Allen Norwood

Homebuyers need to keep their eye on the big picture

If you’re of a certain age, with kids who are way past the terrible twos, you might smile and bite your tongue when you hear young home buyers say they require a master suite upstairs so they can be close to the baby. You might think, “Oh, little do they know....”

With age comes perspective. Things change. And, looking back over the years, you realize how quickly things change.

Sure, young, first-time parents want to be close to their infant. It won’t be long, though, before both parents and offspring want privacy.

“Kids grow up very quickly,” said Dot Gerringer-Munson, long-time Charlotte broker and real estate leader. “And... there are a lot of alternatives if you just have to listen to them every time they turn over.”

A quality baby monitor, she said, is much cheaper than deciding a few years down the road that you might appreciate a master suite on the ground floor after all, and moving.

As a retiree, I’d add that when you get to that point, your overnight friends who are your age will want to be on the first floor, too. With a private bath. That means two suites on the first floor.

Gerringer-Munson, head of Home Team Pros, was twice president of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association and once Realtor of the Year. She’s 73, which means she has sold lots of homes to lots of young families.

She admitted that, sometimes, she chuckles when young buyers share their lists of absolute must-haves, including upstairs master suites.

She also has learned that it’s not only young buyers who make decisions in the moment, without considering how things might change. Those of us of a certain age – who ought to know better – do it, too.

For instance, retirees sometimes buy or build homes with tiny home offices. They’re not working full-time, they figure, so they won’t need much space – until the papers that pile up around the computer spill across the bed in the guest room. (I plead guilty.)

Gerringer-Munson says some new retirees also do the opposite: Those who’ve become accustomed to large offices during their working years buy or build homes with big offices. “They have to have the expensive walnut-paneled walls, that only they are going to see,” she said. Even though they don’t need that much office, and even though the money and space could be devoted to other features.

A few buyers – of all ages – are so devoted to their pets that they choose homes to accommodate dogs.

Rationally, you have to confess, that might not be the wisest way to choose a house. Dogs, no matter how much we love them, are with us only a relatively few years. Dogs grow up even faster than kids, and the dog won’t need as much room to run as it ages. The next dog might be an indoor pet that prefers outdoor walks on a leash.

This is a touchy one for real estate agents. “Oh, yes. Oh, yes!” Gerringer-Munson said. “You’re not going to change (buyers). It’s almost easier to talk about their children than their dogs.... People and their pets!”

So, this isn’t about age. It’s about thinking past the moment and accommodating change.

Obsess about the perfect house, Gerringer Munson said, and you’ll be selling and moving when – inevitably – it’s no longer perfect. “A house is what you make of it,” she said. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘Oh, we’re going to live here forever.’ Let me tell you how many people who have told me that, have called me to sell in three or four years.”

Allen Norwood: