House Hunting? 9 ‘Flaws’ You Might Want to Ignore

Colleen Oakley

ignore house huntingIn the market for a house? You probably have a list of all the things you want—a big backyard, a farmhouse sink, hardwood floors—but ironically, that list might actually cause you to overlook your dream home.

“When people are house shopping, they have a picture of what the house needs to look like, but if everything doesn’t line up with that picture, it can cause them to walk away from a gem of a home,” says Michael Corbett, real estate expert for Trulia and author of “Before You Buy!: The Homebuyer’s Handbook for Today’s Market.”

Of course there are real deal breakers when house hunting—like mold, a cracked foundation or unmanageable traffic on a busy street. “But on the other side, there are some things that house hunters have to challenge themselves to ignore,” says Corbett, “because a house with some questionable décor may actually be a diamond in the rough.”

So step away from your dream-home checklist, consider this list of nine things everyone should ignore … and you may just find the perfect house for you.

1. An “Older” Home

“A lot of first-time home buyers really think newer is always better,” says Corbett. “But that’s not necessarily the case.” Some homes built decades ago have stood the test of time because they were built with solid, quality materials and have a classic style, while some newer homes are affordable simply because they were built cheaply and quickly. Older homes also typically have more charm, character and livable space. “Sure, it’s probably going to need some TLC and you may have some weekend projects,” he says. “But the upside is that it can leave you more room to negotiate on the price.”

RELATED: How Much Home Improvement Should You Do?

2. Weird Paint Colors

It’s understandable that walking into a home where every wall is purple would be a turnoff, but try to look past bad color choices, says Corbett. “Focus on the structure of the room, the placement of the windows, etc.,” he says. “Paint is an incredibly easy and cheap fix in a home. For a couple hundred dollars you can transform a room—and a house.”

3. Your Grandmother’s Wallpaper

“A floral explosion and a 1990s throwback in a room is no big deal,” says Corbett. “although it might hurt your eyes upon first glance.” Wallpaper is easily removed or covered over—and, as mentioned above, a coat of new paint is about the easiest home improvement you can make. Once you change your walls, the room will have a whole new vibe. And, then again, you never know: Wallpaper is also making a comeback.

Posted in: , , ,
  • ellie

    This is so true! Our dream home turned out to have green walls, pink carpet in the living room, and fire-engine red kitchen countertops. Luckily we were able to look past the cosmetic details, and with a little DIY, we’re loving our home more every day!

  • CJ

    The popcorn ceiling isn’t always an easy fix if it has asbestos in it. My friend covered her popcorn ceilings with bead board to avoid dealing with it or even bothering to test it, and it was a gorgeous fix.

    • Monica M

      I saw a photo where someone did this and I’m dying to do it myself! It looked so great.

  • Kitsu

    And just make sure that yellow fridge actually works – after all, if it don’t work, it’s gotta go…

  • KK

    Watch #6, “Funky Smells”, very carefully…I was the only one who could smell the weird odor in one particular part of the house, and insisted we pass on it. My now-ex and the Realtor literally sneered and said it was all in my head. But, I held my ground, and we found out later that the new buyers of the place needed to have an expensive mold removal done, which ended up with half the house torched down because of faulty drying equipment. No one sneered at me after that…

  • LC

    As long as you can afford to make all those changes, go for it. But you need to take a careful look at your budget. What may seem like an easy fix always turns out to be more costly than you originally thought.

  • Alex Wheaton

    Many odors can be overcome, but a house that’s hosted smoking for years and years will take many cleanings to get the odor out of the walls and ceiling. It’s the one imperfections that non-smokers really should not overlook.

  • smslaw

    “cabinets, pulls and sinks/faucets can usually be replaced easily and cheaply”
    No they can’t.

  • outragex

    Agreed on the point that older houses often have achieved a classic look or style that many later houses cannot equal, even with ostentatious details.

    One added suggestion is to avoid “trend chasing.” Jetted, giant tubs are all the rage on the home tv shows and magazines, but two friends have said that theirs grow mold in the machinery and require more expensive hot water than the house can produce. Soaring ceilings and wide open floor plans have advantages, but they may be expensive to heat and ensure that heat or cooling isn’t distributed well among floors and rooms. Also, don’t get too fixated on certain trendy things like a special countertop because whatever you have will be out of style in a few years. Our consumer society demands this style obsolescence to keep us unsatisfied and buying.

  • BKF

    Wow! This article appears to be written by somebody who has NEVER been involved in home renovations. There are too many flat out wrong statements in this article to list easily. Floors, cabinets, smells, wallpaper…. Wallpaper is NOT easy to remove. NOT NOT NOT!!! OK. I’ll shut up.