How “funky” should the home be that you want to buy?

As a Realtor, sometimes we see homes with “funky” rooms. Ask your Realtor to describe the strangest room or house they have ever seen. There is an old house in the Spout Spring area that has a room that only can be accessed through a door at the back of the closet of one of the bedrooms.

The first house I bought had a room with four ways to enter it – one from a bedroom, one from the dining room, one from the bathroom and one from a small room at the back of the house. We never could figure out the best way to use that room because every other room entered it. Another strange house that was for sale in Lynchburg had a bathroom on the main level with a door leading to the backyard.

During prohibition, there were many secret rooms and hidden doors built into houses and businesses. The most famous house with these features is the Winchester House in California. It has doors that open to a wall, windows overlooking other rooms and stairs that lead to nowhere. The house is now a popular tourist stop.  Since its construction in 1886, the property and mansion were claimed by many to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester riffles.

With our homes, these odd rooms can lead to a lower home value. “Functional obsolescence” is a term used in real estate when there is a reduction of usefulness or desirability in a house because of outdated design features that cannot be easily changed. Many Realtors will advise buyers not to purchase a home with functional obsolescence as it may not appreciate as other homes would.

Functional obsolescence simple could mean the house is located on a busy road (reduction of desirability that can not easily be changed). If a home has five bedrooms and only one bathroom, that is considered functional obsolescence. If you must walk through a bedroom to get to another bedroom or to get to the bathroom, that’s functional obsolescence. Even physical deterioration can be considered functional obsolescence.

I wonder if haunting could be considered functional obsolescence? It’s been said there is a house in Sandusky that is haunted by a gentleman smoking a cigar on the stairway. Have you seen the Longaberger Basket Building in Ohio, the upside down house in Poland or maybe the Coffee Pot house close by in Buena Vista? These can be novelty constructions to attract attention or reflect the builder’s creativity, and can add quite a lot of value.

We can even decorate our homes to be “funky”. Elvis Presley’s Graceland has a jungle Room and a trophy room. A local builder used to show off his prized possession on his office wall – an 8-inch Marlin. As a Realtor, I’ve seen a Halloween room, a Nautical room, a (creepy) doll room and a bear room. The décor we chose typically does not affect the value of our homes.

When buying a home, functional obsolescence should be considered. Your Realtor can guide you as to what can be corrected (curable) or what cannot (incurable). When shopping for a new home, don’t focus on the seller’s décor (which may not be to your taste), but on the size, location and functionality of the home. You can always change flooring and paint colors.

A good Realtor will keep you on track and assist you in finding just the right amount of “funky” for you.