As most of us agree, real estate has gotten too darn expensive. In markets from San Francisco to Manhattan and everywhere in between (including here in Houston), housing costs are mostly still climbing.
This is fine for people who already own a home and plan to stay put for a while, but it offers few opportunities for new homebuyers. In response, builders are throwing up tract housing at a furious rate.
The Problem With Tract Houses
Tract home neighborhoods are a go-to for builders because they’re cost effective. The predictability and repeatability of such structures allows builders to buy materials in bulk, maximize land, and follow processes that are fast and efficient.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with tract homes, but many buyers long for something unique. When you live in a tract neighborhood, it’s too easy to feel as if you’re a number.
All the lots may be the same size, only a couple of different floor plans are available, and trees and landscaping are sometimes all but nonexistent. Some people are okay with this; others long for something that expresses them and their families as individuals.
If you’re stuck with buying a tract home because it’s the only option within your budget — or you own one already and don’t feel like moving — there are ways to make an ostensibly cookie-cutter house into a unique home that’s charming and personal.
How to Make a Tract House Your Home
As we said, there’s nothing inherently unacceptable about a tract house. In fact, because of their cost-effective status, you can often get more square footage and a better location for your dollar than if you were to purchase an older home in an established neighborhood.
The cosmetic appearance of a house is the easier thing to fix. Here are a few practical ways you can turn a generic tract house into a unique and charming residence.
1. Replace Light Fixtures and Hardware
When tract homebuilders need to save money, one of the first things they do is buy cheap, generic light fixtures and hardware. This enables them to save thousands of dollars per home on elements to which many people don’t give a second thought.
If you want to give your home a unique flare, go through and upgrade light fixtures and hardware. Adding a unique light fixture to each room in the home may cost a bit, but it’s something you and your guests may notice each time you walk into a room. It can be a compelling touch that adds flavor to your décor.
In terms of hardware, new drawer pulls, faucets, and door handles can go a long way. They’re also comparatively cheap if purchased in bulk. Definitely think about sprucing up these elements for a more modern look.
2. Makeover the Kitchen
The kitchen is one of the money spaces. It’s where you’re apt to spend a lot of time each day, and it’s also the first area future homebuyers are likely to gravitate toward if you put your house on the market.
Unfortunately, your kitchen may look exactly the exact same as your neighbors’, which won’t set your property apart. But done correctly, a kitchen makeover will eventually pay you back, dollar for dollar.
Focus on the essential elements, like countertops, cabinets, backsplash, and appliances. If you aren’t super picky, you can occasionally find deals on surplus materials at big-box stores.
3. Introduce Some Texture
Another way tract homebuilders save money is by using simple materials. They’ll put up drywall, slap on some paint, install some basic vinyl flooring, and they’re done.
This is acceptable from a construction perspective, but such as simple approach isn’t necessarily stimulating visually. To spruce up living spaces, add a bit of texture.
“Texture in a space is important because it adds dimension and allows elements to play off of one another. This is especially true in a monochromatic room where textures plays an important role in keeping the room from looking flat and sterile,” one interior designer says.
It all depends on what your style is, but rustic wood, metal, chunky fabric, and vintage rugs are all examples of unique textures that can bring spaces to life.
4. Paint the Front Door
Want to spruce up your curb appeal and add value to your home at the same time? Try buying a new front door or painting your existing one.
“For a seller, painting a front door is one the least expensive home prep projects, but also one that can have a powerful impact on a home’s sale price,” Zillow design expert Kerrie Kelly says. “While cool, neutral wall colors like tan and light blue are still popular, we’re seeing a notable shift in home design where pops of color — particularly in darker hues of blue and gray to even black — are becoming increasingly popular.”
5. Steadily Accumulate Décor
When you buy a home or assay a renovation/remodel project, it’s tempting to go out and buy every piece of furniture and décor at once. A drawback with this approach is that it’s awfully easy to end up purchasing generic items that are convenient rather than a unique expression of your individual style.
Rather than grab everything from a big-box store, take a little time to seek out unusual items at garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, and consignment shops. The less “matchy-matchy” your furniture and décor, the more homey your house is apt to look and feel.
6. Keep it Simple and Clean
Finally, keep your décor simple and your house clean. Most homeowners try to do too much, and that ends up creating a cluttered look. By simplifying and pursuing a more minimal approach, you can show off the beauty of your home and save money for quality design choices (instead of quantity).
Contact Green Residential
At Green Residential, we understand that every homeowner has unique tastes and preferences. Whether you’re buying, selling, or renting to tenants, we can help you come up with the right strategies to maximize your money and promote individual satisfaction. For additional information on how we can help you, please contact us today!