30 March 2007

HouseHunt '07: I Heart This Crap Shack

She's got freckles on her butt I love her. First thing I'm gonna
do if I get this place is get rid of that damn Dr. Seuss plant in the


I'm out the door to do some last minute scrutinizations of another house before I put an offer on it. If I decide to do it, it'll be the third offer I've put down since I started looking. I'd tell you what happened with the last offer, but why? It'd be as useless as talking about an old girlfriend. "Why did she dump me? Because she didn't like me. End of story."

So my colleague Mike Woo took me aside and counseled me on real estate hunting. He pointed out that if I keep looking at "turnkey" places - pretty houses that you don't have to do anything to - then you're going to have a lot of competition. However, if you single out the one ugly girl at the dance, you might just be fortunate enough to find out that she has a ferocious body underneath that gunny sack. (Yeah, okay, and she has a big brain and a really great personality. Now stop calling me a douche.)

With that in mind, I turned HouseHunt '07 into CrapShackHunt '07: The Search For Curly's Gold. And lo, a pretty decent crap shack didst reveal itself unto me. Cue the biography music:

Born in 1937, this cove-ceilinged, arch-doorwayed charmer got her mascara smudged and her skirt ripped when she got pimped out as a rental property way back in ought-two. And it appears some fast-talking shellback on Cinderella liberty squeezed her soffits and left her with a mother-in-law apartment. Now she's on her own with an extra bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom to feed. Who's gonna help a poor tarnished girl like her?

Me, that's who. Provided the terms are right. So far, the owners are saying yes, we know it's a crap shack and no, we do not care. It takes fitty dollahs to make us hollah. Pay what we're asking or beat it. Truth be told, the comparables in the neighborhood are right in line both quality and price-wise. So I'm going to make an offer that is contingent on inspection, and if she passes muster then it's off to the altar.

I must also say, though, that this whole househunting thing is taking its toll on my psyche. I feel like I actually have to push my jowls up with both hands in order to get myself to smile. Why is that? People say that buying a new house is hard on couples ("I'm in the business of ruining marriages!" moans our agent), but I think I have been not as much of a raging prick as I usually am (Ask his wife. -Ed.), and I think we're getting through this okay. So why all the worn-out feeling with all the frowny-face all the time? I used to love to look at houses. Now I feel that if I have to look at another house I'm going to throw up in my pants.

Speaking of tolls, I helped Aaron move out of his apartment yesterday. Although it was tiring, I had a really great time. His apartment had at least as many fascinating odds and ends and impromtu science experiments lying around as mine did when I was his age. (No, you actually had homemade petri dishes. Remember when you got the flu for three months? And then you found that thing that looked like "a big, fuzzy Jesus coin" under your bed? And then you thought, "oh yeah - I was growing something in some agar and beef base that I put in a jar lid and...that's where that thing went. Under the bed!" You think the smell would've tipped you off. So yeah, Aaron's apartment is pretty much a surgical theater compared to that. -Ed.) It was some hard work, though. We had to call on every bit of our Tetris skills to get his recliner out the door and into storage. For a chair that's made for lazy people, they make it awful goddamn hard to move. (Or perhaps that's the point. -Ed.) The best part was when we took all the garbage to the dump and got to throw giant seeping bags of collagenous goo into a mouldering pit of indescribable horror and domestic filth. T'was fun! T'was!

I gotta run because the realtor is going to pick me up in a couple minutes. I'm really tired of looking at houses. I'm really tired, period. At this point, I just want to buy something so I can lay down in it and go to sleep.



27 March 2007

HouseHunt '07: The Real Estate Lexicon

I'd love you if I weren't so goddamn jaded. At this point, I'm not so much
concerned about getting my offer on this place accepted as I am interested in
being done looking for houses.

The backyard. Why do they call it "beauty bark" if it is neither bark nor beautiful?


So the house hunt is going. Just going. Not "going well" or "going poorly". Simply going, as in it is a force of nature that I can not stop. The good news is that I've become better at weeding out the "crap shacks" as my agent Gloria calls them...that is before I make her drive all over hell and gone looking at them.

"Don't go south," she tells me. "Go north. I'm not going to let you go south any more. Too many crap shacks." So I said fine, I'll stop looking in the Honkie Hollows trailer park even if that's the only thing in my price range. Speaking of which, we've effectively raised our ceiling by $50k over where we started. And yeah, we put an offer down on another place, this one in West Seattle. It seems decent and it is, for all intents and purposes, completely brand new even though it was originally built in 1928. It was a 2BR, 1BA Craftsman bungalow once upon a time. Then somebody raised and leveled it so they could make the basement a mother-in-law apartment, and did a studs-out remodel of the whole place. John did a thorough inspection on it and didn't find anything that would stop a person from buying it. The only drawbacks I can find are that there is no formal dining room and no garage (it was in the basement and became the mother-in-law).

But still, even though this place is kinda sweet, we've decided that if they don't take our offer (there are currently six other competing offers), there are probably other houses in the world that someone will sell us. We've gotten over that whole "attachment" thing.

The thing we haven't gotten over is the sheer magnitude of the falsity, gall, and outright blasphemy present in some of the listings we've read. What do they do to listing agents, I wonder - send them to Republican Spin School? I mean c'mon, nothing that is 6' by 8' is a bedroom. It's a cell. And water cascading down the basement wall really is a problem, regardless of how much the owners say it's not. I swear to Jehovah's Curly Beard, this one place we looked at had so much water in it we were expecting Baby Moses to float by. Yes folks, it's only "not a problem" if you have gills. I mean if you're gonna be that obtuse, at least be inventive while you're at it. Tell people the place comes with an "double-secret underground submarine port".

So Teresa and I, after much study and increased bile flow, have come up with our own Real Estate Lexicon that translates Realtor-ese into English. I have published it below for your edification. Oh, and if the offer we've submitted gets accepted, you'll know. Believe me, you will know.


Weasel-to-English translation

Cozy: cramped
Charmer: shithole
Fixer: tear-down
Artist's Studio: can't get the smell of weed and patchouli out of the walls for love or money
Up-and-Coming Neighborhood: fewer meth labs and crackhouses on the block than last year
Priced To Sell: did not pass inspection and never will
Motivated Seller: going to prison for tax fraud
3BR 1BA: 1 bedroom, 2 closets, and half a toilet
Craftsman: it's old and we wanted to justify jacking the price up by $50k
Daylight Rambler: former bowling alley that has several holes in the roof
Completely Refurbished: completely ruined by some jackass with a Home Depot card
Off-Street Parking: the location that your car will be stolen from
Fenced Yard: we didn't say "all the way around"
Mature Trees: dead elms

Shy Quarter Acre: huge if you're from Lilliput
Mother-In-Law: dank basement crypt for storing relatives; see also "toilet included in garage"
Hardwoods: fiber board with 38 coats of shellack
Near Public Transpo: Metro bus parked in the yard
New Construction: spackle was too expensive so we used toothpaste
Near Shopping: ...if you're shopping for crack
Must See!: there aren't enough words in the English language to describe how much of a shithole this place is