If you watch any of the house hunting shows on TV, you probably have learned that NO buyer could possibly ever purchase a house with outdated wallpaper! Or pink carpeting in one of the bedrooms. Or orange paint in the hallway. “Eewww! I don’t like that carpet/paint/wallpaper,” they say. And it is out the door and on to another house.
But I am here with good news: we have no reports of actual death by wallpaper. Nor has anyone died from viewing pastel carpet. And ugly paint has never been convicted of murder. This is actually EXTRAORDINARILY good news for current buyers who are house hunting in this very constricted market with a very limited supply of homes available for purchase.
The “perfect” homes in the hot neighborhoods are scooped up within hours; numerous buyers have probably made offers on it, but only one will actually be the new homeowner. The competition is fierce. That means there are 3 other disappointed buyers who DIDN’T get the house, and are waiting for the next Perfect Place to come available in that community. Or 5 disappointed buyers. Plus another 60 or 83 or 129 who looked at the photos online and loved it, but didn’t get there in time to even make an offer. They are all waiting to stampede to the next Perfect Place. Sigh.
So here’s how the non-lethal nature of ugly wallpaper becomes Extraordinarily Good News for you as a buyer: start thinking of Outdated as your friend. No matter how much the wallpaper looks like 1981 (or 1961), it cannot kill you. Lots of other buyers have NOT realized that, and are still thinking that laminate countertops might be their cause of death. All these Other Buyers will keep duking it out with each other for the next Perfect Place. Swerve around them. Look for the Other Houses and get ready to give a great, big hug to the home whose basement has possibly-atrocious wood paneling from the ‘70s.
Should you buy a house you hate? No. But the wallpaper, paint, paneling and carpet AREN’T the house, they are just the clothes the house is wearing today! Well, ok, let’s be honest, this house might have been wearing this exact same “outfit” every day for the last 41 years. But if memory serves, 41 years ago perfectly awesome guys were running around wearing polyester leisure suits. (Really, they were. If you don’t know what a leisure suit is, google it, look at the photos. Call your Dad. Get him to confess to this particular fashion crime.) If you ran into one of these fabulous men on the street today (Dad???), and he was still wearing that leisure suit, I’m sure you’d do him the favor of letting him know fashions have changed. Do the same favor for the house: all you have to do is change its clothes!!
And do yourself the favor of not confusing a house with its “outfit.” What is ACTUALLY the house? The location. The number of bedrooms. The number of bathrooms. The spacious family room. The eat-in kitchen. The finished basement. The fab backyard. The 2-car garage.
Just keep reminding yourself that you will not die by wallpaper…and while you are not-dying, it isn’t very costly or difficult to get rid of the “outfit.” Ugly carpets can get pulled up. And undesirable wall color vanishes for the cost of a gallon of paint, some paint brushes and a Sunday afternoon. The paneling? If it isn’t in your skillset or your budget to get rid of it now, just paint it. Poof! Gone! The same magic works on kitchen cabinets if you don’t like the color of the wood.
All of these are reasonably cheap/cost-effective to accomplish. Re-read that last sentence. Let it sink in. CHEAP! These changes aren’t expensive, and the purchase price of the house is probably lower because of the needed updates. This means you could be making a terrific investment! And you may find it’s even kind of fun to put in the sweat equity to transform your new place to match your dreams.
If you are a buyer tired of scrambling around trying to find the next Perfect Place, vow to win the house hunting tournament by playing a different game. Let the rest of them fight over the same few houses. You know the truth: you won’t die of ugly wallpaper. So instead, go where the crowds aren’t and start looking for the lovable house in a location you adore, and help it change its outfit. Seriously, this is going to be fun! And as soon as he trashes that ol’ leisure suit, your Dad is on his way over with a paint brush to help….
On Facebook: Laurie Simon Goldman, Sibcy Cline Realtors