By Dave Twombly

When you spend your days going in and out of different properties you often come across interesting things. I imagine this is especially true in an area like Boston where buildings date back to well before the founding of the nation and it’s not at all rare to show houses built in the 1880s.

As buyer agents we have all seen stairs that lead nowhere, rooms hidden behind other rooms and the occasional safe tucked away in a closet (one of my all time favorites) that made you think of cash and jewels garnered from bootlegging.  I’ve even come across a root cellar filled with old liquor bottles from the 1940s hidden by an elderly woman who liked a nip now and then but had to hide it from her sister.

This weekend, however, I might have seen the strangest thing to date. I was showing a property in Somerville to some clients. They were looking for a single family house and something that looked interesting popped up.  The house was in pretty good condition so we were interested to make our way through.

The listing agent informed us that there was an in-law apartment in the basement (which can be appealing to a young couple with a child, FREE BABYSITTING!) so we went down to check it out.  Having an finished basement is always appealing and adds value to a house.  Having a full bathroom, kitchen and bedroom is even better.  As we went to explore, I came across a small bedroom and kitchen.  My first thought was “Wow, this is a pretty small in-law suite. Not very appealing”.  But that wasn’t it.  It was a THIRD kitchen.

A third kitchen you ask? Why?  Beats me.  (And this is coming from a guy who LOVES to cook, loves kitchens and thinks they are the most important room in the house)  What was once an appealing idea, became a tight, choppy and odd space that seemed to be more rooming house than nice single family.

When assessing house values we talk about diminishing returns on the work owners have put in. The difference in value between having 1 or 2 bathrooms is great.  The difference in value between having 2 bathrooms and 3 bathrooms is less so.  This is a case where, in my opinion, having a the in-law apartment adds value to the property but having a 3rd kitchen is a negative and detracts from the value of the property.

So while you can get lost in the wonders of Williams-Sonoma and the kitchen section of Bed, Bath and Beyond as I do, my dear future home-owners, let’s put a cap on kitchens at 2.  Ok?