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Do In-House Bars Raise Real Estate Interest — or Prices?

In early December of last year, the popular social media account “Zillow Gone Wild” — as it does nearly everyday — posted an intriguing real estate listing. Located in High Point, N.C., a midsize city just south of Greensboro, the 1,900-square-foot house was built in 1984 and offered three bedrooms, two baths, an eat-in kitchen, and a laundry room. Fairly standard.

In the backyard, however, the owner, Ethan Richards, had turned a broken in-ground pool into an underground man cave complete with saloon-style bar, darts area, and a fire pit.

“I think it was a pretty interesting way, that we hadn’t seen, for someone to convert their pool to something that may be more useful than a pool to a lot of people,” says Samir Mezrahi, the creator of Zillow Gone Wild.

The listing went viral both for Zillow Gone Wild (over 6 million views!) and across the internet, where several publications covered it. Despite the intrigue, however, the house ultimately sold for a bit under its $340,000 listing, closing for only $335,000.

Richards was by no means alone in building out a home bar, and who among us can’t claim to have dreamed of having a similar fixture in their home? That’s surely why Zillow listings with bars attract so much attention. But do they actually raise real estate interest or increase the value of houses?

Chic Luxury, the Apothecary Bar, and the Saloon Room

“I definitely think a nice bar is a feature people want to have and I have noticed that a ton of the homes I’ve posted have had some level of bar,” Mezrahi says.

Indeed, if you go through the last three years of Zillow Gone Wild posts, you’ll see quite a few intriguing home bars.

One Palm Springs home, decorated for “Plumber to the Stars” Jack Stephan — he was well known in town for his parties and card games — has a “chic luxury” red bar that would be the envy of any high-end hotel. Listed at $1,850,000 it sold for $2 million.

Mezrahi also loves this 25,000-square-foot Georgia mansion with a very light and airy bar — no bottles even visible — that might befit a health spa. It’s still on the market at $8,950,000.

“Just because something sold for less [than listing] doesn’t mean the bar didn’t enhance the value.”

He has noticed plenty of home tiki bars, too. Like this whopping 32,000 square foot residence in Pasadena, which, along with an English pub, offers a tiki bar with hand-carved tiki statues and a custom fountain. Put on the market at a jaw-dropping $36,500,000, ultimately, the listing was taken down after it didn’t sell.

Of course, these high prices for houses with bars are in many cases more indicative of the fact that all larger houses seem to have bars — though not always normal ones. A 15,000-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills offered a Harry Potter-inspired “Apothecary Bar,” and ultimately sold for $16.8 million. A 13,000-square-foot “castle” in Portland, Ore., complete with an outdoor atrium bar was listed at $5 million yet only sold for $2 million. There’s also Jimmy Fallon’s former residence, a Gramercy Park triplex with a well-photographed bar famously known as the Saloon Room, which was listed at $15 million and sold to Cara Delevingne at $10.8 million.

“Just because something sold for less [than listing] doesn’t mean the bar didn’t enhance the value,” says New York real estate professional Cary Tamura, who explains that it might have sold for a mere $10 million without the bar. “It’s tough to quantify but I’m sure there is value there once you hit a certain size and price point where people are looking for properties with amenities that go beyond their basic needs of bedrooms and baths.”

A Return to the Original Man Caves

Even in more modest homes, bars can at the least attract a lot of attention, as Zillow Gone Wild continually proves.

Carolyn Belk, the realtor who listed the aforementioned underground pool bar, told The High Point Enterprise that “we’ve had people who just wanted to come see the pool. They’re kind of amazed by it.” The DIY project only cost Richards around $3,000 and surely played a part in turning a house he’d bought for $235,000 in 2020 into one that was $100,000 (42 percent) more valuable just three years later.

“I think [a home bar] definitely adds to the value, especially when done nicely,” Mezrahi says. “If they don’t have the indoor space for a bar then this seems like an interesting option that also isn’t too terribly difficult to convert back to a pool, unlike some other conversion options.”

In fact, Mezrahi believes the incredible popularity for home bars on Zillow Gone Wild is due to people dreaming of a past era when everyone — rich, poor, and in between — had a home bar.

“Homes seem to have had bars for generations. [Basement bars] were the original man caves, a kind of space for people to congregate, especially before homes had TVs,” he says, noting that you still frequently see them in the basements of a lot of older homes.

But once everyone had a TV, home owners moved away from having bars to using their extra space for more TV-centric rooms — modern man caves, if you will. The way Mezrahi sees it, this 21st-century renaissance of spirits and cocktail culture has likewise seen a return to a need, a desire, a yearning for home bars yet again.

“There are so many brands and kinds of liquor and wine today, too, that people end up, probably accidentally, having a collection,” he says. “And they now need a nice place to display and serve it.”

The article Do In-House Bars Raise Real Estate Interest — or Prices? appeared first on VinePair.

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