1. Lack of closets
Now that she’s settled, she has one complaint: “My new house was built in 1925, and I guess people didn’t need many closets back then,” says Howard, who has nowhere to put her clothes.
The fix: Aleks Mino, founder and CEO of Sync Construction in New York City, says lack of closets is a common problem in older buildings.
“Ideally, you want [to add a closet to a] wall, so that it has a built-in look and aesthetic design,” says Mino. “You can go very high-end and hire out custom millwork, which in New York can cost around $10,000 and up for an 8-foot closet.”
When that’s not in his client’s budget, Mino will look at the floor layout and find an open nook where he can build a closet wall and add a door.
“Then we’ll use products from Container Store or Ikea to customize the interior,” says Mino. “This is about one-tenth the cost of a custom closet.”
2. Not enough electrical outlets
One beige flag that comes up often for new homeowners is outlets and switches located in inconvenient places. But some homeowners face a serious lack of outlets.
“Despite my thorough inspection of the property before purchasing, the primary bedroom has only two electrical outlets, which can be an inconvenience for charging electronic devices,” says Erica Fecundo with Hauslein, a tiny-house manufacturer.
The fix: It might be tempting to bring in some extension cords, but it’s far safer (and prettier) to add new outlets where you want them. And it’s not as expensive as you might think.
Adding outlets to a wall runs about $215 per outlet, which includes the receptacle and the cost of using a licensed electrician. Just be sure to budget the cost of repairs to the wallboard and paint.
3. Pedestal sink
Pedestal sinks look absolutely fantastic in listing photos. Their slim lines are great in a small bathroom. But once a homeowner moves in, they find them to be a major beige flag.
“The pedestal sink has no surface area to rest things on,” says Fecundo. “It can be quite frustrating when I have to balance my toothbrush, razor, and other toiletries on the edge of the sink.”
4. Doorknobs that don’t lock
Overall, his house has everything he wanted, according to Sean Coffey, marketing manager at Regency Fireplace Products. But once he moved in, he found the doorknobs were a beige flag.
“None of the locks in the bedrooms or bathrooms work,” says Coffey.
The fix: “Replacing doorknobs is not as intimidating as it may sound,” says Mino. “Especially if the homeowner can find something that matches the holes that are in the door already. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire a skilled carpenter to fill the holes and rebore them at a cost of $500 to $600.”
Or you could leave the doorknobs as they are but add a slide lock or an eye hook.
5. White everything
Real estate pros love to see white finishes, as it makes a home look fresh and clean. But at least one real estate professional found white to be a beige flag once she became a homeowner.
“I have beautiful white trim, doors, cabinets, and light switches in my home,” says Jess Lex, a real estate professional with Keller Williams in Madison, WI. “But I also live with teenage boys. So although I like the white look, it gets dirty very quickly.”
The Fix: “White paint can be easy or hard to maintain,” says Mino. “It all boils down to the finishes. I use washable matte paint for 90% of my projects—it’s easiest to keep clean. Matte looks sophisticated, and touch-ups blend right in. Whereas if the paint has a sheen, you’ll need to repaint the whole wall.”
Another pro tip? Give your white paint a regular scrubbing with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, advises Mino, who has young children at home.
6. Where’s the toilet paper holder?
One thing that’s often missing from home listing photos is the toilet paper roll. Let’s face it, it’s not that photogenic. But its very location might be a beige flag.