Monday, September 9, 2013

The Hunt

Well, we're still on the house hunt. We went to two open houses this weekend. The first was at a house that we were pretty excited about but the realtor decided not to show up.  Simply hilarious! We peeked through the windows and the Mister walked through an enormous spider web. Then I tripped in a hole in the backyard. It was perfect.

We also had hopes for the second house as it was moderately priced and in a neighborhood with little ranches and ramblers. Pulling up to the house, we felt encouraged. It was quite cute and the neighbors didn't look sketchy. There were big trees in the front yard and we could hear crickets in the woods behind the house. "It could be the one!" we thought, as we always think. Unfortunately,  once the realtor swept us up the walk and through the front door we knew that it wasn't for us right away.  It's interesting how I never have to look at the Mister but always have a sense that he's also thinking "No way in Hell would I live here." He was walking behind me but I could feel his disappointment.

The realtor was seriously out for commission. She didn't even let us get two steps into the house before she was treating us like we were on a paid home tour. We kept trying to make a break for it but she just kept going and going and going.  No matter how many times we told her that we didn't like it, she just kept encouraging us and trying to sell each part of the house as if we'd suddenly change our minds. It was beyond overkill. Plus, we were the only potential buyers there so all of the attention was on us.

When we got to the kitchen, we saw that it had once been completely knotty pine (you know that's my weakness) however they had ripped out the cabinets and put new dark wood ones up on top of the knotty pine paneling. I was completely ill. I'm just so tired of seeing "ghost houses". And by that I mean little 50's, 60's and 70's houses that you can look at and just see what they used to be. You can tell that if you'd gotten there sooner, you would be running to write out a contract on them. So many beautiful little homes have been completely jacked up in the name of "renovation" when in the end, it just makes these dear little houses seem schizophrenic.

While the agent was bragging about how great it was that it had pantry space,  I was staring forlorn at the homeowner's framed wall photo of a very young and tan Yul Brynner and wishing that I could just run down the street. Since the Mister and I hadn't decided on that escape strategy beforehand, I guessed it might be rude to leave him there and just kept trudging along. We've remedied that now and have since discussed and agreed upon what will be our "Yul Brynner Sprint" if the correct hand signal is given at future open houses.

She overzealously steered us into the two kids' rooms (one blue and one pink of course) even though I told her that I'm as barren as an old log. She made us go inside of each room as if suddenly, just smelling the rooms of children might awaken some kind of maternal urge in me. I think that she hoped that those tiny pastel rooms would make me ask the Mister to impregnate me right on the spot so that we'd actually want the house. Or at least in the car next to the open house sign.

She tried to convince us that the dark little Master bedroom was great,  though the only thing interesting about it was the tiny vintage tiled bath that had somehow been left unscathed during the renovations. It seemed to me like the lone survivor of a mass murder, huddled back there at the end of the house and practically gasping for air...for someone to save it.

Then she made us tour the basement which was a big maze of other peoples' clothes and too-low ceilings before we finally washed out into the back room where her husband was watching football on the owners' big screen TV. We tried to escape through the basement door but as luck would have it, it was locked. We were forced to go back upstairs where strangely enough, she started the tour again! As if we were a totally different couple than the one that she'd seen moments before, descending hunched-shouldered and bored into the basement.

How many ways can you tell a person that you hate a house? We tried them all, trust me. Outside of lighting a match and throwing it on the couch, we did everything that we could to tell her that we would not live there even if someone paid us.

After she finally started to realize that I wasn't hankering to put down roots there (as I was the more vocal of the Kitsch family and kept skittering toward the front door like a house dog that had to go out to pee) , she tried to appeal to the Mister's manly side and in one last gasp, extolled the virtues of the huge parking pad and carport. She actually forced us to go and look. "It will be a great place for your boat!" she said as we stared uninterested at a big slab of concrete.

We don't have a boat nor do we want a boat. Even though I'm a lady person and the husband is a man person, we do not want children OR boats.

In the end, we had to get pretty pushy to get out of there. And still, she kept telling us to have our realtor call her so that we could come back for a second showing. It was really weird. And such a waste of an entire afternoon. Last weekend, we went to an open house that was billed as "a picnic" where all of the signs leading to the house were white styrofoam plates with arrows written on them in sharpie marker. When we got there, the "picnic" was an additional styrofoam plate filled with knock-off Oreo cookies. That was the entire picnic. Sometimes house hunting feels the same way. You get lured in with the hopes of pimento cheese sandwiches and potato salad and once you get inside of a house, it's all stale sandwich cookies.

