The CoreHaus, a spec Passive House in Portland, Oregon, recently sold before construction was complete. The asking price ($330k) was similar to other new construction projects in the area.

  5. Kevin Dickson | | #5

    Neighborhood Revitalization
    How many new homes does it take to revitalize a neighborhood? Obviously, one won't do it.

    I'd say it takes at least three new homes per BLOCK to turn a local market around. And start at the edge of the neighborhood that is closest to a better neighborhood. If there isn't a better neighborhood close by, then you've picked the wrong neighborhood unless there is a unique amenity in it.

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