Just like dating, we all go into home shopping with a list of things we'd really like in order to settle down. So when you find a place that ticks all of the boxes—or at least most of them—it’s all too easy to get googly eyes and fall hard.
But the truth is—just like in romance—some of the things you think you want will actually end up driving you crazy.
Before you sign your name on the dotted line of a home purchase contract, save yourself some heartache and remorse: Take a minute to browse our list of buyers’ most-wanted features—or, more specifically, the ones they wanted but end up hating later on. Are any on your wish list?
1. An open floor plan
Open floor plans have long been at the top of everyone’s wish list. But what’s it like to actually live in a house with one? To some people, it's a bit like living in a large echo chamber.
“Sounds are multiplied in an open floor plan; they don't offer sound protection,” says Laura Mineff, a Cleveland-based interior designer and owner of Array Design Studio.
There’s also a little thing called privacy to take into consideration. If you live with moody teenagers or several young kids, an open floor plan might mean nobody gets the space they need. It also might mean that a toilet flushing upstairs can be heard all the way downstairs in your living room.
“You'll need rugs and window panels to help absorb the sound, as well as tall dimensional artwork and plants to help fill in the space,” Mineff says. “Creating a warm, cozy atmosphere in a vast, open living space can be costly.”
2. An upstairs laundry room
An upstairs laundry room sounds like the dream, doesn't it? So convenient—no more unsolicited cardio as you lug piles of linens up and down the stairs.
But beware: This dream scenario can quickly turn into a noisy nightmare.
“People think that laundry rooms being near the bedrooms will be practical, since most of the laundry is generated in the bedrooms,” explains Leslie Saul, designer and owner of Leslie Saul & Associates. “Some laundry rooms are so noisy that we end up rebuilding them or moving them to the first floor or basement.”
3. An in-ground pool
Pools are great, and for many buyers, a true must-have. But they can also be money pits, and difficult to maintain if you don’t have the budget.
“The features that some of our clients end up hating are the ones that require a lot of maintenance,” Saul says. “The wealthier clients can afford to hire pool maintenance companies, so they tend to continue to love them. But the less wealthy find that all of their free time goes to home maintenance projects, instead of spending time with their kids—the very reason they wanted the pool to begin with.” Whoa, ironic!
So before you commit to a house with a large pool, make sure you have the resources (and interest) in maintaining it. Because the only thing worse than no pool is a dirty, neglected one.
4. A downstairs half-bath
Having a bathroom that’s readily available for guests might sound ideal, but in practice it’s unlikely to see much use, according to Ian Gordon, co-principal broker of Seattle-based Coldwell Banker Bain.
“When you have people over,” he explains, “who wants to use the powder room right off the kitchen and dining room? Sorry, nope. People usually go downstairs or upstairs to use the more private baths.”
If your dream home has a half-bathroom downstairs, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the house—just maybe skip the expensive tile remodel you had in mind.
5. Designer sinks
Pedestal sinks, bowl sinks, vessel sinks, you name it—they’ll make your bathroom look très chic. But once you have one, we’d bet you’ll be singing another tune.
“In home design magazines, [bowl sinks] look like the height of luxury,” says Jennifer Harder, founder and CEO of Jennifer Harder Mortgage Brokers. “However, when you need to actually use the sink, it is incredibly awkward. The height of the bowl makes them uncomfortable to use, and they use up valuable counter space.”
And although pedestal sinks look pretty and petite, they won’t be quite so charming once your cleaning products have to live out in the open for lack of storage.
“If someone is buying a house with these in the primary bathroom,” Harder says, “I gently encourage them to consider a bathroom remodel.”
6. Hardwood flooring
Although everyone loves a good hardwood floor (especially in those places that usually have ugly carpeting), there are simply some rooms in the home that weren’t meant for unfinished wood floors, says Daniel Meyer, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco–based home renovation company Pocketdoor.
Chiefly? Kitchens and bathrooms.
“Many finishes look great but cannot handle everyday life for buyers,” he explains. “Especially those with young children. In the best-case scenario, they catch the issue and refinish the floors before spills or water become stains that become permanent. In other cases, people are investing in new flooring.”
So when you ask your real estate agent for a home with hardwood flooring, make sure they have the proper finish and that you're not buying a home that might have you replacing the floors before you ever get to enjoy them.
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