What First Time Home Buyers Wanted 40 Years Ago

Is-your-refrigerator-runningWhen it comes to talking about first-time home buyers and what they want in a home in Sacramento, my initial mission is to try not to sound like: you kids get offa my lawn; however, I’m afraid I’m about to fail that objective most miserably. This topic popped up because my sister in Minneapolis — who has absolutely no intentions of selling her home at the moment — is worried that it doesn’t have the things that first-time home buyers desire. It made me stop to think about what I yearned for in my first few homes. So here’s a trip down memory lane for ya, in no particular order:

Electronic ignition on a gas stove. Although I love the smell of sulfur, lighting a stove with a match is a big hassle. You’re always worried the box of matches over the stove might unexpectedly combust and burn down the kitchen. You also need a utensil into which you can deposit said burnt matchstick, and hopefully it’s not into the trash can when the matchstick is smoldering.

A doorbell. Old-fashioned doorbells were hard-wired and worked for years until one day they didn’t work anymore. All of them went ding-dong. The new fangled ones played goofy tunes, which was just plain stupid. Having a doorbell, though, beats listening to some stoner bang on your door yelling, Hey Dave, open up.

A built-in dishwasher. Truth be known, I would have been happy with a portable dishwasher, any place where I could hide dirty dishes and not have them pile up in the sink because I’m too danged lazy to wash them. Sinks used to have washboards that would allow water to drain from freshly scrubbed dishes directly into the sink, but then Rubbermaid came out with dishracks, which I always seemed to forget and leave under the sink when I moved.

Garage door opener. To come home from work on a cold snowy evening and be able to press the garage door opener button on my remote control was pure heaven. It was such a luxury to not have to stop the car, step into a wet snowbank, kick the garage door to loosen the ice and then tug it open, get back in the car, close the door and drive into the garage, narrowly missing the wall. In those days we parked without relying on a tennis ball hanging from the ceiling to tell us when to stop.

Indoor laundry. Apart from grocery shopping, I don’t know if there is any other task I detest more than going to the laundromat. If you don’t own a car, it was even more horrid because it meant you had to haul a basket of laundry, blocks away, filled with stinky clothing and hope you had enough dimes for the dryer.

Multiple phone lines. Coming from a suburban home in the 1950s that had a party-line, having a single line was heaven, but it was even more delightful to have phones in all of the main rooms of the house, including the bedroom. We’re not talking about Caesar’s Palace with phones in the bath here, that was ultra luxurious. If a phone line didn’t work for some reason, Ma Bell would come out and fix it for free.

Dual baths. I don’t know when it became more fashionably correct to say “bath” instead of bathroom, but it’s definitely considered taboo to add the word room to the bath in marketing materials. I lived in so many homes with only one bath, and I have no idea anymore how I managed or if we just peed in the yard and I wiped living like an animal from my memory banks.

Automatic ice makers. My parents used to call our refrigerator the icebox, from back in the day. About once every couple of months, we’d heat hot water on the stove, pour it into metal ice-cube trays and place them in the freezer to defrost it. My job was to hack away at the frozen blob with table knives. Then, I’d refill the trays with cold water to make ice-cubes and try not to slop it on the floor while transporting said trays to the freezer and tripping over a dog.

Air conditioning and central heat. When I bought my first home, I took out a separate loan to pay to remove a gravity furnace, this huge asbestos octopus that took up so much space in the basement, and installed central air and heat. I don’t know how I survived summers as a kid without central air. We didn’t even use window air conditioners, just floor fans and spent a lot of time running through lawn sprinklers. Which brings me to . . .

Automatic lawn sprinklers. Not having to remember to water the lawn, much less grabbing a dirty hose, dragging it across the lawn and hooking it up to a sprinkler. Then, trying to set the sprinkler head while it is spraying its 180-degree direction without getting soaked yourself is a feat in itself. Today the gardeners deal with the sprinkler system if it malfunctions, and I never hear it inside my home with dual pane windows.

I am hopeful this blog will resonate with today’s first-time home buyers. Many home buyers in Sacramento today crave the shiny stainless appliances, the oiled-bronze hardware, the granite counters, the hickory-plank flooring, ceiling fans (without those dangly lights on pull cords), and Wolf ranges which they will rarely turn on, coupled with SubZero refrigerators in which to store leftover pizza. And my job as a Sacramento real estate agent is to help them find and acquire their heart’s desire, whatever that yearning may be.


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