When my husband and I set out to buy our first home, there was one item that quickly made its way to the top of our must-have list: green shag carpeting. Preferably faded green shag carpeting. Well, it didn’t have to be green. Blue or red or chartreuse would be fine too.
It’s not that I have a penchant for someone else’s wall-to-wall wonder. In fact, I don’t like shag at all. That’s precisely the point. No one likes horrible carpet, which is why I knew I could save thousands of dollars if I bought a house that needed a modest makeover.
I didn’t always know that shag would become my gold standard. We started our hunt looking at move-in-ready houses. After years in horrible rentals, I wanted a rainfall showerhead and jets in my tub. But we also wanted a home large enough for our family of four. And that does not come cheap within 25 miles of New York City.
We started our quest by looking at houses at the top of our price range, listings that bragged about stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. It would be kind to say the houses were small. Standing in the painfully miniscule kitchen of one option, my broker suggested (with a straight face) that I enlarge it by ripping out the back wall of the house. I suppose I could build another house and attach it to my impeccably updated micro home, but that defeated the purpose of move-in ready.
It didn’t take long to realize that we would pay a premium for an already-renovated place—and would probably pay a lot more to a seller than what that rainfall showerhead actually cost. If we could let go of our dreams of ceramic tile and instead look for a well-made home that had been lovingly updated in 1983, we could get a lot more space for our money.