Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"That's Permanent!"

On Sunday, the Husband and I went to five open houses. Some of them had some potential, but all of them had serious drawbacks. One house was large, but had a terrifying little kitchen that looked like Typhoid Mary had been the live-in chef. Another house was tiny, but awfully cute, and the upstairs looked some sort of museum homage to 1968. I think one of the dolls was following my movements.

The worst house was also the one where we spent the most time. When we arrived, we stepped in through the open door. I called out a couple of times, but no one seemed to be there. We went back out the front door, and that's when things started to go south.

The real estate agent was approaching the house. As he said hello, I immediately noticed that he was wearing a Republican National Committee pin on his blazer. I wouldn't advertise my political affiliations in a business capacity -- especially in sales! -- but to each his own, I guess. I also question the wisdom of advertising your Republican status in the suburbs of Boston. Seems like you're more likely to turn people off than impress them.

After introducing ourselves briefly, he said, "So are you brothers? Good friends?"

I held back my snort. "We're married," I offered.

"Oh," he paused. "Well, good luck to you."

"Um, thanks?"

This real estate agent must have been a used car salesman in a previous career, because he was big on the hard sell. I half-expected him to say, "What would it take for me to get you to drive this house off the lot today?"

The house is awful. The floors have just been replaced, but the flooring is buckling and bubbling. It's almost hard to walk. The house isn't helped by the fact that the guy who is doing the work is temporarily living there. There are little signs of human presence in scattered corners, and it looks as if someone has broken in and is squatting there.

We escape out the front door, but the used car salesman Republican National Committee real estate agent is laying in wait. He springs forward to attack:

"Have you seen the backyard? You'll really like the backyard."

As he leads us to the back of the house, I notice that the vinyl siding is in particularly poor shape. It's discolored, it's warped, and it looks like it's about to fall off in segments. The backyard has a lovely huge tree -- it's the only redeeming feature so far.

Now the agent begins his real hard sell on this awful house. He points out how sturdy the back porch is. This makes me wonder why a large stone seems to be holding the steps in place. He says that the roof is in excellent condition, and since I don't see any obvious holes, that might be true.

Then he tells us about the vinyl siding. "It's one of the great features of this house. That's permanent! You don't ever have to worry about replacing it."

Really? Even that part that's about to be on the driveway? It still protects the house? Fascinating.

As we finally escape, the Husband turns to me and says, "That part about the siding being permanent. Did he mean that as a threat?"


  1. As the "proud" (i.e., cowardly) owner of 1BR co-op apartment in a high-rise building, I can say with absolute certainty that I could never, ever handle the stress of buying a bona fide house.

    Hope you find something awesome! :-)

  2. Oh goodness! That last one sounds like a real keeper there. :p

    When we were house hunting, one advertised a 1 1/2 bath -- the half bath was a toilet installed directly across from the bottom of the basement stairs, right in the middle of the floor - no walls, no dividers, no curtain - and there was half a roll of paper towels on the back of it. No sink down there or anything. Gross! And so weird.