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Singing the blues in today’s housing market? Here’s your open house playlist

You can’t buy property here for a song, but we hope your search ends on a high note.

.Ally Rzesa/Globe Staff

Yes, it’s a seller’s market. Maybe a soggy basement or plaid wallpaper won’t deter desperate buyers these days, but consider how much more you could fetch with an atmospheric open house — including with a soundtrack that really, ahem, hits home. (In a 2019 survey of real estate agents conducted by the National Association of Realtors, 39 percent said a staged home attracts offers that are between 1 percent and 10 percent higher than a non-staged home.

In that spirit, here’s a proposed house-hunting soundtrack drawn from the annals of music, designed for buyers eager to land a home in a frustrating market where the typical single-family house now tops $750,000.


”Love Shack” The B-52s

Here’s a romantic spin on a 300-square-foot, $2 million Somerville starter studio. (Fred Schneider mentions a Chrysler that “seats about 20,” which also seems like a viable shelter option in the current market.)

“Small Town” John Mellencamp

Millennials, blare this every time you realize you’re priced out of the suburb where you grew up.

“Our House” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Graham Nash’s 1970 paean to the simple Laurel Canyon bungalow that he shared with Joni Mitchell, describes a roaring fire, cats roaming the yard, and flowers. The current average home price in Laurel Canyon is now $2.6 million.

“Homeward Bound” Simon & Garfunkel

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle paint a melancholy picture of a rootless troubadour, lonesome in a train station, longing for the comforts of home. They sing:

“But all my words come back to me

In shades of mediocrity

Like emptiness in harmony

I need someone to comfort me.”

Substitute “shades of dusty mauve” and “emptiness in my bank account,” and the tune captures your typical open house.

“Burning Down the House” The Talking Heads


Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?

“Money for Nothing” Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler wrote this after overhearing a conversation between delivery men complaining about their work, but he really could have written it about a 23-year-old who magically produces an $800,000 all-cash down payment, thereby outbidding 20 other buyers who’ve been saving for a decade.

“Move on Up” Curtis Mayfield

Impossible in this market.

“Stuck With You” Huey Lewis and the News

Huey Lewis intended this as a love song:

“We are bound by all the rest

Like the same phone number

All the same friends

And the same address”

Croon this to your disgruntled longtime roommate after yet another failed attempt to move out.

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” U2

The house-hunter’s lament.

“Never Gonna Give You Up” Rick Astley

The anthem for every homeowner who bought in suburban Boston before 2006.

“House of the Rising Sun” The Animals

This growling ode to a New Orleans brothel could also help sell a New England abode facing eastward, with dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows and captivating sunrises. The only torture will be the mortgage.

“The Tide Is High” Blondie

Who cares about the flood zone and lack of drainage in the basement?

“Take the Long Way Home” Supertramp

Once you realize that you’ll never find a home in Greater Boston, resign yourself to spending the majority of your waking hours sitting in traffic.


“(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long” Chicago

You’ll find your dream home … eventually.

“Take the Money and Run” Steve Miller Band

This one’s for the sellers: Hopefully before your prospective buyer discovers mold in the attic, knob-and-tube wiring in the kitchen, and the assortment of mysterious bones in the ceiling.

“Black Water” The Doobie Brothers

Remember to test a home’s plumbing before making an offer.

“Please Come to Boston” Dave Loggins

If you can afford it.

“U Can’t Touch This” MC Hammer

Best to be realistic.

“I Go to Extremes” Billy Joel

Wail this before signing your mortgage.

“Wild Wild West” The Escape Club

Worcester is looking awfully appealing.

“The Old Apartment,” Barenaked Ladies

“Why did you paint the walls?

Why did you clean the floor?

Why did you plaster over

The hole I punched in the door?

This is where we used to live!”

Answer: We painted the walls because they were lilac purple; we cleaned the floor because it was a health hazard; and we plastered over the hole you punched in the door because winter in New England is cold. Just the same, we still overpaid by $150,000 for your hovel, so stop asking stupid questions.

“Welcome to the Jungle” Guns N’ Roses

Hum this anytime you tour a home with frighteningly floral wallpaper.

“Dancing on the Ceiling” Lionel Richie

And you could, judging by how much glue is holding those beams together.


“Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” Phil Collins

Congratulations: You found a four-bedroom Colonial within 15 miles of Boston for under seven figures — and you didn’t even need to waive the inspection!

“Dirty Laundry” Don Henley

Do you really expect a working washing machine these days?

“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” The Police

Which is impossible when the kitchen is the size of a stick of gum.

“Another Brick in the Wall” Pink Floyd

A crumbling foundation is merely inconvenient at this point.

“Dust in the Wind” Kansas

Ah, the cozy feeling of touring a home that hasn’t been updated, redecorated, or cleaned since Nixon resigned.

“Handy Man” James Taylor

Surely you can fix the faulty wiring by yourself. (Don’t!)

“Good Vibrations” The Beach Boys

When the siding has woodpecker damage.

“Life on Mars?” David Bowie

Prices might be better there.

“Mother-in-Law” Ernie K. Doe

Your future roommate if you don’t make an offer quick.

“Our House” Madness

“Our house in the middle of our street” ... You will overlook all sorts of flaws, even a highway running through your living room or absolutely no front lawn, to nab an abode in this market.

“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” The Temptations

Because there’s no shame in a sentimental, overwrought offer letter.

“Money (That’s What I Want)” Barrett Strong


Enough said.

Kara Baskin can be reached at kara.baskin@globe.com. Follow her @kcbaskin.