Psst! You probably still haven't found what you are looking for....
My work with clients recently has been heavy on the ‘I’m not really sure what I want…’ factor - and to me, this is a treat! It’s an upside of the business to get to know a client, and ask questions that can lead them to clarity in what they are really looking for in a property. Is it location? Size? Style? Schools? Truly, there are thousands of boxes you could tick in a home search to make it filter out the ‘no’ options and provide a selection set of homes that really fit the bill. Perhaps this sounds like a problem, to not have pre-determined wish list of criteria from which to search, but to me, as an agent, it’s fascinating to get to the heart of the home search and really feel confident that i’m leading someone in the right direction.
THAT BEING SAID, I’ve also been thinking a lot about what drives people - home buyers and others - who say they know exactly what they want. I have noticed that lately some really quite unique homes in my area have sold rather quickly, and that some of the ‘standard’ homes are still sitting. We are in a soft market here, FOR SURE, but that is what makes seeing a fully intact midcentury masterpiece sell in 1 day so interesting to me. I have posted links to a few of these really unusual - yet beautiful - properties to my social media with the call to ‘go see this!!’ and I tend to get a lot of positive responses. This leads me to believe there is an untapped desire out there for people to dip their toe into something a little different, even though most people aren't willing to buy something like that….yet. I see so much of the the same style, colors, finishes, and ‘feel’ in the houses being built and renovated around me, and the psychology behind that is interesting. Do people think this is what they want because it’s all they see? We have been browsing other markets around the country as a place to invest in next (that’s a whole other post!!), and I see that different markets each have their own vibe, which supports the theory that once an area becomes saturated in a certain design standard, the momentum stays put for a while. A problem happens a few years into a trend, though, when it’s no longer owned by the front-end designers, high-quality builders, and others who live on the front wave of popular style. Eventually any investor or builder with a sledgehammer starts installing the cheapest version of the look the market is chasing, and that’s when buyers can get taken for a ride. They see all the ‘things’ that look new and now - around here it’s gray paint, gray wood-look tiles, white cabinets, and quartz counters - and they assume they have found what they need. The laundry list of what they are supposed to want is laid out complete in front of them, so people stop looking past the checkboxes and don’t examine if it’s what they actually want, or if it’s built to last.
What if, as a buyer or as a client looking to build/remodel, you took some time to see properties that exist on the edge of what popular culture is chasing? Midcentury homes are very aggressive compositions of both architecture and interior design, but the best ones live on as art because they push the boundaries of how we define living space, structural expression, and material celebration. I know more modern compositions in some places also do this, but in Chicago, there are very few examples of ‘modern’ residential design that are more than simply aesthetic touches on top of standard construction methods, so the midcentury homes of Wright, Humrich, etc are the most common options here for seeing outside the box design. If we give ourselves the time to explore and immerse ourselves in different ways of thinking or solving problems, I feel it helps us more clearly define what we truly want for ourselves. I encourage anyone starting to house hunt or considering building to take some field trips - call your realtor and go look at homes that don’t overlap with your list but you say ‘oooh!’ when you see the pics, before you swipe past them to look for safer options. Take advantage of events like Open House Chicago , or tour local historic homes that are perhaps promoted NOW as art, but at one time they were simply the home of someone that was interested in a different approach to arranging their rooms. Give yourself space to breathe within the mental pinboard of your home dreams, and see what really makes you tick.
I admit that I have also totally fallen into the trap of accepting what is presented to me as a solution that doesn’t need to be questioned. (of course it’s just fine to have white outlets. that’s the standard. why bother with it…… but wait, you mean you can put black ones on a dark wall? and they disappear???? MIND BLOWN. Now I see the world as so much bigger than it was!!!! What other conventions can I dismantle today!?!?!?) It takes mental exercise to make being open to alternatives a habit - but once you try it, it’s SO liberating. There are so many right choices to be made in a person’s life, and when it comes to where you live, I love seeing people light up when they consider all the possibilities that previously existed only in the background. SO, who wants to go house hunting????