Let’s Talk About Ugly Kitchens

Let’s Talk About Ugly Kitchens

Last week I helped buyer-clients make an offer on a three level garage townhouse in Bristow with their dream kitchen. Granite in tones of white with gray veins, white cabinets with soft close doors and drawers and stainless steel appliances. What’s not to love, right? The problem with this townhouse is that it was under priced by at LEAST twenty-thousand dollars. My guess is the townhouse will sell for thirty or thirty-five thousand more than list price.

My buyers, and probably a lot of others, fell into the trap this gorgeous kitchen laid out with its unbelievably low list price. It was too good to be true. The dream kitchen is often where many first time buyers get heartbroken, or have unreasonable expectations in creating. There is no more lowballing an ugly kitchen.

As I write this post, we are in the second month of 2021 and the Bristow/Gainesville real estate market is growing ever more difficult for buyers. Now, even in the first time buyer price ranges, which are becoming rapidly unaffordable, buyers in multiple offer scenarios are going in with ZERO contingencies. No financing contingency. No appraisal contingency. And no inspection contingency. What’s a buyer to do?

This is where ugly kitchens come in. See the kitchen pictured above. My home seller got some crappy low offers because this kitchen “needed” to be replaced. Mind you, everything in the kitchen worked just fine and it was priced well below the cost of renovating it. Over the course of a week, one buyer saw that this kitchen was priced for what it was and snapped it up with a full price offer.

Ugly kitchens work just fine. And just because you buy a home with an ugly kitchen doesn’t mean it has to be renovated or updated right away. We are living in unprecedented times. Saving money should be top of everyone’s priority list. You never know when you may need to go a few months without a paycheck. It kills me to hear first time buyers talk of what “needs” to be done in prioritizing cosmetic updates at a time when a home with a basic, ugly kitchen is becoming unaffordable.

Remember when you bought your first car? You didn’t wait to buy a car because you wanted a Porsche or a Ferrari. And new drivers right now aren’t turning up their noses at cars that aren’t Teslas….or at least I sure hope they aren’t. A car, no matter how outdated, represented freedom.

Our society, thanks to any number of home improvement “reality” shows has become focused on the latest and greatest trends in kitchens and bathrooms. Home owners, or soon to be home owners are left to feel they are nothing without these updates. What happened to just loving a home because it was your very first one?

The kitchen in the first property I purchased still is ingrained in my memory. It had white laminate counter tops, was a galley configuration, had no microwave but had a small refrigerator and a dishwasher that I had to roll out and hook up to the faucet. Talk about outdated! And that was outdated in 1996!!! I still miss that kitchen. Why? It was my very first kitchen in my very property that I OWNED. It was luxury to me because it had a gas range. And when I updated it, I put in a new refrigerator and a space saver CD player under the basic white cabinets. There was no granite. No tile back splash. And forget stainless steel appliances.

The price ranges in Bristow/Gainesville are rising so rapidly that dream kitchens are becoming out of reach. Don’t let that deter you from buying an ugly kitchen. Cook a few meals in it, in your very own home, and you may feel differently about it. You shouldn’t have to spend every penny of your savings to keep up with the reality TV trends. Maybe you can do an inexpensive renovation with a can of paint on the cabinets. An ugly kitchen that is yours is still better than a dream kitchen in a rental.

All Real Estate Sales are Final

All Real Estate Sales are Final

Being a Bristow/Gainesville Real Estate Agent has been full of interesting moments. A full time real estate professional in any market can have a cocktail party enthralled with the stories of the things they have seen and heard over their career. The other day, I was remembering one of the more troubling moments that came to mind.

It was more than a decade ago and I was helping first time buyers purchase a home in the Bristow/Gainesville area. The home search was fun. My buyers put a House Hunters spin on the homes we saw. And at the end of the second day of house hunting, they had made a decision. It was a decision in favor of a home they had liked the first day out. Not trusting their instincts, they wanted to see more and figure out if that first one they loved was “the one.” Turns out, it was. Unfortunately, by the time they figured that out, the home was under contract with another buyer.

Nonetheless, my buyers moved on and found a home that suited their needs, location and budget perfectly. It was smooth sailing through home inspection, appraisal and settlement.

Imagine my surprise when, two days after closing, Mr. Buyer rang me up and asked what he needed to bring to the title company to reverse the deal. What was he talking about? There are no returns on home purchases.

What had happened was this buyer got to talking with a relative about the remorse he felt over his purchase (because it wasn’t the first house they loved) and the relative threw in the best knowledge they had. That knowledge was the last time they had refinanced their home, they had three days to rescind and not go through with the refinance. And naturally, the relative told Mr. Buyer that he should rescind.

It was an awful feeling to have to tell Mr. Buyer that rescinding financing only applied to refinancing a home, not buying one. Real estate sales are final. If you don’t want a home, you need to sell it.

We talked a bit long and I got Mr. Buyer to open up to me. He was overwhelmed and felt in over his head. He had a bunch of “what-ifs” running through his mind and couldn’t seem to shut down the anxiety. I listened and calmly told him that the things he was worried about, like losing his job and not being able to pay the mortgage, could also happen in a rental. I asked if he had ever been nervous about signing a lease. He had not.

After talking it out, he realized he was not expected to live there for thirty years. We talked about how he would build equity every month he made a payment and, when it was time to sell, if the market had increased, he would also have some appreciation in addition to the equity he was paying down monthly. The weight was lifted and he then said, “I don’t want you to think I don’t like it. I was just scared.”

Buying a home can be overwhelming. I’ve talked to many buyers for hours about the process and answered as many questions as they threw at me. The vast majority understand that buying a home is buying a payment and stability, along with the opportunity to earn some equity. If you have to pay to live anywhere, why not own it?

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