Maybe You Shouldn’t Build That Barbie Dream House

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TOPSHOT – Australian actress Margot Robbie poses on the pink carpet upon arrival for the European … [+] premiere of “Barbie” in central London on July 12, 2023. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

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The highly-anticipated Barbie movie is finally out and it’s fair to say it’s one of the most influential films of the year. So it’s not a surprise that Barbiecore is one of the most talked about aesthetics in the home space right now. Pink is back in a major way and people love this bright, cheerful color, especially in the summer.

Still, the one thing that Barbie never aspired to was going broke, which just might happen if you decide to build a real-life doll house. Here’s why you might want to rethink building that Malibu Barbie mansion.

The Barbiecore Moment Is Now

“Barbie is having a moment, and so is maximalism in interior design, so it’s only natural that the two have married,” says Los Angeles broker Lori Levine Harris of Brock & Lori.

While Barbie has been around since 1959, the popularity of this aesthetic isn’t likely to last quite as long. While you might enjoy an entirely pink home, when it comes time to sell, potential buyers are unlikely to share the same sentiment. “The Barbie Dream Home is not a good real estate investment as it creates a property with a niche appeal, alienating a large portion of the buyer pool who may not appreciate the vision,” says Broker Stephane Guerrier of The Julia Hoagland Team at Compass in New York. “In terms of resale value, prepare to sell it for pennies on the dollar. Buyers who are able to see past the pink hues and whimsy would only be interested in purchasing the home at a steep discount, factoring in the price of what it would take to undo the dream.”

Any specific aesthetic, whether it’s extremely modern, grand millennial, or Barbiecore ends up limiting the buyer pool and as Harris says, “When you sell a home, generally, you want to be all things to all people.”

The Barbiecore Vacation Rental Trend

While Barbiecore likely won’t be popular in the long term—real estate investors are cashing out in the short term with Barbie-themed vacation rentals and Airbnb properties everywhere from California to Tennessee. “The Barbie Malibu Dream Home is a one-of-a-kind amusement park that is perfect for birthday, bachelor, and bachelorette party-type events. The Barbie Dream Home is a themed vacation rental business that is trendy now, but trends fade,” says agent Karen Kostiw of Coldwell Banker Warburg in New York.

Still, if you’re thinking of doing this, Kostiw recommends making sure it’s permitted in your neighborhood. “Not all markets support a one-of-a-kind themed home. There are areas that have strict building requirements and rental laws that may preclude you from building a themed vacation rental home.”

Even if it is allowed, a bright pink home might violate your HOA agreement or cause an uproar with your neighbors. “Residents are always particular about the neighborhood aesthetic. If one were to own a brownstone townhouse on 82nd Street on the Upper East Side, I don’t know how that person would feel taking the dog out every morning and seeing a separate property in the center of the street draped in bright pink,” says New York based real estate agent, Justin Diamond of Elegran Real Estate.

The Exception To The Rule

However, if you are selling a Barbie-inspired home, there is a chance to find a buyer and if that buyer shares your vision, you could end up making a good return on your investment. But, it’s still a big gamble. Broker Becki Danchik of Coldwell Banker Warburg explains, “The value is in the novelty of it, so if there’s more than one Barbie dream home in the area, it loses its appeal and the potential to be a smart investment. On the contrary, if you have the only Barbie Dream Home in the area, you might be sitting on a gold mine. I would encourage the owner of this property to find a real estate agent who can provide a solid and creative marketing plan because there is a short window of time to capitalize on the market while Barbie culture is at an all-time high.”

A Little Barbiecore Goes A Long Way

Exterior of 1115 Oak Street In South Pasadena

Tessa Neustadt

There are lots of ways to incorporate Barbiecore elements into a home without feeling like you’re hopping on a trend or potentially reducing resale value. A good example of this is a South Pasadena Spanish style house that’s currently listed by Harris. The 1928 home features a pink exterior as well as an original dusty pink tiled bathroom with checkered pink and white flooring. This property garnered a lot of interest from buyers. “The open houses were packed! I would by no means label the house Barbiecore, but the home’s pink elements really made it stand out and resonated with home buyers, who have seen too many white boxes on the market.”

Still, Harris suggests using this color sparingly. “An entire hot pink home? I can’t say I see this being a home trend with (long Barbie) legs.”

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