Ugly Houses

Ugly Houses

Ugly Houses

My cousin recently had a baby. I saw this baby at a different cousin’s wedding over the weekend and my suspicions were confirmed. It’s a cute baby. But what if it wasn’t? What if it was the ugliest baby anyone had ever seen? Would anything have been different? Would anyone have cringed at the first glimpse? Would anyone have opted out of the obligatory first hold? If the baby had been hideous, would the parent have even brought the baby to the wedding in the first place? Would the birth announcement cards have been sent sans baby photo, instead choosing a picture of tiny baby feet? After all, baby feet are undeniably cute, unlike, say, the baby itself. No matter the make or model of baby, we all must agree: that’s a cute baby.

But babies are not houses, and houses are not babies. This is the sort of news that only I can deliver. Babies are living, breathing, humans. They are valuable and they are, whether some teeter on the edge of this condition, cute. No one would, or should, suggest otherwise. But houses? We dance around the topic as it relates to houses, but houses, whether we admit it or not, can be ugly. Hideously ugly. Stomach turningly ugly. Disgusting, really. They can be so off-putting that one could wonder how someone could, indeed, sleep through the night in such a God-forsaken structure. We cannot pretend any longer: Lots of houses are ugly.

The initial OpenDoor, Zillow, et al, was the yellow sign in the median of the interstate that screamed “I BUY UGLY HOUSES”. This was thoughtfully engineered to appeal to those owners who own the ugly houses. And by admitting, at least internally, that you were the owner of one such ugly house, you would also, internally, recognize that your home is not as valuable as a pretty home. This is what the sign-maker wanted, and you played right into his ink-stained hands. If you own the ugly house, you admitted it’s indeed you who owns it, and this guy would be happy to buy it from you. Perhaps you should sell, after all, it is an immeasurable burden to be the owner of such a home, at such a time as this. Life is short and ugly houses make their inhabitants wish it were even shorter.

If you’re feeling picked on today, I assure you that your house is likely not as ugly as you think. A dated house in need of renovation is not, by rule, an ugly house. In fact, your older, dated house is likely beautiful, because older houses tended to have more of a pedigree than the homes that followed. Old does not equal ugly, by definition. I drive around this market and I see the ugly homes. The boring homes. The homes that lack symmetry and lack everything else, too. The danger in a summer-time market is that these homes come for sale, and these homes might be priced a bit cheaper than the similarly sized pretty home. The bait is placed, the trap is set, the ugly house awaits your weekend tendencies.

It’s cheaper, you say. I can fix this, you think. But the market today has these properties waiting for you. The ugly houses. You think you can fix them, but you can’t. The asymmetrical turrets cannot be fixed. The wall of windows, each one from a different sale at a different Home Depot cannot be replaced. The seven level interior, complete with two story spiral staircase, cannot be repaired. And even if it could, at what cost? Do you buy the Ugly because it’s cheap, and then, while desperately trying to eliminate the ugly, do you spend more than you could have spent to revitalize a pretty house? Yes. That’s why you shouldn’t buy it. Let someone else buy it. Let them work to not only update, but to pursue a fix that will prove eternally elusive. That’s because an ugly house is an ugly house, today, tomorrow, and always.

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