"Do you like this wallpaper?" I asked my friend, holding up a sample I had just received in the mail. Ann and I are both in the middle of remodels so we are swapping design opinions on a regular basis and spending more than our fair share of time on sites such as Houzz and Pinterest. (Check them out if you haven't yet discovered them.)
"Umm, where's it going?" she asked.
"The powder room on the main floor."
"No" she said, shaking her head.
Say what? That wasn't the answer I was expecting. What kind of friend is that?
What I really wanted was for her to ooh and aah and tell me it was perfect. Geez, you think I'd have more control over my friend's opinions. (I don't.)
Of course, from a Realtor's perspective, the world is constantly being divided into categories:
Those who like wallpaper and those who do not.
Those who like modern architecture and those who do not.
Those who like pools and those who do not.
Those who like trees and those who do not ( Really? Who doesn't like a tree? Those with pools or views!)
Those who love carpet and those who do not.
And so it goes . . .
Personally, I'm thrilled wallpaper is back in style. My sisters and I all learned to hang wallpaper when we were still in our early teens and there's almost no choice that so dramatically changes a room for so little investment. To this day, I am still installing my own wallpaper and I suspect that I will dig out my brush and blade for Calmar as well. Admittedly, wallpaper should be used sparingly, but in a powder room, it's makes the space a living jewel box.
As much as I respect Ann's opinion, I may have to go my own way on this one. I really, REALLY like wallpaper!
It isn't that I'm right and she's wrong; it's that we disagree and we each have our own opinions. That's perfectly fair, but when it comes to decorating my home, my opinion weighs much more heavily. After all, I'm the one living with my design decisions so I'll have final say, and frankly, that's as it should be.
That's not true for everyone. In fact, there's a fair number of people who really need the opinions, or should I say the permission, of others before they feel comfortable making a choice. As much as Buyers hate the concept of a competitive marketplace and what is essentially become a blind auction, they are often paralyzed in the face of none.
In fact, I'm convinced, that buying a home almost always requires the confirmation of the heard. (We're pack animals when it comes down to it.)
"What's wrong with the house?"
"How come nobody else wants it?"
"Why is it still available?"
These may be legitimate questions, or it may be an opening, depending on your point of view. For those of us in the know, the most significant reason a house sits without an offer is usually the list price paired with unrealistic expectations on the Sellers' part (a lethal combination) so keep an open mind. You may have just found your shot in the dark. Often, an overlooked property can be a real opportunity (OR it can be a real dog) but don't dismiss it offhand without deciding between the two.
Short of overpricing or condition, it may be bad timing, a tough location, poor design choices, or unusual architecture that requires a very specific buyer; in which case, the home IS going to take longer to sell (BTW - home sellers in almost every other state besides New York and California work on the assumption that their home will take MONTHS to sell - not days.)
When it comes to purchasing a home, it's natural to want the opinions of others (and by others I mean you parents, siblings, contractors, friends . . . ), including your REALTOR, but in the end, what we think, isn't nearly as important as what YOU think. Take it from me, deals have been killed with the simple well-intentioned phrase from a friend who simply utters: "What else is out there?"
So if you love the home, the only opinion that should carry any real weight, is your own. (Of course, your spouse should have a vote too; that goes without saying.) If you can afford it, if it fits your needs, if the timing is right and if it makes good sense, give yourself permission to buy it and then invite your friends and family to the housewarming party after you close escrow when they're much more likely to ask. "What can I bring?"
Ah, that's much better. A bottle of wine. Thank you.
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.