Houses I Won't Be Buying

Closet, Closet, Who’s Got the Closet?

Saw this one last night - there was a coat closet by the front door, and a linen closet, but in the bedrooms, all that existed were tacked-on tacky modular “closetoids” with poorly closing doors.

The Kennel Club

Eight people. Five Dogs. Giant frigging Plasma Screen TV. Can they get along without rendering the inside of the externally-nice house unlivable? No. Tonight, on the Surreal World.

The House of the Lord

Great space, some basement damage - and oh, look! It’s a little shrine… with ten folding chairs… and more religious iconography than one finds in most churches… and anointing oil? Creeeeeepy vibe. You know it’s bad when the realtor starts cracking cultist jokes.

So, yeah, I put this in the Pit instead of MPSIMS because I originally intend to focus in on these issues - what possesses people to DO some of these things? Why buy the giant plasma TV when, as your son kindly informed me as he was guiding us to the upstairs, you’d lost your job a while back? Why put in those horrible, hokey closets in what was otherwise a very charming house with a very nice kitchen?

Why leave your creepy little shrine set up for the potential visitors?


Feel free to submit general house-shopping woes.

I’ve got one for your list. I turned this little gem down 6 or 7 years ago.

The Toilet Pantry
This cute Victorian was a charmer from the outside, but some of the interior work was questionable to say the least. A wall and doorway to the dining room had been excised in favor of an archway which, as the cracked ceiling attested, did not include a header. Although not clean, the house was relatively free of clutter. I found out why when I visited the guest bedroom, which was piled waist deep, I kid you not, with domestic debris. At least they thought to clean up for me! The master bath featured bare wires coming out of the walls, and a shower surround fashioned from ceramic tile. No two pieces of tile being the same style or color. Over half of them broken into odd geometric shapes. However, this house gets its name from the first floor bath which doubled as a pantry, with shelves upon shelves of food adjacent to the water closet.

I understand what you saying but you may be making a mistake with #2 and #3. Their current furnishings have nothing to do with the house itself. All that stuff will be gone once you buy it and move in. I am always amazed at people’s inability to look at the house itself rather than the things currently in it (including the paint). When we bought our house (a 1760 colonial fixer-upper), it was a true shithole. We are talking two mean dogs and one beautiful dog chained in the front yard, literally thousands of pounds of trash in the yard, and peeling paint. That wasn’t a concern to us. Two industrial dumpsters later, the trash was gone and the former owners took two of the dogs and we adopted the beautiful one. We put our house on the market for a while a year ago and the real-estate agent advised us to paint everything neutral tones. Not no but Hell NO! It is an antique, historic house. It takes less than a day to paint a room and it doesn’t fit with neutral tones. If someone cannot understand the way a house like that needs to be then they are not getting it. We are in no hurray.

In short, worrying about superficial things like the furniture and people that are in there now is shortsighted and ignorant. They will be gone. You can also easily change things like paint. What you want to worry about is true structural flaws in the house and how much they would cost to fix. A house with superficial flaws can be a good deal because other ignornat people cannot see that all of those things can be fixed in a few days and save thousands.

When it was time to sell my old house in Denver, my realtors and I went to visit some houses in the neighborhood, trying to get an idea of comps, or what houses like mine were selling for. One house had a room in the basement I called the “death chamber” - there was a working shower head mounted next to a working light bulb socket, with electrical outlets on the wall near the concrete floor. :eek:

In recent house hunting, one place I saw had random newspaper clippings from the 1960s and 1970s, shellaced to all the walls in one basement room. Another was the most thoroughly elderly-ized house I’ve ever seen, with hand rails and grips not just in the bathrooms, but the kitchen and halls, too.

One house, from the exterior, was absolutely gorgeous; solid brick, with a slate roof and heavy front door. Step inside, and you were stepping back to 1938, when the house was built. No upgrades whatsoever; the house featured all ungrounded two-prong electrical outlets, a fuse box, a massive 1930s-era stove, dull pink bathtubs in the two dull pink tiled bathrooms, only a couple of cabinets in the kitchen, and no real kitchen countertop space. Most light switches were pull chains. The furnished attic and every closet in the house had the original wallpaper; brown and pink, with huge flowers. The furnace dated to the early 1960s – I was honest surprised it wasn’t coal-fired – and the water heater was of more recent vintage. Cosmetically and structurally, the house was in great shape, but basic upgrades to the kitchen and electrical system would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Yep. Stuff like you see in #2 and #3 might be the last way to get a half-way decent bargain in this market in most places in the country. My sister bought her house from a crazy cat lady (well, from ccl’s daughter). Got a monster discount from the going rate in the neighborhood in exchange for a few weekends’ work and a few thousand dollars on paint and new floors. Instant equity, to the tune of about 50 large.

