Style and a Neighbor's Open House

When your neighbors have an open house, what do you do?

 You go.

My next-door neighbors recently had an open house and I couldn't keep myself from it. I didn't want to look too eager thus did not show up the minute the open house signs were erected, however I was somewhat punctual. 

I liked being the neighbor at the open house. The realtor asked me about my interest in the property, and as soon as I said, "I'm a neighbor." The realtor moved on to other house hunters and I perused in peace. My viewing was so peaceful, that I may use the "I'm a neighbor" refrain more frequently.

Source: Wikipedia
After numerous open houses over the past two years, I can say my neighbors were absolutely ready for an open house. They had cleaned, de-cluttered and staged somewhat. The one thing that troubled me with the open house, however, was the home's interior style.

Because of catalogs like Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and websites like Pinterest, modern homes all start to look the same. For better or for worse the sameness quality immediately draws one to a house, because what you are seeing is familiar.  

My neighbors house wasn't picture-perfect. They had remodeled the kitchen and had bought new furniture, but it wasn't what is in fashion today. This oddity of style impacted my impression of the home and I am sure many other visitors as well. Other homes in my neighborhood have gone into contract within a week of being on the market this home did not and I can only blame it on style or taste, because everything else about the house was right.

I recently talked to a realtor about putting my home on the market. He immediately talked about having a professional stager come in and stage our house while all of our belongings went into storage. I was dumbfounded by such a comment. The realtor obviously didn't know about my open house past-time, but beyond that I couldn't imagine putting everything I own in storage and then living with borrowed furniture while I waited for my home to be sold. Is this the price to pay for selling real estate or is it only the price to pay if you want to sell real estate fast?

My neighbors home finally went into contract. It sat on the market three times longer than other homes in the neighborhood. So, does style matter? Only if you want to sell your home lightning fast.


First Time on the Market!

3 bedroom, 2 bath
1,555 square feet

"First Time on the Market!" read the opening words from the real estate ad. The homes in this particular neighborhood were all of the 1960's vintage, and from the pictures on the website I could tell the home was in it's original state. I had to visit.

The home appeared average from the curb. What was not average, however, was the love and care given to the home in 55 years of ownership.The first clue of superb care: pocket doors. In 1966, pocket doors were the rage. It was a simple way to block off rooms of the house so ruckus adults could cocktail in the front while precious children slept in the back. The doors also streamlined rooms and made bathroom quarters more private. I once lived in a vintage 1960's home (which had had several owners before me), and most the pocket doors had been removed and sheet rocked over. The one door that remained was sticky on its tracks and sometimes didn't like to move. I attributed the stickiness to the age of the door, never tired to fix it, and just lived with it. I was wrong.

The house yesterday had numerous pocket doors and they all slid along their tracks as perfectly as the day they were installed. I marveled as I slid the first door back and forth. This simple example showed me that when something is well made and you take care of it, it will always take care of you.

After obsessing with the pocket doors I wandered into the kitchen. It too was model home 1966 perfect. There were Formica counter-tops complete with flecks of glitter and the
original cabinets had been painted in two tones to enhance their sleek styling. I recognized the stove from my childhood; a GE push button stove. It was not stained nor in any ill-repair, but again lovingly maintained so it could aid in nourishing the people who lived there.

In my tour of Open Houses, I've seen many remodeled homes with the latest gadgetry and trends (i.e. kitchen islands and granite). This home reminded me that there is beauty in working to maintain what you have. In our society we are pushed to think having the newest item is the goal. The home I visited yesterday reminded me that maintaining and cherishing what one has should be the goal.


Buyer Beware: Don't Trust the Signs

4 bedroom, 3.5 bath
3,195 square feet

I wrote this blog post a few weeks ago. The blog entry wrote itself furiously fast, then I carelessly hit delete instead of post. I've tried to re-create those original words to the best of my memory, and I present it here:

Today's open house was gargantuan in comparison to the homes I've been visiting. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. The ad claimed the home was over 3,000 square feet, however the size didn't hit me until I actually visited the home.

A steep staircase carried me from the driveway to the front door above. I opened the heavy door and found an entry way littered with shoes. New carpet had been laid and the realtor asked all visitors to remove their foot wear. I donned my sweet baby blue booties and started my trek.

Off of the recently remodeled kitchen one could peer down into the neighbor's pool below. It felt odd and somewhat wrong to stare, the neighbor had zero privacy. The view toward the pool was slightly obstructed by an old arbor with dead vines. As I stared out the sliding glass door toward the pool, a sign taped to the door caught my eye. The sign read: "neighbor plans to remove and rebuild arbor." Buyer beware: you should never buy a house with the promise of what a neighbor might do in the future.

This sign turned out the be the first of many odd signs hung about the house. Some were taped to the wall haphazardly, while others were presented in thick stylish black frames and hung with hammer and nail. I couldn't decide if I liked the the entire signage concept.  Besides signs promising what a neighbor might do in the future, other signs talked of a room's potential or a space for a future laundry room (even through the house already had one). There was also a 'Do Not Enter' sign taped across the doorway into the garage which wasn't right at an Open House.

Considering all the signs, this Open House seemed to be offered as if it were still under construction or a model home on the subdivision tract where developers are trying to sell empty lots, however this home was neither of those. The home was finished and inhabited by a family so the signs did not help, but hindered my visit of the large home.