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A thorough house cleaning

Residents unite to sell entire neighborhood as a single unit

C.F. Cawley (right) has been hired by all seven households on Lori Lane in Lakeville to sell their little neighborhood en masse.
C.F. Cawley (right) has been hired by all seven households on Lori Lane in Lakeville to sell their little neighborhood en masse. (Globe Staff Photo / Tom Herde)

There goes the neighborhood. Or so the neighbors hope.

Seven families on Lori Lane -- who together make up the entire population of the dead-end road -- are selling their homes en masse for a combined asking price of $4.2 million. Their motive? To get out before a massive commercial development being built on Route 105, directly across from Lori Lane, boxes them in, further changing the nature of their once rural neighborhood.

In a kind of "if you can't beat them, join them" approach, the neighbors hope a developer will buy the parcel to put up a strip mall or something similar.

"This is absolutely the most unusual sale I've ever seen in my 20 years in real estate," said C.F. Cawley of Keller Williams Realty in Easton, the broker handling the sale.

Added David Wluka, former president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, "In my 30-plus years in this business, I've never seen anything like it." The only thing even similar, he said, "was the sale of a Boca Raton (Fla. ) mobile home park, and they each made more than a million dollars."

The Lori Lane houses of various shapes, sizes, and assessments, will be sold as a 3.5-acre parcel upon which they collectively sit. The families will split the sale money evenly, no matter the individual value of their homes. If the neighbors get their asking price of $4.2 million, each would get $600,000.

The land is zoned residential but the neighbors have the support of the Planning Board to seek a change at Town Meeting to commercial zoning. Town officials said they expect the change to pass because much of the area is already commercial.

The "Street for Sale" strategy was simple, said Lori Lane resident Pat Rand, who came up with the idea. It was clear that the huge development going in at the end of the lane -- constructed by National Development and including, among other things, a Stop & Shop, Target, and Chili's -- would send residential property values plummeting. The development is being built on the site of the former Lakeville Hospital.

"There won't be a light for our street, we'll be facing the back end of Target, and we won't be able to get out easily. There will be a light up the street at a new Walgreens, but not here, and we'll be trapped by all the traffic.

"We'll be a little street," she said, "amongst this giant commercial area."

And that means that no one would want to live there. "Our property value will go down, without question," she said.

Given that, she said, it seemed clear that it was smart to get out while the getting was good and sell to a developer who can realize the value of the property.

So far only one developer has nibbled, and that bite was far too low, Cawley said. "We're waiting for a big chain or something to come in, or a strip mall developer," he said. "There are a couple smaller developers trying to come to town, and that would be good for this area." National Development has said it is not interested.

Lori Lane was developed in the early 1960s when Lakeville was still largely rural, said Lori Kazlauski, the Lori in Lori Lane. It was her late father who built the development and named the short street after her.

"I never would have dreamed of moving; this was mostly farmland, and there was nothing here but the hospital," she said. But in recent years the area has changed, with Interstate 495 coming through and the commuter rail station just up the road. "I can't imagine what it will be like once all that development goes in across the street."

Kazlauski has a 12-year-old daughter, and both live with Kazlauski's mother, "taking care of each other," Kazlauski said. Her home is on the end of the short street, a pleasant-looking, well-kept ranch that backs up to state farmland.

The assessed values of the homes range from $299,000 to $329,200, according to Vision Appraisal Technology, an online database of properties in Massachusetts. The total value is $2,227,200, making the average assessed value of each $318,171.

During the last housing boom, assessed values lagged far below market value, which skyrocketed. But now, with a surplus of housing stock and home sales dropping nationally, market prices are matching assessed values and in some cases going below them.

"If we tried to sell by ourselves, we wouldn't get much, the property values aren't good," Kazlauski said. "But collectively as a group, we all got on board, and if we get the right developer, who knows ?"

As to where the Lori Laners will go, at least two plan to stay in town.

"We came here 10 years ago" and opened a still-operating child-care business, said Rand, who with her husband hails originally from Weymouth. "We liked the house because it had an in-law entrance that was ideal for my business. We like the town; we're not selling to get out of Lakeville, we're selling to get out of this situation."

Kazlauski plans to stay in town, too. "I've lived on this street my whole life and want to move to a quieter area," she said.

"I'll miss this area," she said of the tiny street she grew up on, "but this sale might be a once -in -a-lifetime opportunity."