Especially in the case of #2, think of this. The house is big enough for eight people and three dogs. Bet it doesn’t look that big. Get a floorplan with exact measurements and consider a lowball bid.

While I appreciate the advice, the Kennel Club is also in a horrible neighborhood, and has a similar situation to the Toilet Pantry. In fact, I see the unusually placed toilets in a lot of houses around here. It’s also Way overpriced, but most real estate is, here.

Apropos of Nothing, A Toilet

Specifically addressing the tiny house that had a toilet in the garage… in full view of the window of the garage.

Darby O’Gill’s Place

Charming little home with almost a complete other living space on the floor below - for someone under six feet tall.

Don’t You Want to Haggle?

To the owners of one of four identical homes in a row, whose neighbor had, not two years before, bought her home for $85,000; and whose house was valued at $89,000 by the county - asking $120,000 was ridiculous. Not bothering to counter-offer to either of my offers wasn’t the best way to sell your house quickly. Though you did get lucky, I hear - finally selling for $114,500.

And I’m not interested in much of a fixer-upper. I’m not handy. I don’t have a lot of money saved for improvements. I’m not after a bargain - I’m after the right house.

Duh…that TV wasn’t bought, it was from Rent-a-Center. And they will be over in the morning to repo, I mean pick it up.

What is it with toilets?

When we were looking for a house (17 years ago), we looked at some darling Cape Cod’s–most were unaccpetable for one reason or another(like the one that had put bead board panelling on horizontally all over the second floor). We found one with a nice yard, and good curb appeal. Downstairs was great–I was starting to picture myself in this house and then we went upstairs.

There was a toilet–just a toilet, mind you–in the hall at the top of the stairs. No curtain, door, closet, partition–just a toilet, functioning, at the top of the stairs. There was a bathroom just down the hall, with it’s own toilet. I still scratch my head about that one.

As to realtors who are bitches (think that’s another thread, but what the hell): we looked for houses with my husband’s aunt, a realtor, but not in the area that we looked in. She was awful. Mean and snide about everything (which is weird, b/c at family stuff, she’s nice). We pulled up to this one ranch on a rainy March evening–cold and raw and getting dark. The family (baby, pre-schooler and parents, mom is pregnant) are eaing their Kraft mac and cheese.
Aunt goes ballastic. Why are they here, don’t they know it’s a showing etc. I looked at her like she was crazy. I said to the family, I know the little ones have to eat–never mind us, we’ll ask you if we need anything…I thought the mom was gonna cry. Shit! It’s hard enough to have 2 kids and be pregnant, and need to move and have money as an issue(I assume that they didn’t go out that noc because of money–noone really eats Kraft mac and cheese unless they have to!). That house was too small, but I’ll never forget that.
Buying and selling doesn’t have to be hell–I think people make it bad with attitudes like the one above.

In that case, have you considered saving yourself a lot of hassle and just having a custom house built?

Relatively flat, convenient lots of land are pretty scarce here, too, but yeah, looking into it.

I was house hunting over the weekend. We called one of the places I wanted to see and got no answer, so we figured we’d swing by (it was between two other places) and look at it. The lady who answered the door was extraordinarily rude, telling us that there would be no way we would view the house before the open house the next day. My realtor was puzzled, since the house had been on the market for almost two weeks already (which he assures me is an eternity in real estate in northern Virginia).

That night we got four inches of snow. I wonder how her open house went the next day.

One possibility–I’ve been told that in this town, in order for a room to be considered a “bedroom,” it must have a built-in closet of some sort. One of our bedrooms was originally built with no closet (in 1924), and someone along the way built one in. It was really awkward, so we ripped it out, but if we want to sell the house, we’ll have to build another one into the room. I wonder if those “closetoids” were some previous owner’s attempt to comply with some kind of regulation.

I agree with the others about a “weird” house sometimes making a good bargain. Our house could have been called The Incontinent Ferret Brothel. :eek: It’s been assessed at double what we paid for it 5 years ago. (Of course, Candid Gamera doesn’t want a fixer-upper, so that comment isn’t directed at him.)

