Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Money and Maids | Main | Make Money by Becoming a Writer »

January 21, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I sure wish they would quantify things with numbers. "Small Houses" are exactly how small? "McMansions" start at what square footage? "Big Decks" take up how much space?

Whatever happened to having a laundry chute? I have a perfect place in my home for one, and am thinking of installing it. That way the laundry is close to where the washer and dryer should be; in the basement.

I have stucco ceilings, because my home was built in the 70's. I don't find them that bad . . . but I sure will get rid of them before I decide to sell, if ever. I also have separate living and dining rooms, but they are only separated by an archway, so we use the dining area as an office and playroom for the kids (6 and 3). I kind of like having the extra usable room . . . who says you have to dine in a dining room?

I love how we are told what is and what is not "sellable."

As if there was a one size fits all house for each and every American.

Homogenization, indeed.

I think the one that suck out to me is the standard size garage doors. I was at a house last month that I would have had a hard time getting even my compact car through the garage doors without being really careful. The small SUV the house owners had required them to fold in the side mirrors before going into the garage. How crazy is that? Likewise I would never buy a house with a small garage. Many you can hardly park a decent size car in. Let alone have any tools or workbench in there.

I totally agree about sellers overpricing their homes. I think a lot of people think their homes are worth much more than the market says it is currently. Even a lot of the sellers real estate agents will tell us that the house we are looking at is overpriced and to make an offer. If the selling agent is telling you that, something is definately not right.

Very interesting...but I would not put a lot of stock in their assessments, as home types and preferences vary so much by region.

In my area (Pacific Northwest), very few homes have central AC (no need) or basements (high water table).

Who cares where the washer and dryer are? If you live in an area with a nice long outdoor season (not too much humidity, rain, sun, insects, etc.) than what's wrong with a big deck?

If I were hunting for a house, I wouldn't worry too much about this list. You'll know what's right for you.

JP --

"Who cares where the washer and dryer are?"

My wife, for one.

JP --

"Who cares where the washer and dryer are?"

I want to respond to this one, too... For me, I wouldn't accept a laundry room on any floor that doesn't have ground-level access - usually the main floor. Why? Because I absolutely do not want to heave that bear of a washing machine up or down any flight of stairs! With a walk-out basement, I would possibly consider a basement laundry room to reduce the noise in the rest of the house, but then you have to carry all the laundry up at least one flight of stairs each way.

It definitely is a buyer's market right now. Echoing what you said about the #1 issue being price, most real estate agents would agree. I was told the same thing by one very successful agent, that she could have sold Chernobyl if the price was right.

The key is for sellers to make their homes attractive without investing too heavily in them. That's a very fine line.

Wow! I can't disagree with this more. Our house is 850 square feet; it has one bathroom, no air conditioning, a fuse box, AND a basement with outside access only. When we bought it, there was a small bidding war because it was well taken care of, had a big yard, and is in a nice neighborhood. Now it's about the only affordable house in our city for first time home-buyers. (All of the 3,000+ sq. ft. houses in our area are selling for close to $1 million.)

This advice might be appropriate where people spend all their time in their houses (mid-West?), but in the Seattle area, where people use their house to store stuff between adventures elsewhere, this just isn't accurate.

I want to move to Seattle!!! I treat my car (mini-Van) that way - a place to store adventure gear so I am ready to go!

And I too want to comment on where the laundry (W/D) is located. This is a BIG deal for women. One beautiful home I looked at was a no-brainer as it was in the main downstairs hallway between the front door and the kitchen, shut off by folding doors in a closet. NO WAY! I do not always get the laundry done and folded as soon as it needs it (p.s., please have an area for a folding table nearby), and do not want to have to time my use of the laundry room based on when company might come (too noisy or too messy).

I just spoke to my wife about this topic, and she absolutely does not want the washer and dryer in an area where someone would see it. She would prefer that it is in the basement out of the way. Also, when we buy our next house, one of the main criteria that she has is that the house must have seperate dining and living areas. I like the larger decks as long as they are made with the composite material, instead of wood. That's less grass I have to cut and the deck only needs a powerwash every spring to keep it clean.

Outdoorgrrl --

A 3,000 square foot house costs $1 million? Yikes! Such a place (with no land and in a decent area) runs $250,000 to $300,000 here. Then again, you have to live in Michigan. ;-)

Ryan --

Our washer and dryer are in a small laundry room just off our kitchen. It has a door that can be shut (maybe a solution for your wife's concern?)

Actually, the laundry should be on the floor where the living is going on. No one should have to go to the basement to do it, chute or not. My current laundry room is on our main level, and in fact, all clothes that do not need to be hung up stay in there on open shelves (four people in home) so that I do the laundry there, fold it there, and stack it there, unless it's on hangers. In my last home, the laundry room was the master walk-in closet, and same thing there, all clothes unless on hangers, were kept in there on shelves. It's a huge timesaver and organizer.


