House hunting is like a blind date gone horribly wrong. You never know what’s waiting on the other side of the door. Maybe it’s just the anticipation. But lately I’m finding the reality of the realty is anything but what was promised. It’s too much like those crappy dating sites that promise violins and romance but deliver some weirdo in bunny slippers with way too much of your personal information.
Take the wide-angle lens. If you show me a shot of the front yard that makes it seem as if it has the setback of the White House and I drive by it because I can’t find the house, maybe it’s because you lied and it’s right there next to the road and you were lying in the road, or squatting on the neighbor’s lawn, when you took your deceitful wide-angle photo.
Do you think I’m going to trust the other photos? Or you?
And what else might be amiss?
Let’s do a couple of case studies: a “charming cottage” (code for “claustrophobic with structural issues”). You tell me it’s occupied but the desiccated dead bugs on the floor and the window sills, and their live cousins beating a retreat under the rug, the weird assortment of little girl’s tutus in a closet with no other clothing, and the empty refrigerator tell a different story. Are they “just away for the weekend” as we’re told? Is it “excellent” as advertised? When you go down into the basement and see the Rube Goldberg wiring festooning pegs and nails and draped over cans on the floor that would make any code enforcement officer salivate… See where I’m going with this?
Or how about the “historic property” described as “very good”. But while you’re there, part of the roof slides off with a crash and water pours down the kitchen wall with the gusto of Angel Falls. And the ceilings are so low from multiple layers of suspended ceiling tiles installed over the millennia that a 5’6” woman can lay her hand flat on one of the panels and release a shower of mouse turds on her head.
Or the “charming” (big word here) country property that’s really behind a gas station (edit out courtesy of Photoshop) and has a frightening water softener “system” that’s peeing crystallized blue gunk all over the cellar floor, mold on every surface you can watch consume the rafters, and live ammunition stored in the crawl space…
Listen, I need to buy something. Somewhere. A tepee a cabin, a yurt. Someplace remote where my nearest neighbor has four legs and hooves.
But, just as a reality check, I also want my slice of cake and a fork. In short, I want a decently priced house with decent taxes. The neighborhood I reside in bones the locals for upwards of $22,000 in annual property taxes, and it’s a shoot-out on the tarmac to get services beyond police and fire. There is nothing short of the Taj Mahal that would induce me to give away that much money.
I’m convinced my Beatrix Potter bolt hole is somewhere waiting for me. But maybe I need meds. I have a picture of a home somewhere where you wouldn’t find it unless you came looking. Maybe a Victorian cupcake or a classic built in the days before power saws, and nail guns, when time was taken and it shows in the symmetry.
Either way, this is what I’ve found out over the weeks and months of house hunting: when you’re dealing with real estate and real estate agents, fantasy trumps reality.