Thursday, 21 October 2010

House porn American style

I have a dirty secret. I look at house porn. A lot. Apparently Rightmove has a bazillion page views a month. I think I make up at least 80% of those on my own. And that was before we were actually contemplating moving.

I'm now so au fait with the properties available in most of southern England, that I've had to cast my net wider. There was a time when the option of moving to any number of places in the US was considered. So I searched Boston, Long Island, San Francisco and Seattle properties. They ranged from OMG! to WTF?

More recently I've narrowed it down to Bellevue and surrounding suburbs in Seattle. I now feel as though I actually know the different areas, the pros, the cons, the schools. I know which places have the best views. Which have the most convenient access to shops. Which give you more property for your money. And all this without leaving my somewhat sweaty chair in my home office in Berkshire, England. Isn't technology marvellous?

And in my house porn travels, this is what I have learned about American property/Americans in general:

1. They like wood. Lots and lots of wood. The more wood in a house it seems, the better.

2. They like fireplaces. Big ones. In most rooms of the house.

3. They like TVs. Even bigger than the fireplaces. In most rooms of the house.

4. They like to keep their homes looking like show homes with almost no personal items at all. They could in fact all be show rooms for Crate & Barrel, Restoration Harware or Pottery Barn.

5. Everything is bigger than in British homes. Windows. Doors. Rooms. Fridges. Fires and TVs (as above). Views. Lots (that's the size piece of land the house is on). Square footage (that's not something advertised often in UK homes).

6. Kitchens are less important than bathrooms. I find this strange given how much food Americans eat. I have seen many houses with lovely big kitchens, but I've seen some with hardly any kitchen at all. Meanwhile, EVERY SINGLE HOUSE will have a HUGE bathroom. Bigger than the average British master bedroom. Which is why Americans are better groomed that Brits.

7. Hot tubs. What the hell is the fixation with hot tubs? Seriously.

8. Having a media or work out room. Now I like the idea of a work out room. Currently we have a cross trainer and a TV in our guest bedroom. It's not ideal. It means we have to wash the bedding a lot due to sweat flying off our hard working bodies. But a media room? Like a cinema in your own home with two rows of lazy boy chairs and a screen big enough to play tennis on? No.

9. Lack of floor plans. Why is this? I have discovered the Rightmove equivalent in the US and it is jaw droppingly good. I mean, for a house porn afficienado, this has me fondling my mouse as I click my way around the site. It tells you everything you could possibly want to know about a property, including what the owner's had for breakfast, but it doesn't give your floorplans. No-one does. Why is that??

10. The estate agents actually seem to want to help. You are forced to register on their sites in order to see properties (clever them, data capture and all that). But just when you think your email address is being sold to a Chinese dildo manufacturing plant who will send you countless emails from here on in about 'getting satisfied your way', you receive a perky email from Dan or Jana. They'll be ever so personable. Not pushy. Just like a buddy. 'Hey, you need some help there friend finding that house? You tell me if you find 'the one' and I'll just head on out and take a few extra shots for you. Or if you need any other info, you just let me know and I'll be right on it. Take care now, Dan'.  Contrast that with the British 'Computer says no' approach and it's hard not to be seduced.

The bottomline is this, once you start looking at American house porn, you can never go back to British. I might as well just buy our tickets now.

10 comments:

Iota said...

It's not just the size of bathrooms, it's the number. We have four in our house. FOUR! When I asked the realtor about this, she said it was because people didn't like the idea of having to walk from one side of the house to the other if they needed to use the bathroom. Then she looked at me and laughed and said "I've never thought quite how ridiculous that sounds". I agreed with her. Are they a nation of people with pelvic floor weakness, that they can't make it a few extra meters?

I was also intrigued by the idea of half-bathrooms. According to the realtor, that means a room which has a shower and toilet, but no bath. She added that just to complicate matters, the convention had changed over the years, so that now even a room with just a toilet could be called a half-bathroom, and if you use that convention, then a shower room becomes a three-quarter bathroom. All very obsessive, as you say.

So it's Seattle?!

TheMadHouse said...

I am so like this. I dare not start looking at American houses as I may never stop! I also love what they do to theoutside of their homes at Halloween and Christmas.

I am a little obbsessed with American blogs at the moment too!

Expat mum said...

- Most Americans like wood, except in really hot places where they often go for tile. Just not a lot of fitted carpets really. Great for people with allergies though. Less dust.
- Not sure about kitchens being less important than bathrooms as some of the kitchens my friends have are so grand they're funny. But yes, most houses have at least two bathrooms even if it's just a 3 bedroom house.
- People even have outside hot tubs in cold places so you have to race in and out of them as quickly as you can before you freeze.
- Lack of floor plans because there are often no bloody walls and doors. Drives me mad. Basically just one big room half the time.
- Estate agents are mega friendly because they make money off sellers AND buyers. In most cases, the buyer has to have an agent if the seller has one, and both agents will make about 3% of the sale prices (which comes out of the sellers' oney).

nappy valley girl said...

Don't forget the basements! American basements are sacred. Make sure you check whether the basement is finished or not (if yes, it's a whole other room). Ours is not finished, and is a big waste of space full of spiders....

Metropolitan Mum said...

Hahahaha. I got you all wrong. So wrong. So so so wrong. I thought you'd enjoy watching porn that's been filmed 'at home' like housewifeporn or something. I was a bit surprised you'd put something like that on your blog. But hey, whatever rocks your boat. :)

JulieB said...

Oh yes, I loooooove a bit of house porn. It is deadly thought - I sway between being inspired and feeling vastly inferior. My parents recently visited some friends of theirs in Houston who had "downsized". Turns out their guest suite was still the size of my parent's house!

katyboo1 said...

Yes. North American realtors are scarily nice and helpful. It is amazing. Do live in Seattle. It's a fabulous city, and it's not far from Vancouver. So I can actually come and visit you.

Home Office Mum said...

iota - I know - so many bathrooms, called so many different things and all big enough to live in. And yes Seattle looks like it's the way forward

The Madhouse - don't look at US houses, you will never feel quite as satisfied with English houses again

Expatmum - I didn't know that about the realtors making money off buyers and sellers so thanks for the top tip

Nappy Valley - I always thought basement was exactly what you describe, a dark spooky place full of spiders where you store your crap. But apparently they provide another whole living space - I guess the UK equivalent of a loft conversion

JulieB - please feel free to sign up here for the House Porn Addicts Club.

Katyboo - I didn't realise when you said you were going to Canada that it would be Vancouver - is that where you'll be? Because if so, yes, then we'd be just across the water from each other. How bizarre.

Anonymous said...

Please, what is the Rightmove equivalent in the US? I'm curious...

Home Office Mum said...

Try Redfin.com