Just recently, my sister and her husband decided that their little 2/2 love nest condo is no longer roomy enough for their ever exploring little girls. They just got a pre-approval letter from a mortgage company, so the search is on.
They are not too particular about what features they want in their potential new home. A nice yard, a certain location, at least three bedrooms, two baths, and a two car garage. They assumed that they would be able to purchase a little more home than they could have two years ago, given the flush of foreclosures and short sales in the South Florida area.
What they did not count on is the squalor these homes are in...They don't call them short sales for nothing, people.
Angie and I have spent the last two days with the five kids meeting real estate agents all around town, in joyful hopes of finding "the one." If you have ever tried to do anything with children, then you understand that it is the equivalent of walking underwater with 30 pound deadweights around each leg. Toddlers and other assorted young children should never, ever be taken on such an endeavor...
But I digress.
We have seen a kinds of gems in the last two days. Needs TLC is realtor speak for get ready to unload big bucks to make the Health Department award a certificate of occupancy. We have seen kitchens that would make any of us healthy eaters into anorexics. Bathrooms? Ever feel the urine creep right back into your bladder in a really filthy public restroom? Same feeling. And the carpets? YUCK. I felt like disinfecting my shoes before I walked into my own home after viewing some of the properties. Missing cabinet doors, non functioning central air conditioning units, suspicious water damage in corners, cracked toilet tank tops, shoddy enclosures in garages to augment living space, secret hair salons at home equipment and really questionable decorating choices. I think that the paint job in the master bathroom in the last house we saw today actually made me lose some of my vision. It literally burned my eyes.
The worst is when the owners are on the premises when you are viewing their homes. They either run for the hills (or in this case, the intense Florida heat of their "glorious backyard") or they stick around and help point out the upgraded Benjamin Moore paint that was obviously applied by a five year old, or tell you that they have taken their wonderful front loading washer and dryer to their new home. Thanks.
Even worse is how people fail to make their homes a little easier on the eyes in order to facilitate the sale. Really, do potential buyers need to stumble over your open luggage at the top of very narrow stairs and see that your packing skills match your non-existent housekeeping abilities? Or, how about making the bed if you know the realtor is bringing somebody by? Wash the dishes in the sink? Run a vacuum cleaner, perhaps? I don't think lived in should look trashed. I have seen some mighty messy places in the last 48 hours. My own home with my clutter would make Martha Stewart proud.
We have made realtors very nervous as they see us unload from my sister's van like clowns climbing out of their little car. They smile nervously, clear their throats, and clearly don't know how to proceed. Sometimes they can be very gracious and kind, offering to watch the five children while you have a quick look-see in the master bathroom. Sometimes, they curse under their breath when the security guards in these gated communities won't let them in after 45 minutes of pleading, harassing and threats. Sometimes they act aloof, like they are doing you a favor by showing you places that truly should be condemned by the Health Department. I guess it takes all kinds.
Then they try to educate you on what the procedure is for a short sale. Condensed version:
So, what you're saying is, we are going to make an offer on this heap of concrete blocks with a roof on it. The bank is going to decide if the outrageous amount of money they are asking for is enough for us to take it and gut it to begin again. And they can take months to decide. Great. I think I am ready for my lobotomy without anesthesia. That is one of the many services you provide as well, no?
Angie and I will continue to do the preliminary looking for the next couple of weeks, shrieking or napping toddlers and all.
But, I think that if she finds the "perfect home" within her price range, she owes me a drink.
And definitely some disinfectant.