You’ve heard of McMansions, but what about Frankenhouses?
These are homes that have been “renovated” to feature things like pipes running through living rooms, bedrooms strung together like garlic cloves and fluorescent floors.
It’s scary what people do to their homes.
HomeVestors — famous for its “We Buy Ugly Houses” billboards — specializes in buying these homes that no one else would want. They’re often so bad that they have to label listings as “for investors only” because they’re not suited to ordinary buyers.
For example, those pipes running through the living room? They would have to be completely redone before the house could be inspected.
“We get a lot of the houses after real estate agents have given up on them,” said David Hicks, chief executive of HomeVestors.
He calls them horror houses, and marvels at some of the things that former owners must have thought were brilliant ideas at the time. Here are some of the worst creations he has found:
Dysfunctional floor plans: Someone needed more bedroom space, so they added on, but it messed up the traffic flow. It was much worse than just having to walk through one bedroom to get to another. “You had to walk from the living room through a bedroom to get to the kitchen,” Hicks said. Imagine stumbling through Grandma’s boudoir when you hungered for a late-night snack.
5 bedrooms, 1 bath: It’s a hard sale when the house has many more bedrooms than baths. Five full bedrooms with a single bath, for instance, makes the morning traffic jam very tough.
It’s even harder if the bath is completely misplaced.
HomeVestors bought a house with three bedrooms on the second floor and two on the third. Yet there was a single bath — in the basement.
“If you had to go, you had to go down three flights in the middle of the night,” Hicks said.
Poorly converted garages: Needing more space, homeowners often make new bedrooms out of old garages. But thoughtless conversions ruin the curb appeal, with the new residential wing still looking like the old garage.
“It ends up looking really bad,” Hicks said, “and you don’t even have a garage anymore.”
Big kitchen; no living room: Some homeowners have hobbies or interests that they devote major floor space to — at the expense of everything else.
“One owner converted the living room into a huge kitchen,” Hicks said. “They had a great kitchen, complete with a huge island, but no living room.”
Bedrooms with no closets: This can evolve in a couple of ways: The previous owner could have removed closets to increase the bedroom’s floor space or added bedrooms where there was too little room for closets.
Whatever the cause, the effect on buyers is negative.
People want closet space. Look at the homes-for-sale ads. What do they say: “Great closet space.”
Really bad colors: An awful color scheme may turn off homebuyers so much that they are blind to the home’s other virtues.
“We got one house that had multicolored, neon-bright floor tiles in the entryway,” Hicks said.
Buyers entered in; they exited out.
Jungle fever: Everybody loves trees and shrubs, but let it get too lush and it turns into a problem.
“When the vegetation starts to block the light and make the interior real dark, that’s bad,” Hicks said.
Missing parts: Neglected houses can look hideous, true, but they can be dangerous as well.
HomeVestors purchased what was basically a nice old place in Hampton Roads, Va., but it had several issues, the worst of which was an outside basement entrance to nowhere — except basement. It was essentially just a big open pit.
“We lose more real estate agents that way,” Hicks said.