My husband and I love watching the HGTV channel. Our favorite programs are House Hunters, Property Brothers, Buying and Selling, and Property Virgins. I like Love It or List It as well, but my husband bailed on that one. In his defense, the fact that the designer never confers with a local planning department to bone up on home improvement regulations, neglects to seek variances before adding in-law suits, and tears down grandfathered garages that she cannot replace, is enough to make this urban planner couple’s teeth itch. I still watch because I am a glutton for punishment, as my sister tells me often. I love these HGTV shows because there is something about picking out the best home for your family or seeing an awesome design transformation that’s somewhat entertaining. Of course, with pleasure comes the flipside. It comes with the pain. And it is very painful. As both a viewer and an urban planner, there are comments made by homebuyers that make me cringe. Then I vent on Facebook. That’s the reason for my sister’s “glutton for punishment” comment.
A couple of posts ago, I challenged the masses to Gentrify Your Own Self! Since writing that blog post, I am seeing these HGTV shows in a different light and if these people on television are the representation of society, then we’ve got our work cut out for us. Oh I am still entertained by these shows, don’t get me wrong, but directing people to reclaim their neighborhoods may be easier said than done. What is picking up fervor instead, is claiming the subdivision! Ok, not all of the people have this mindset, but I am finding that the average HGTV homebuyer falls into one of three camps: 1)Those who want to be near the city center, 2) Those who want to live in the suburbs, and 3) The “I don’t care where, I just want a house big enough to entertain” folks. No matter the camp, there are some comments made by the home buyers that have me doing the constant Face Palm. Then I log onto Facebook to make my snide comments and you know how I hate being sarcastic.
Part 1 of the We’ve Got our Work Cut Out for Us Series will address the homebuyers who want to live near the city center. When these people come onto the shows, I’m like, “All right! They really get it” I can get these buyers to understand where I am trying to go with self-gentrification. They can pave the way. These buyers understand that when you live in the city, you’re near jobs and transportation. They would be utilizing the infrastructure already in place so that we tax payers aren’t paying an arm and leg to have them built. If we would have more like these thoughtful people, there will be fewer cars on our interstate, which will decrease traffic jams, accidents, and harmful auto emissions. These homebuyers really get it and I can appeal to them with my “Gentrify Your Own Self!” movement. Oh…but wait for it. These folks have just finished touring their first house and immediately show me that they do not have one clue about city living.
1) The bedrooms/closets are too small – Um folks, if you’re moving closer to the urban core, chances are the housing stock are turn-of-the-century homes or older. Bedrooms were for sleeping. Plus people who lived during that era didn’t have endless amounts of clothes and shoes, therefore, they didn’t need large closets. Please, if you’re truly serious about city living, buy an armoire or a closet organizer and call it a day. The other alternative is to look for an infill, which are designed actually to accommodate modern-day living, while maintaining the historical integrity of the neighborhood.
2) The yard is too small – You’re kidding me, right? Are you serious right now? City living means more homes to the acre. If you ask me, this is an efficient use of land. Also, if you are moving into an up and coming neighborhood, chances are there is a park nearby. Lastly, smaller yard means less to mow. I’m just saying.
3) This kitchen/bathroom is awful – Older homes, remember? If the home has never been updated or if it has been a couple of decades since an update, please just plan on having a renovation budget.
4) I was hoping for a garage – Dude…You just better hope there’s on-street parking. Moving on.
5) This is all you get for the price?! – Location, location, location. The closer you live to downtown and all of its conveniences, the higher the housing costs. Also, as an urban neighborhood transitions economically towards becoming more affluent, the property values rise. So go ahead and thank your perspective neighbors for the high asking price.
So this is why we’ve got our work cut out for us. I think most of us – me included – have been spoiled in terms of what constitutes the ideal home in which to raise a family. The ones who claim they want city living want their cake and to eat it too. They want the conveniences with none of the sacrifices and it only gets worse. Hold on to your hats, next post, I will be addressing the suburbanites and their wants.