Archived Story

MY TURN: Don’t let those stairs be a deal breaker

Published 1:33am Thursday, March 14, 2013


When did it happen? When did stairs in a house become a deal breaker for potential buyers?
I understand the concern for some elderly or physically challenged people, and there are many no-stairs options for them. But 30- and 40-year-old somethings? Are you kidding me?
Stairs are the original no-cost, easy-to-do, every-day form of exercise. Contrary to the new societal belief, not only will stairs not kill you, they actually help you live longer and healthier. So, how does this relate to real estate? Of late, with the buyers’ market in full force, I have shown properties that are clients’ ideal house. Great location, priced right, wonderful floor plan, except there are stairs to another floor or into the house. So they walk away from a fantastic property because of the new perception that stairs are a bad feature in a residence.
This perception is at best, inaccurate. Stairs allow a house to be built for a reduced cost with more square footage. Less roofing area is needed, a smaller lot is required and you may then have more open yard space. Also, less foundation and materials are needed.
Stairs increase the flexibility of the floor plan on all levels. They can allow more open space for everyday living and larger bedrooms. The broader discussion here is that there will always be compromises in purchasing a new home; so be careful by which criteria you dismiss a property. If a house’s location is not where you want, or there are not enough bedrooms or bathrooms or the cost is too high, then keep looking. You will find a property that fulfills these important requirements. But be careful not to dismiss a potentially ideal property because of a design trend you don’t like.
A good example is carpeting or hardwoods. In the past, wall-to-wall carpeting was the new, modern feature every home needed, and so hardwood floors were covered over. Now the more desired flooring is hardwood. A property’s great location or right number of bedrooms will not change with or without carpeting; just as a great property should not be dismissed because of this current, irrational fear of stairs, especially if you are a younger buyer. The ideal house in the right location at the right price just may have stairs, and they just may help you live longer and healthier in your dream home.
Scott Campbell works with Century 21 The Realty Group in Washington. Have questions about real estate? Email Scott at

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