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Sunday, June 18, 2017

You know the road that's paved with good intentions?

I believe flippers generally think they're doing the right thing. I also believe they generally fail to do their homework about what they've bought...and in the case of mid-century homes, about what mid-century lovers find desirable.

Before we bought the house we're in now, my daughter and I considered buying this house. We finally decided it would require too much work to restore.  While we knew it was going to be a huge project, we also knew the end result could be absolutely breathtaking if done right.




When we saw the restored exterior recently, we were encouraged. Very little was changed. The new balcony was an improvement, and the front doors and garage doors were nice choices. Overall, the look and feel of the house remained the same, and that boded well.




But remember the entry, with all its beautiful trim?




Now it looks like this. Some of the trim was restored. Some was removed when one of the rock walls was knocked out. The removal of the dark paneling brightened the entry...but the original cone wall fixtures didn't get put back up. That was the first sign something was amiss.




And remember the rock fireplace and the gorgeous screen beside it? The slate floor?





Now it looks like this. Slate gone, screen gone, rock fireplace gone, replaced by the most lackluster and predictable materials anyone could have chosen.




And the Pomona tile designed by George Nelson for the Distinguished Designer series in the late 1950s or early 1960s? That's right...gone. It was in pristine condition. It just needed to be re-grouted.




Now the bathroom looks like this. It breaks my heart to think those tiles were tossed into a dumpster. With a little knowledge about the period, the owners would have at least known to resell them. (I've seen them listed on eBay recently for $10-15 each. In the past, I've seen tiles from that series bring as much as $45.)




This 2556 sf house is currently on the market for $459,900 (originally listed at $475,000). It's been for sale for almost two months. I may be wrong, but I predict the current owners won't get the quick turnaround they hoped for...or the profit they expected.

In effect, the flippers have created a white elephant. They've stripped the house of all its mid-century character, and anyone who truly wants a mid-century home would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to return it to its former beauty.

And, to make things worse, even at its reduced price, it's overpriced for that particular neighborhood. If the flippers chose to give it a generic look that would appeal to the broad market, I think they overlooked the fact that buyers wanting a similar sized house could...and probably would...opt to buy a brand new, similarly unremarkable McMansion for far less.

As I said...homework, people. If the sellers had cleaned the rock and slate, done minimal restoration to the room divider, and re-grouted the George Nelson bathroom tile, they could have saved themselves considerable expense, making it possible to list the house for far less and still make a hefty profit. And I can almost guarantee that some mid-century lover would have scooped it up already.

3 comments:

  1. I've seen similar ruination done from back when I was still in high school and someone decided to make an old colonial house look like a modern house from 1980 instead of the late 1700s or early 1800s when it was built. They even took out the big fancy windows and installed tiny modern aluminum ones! Oh, the old ones were not thermal glass. Odd how some people do not think. I like houses with character, sort of like the one we just bought, and why we did not like the box we had in Florida.

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    1. I agree. It rarely works to try to make a house into something it's not. Where did you move?

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  2. Ugh! It just makes me sick when flippers don't know what they're doing and take away all of the character of the home.

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