We've all heard of starter homes, trophy homes, money pit homes, but what about leopard spot homes? Or clone homes? They're out there!
Truth be told, there's an almost limitless variety of houses you'll encounter in your quixotic quest for the perfect place. Some are grand, some are cozy, and some are problematic. These seven archetypes fit into that last category.
So whether you're thinking of buying one of these or are already ensconced as a proud owner, check out our field guide to the Land of Misfit Homes. Know what might be in store -- and how to deal with it.
Type 1: The home that dares to be different
We've all seen homes where it's clear the owner was desperate to prove "this one's not like the others." This is fine in theory, but in practice, watch out. Just as with full-body Sponge Bob tattoos, an impulse for self-expression may give way to a lifetime of regret, and not just because you realize leopard looks way better on a chaise lounge than a two-story Victorian.
Standing out from the pack turns your home into a target -- for Halloween pranks, theft, drive-by gawkers, and plenty more. (One couple got death threats after painting their house "Smurf blue.")
So if you're thinking of buying such a gem -- or renovating to create one of your own -- proceed with caution. One alternative to fulfilling your nonconformist desires: Keep the facade similar to others on the block, and bump out the back where big changes are less noticeable.
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Type 2: The home that looks pathetic next to your neighbor's
No one likes to be looked down on -- certainly not by the next-door neighbors. It can be tough to live next to a McMansion that makes your humble abode look like a backyard playhouse. Of course, you could always build an addition to your home if you need more space, but if your issue is purely jealousy, then you probably need a change in attitude rather than a residential overhaul.
Remember, bigger isn't necessarily better. Invest in small improvements such as a new exterior paint job, landscaping, or custom-built shutters to make your home look just as nice -- or even better -- than the nondescript behemoth next door. And feel proud!
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Type 3: The home that's a clone of your neighbor's
On the flip side of having a home that looks pathetic or nutso, there's the one that's the identical twin of its neighbor. That's not necessarily a bad thing; uniform architecture can raise property values. But if you feel your home needs a unique touch, there's plenty you can do, notes interior designer Courtney Heaton, owner of Courtney Heaton Design in San Francisco.
"Add shutters, landscaping, or paint the front door a distinct color to make homes stand out from your identical neighbors," she says.
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Type 4: The eyesore
Sorry to break it to you, but you probably know who you are: Whether it's the peeling paint or overgrown lawn, your home is the embarrassment of the block. Or maybe the entire town. You keep meaning to spruce things up, but other things keep getting in the way. Well, do yourself a favor and get on it.
At the very least, do your best to hide that hideous exterior, Heaton advises. "We suggest adding taller bushes or trees around the home -- everyone on the block will love the added greenery, and it will camouflage what's behind it." And remember: Compared with other types of renovation, painting is cheap!
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Type 5: The home that gives your neighbors a great view of, well, you
It's a sad fact of urban and suburban living that privacy isn't always possible. If you can hear your neighbors bark at the kids or, worse, use the bathroom, consider noise-canceling shades, blinds, curtains, or even hedges to carve out a bit more personal space.
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Type 6: The holdout
Your neighborhood has changed, and you may have even been approached by investors who've made you an offer on your property, yet you're hesitant to sell because, well, this is your home, darn it!
But consider this: While you may be comfortable in your castle, sooner or later, you'll have to set foot outside. Will you still feel at home out there? If all your familiar haunts and friends have moved on, it may be time to consider the fact that you might feel much more in your element somewhere else.
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Type 7: The tiniest home in town
Tiny homes are big. Still, this trend has turned into an extreme sport, with fans going smaller and smaller to see just how much they can take (bathroom/kitchen combo?).
If you're tempted to join the ranks, take care to take a test drive first: Plenty of places exist where you can rent tiny homes for a tryout before you buy. That way, you'll know whether your romantic idea of this home meshes with the realities of peeing in your shower.