I have such mixed emotions while looking at houses. It's a very big deal to put your house on the market and have the public traipsing through with all of your personal items and decor taste on display. Every time that I don't like a house, I telepathically sense the disappointment that the owners will have when their agents tell them that we just weren't their buyers. It totally sucks. And it sucks even more when you know that even in this frenzied market with very little inventory, some houses just aren't going to sell. It's interesting to me that I don't get sad feelings from estate sales but I do get them from failed house viewings. Like this one where as we arrived, the little lady who owned the house was driving away with her dog. We felt hopeful. She probably felt hopeful. We absolutely loved the house but in the end, found that her back yard was nothing but power lines and transformers.

"Can you feel it? It's electric... Boogie woogie, woogie."

And the next door neighbors had a rusty above-ground pool with rotting water. I should probably wrap up this post before I compare house hunting to jumping from a tetanus-threatening diving board into a pool of fuzzy water, right?  Right.

I remember while we were standing there we saw a lone brown horse standing under the power lines, munching on grass. The Mister tried to cheer me up by saying, "But look...there's a horse! You'd have a horse as a neighbor! " Bless his heart. He knows that I love horses. All that I could do was wonder aloud if the poor horse was suffering from cancer from living in a field of transformers and power lines. The Mister = glass half full. Me = somebody spilled the damned glass on my nice rug and Mama ain't happy.

Anyhoo, I hope that you all are having a great week so far. Have any interesting house viewing stories? Please share them with me if you do. Sometimes you've got to laugh to keep from crying, right?

Until next time,
x's and o's,


Jen said...

Ohhh, boy...gosh, we did the same thing just 2 years ago, but I've wiped so many horrible memories from my mind. I think in a way, house-shopping can leave us feeling a bit shell-shocked, so we just erase as much as we can! The ghost houses are the WORST. They break my heart...and make me a bit mad, because the vintage charm and individuality is invariably replaced by beige helldom and travertine travesties. Ugh.

There was the PERFECT MCM ranch with a dream kitchen and a backyard the size of a driveway (plus iffy neighbors)...there were the people who wouldn't leave their house (that's always creepy, please leave your house)...the motorcycle parked in the laundry room (because who looks THERE when house-hunting?) in an otherwise lovely home...the gorgeous old Queen Anne where a room had obviously been turned into a bathroom that required users to scootch sideways between the sink and the tub, which were only about 8" apart, to get to the toilet...

Oh! And the handsome, charming foursquare in one of our favourite central Ohio towns—we liked it, we liked it some more (12' ceilings! period kitchen! hardwood floors! tons of windows!), and then I wandered into the first floor bathroom (hm, door's closed, but the house is empty, must have been the last looker), something on the ceiling caught my eye, and I gazed up into the reeking maw of a three-foot by two-foot colony of black mold on the ceiling. We left that one both sad and with eyes streaming and throats burning.

Unknown said...

2 things. 1. I kinda love your mister for attempting cheer by offering you a horse friend as a neighbor. I can see you and your new bud gossiping over the fence over coffee. Let me enjoy that visual for a while. 2. I wish you would have turned to that agent sitting in the kids room and said, "You're right. Being in this room has made me realize I need to have children." or you should have run out crying. Either would have been priceless.

Anonymous said...

i feel like it's like snow white singing "someday my prince will come!"

Melissa said...

Good lord, that chick couldn't take a hint! She must have been desperate to unload it. The Nosy Nelly in me wants to know why!
We looked at 50 houses before we saw the one we wanted. It was mostly just super yucky, beat to heck, busted foundation houses we were seeing. We wanted to be in this nice neighborhood but didn't really have the budget for it.
Anyway, one of the houses we went into was a foreclosure and was super cool from the road. But it didn't last. The closer you got to it the worse it was. Huge cracks in the brick, soggy yard (we were in a drought at the time) and all other kinds of issues. Crappy house aside, a couple and their dog walked past us as we went in. As we were touring the house, the smell of urine got really strong, and was really bad in the master bathroom.
The people we passed on the way in had let their dog wee all over the bathroom! Everywhere! It was beyond gross.
That house will forever be the dog pee house.

Karen/Small Earth Vintage said...

