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...a house is just a roof and equity...

Ah, but:

- the amount of equity is determined by the house's FMV, which is by definition what a buyer would pay, which is in turn influenced by what potential buyers are looking for, which is in turn influenced by what they see in others' houses, magazines, web sites, showrooms, and, yes, TV.

- a "house" is just a roof and equity, but a "home" is a place you're happy to live in. What that takes varies by individual: some like an efficient kitchen, some like a dog to greet them at the door, some like family pictures all over the place, some like a comfy couch facing a wide-screen TV, some like a big garage so they can work on their car, ...

...people are doing things that are totally absurd...

Contractors here say that, too. The most egregious examples are:

- empty nesters who, instead of downsizing, expand or move to a bigger house. They're basically creating the environment they wish they had when they were raising their children. Well, those days are gone. Or, they're expecting children and grandchildren to visit for extended periods of time, which doesn't happen. If they're lucky, they have the big Norman Rockwell family-all-together once a year at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Basically, I think this is pent-up demand. I have one neighbor who felt quite cramped raising two rambunctious boys in a small house. When one boy was in high school and the other in college, she replaced her small house with one double the size. She said that nowadays kids boomerang (but really, who wants that?), and her parents were getting older and might come live with her (but she didn't put a BR & bath on the main level, or an elevator up to the BR level), but really the bigger house was just what she'd wanted all along, and once she could do it financially, she pulled the trigger, even though logically it no longer made sense.

- people who put in kitchens that are great for entertaining, when in fact they don't entertain, but just meet up at restaurants. No cooking or cleaning. I confess I'm somewhat guilty here. My own new kitchen is great for entertaining, which I seldom do. However, it's also very efficient for myself. In addition, it'll be great for resale (and, in fact, what prompted the reno was a Realtor advising us that "at this price point buyers don't accept Formica"), so, given I plan to move in 3-5 years, a lot of my selections were influenced by what potential buyers would be looking for, which is in turn influenced by what they see in others' houses, magazines, web sites, showrooms, and, yes, TV...

The bottom line in a remodel is: don't do anything that will hurt resale, unless resale is a long way off. If resale's a long way off, you have only yourself to please. Ah, but how to please oneself? How are an individual's preferences formed, when consideration of others' tastes is not in the picture? Given how much advertisers spend, I do believe advertising works to a pretty substantial degree.
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