12 Things Real Estate Agents Avoid in Their Own Homes
They see it all — the good, the bad and the what-was-this-homeowner-thinking? Here are the things real estate agents find cringeworthy.
Barn Doors on Bathrooms
“Country chic has its place,” says Rob South, an agent with RE/MAX Real Estate in Lansing, Michigan. “But barn doors need to stay on the barn.
“These plank-board slabs are hung from a pair of pulleys an inch or more off the wall. Because of that, they have a gap all the way around that can’t fully be closed. So they are pretty bad at providing some of the basic functions of an actual door, like privacy. Put one on your bathroom and everyone in the home will know your business.”
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Doors to Nowhere
Dean Schlaak, an agent with Edina Realty in Stillwater, Minnesota, has an unusual no-no that he says “you see it all the time, at least in the Midwest.” Schlaak’s pet peeve? “Homes built with a patio door, with a deck to be installed at a later date,” he says. “It’s the door to nowhere!
“I’m aware of one person who opened the door, stepped out and fell to the ground. Luckily it was only five feet and all that was bruised was an ego. I understand decks are expensive, especially now with lumber prices nearing the price of gold, but bite the bullet and get it installed right away and enjoy your time on the added square footage.”
A so-called “floating staircase” is a stairway designed without supports between treads, making it look as if the steps are floating.
“Floating staircases look magnificent, but they are not functional for people with small children, pets or anyone who has mobility issues or a fear of heights,” says Dinneen Jackson, broker associate with Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty in Holmdel, New Jersey.
“My dog has enough trouble navigating a regular staircase. I can’t imagine her being able to descend a floating staircase. Lucky for me I get to visit and admire them on occasion when I list and show houses.”
Sunken living rooms were a hot trend back in the day, but they’re not for Amy Jurek, a Realtor with RE/MAX Advantage Plus in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
“I would never buy a home with a sunken room,” Jurek says. “There’s nothing worse than a step or several steps down into a sunken pit of some sort … maybe a living room, bar, media room. These platform areas born in the ’70s tried to create some sort of a groovy space, when all they are is a reason to break your neck!”
“The one thing I always take out of a listing is the old plastic blinds that were so popular at one time,” says Heidi King, managing broker for Windermere Greenwood in Seattle. “They are huge dust attractors, and you can’t clean them to save your life unless you hire a company to come and do it.
“They are most always broken — either the strings, or the parts of the slats are broken and bent. They always leave unsightly holes in your trim. Also, I find that when people try to open or close them, they break on the spot. They need to all be trashed! There are some great blinds out there made of large wood slats that are attractive and easy to clean which is a great alternative and are actually quite popular with buyers.”
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Some homes have a pot-filler faucet behind a cooktop with an articulated arm that lets it swing out over the burners to fill large soup or pasta pots or other dishes. But Brenda Kronenberg, Realtor at Keller Williams Realty in Dallas, would never add one to her home.
“Turns out the pot-filler faucet is a weak trickle,” she says. “Takes a long time to fill the pot and nobody actually uses it for that reason. It is easier, faster and more convenient to fill the pot at the kitchen faucet.”
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You won’t find Amanda Rodriguez, an agent with JP & Associate Realtors in Killeen, Texas, telling anyone to install wall-to-wall carpet.
“Wall-to-wall carpet is so unpleasant,” she says. “Not only is carpet cleaning a day’s work in itself, but everyone who enters the house with their shoes on tracks in whatever they have on the bottom of their shoes all over your carpet! High-traffic areas, restrooms and kitchens should all have hard-surface flooring, in my opinion.”
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Indoor Pizza Ovens
Mona Welter, an agent with Enterprise Realty in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, remembers viewing a home that boasted of a pizza oven and a large family room in the basement.
“I assumed the oven would be outside,” Welter says. “Going down the stairs of the 1950s one-and-a-half story house, we were met with a red brick object to the left of us. Walking around the two-foot path between the exterior wall and this red brick object, we realized it was the giant pizza oven. It was about the size of a 1950s bedroom.”
The pizzas may have been good, but what Welter remembers is how the oven dominated the space. “What was left of the family room was (only) big enough to hold two easy chairs,” she says.
Spiral staircases look striking, and they are one way to put a staircase in a small area. But think about their usefulness. “You can’t move furniture up and down (a spiral staircase),” says Kronenberg.
She recalls a house she once saw that had added a second level and had no good place for a stairway, so the owners installed a spiral staircase. But the upstairs level had two bedrooms, only tiny windows and absolutely no way to get furniture to the upstairs. “Such a stupid remodel,” Kronenberg says.
Wallpaper has its fans. Ben Hallow, a Realtor with Laviano and Associates Real Estate Group in Albany, New York, isn’t one of them.
“It’s wildly old-fashioned, and when we see it in homes nobody ever seems to react with excitement or enthusiasm,” Hallow says. “Even in my parents’ house, which was built in the early ’80s, there is still wallpaper in the kitchen, and we all hate it. Some buyers will appreciate vintage designs or styles, but wallpaper is definitely not one of those things.”
Carpet in the Bathroom
Carpet can be soft and comforting in a living area or bedroom, but in the bathroom? Think of all the moisture that can seep into the carpet — hello, mold and mildew. “I can’t wrap my head around this one or why anyone ever thought it was a good idea,” says Aimee DeLuccio, an agent with Realty One Group Premier in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. “It’s just wrong.”
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Urinal in the … Garage?
“One home feature I noticed in my own neighborhood that I could personally live without on my property (is) a urinal in the garage,” says Thom Miller, an agent with Thom Miller Real Estate in Edina, Minnesota.
“Sure, it’s convenient. And there have been a few times when I have been mid-project in my garage workshop and the thought has crossed my mind. But in terms of resale value, it takes a very particular buyer to find THAT feature attractive.”