Periodically, Hubs and I talk about putting our house on the market and downsizing to a two-bedroom place near downtown. The thought of shoveling out the garage stops us, but what's scarier is the prospect of house shoppers bad-mouthing the home in which we raised our kids.
If you've watched House Hunters or My First Place on HGTV, you've seen two types of prospective buyers: the first sees something good in every dwelling visited, but the second expects Veuve Cliquot on a Budweiser budget and heaps scorn on houses that lack granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, and double sinks in the master bath.
Conflict makes for good television, and the shows' producers may handpick persnickety shoppers and encourage them to insult shag carpet, flocked wallpaper, and shell pink bathroom tile.
But my sympathy's with the sellers.
"The eighties called, and they want their kitchen back," mocks one shopper. "I'm stuck in the nineties and can't get out," says another.
Those remarks sting. My bathrooms are of this decade, but the kitchen gives off a nineties vibe, and the family room boasts seventies paneling painted white.
Then again, a lot of these home shoppers claim they're looking for fixer-uppers. "I need a project I can sink my teeth into," says one lookie-loo. "I want to put my mark on a house," declares another. Yet, when faced with a kitchen painted yellow, these buyers act disbelieving and helpless. "Who can live with this color?"
"You wanted a project," says the Realtor.
"But the whole room has to be repainted."
A recent jab at a wall oven made me freeze in recognition. "Oh my God!," shrieked a house shopper. "This thing's from the Soviet era."
The oven in question was located in a U.S. suburb and appeared younger than my twenty-year-old black-glass Maytag. Mine (pictured above) was born in 1991, the year the Soviet Union dissolved. Most importantly, it works.
Given that house shopper's shock, Hubs and I are reconciled to replacing the oven before we put our house on the market. In the meantime, I've got my fingers crossed that the National Association of Realtors, HGTV, or NATO will declare a period of rapprochement (That's сближение in Russian ) between buyers and sellers. The house hunt should be a mockery-free zone.
My advice for home buyers? Look for good bones. Everything else can be changed.