The housing boom in Kentucky was never really affected by the recession, except for the exceptionally high-end properties, and we really don’t have a whole lot of those in Kentucky. We just kept on developing and cranking out cheap, ugly, vinyl housing by the acre, and offering loans to pretty much anyone who would walk in and sign the paperwork. And for many of us, that was an opportunity to take a step up the economic ladder, moving out of the trailer park and into an actual house. We built our own versions of Levitt Town all over Kentucky, and a few developments slowed down briefly at the peak of the crisis, but the market there is first time buyers, which the government is happy to subsidize and guarantee their loans, so come one come all. People lost their jobs and lost the houses they already had, but a new wave of first time buyers came popping out of the hills every year.
The biggest pull in is “You get to choose. Everything is New and everything is under Warranty, and you get to choose the color you want for your carpets and your walls and your cabinets and your awful vinyl siding.” Within reason. You have to choose from the developers pre-chosen color pallet, which basically is all neutral and you can’t f**k it up even if you try so he can still turn around and sell the house if you get thrown in jail or file bankruptcy at the last minute. Still, You Get To Build Your Own Barbie Dream House. Only it’s in ugly vinyl and pretty tiny and there’s no yard to speak of and there’s a huge garage door facing the street which does not enhance anyone’s curb appeal but it makes it very easy for you to come home at the end of your work day, pull in, drop the door, enter the house, and never acknowledge there’s a neighborhood of strangers outside.
Since The Boyfriend is addicted to real estate, I get invited along to any number of open houses on any given weekend. We get to see some spectacular stuff, but mostly everything we see needs to be gutted, or at least stripped, because Realtors in Kentucky don’t have the balls to tell their clients “nobody can sell this house until you take down all that dreadful wallpaper and get the damn cat-piss smell out.” I don’t really understand that. I understand not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, but bottom line, if the client doesn’t like your house, he and/or she will go to plastic world and buy exactly what they want, in vinyl, for the same price your asking for this lovely brick house with awful wallpaper and cat-piss smell. Why, as a Realtor, would you overlook providing that basic information to your client? Because even in Kentucky, if you haven’t sold within 6 months, you’re price is going to drop like a rock in a deep pond, and it’s still not going to sell, and after a year you’re not going to get offers high enough to pay off the mortgage you owe, or for the down payment on your new house, and you’re losing money every single day it sits on the market and you can switch realtors every six months but it doesn’t matter because now everyone who might be interested in it has seen it and remembers it as “That Cat Piss Smell House”.
The Boyfriend and I love walking into these god awful houses, because we know we can put in a cheap offer and eventually get the house, and we don’t mind spending a week steaming the god awful wallpaper off the walls and fumigating the cat piss smell out. If we’re moving in, we’re probably painting everything white anyway, and ripping up bad carpets, and pulling out bad fixtures, and putting in good tile. But most people don’t like that option. They want and need to be able to move in Tomorrow. They have jobs and kids and Move In Ready takes on an entirely new meaning when you’re trying to move three kids in one weekend so everyone can get up and go to work and school on Monday as normal. You can’t do it if wallpaper has to be taken down first.
I sold my last house in one month, during the peak of the housing crisis panic. Everything was white and off white and wood and tile and neutral and well though about and convenient to access. I took the outside mismatched awful brick and painted it with 30-year-life outdoor housing paint in a chocolate brown that gave the whole place a very modern but comfortable little ranch house in the country vibe, which is exactly what it was. Bitch who bought it tried to sell it two years later, after she’d painted all the walls different colors and moved in really horrible Wal-Mart furniture, and it took her two full years to find a buyer.
Bitch who finally bought it from her ripped out 40 year old yew shrubs from the front of the house first thing, and replaced them with two scrawny little rose plants that will never survive a year. Now she’s going to have drainage problems on that entire side of the basement, because she’s ripped up the shrub-shelter to some pretty awful clay soil that I’m sure she hasn’t amended and will simply hold the rain in puddles until it runs off against the house and down into the basement, which was actually a pretty nice space when I left it but who knows what it will look like this time next year. Chick should have just bought a plastic house. She doesn’t have the brains for a real house.