Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Things You See When You're Looking

House hunting has brought out some interesting things that make me go "Hmm." For example, the people describing their listed home as a bungalow. I was pretty sure I knew what a bungalow was, but I went and looked around on the internet a bit to update my knowledge. The only thing I had wrong is that the bungalow terms I saw described them as one or one-and-a-half stories. Although I did see pictures that looked like they were two stories. Still, I had the general idea right. A long, sloping front roof, with a porch at the front of the house. Long lines. What today would be called an open floor plan. Built-in cabinets.

However, when I see somebody list their house as a bungalow, I'm pretty sure by now what I'll see, and it's not a bungalow. It's more akin to what I would describe as a cottage. No front porch. No long lines. No built-ins. Just a small square house. People also seem to have forgotten the description of Cape Cod, a cottage with an extra bedroom or two on the second floor. Even realtors are not immune to not knowing how to describe a house properly, and it's their job, for goodness' sake!

I'm also seeing a huge difference in prices asked for homes. For example, two condos are listed in the same condo development. One is an end unit, with a basement. One is a middle unit, with no basement. Same number of bedrooms and baths. Yet the one without a basement is asking $500 more to rent! The only guess Mr. BTEG and I have is that those whose asking price is high either did not put enough down initially, or took out an extra loan on their property. Still, when housing prices have dropped dramatically, it's difficult to ask someone else to make up for your shortfall, when there are lower priced homes that are about equal. Of course, this also belies the idea that a drop in house values automatically translates into lower prices for the renter. People who bought high, or did something else like I described, may still be trying to make up the difference on their homes. It doesn't mean they'll get it, but it's one less home out there to interest you.

Oh, and if your home is "just listed," your realtor really ought to have a picture up that doesn't show snow on the front lawn. That just screams, "We tried to sell the house earlier this year, and didn't get any takers." Which in turn smells of desperation.


Dakotapam said...

When we were house hunting I was shocked at the differences in people's ideas of what a "finished basement" were. I'd love to live in a bungalow, but with six kids, that will have to wait!

Anonymous said...

The long lines and porch go with the larger "Craftsman Bungalow" whereas the 1958 cracker box with weird bedrooms upstairs is just a regular "Bungalow."

That's what I learned. :-)

Barb the Evil Genius said...

There are Craftsmen bungalows and other types of bungalows, but the whole point of a bungalow is the things I listed. Bungalow comes from an East Indian word, and describes a home made to help deal with the heat, including the low sloping roof that ends in a front porch.

Pam, I wonder if there is any criteria for what a finished basement means? A bedroom has to have a closet, and I would think a window as well, or you can't legally call it a bedroom.

Elephantschild said...

::elbows into the discussion, waving her BS in Architectural Studies around::

Realtors don't have a flipping clue when it comes to describing house styles. They are not to be trusted!

People tend to call ANY house older than 1970 that has any natural wood work a "bungalow" or a "Craftsman" because that style is in vogue now.

My DH and used to have fits of laughter at the descriptions: "Farm-house Style" (Huh?) was what our house in Wis. was listed as. (It was, in fact, a Craftsman bungalow.) Real bungalows get called "Colonial" because someone slapped up some fiberglass fake shutters on the front 20 years ago.

Huge rambling Eastlake mansions get called "Victorian" just because they're painted with three colors...

(BTW, the 1958 Cracker-box with the oddly-shaped bedrooms upstairs is a Cape Cod. Tee-hee.)

Barb the Evil Genius said...

Well, Victorian encompasses a few different styles anyway, doesn't it? There's the Queen Anne and the Italianate, which I think both date back to Victorian times. I'm a fan of the former, my husband the latter.

The house I talked about a while back on Facebook where the owners don't want to rent to anyone with pets, because they have allergies? So it's up for sale, instead, and it's a bungalow listed as a Colonial.

Scottius Maximus said...


Did you formerly sell real estate? If you didn't, then you should look into doing it. You know more about houses than anyone I know not on HGTV!

Barb the Evil Genius said...

Scottius, that's very kind of you! I don't know that now is good time to get into real estate, but you never know in the future.