Sunday, August 4, 2013

House Hunters

How about this place?
Because I do have cable TV in my summer home, I do watch TV when I'm here.  HGTV is my go-to channel if I can find little else to watch, and as a result I watch far too many episodes of House Hunters .... this being about all that  HGTV is showing these days.

House Hunters clearly shows that I, like many people, do have a propensity for becoming addicted to something that is very bad for me. I know it's "fake". I've read the inside stories about how the person already has the property under contract before any filming is done. I know the formula very well. I know exactly what will happen before and after each commercial break. I still watch. I don't care. I'm addicted.

One thing that I "like" is all the annoying behavior of many of the participants. Probably a lot of this is scripted in order to create dramatic interest or something. ( I'm sure that's the case with "Love It or List It" in which every episode features the homeowners getting really TOTALLY FED UP with both the designer and the real estate agent about 35 minutes into the show.) Probably all of the people on all the shows are really lovely folks whom I would really like to meet. However, my eyes still roll with these kinds of behaviors.

Young couples in their 20's who are NOT both investment bankers who are shopping for first homes that need to be at least 3000 square feet and get pretty close to $500,000. Housing bubble anyone? Living beyond our means, are we still? Whatever happened to starter homes? Want to hear my old foggey stories about the kind of houses we had when I was growing up?

No more room for anyone in Hong Kong
People looking in places like Manhattan, London, Paris, Hong Kong or Tokyo who complain that everything is SO SMALL.

People who "need" to pay a lot of extra money so they can have a dedicated guest room even when they live in places like the suburbs of Dallas. Why are we expected to  pay to have little hotels for occasional visitors in our homes? And who wants to go visit in the suburbs of Dallas?

People who complain about the size of the bedrooms for their children. Children, by definition, can be just fine in small rooms because they are small people and don't really need all those toys anyway. And don't get me started on families that have given over all the common space to the toddlers and now need even more square footage so they can continue that practice.
If you don't want to see your neighbors, you need to be looking in a place like this.

People who live in cities or suburbs and complain that they can see and be seen by neighbors. Ever heard of window coverings? I guess no one cares about things like block parties any more. (And isn't there a commercial now about a museum of "lost arts" which features dioramas about neighbors as friends?) If you don't want neighbors nearby, that probably means you need to live in the country.

People who whine about how this authentic house in this exotic foreign country is not like what they had at home.

People who can't get past things like light fixtures, paint colors, floor coverings, window treatments, etc. So the window treatments are not to your taste? Change them!
The A. Lincoln family of Springfield, Illinois, (who had 3 very active boys) didn't have an open floor plan.

People who are looking at older (aka more than 5 years old) homes who whine that the place does not have an open floor plan and a large master bedroom with a huge 5 piece en suite bath.

People who MUST have granite counter tops, dark wood cabinets and stainless steel appliances ONLY. In just a few years we'll all be looking at those kitchens and saying, "oh another one of those turn of the century kitchens. They're all the same and so old fashioned."

I've already noticed how the latest kitchen fashion seems to be white cabinets with gray counter tops and black accents. Black, white & gray seems to be the latest color scheme. (I happen to really like this combination. If I should get a kitchen decorated that way I will probably cling to it into my dotage. My nieces will have to update it in order to sell.) In the 2020's we'll all be saying how this is so "teens."  Landfills will be totally filled up with large pieces of granite by the 2030's. (Landfill managers prepare!)
You can get a great view if you can pay for it.

The view. I have to restrain myself from throwing things at the TV when people start to whine about the view that they are being deprived of. "I really wanted that ocean view!" but of course, they can't afford to pay pay for it. And don't forget that if you do have a beautiful view because you are right at the seaside, you will be very vulnerable when global climate change causes all those huge storms, to say nothing about sea level rise.

And while I am on the subject of living near the seashore, only once can I remember someone commenting about how sea air is corrosive to buildings. That was a couple who were looking in Hawaii and obviously were smart about what will be in store for them as far as home repairs in the future.

Lines like this: "It doesn't have a spa tub and I just don't know if I can compromise on that."

Childproofing. Some people see every possible thing in a house or yard as an unacceptable danger for the "really active" tiny tot. No place is safe, so I guess they can't live any place.

On the other hand I really appreciate the realtors and friends saying as their asides, "At her price point she just isn't going to find all the things she wants. She is going to have to give up a lot of things on her list." And it always is amazing when you see the people sometime later living in their new home with all its unacceptable features, how it turns out that you really can live with ...... whatever.

I really do like seeing all those cities around the world and real houses that people live in in those places. I love watching programs that take place in Paris (all with that same real estate lady with the frizzy hair, big glasses, & New York (Jersey?) accent) or on tropical islands. Gives a little chance to dream about what would I do if I could live in Paris or on St. Lucia.

So, if I were house hunting somewhere, what would I say to the agent who asked about my wish list? Probably an agent would be surprised. I would insist on  a place that is safe and clean. It must not have things like mold. No flood planes for me and away from the seashore.
Our bedroom in Salt Lake. Notice the use of the trendy gray color. Easily changed when I can't stand it any more. Except, of course, for Smokey Rose. I will always love gray kitties.

I want some place small. And, of course, the cat must live with me.
I LOVED my room at the Dream Inn. I could live there. It even had a balcony.

I love the idea of living in a well designed hotel room as long as it has some way to do some cooking. I don't care about colors or finishes or light fixtures or window treatments ... all can be changed and in a small space, all are affordable. I do prefer anything except carpet on the floor. Hardwood is great, but I'm just fine with laminate or tile or even vinyl. However, I have lived in so many places with carpet, that I can cope.

I don't entertain, so guests' needs are not important. Some extra storage, like in a locker in the basement, would be nice. I would like a bath tub, but it's not critical. I would love to have a bit of outdoor space like a balcony or patio, but again, not critical.

I do like laundry inside the building, but it does not have to be inside my place. Right now I actually prefer using our common laundry room. I can do several loads all at the same time, and I meet my neighbors in the laundry room. I like that. However, if I have to go out to a laundromat, I guess I have to do that if everything else about the new place is fine.

Views are nice, of course, but not deal breakers. However, the more natural light, the better. I can work with a lot of difficulties in exchange for good natural light.

If the location meant I could get rid of the car, I would be in heaven. Public transportation & walkability!!!! That means being in town, if not right downtown, in wherever. I don't need night life, just food shops and restaurants.

And, I don't want to be house poor. I do not want all my resources tied up in real estate. I want to live under my means so I have the ability to afford the experiences that will really make my life meaningful.
My living area in Salt Lake dressed for winter.

Funny, but this is what I already have right now.


  1. Love your post. I'm an HGTV junkie myself. I think HGTV was to blame for the bumpy ride we had in selling our twenty year old house. I have to admit we just ordered granite for the countertops through a guy who will do all our tile work in our new place The formica and lino flooring were just too worn. Emily will just have to do battle with the buyers when they take Jeff and I out feet first. But for now, it is fun living in our first condo with adorable neighbors working in their tiny gardens just as I am and having conversations over, yes, the white picket fences.

    1. Isn't it fun to start over again in a just-right size home? I have no quarrel with granite per se. I just think that people in general have become such followers of it without necessarily thinking a lot. I am glad to see the all brown kitchen go away. So turn of the century!