Holy moly. I'm just so glad for you guys that you don't *have* to move and can househunt at your leisure. (Although, this doesn't sound like a ton of fun. By the way, I think the "ghost house" term and concept are brilliant.) Andy has been working as a real estate agent for the past year. (He loves it.) And I would say from his stories, this is all totally normal. (Well...the agent not showing up and the obnoxious hard sell--NOT normal. But looking for a good long time before you find the perfect place--completely normal.) I hope you guys find the perfect, non-ghosted place soon. Or at the very least, aren't plagued by any more nutty realtors!

Sara In AZ said...

Hey wait.....I thought the 'ghost house' was my house here??? :)

Girl, I think you already know ALL of my house horror stories so I won't bore you with the details AGAIN.......just know that I am right there with ya as we house hunt from different corners of the USA!

Rita said...

There was a time in my infertile life that such an experience as you describe would have had me in tears. Maybe you need to plan what you'd like to say in case you end up with another such Realtor from Hell.

For example, one day I was ranting about how I hate it when Starbucks employees (or others) ask me what I'm doing today. (Not, "How is your day?" which is bad enough, but "So, got any great plans for today?") I preferred a time (back before all those beautiful homes were disfigured) when we had notions of privacy and a higher level of formality between strangers. Such questions just seem rude to me. Yes, I know I'm well on my way to being a cranky old lady.

Anyway, I was ranting and Cane and I had great fun imagining all the things we might say in response. These are things I never WOULD say, but I loved thinking them up. Cane is a little bolder than me. Someday, when you come visit, I'll tell you the story of what happened when he got asked that question and answered, "Well, I'm scheduled for a colonoscopy but I decided I had to have a coffee first." :-)

Unknown said...

My partner and I set out to buy a house that "needed love". I imagine haunted Victorians and spooky farm houses. What we ended up with was a 1969 tri-level in the burbs. As soon as we stepped inside, my partner just "knew" it was the right one. It had been recently flipped all full of new stuff and devoid of all character. I know better than to argue with my partner when she gets that kind of knowing, so I went along. After we were under contract we discovered that the house was connected to a grizzly crime and was used to store and smoke meth. Lovely. Long story....but after it was all cleaned up we moved in and started giving it the love it needed. We are so very happy here and have enjoyed the adventure of fixing up an unloved house. I guess what i am trying to say, and I know this is not very helpful, is that house hunting doesn't seem to have a lot of rhyme or reason. Sometimes, I think the house finds you and not the other way around. I wish you the best of luck.....

Lauren T said...

The power line horse! I have also seen and worried about him. This reminds me of when the Mister and I went to see this gigantic house in a great zip code that was almost/sort of in our price range...and it turned out to be right next to power lines and to have a huuuuuge murder basement, as well. Ah, house-hunting. It is heartbreaking in so many ways. Best of luck to you as you guys move forward with the search...also, if you were the person who bought the Dolly Duzit in my booth, thank you very much!

MySpecialAgent said...

When we were on the hunt for the house we currently occupy we looked at several terrible houses. One house we never even made it past the front door because there was a plate on the front stoop with half a petrified cake on it.
Another fun house was painted in shades of pink and purple and the owners had removed every single door (except, luckily, the bathroom doors) in the house. They assured us they were "in the shed" but still. What a weird thing to do to a house.

Unknown said...

I love hearing these house-hunting horror stories! Can't wait till OUR house goes on the market and becomes a horror story of its own! Seventies-style split-level that hasn't seen a lick of renovation or a drop of paint for at least 20 years and possibly not since it was built! The backyard completely overgrown, with the most extensive growth of English ivy ever and a walnut tree next door, right against the fence that poisons EVERYTHING in its vicinity and drops tangerine-sized walnuts constantly after July; you have to wear a hard hat! The heating was originally electric; now a poor little obsolete freestanding gas stove has the task of heating the WHOLE place (it does a pretty good job, actually!) and there is NO place for a furnace or for ductwork, so I dunno how THAT is going to go over, since the downstairs room it is in gets super HOT as a result.I could go on, but you get the idea!

Adrienne said...

Sounds like that realtor had serious issues, wow! I don't have any true house horror stories. Well, there was one home that we were interested in that was priced a bit high (in our opinion). We kept trying to negotiate through out realtor with the couple, but was told we were ruining their Disney family cruise. Yeppers.

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