But it’s unbelievable that those people would try to sell houses in the conditions described in this thread. I’m surprised that their real estate agents would let them show the houses like that! There has been a lot of attention to “house staging” given recently. Some folks take it to an extreme–like Shagnasty being told to re-paint his historically accurate 1760s house in beige. Yikes. But for the vast majority of houses, the same rules apply–de-clutter, clean, deodorize, etc. Fix any obvious stuff that needs fixing. And if you can get rid of some feature that is highly likely to give a potential buyer the heebie-jeebies, for Og’s sake do it!

I saw some doozies when I was house-hunting.

One house had dark paneling on every single wall of every single room. How gloomy. I didn’t want to tackle the job of tearing that off and fixing the walls. And no room was bigger than 8’ x 10’. It was more like a series of closets than a house.

One house had no central heating. I mean, no furnace, no ductwork, nothing. This was in Indiana. It gets mighty cold in the winter, there.

One house smelled repulsive from the dogs crapping on the floor. I didn’t feel up to replacing all the sub-flooring, which was absolutely squishy from the animals peeing and everything. One of them actually peed on my foot while we were looking at the house.

Then there was the lime-green house. Odd-looking, at best. And the several country-charm houses, with ducks/geese/pink roses/blue hearts stenciled all over the walls. And the house with 6-foot ceilings, which were a problem for my then-husband, who is 6’2”.

Admittedly, I could’ve redone any of these, but I wanted a house to live in more than I wanted a project to work on.

The house I finally bought was pretty weird, too, but it held some promise. I still spent a year and about $15,000 fixing it. It had a mirrored ceiling in the basement, a corkboard wall in the dining room, no insulation anywhere, and antiquated appliances. And it was the best of the bunch!

Judging by your interaction with the owner, I can guess what the issue might be…

When I was looking, I found a really nice townhouse that had a decent main floor, a nice basement, and no right angles in the bedrooms. I’m not real sure how that was supposed to work.

Ah, yes, the :

1946 Frigidaire Showroom

Sure, the appliances still work. Back then, they built them to last. And, cars cost a nickel. But don’t act like you’re doing me a big favor by offering to leave them for me.

And then, there’s…

Come On Back Now, Sit a Spell

The owners are present when you see the house. Sure, that’s fine. They’re eager to answer your questions. Also good. They proceed to tell you about the occupations, hobbies, habits, foibles, and quirks of each and every neighbor within a 100 yard radius … ehhh, that’s a bit much.

And of course, the :

Matterhorn Manor

Winters here in West Virginia, particularly in the hills, can get bad. and it sometimes takes a while for the roads to get cleared off. Now, this one’s not necessarily the fault of the owners, but I am tired of looking at houses where, on some cold February morn, I might need to rent a team of mountain goats to get up the driveway.

This reminds me of:

The Little House on the Suburb

This house had been built by the owner over a number of years. It had no central heating (in New England!), just a wood stove in one room. It was a series of rooms laid out horizontally on the ground like a train. Some rooms were brick floors, others were carpet or linoleum on concrete. Lest you picture this as a nice little vacation cottage, it was in the middle of a very pricy suburb, with normal modern houses as neighbors. And the price certainly reflected the location. It was also a “sell-by-owner”, and the poor guy was very clearly too emotionally attached to be showing it himself.

I looked at the Horrendously-Overpriced-Because-it-Was-on-a- Big-Subdividable-Lot Dump when I was househunting. My realtor and I wanted to know what a $550,000 house looked like (out of sheer curiosity, not because it was anywhere near my budget). Well, it looked like what it was, a house built during the Depression out of linoleum and pressboard and never renovated, or even maintained. The realtor kept trying to point out the fine wood molding, except that there wasn’t any. The highlight of the visit, as were going down the stairs into the dank, dirt-floor cellar:

Realtor (brightly): The furnace was replaced just last year.
Me (grimly): Well, that must have doubled the worth of the property.
Realtor: What?
Me: Oh, nothing.

When I was looking at places to rent when I first moved to Cleveland, I saw one house that seemed too good to be true. It was in Waite Hill, an old-money “gentleman’s estate” community where the average house costs about a million bucks, and the median family income is literally off the charts. Really – the Census lists it as “$200,000+”

Anyhow, the house. The place had the feel of a mountain lodge; it could have been featured in any architectural publication of the 1950s or 1960s. Five acre lot. 2,500 square feet. Three fireplaces. Stone floors. Wood and glass covered walls. Surrounded by forests; you couldn’t see any other houses. No problem with my dogs. The rent … just $1,000 a month. The friendly owner lived next door, and just wanted someone to occupy it to cover the property tax.

I would have rented the place, too, if it wasn’t for the 150’ long driveway with the 35 degree slope. During winter, it would have made a great sledding run.