Price and location will solve almost all these problems in my opinion. Not everyone will love every house obviously, but to me some of these problems seem pretty minor/picky.

Do that many homes really have spiral staircases?

I admit there are better options than fuse boxes. I wouldn't want to have a spiral staircase as the only staircase either, especially if I had to move furniture up or down it. I also can't imagine a spiral staircase being very handicap accessible. But even saying that, everything on the list is a convenience. It's really nice, if you look at the world, to be able to worry about those types of things as problems. I don't believe any of them make a home unsellable. Maybe they become potentially better deals by eliminating buyers spoiled enough to consider those things deal breakers.
People asking too much for their houses is a common problem though. Not only are there emotional attachments involved, but the American dream has shifted from living on your own to living like the neighbors do. People expect to make money off their house, to be able to upgrade, and to have perfect houses with no features listed on any "unsellable" list like this. They also need extra room for all of their stuff. I'm getting used to high listing prices, but one had even me shaking my head. Last year I saw two halves of a twin listed with a $20k difference. The cheaper half sold, below list price, but the other half stayed listed without any drop in price.


That doesn't solve the problem of where to hang dry clothes, where to fold clothes, or where to iron. When you have lots of kids, you have a LOT of clothes to deal with that you really don't want anywhere near your kitchen.

Ryan --

1. We dry our clothes. If we did hang them, the laundry is on the first floor.

2. My wife usually dumps the clothes on the living room floor and we all fold. (Crude, I know, but it works for us.)

3. Not much to iron. Usually my wife or I do this in the living room while watching TV.

4. Maybe if we had 10 kids it would be different, but I'm not sure how. We've had a laundry room in the basement before and my wife said she never wanted another one again -- too much up and down the stairs with arms full of clothes.

Outdoorgrrl --

I wish I had "about the only affordable house in our city for first time home-buyers." If that's the case, no wonder there was a bidding war.

Imagine what your home would be worth with a breaker panel, AC, stairs to your basement, and two bathrooms! You could be on HGTV!

Average sized garage doors?! That would be funny if not for the fact that there are many people who found out that their new car is so huge it no longer fits the door. Tragic.

Otherwise the first list sounds almost exactly like what I'm looking for, so I'm actually glad to see this on msnbc. This means I should be able to pay less than expected for such a low maintenance house.

Looks like you'd all hate it in the UK. Small houses with one bathroom are typical. Hardly anyone even has a laundry room or a basement. AC is non-existent, but then it's not necessary either.

What is this "ironing" you people speak of?

Seriously, I don't know anyone who irons -- or folds clothes, for that matter -- in their laundry room. Ours is a tiny space that also acts as the mudroom from the garage. We fold in the family room, in front of the television, or at the kitchen table.

Many of the points I aree with except the single dining/living room. I grew up eating with my family, not with my tv. Now-a-days too many people have given up on the concept of family time and woulf rather slap food on a plate and send the kids in to watch tv.

The laundry room should be on the same floor as the bedrooms (no stairs to carry clostes up and down). It may be problematic when you install the washer and dryer, but unless you plan on moving every year or two, this shouldn't be a problem. Biggest problem would be in case of an accident with the washer overflowing, which I have never had happen but could be a deal breaker for having it anywhere other than ground floor or basement.

As for currently I have a three floor condo with a decent sized garage, the builder wanted to be able to put his crews trucks into the unoccupied garages so as to keep the grounds looking their best (his brother was the selling agent). That said there is little room for a workbench when something larger than a midsize car is in there (more because there is no room to work at said bench). The main entrance is in our utility room where the washer and dryer are off to the side behind sliding doors and the unfolded clothes are out in the open for all to see (I don't care much since the guests spend most if not all of their time upstairs).

The main reason why I would want my laundry room (which I have) in the basement, is in case the hot water hose on the washer bursts. If your laundry is on a main level the water will run through the floor and into the basement. Much more to repair as opposed to the hose bursting in the basement!!!!

Would you look at this home if the ad read:

FOR SALE. One of smallest houses in the neighborhood.
Just one bathroom for the entire family to squeeze into each and every morning. Summers are great to enjoy sweating it up w/o air conditioning. Don't worry about the breaker box as you can mess with old, possibly dangerous fuses in the dark -- great for those of you with nice TV's and computers. Be careful of the spiral staircase, it's safe enough, especially when you're carring a load of towels up front the basement. And nobody will notice the popcorn/stucco ceilings-they might back into style someday.

Most will say, no thanks. I'll keep looking.

I also disagree with the single living/dining room. I HATE HATE HATE (btw, I HATE) open space floor plans with living/dining/kitchen all lumped into a common space. I want at least some degree of separation between the three spaces.

I chose my current apartment because it provides exactly that. The rooms flow together, but there is still definately a living room/dining room/kitchen. I absolutely refuse to settle for less in a house that I buy.

The "no air-conditioning", basement stuff, and decks are very location-dependent. The only houses I know of that have AC in this area are less than 10 years old - and even then, it's not terribly common. I would probably replace the "no AC" with "no windows that can mount a small AC unit" (It's nice to at least have the option of using a small AC unit on the hottest days).

I'd also add "low ceilings" - when we were house-hunting, I saw a few houses where rooms had ceilings so low it made me feel claustrophobic - and the house we bought only has 7.5 foot ceilings, the lowest I would tolerate. It's been a pain trying to replace ceiling-mounted lights with lower-profile ones, so our taller guests won't hit their heads on them.

The garage & master-bath "trends" crack me up. Our house doesn't HAVE a garage, just a large storage shed. And we were thrilled to see a master bathroom that was large enough to have a shower, rather than being a half-bath like most of the houses we looked at. In fact, we are talking about knocking out one (interior) wall so we can fit a tub in there instead.

Houses that aren't as clean and aren't as "updated" are heaven for first-time buyers, because they are AFFORDABLE.

It's definitely very location dependent. We're the in DC area, in a very close-in suburb, just a couple blocks from a subway station, in a top school district, and a short walk from a trendy restaurant and shopping area. The houses are mostly 60+ years old and small (under 2000 sq feet, including basement). Anything that has a lot of updates or is much more than 2000 sq feet will be $1 million +.

If you want a W/D anywhere other than your basement, you will be paying in the $1 million range. Someday when we add on to our house, I'd love a laundry room off the kitchen but my husband is adament that the W/D belong in the basement where any water problems won't cause serious damage.

Most houses in the neighborhood don't have any garage so our small detached garage is a bonus.

Backyards here tend to be small so no one has room for a huge deck.

With our miserable summers A/C is a necessity. We do OK with our window units but I'm pretty sure we're going to need to put in central A/C to sell in the current market. A few years ago it probably wouldn't have been an issue.

I also agree a single bath is a big negative. But any kind of "master bath" is a plus, no matter the size.

People pay a huge premium for an easy commute and just deal with the challenges of older homes (unless they have the $$ to tear it down and build a new home).

The last part of his blog was interesting:

"My solution as a buyer: bid low. Bid very low.

Of course this isn't exactly working for me as I've yet to find a new home -- but at least I'm not buying an over-priced one. ;-)"

Well, it sounds like you might not be buying any house let alone an over-priced one...

The intrinsic value of a house (especially one you plan to stay in for quite some time) is as much a personal decision as it is a market-driven one. If you love the neighborhood, house amenities, local schools, etc. a house may be worth an offer that might seem high based on market conditions.

If, on the other hand, you have no real reason to move, have already sold your existing home and are renting, and happy to try and time the market with less regard for your favorite neighborhood, house amenities, etc. then absolutely you should continue to hold out to pay the lowest possible price (in comparison to others).

But it all comes down to very personal (including financial) interests.

Figuring out the value of a house requires the mathematical skills of a fifth grader. Take average rents in the area for a similar house, multiply this number by 120. If the price of the house you're looking at exceeds this number, it is overpriced and will correct with time. The last couple years are a tiny blip on the radar of housing. Historically, this simple formula is all you need, regardless of whether your someplace people supposedly want to live, like Seattle or Colorado. If you're reading this and thinking, "but, in location x, it is actually different for reasons 1, 2, and 3," then you're delusional.

yikes, i wrote that fast. Sorry about the your / you're error.

WOW! I'm even more confused than ever after reading all of this.
I live in Texas, have a 2000 plus sq. ft. older, charming, well kept home for sale on almost 10 acres (A Hobby Farm). It's been listed for almost two years without a single offer. I had two realtors in the course of one year, but fired them both because they just were not getting the place exposed, among other things.
It has a new metal roof, new central air & heat, two car garage that holds my Suburban and Dodge 1/2 ton PU perfectly and with room to spare, no basement, separate and huge laundry room (with clothes hanging rack and folding table)off the kitchen and with outdoor access... and easily accessible for both doing laundry AND replacing washer if it fails, formal living, formal or informal dining...breakfast bar divides, den, sunroom or breakfast, no popcorn ceilings, a breaker box, no staircases, 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, closet space, good lighting, neutral colors, some hardwood floors, no carpet, covered porches front and back, fenced in yard, barns, large guest house, highway frontage...and priced based on comps in the area...And we haven't gotten a single offer! We even dropped our price over $65,000. and still did not get one interested party!
It's not perfect because it's over 70 years old, but it is solid and sound...been here longer than any other house within a 5 mile radius and better insulated than newer models.
I'm just beginning to think it's the ugliest property in the world and all these people who visit and say, "OHMYGOD! YOur place is beautiful!" are either blind or too polite.
I just don't think the 8 reasons a house doesn't sale are realistic.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.