I took my sister and her husband out to look at houses Saturday.
Usually I’m super hands off with my clients and what houses we see. I have them give me basic, objective criteria, like necessary bedrooms and boundaries of where they’re willing to live and then I set them up with a search on the MLS and let them pick the houses we will see.
I learned pretty early on in my real estate career people have wildly different opinions and tolerances for work that needs to be done and you can’t talk them into (or out of) almost anything. They usually need to figure it out for themselves. It’s really just my job to make the information (and houses) available and let them figure out what’s right for them.
Turns out this is harder to do with my sister. I blame my parents for having me first and nurturing me into kind of a bossy-pants. Although ‘blame’ is maybe a strong word. Because really what they did was just make me super good at ‘knowing best’, which is actually a benefit to me and everyone around me. The point is, it’s possible I inserted some of my opinions about what my sister needs in a house. It went like this:
Me: You definitely need 4 bedrooms and more than 2000 square feet. There’s one in Dobson Ranch over near where the Legges used to live. Let’s look at that one.
Sarah: I think I went to a party here in high school.
Me: Like a party in this actual house?
Sarah: I’m pretty sure. Um… is that a two story climbing wall next to the stairs?
Me: Oh I need to go get my camera phone.
Me: Wow, your boys would totally love that in about two years. Who needs to take the stairs when you can just literally climb the wall?
Sarah: Well and the kitchen is painted almost identically to my bedroom when I was 12 and mom helped me do that aquarium mural. So that is clearly also a selling point.
Me: You’re definitely gonna pay extra for that.
Sarah: I feel like maybe the parents who owned this house moved to Japan and let their girl/boy twins and some of their friends live in the house for a few years before it was foreclosed on.
Me: Those silly Walsh’s. What were they thinking?
Me: I’m just saying I think you need to open your minds to some areas you maybe weren’t considering. This next one has everything you were wanting. Even a pool! It’s just a little bit outside of the boundaries you set.
Sarah: Huh… they managed to take the picture of the front of the house without including that plywood lean-to structure on the side here.
Me: It’s in a cul-de-sac…
Sarah: I’m not sure I feel safe getting out of the car, much less living here.
John (Sarah’s husband): No one needs to get out of the car, we’re not buying this house. We don’t need to see it.
Me: I really think you should consider Ahwatukee. It’s such a nice area. I know it’s a little cookie-cutter for your taste, but I think you need to get over that.
Sarah: Well it’s not even just that. I am a high school teacher at an Ahwatukee school. It makes the kids act like total weirdos when they see me out in my natural habitat. I went running out here a couple of months ago and the next day at school I had like 9 students tell me they saw me and ask what I was doing as though the answer could possibly be anything but running for exercise. I see these kids enough. I don’t need to encounter them at the grocery store when I’m not wearing a bra.
Me: You’re being ridiculous. Ahwatukee is a big area and it’s not exclusively populated with your students. Keep an open mind.
Sarah (As we walk into the entryway of a two story vacant house): If you say so. Um… I think there’s someone in the bathroom down here… I just heard a toilet flush.
Me: That’s super weird. It’s supposed to be empty. HELLO? Is there someone in there?
Kid (opening the bathroom door and walking out): Oh, sorry. I was just using the bathroom. Ms. Tolar? What are you doing here?
Sarah: Josh? Well… I’m looking at a house. What are you doing here?
Kid: My parents own this house so my cousin and I are staying here. I should probably go. *Leaves*
Sarah: I had him last year in my 5th period.
Me: My bad. Ahwatukee is apparently populated exclusively with your students. Let’s move on.
Me: The key is sticking in the lock. John, can you see if you can get it to work?
John: Um… the key broke off in the lock.
Sarah: I really wanted to see this house!
Me: This one wasn’t my fault.
Sarah: God, John, stop being The Incredible Hulk.
Me: This one even says in the description that it’s not ‘one of those cookie cutter houses’! And it’s in Tempe! I bet it’s perfect.
Sarah: There is carpet. in the master bathroom. around the toilet.
Sarah: Ooo, I really like this one…
Me: Why? Because of the hippie tile mosaic everywhere?
Sarah: Yeah, isn’t it pretty?
Me: No. Some of it is ok, but for the most part it’s half-assed and poorly executed. They only finished 2/3rds of the border around the garage. And John just touched one of the tiles around the front door and it came off in his hand. And the stuff on the interior floor is hideous. They took normal floor tiles in varying shades of brown and broke them into huge, uneven pieces and grouted them with inch-wide grout gaps. It’s revolting. Not to even mention the fact that the entire west wall of the house is coming unattached from the rest. This house is structurally fucking unsound. SFU. It’s a technical term.
Sarah: But it has a hand-painted mural of The Beatles in the formal dining room.
Me: That is kind of cool. Did I ever tell you about when Bennett said to me he thought it was really cool that The Beatles named themselves that as a pun because of ‘beat’ and I NEVER REALIZED THAT even though I’ve always been a huge fan? And then I felt really stupid but I didn’t tell him I didn’t know that because he’s 12 and he already thinks he knows more than everyone on the planet?
Sarah: I never realized that either. He does know a lot.
Me: DON’T TELL HIM THAT. The point is, this house is terrible. It’s not for you. We’ll find you a nice, structurally sound house that you can do all your own wacky hippie art in.
Sarah: Yes. Based on today I have tons of faith in your abilities.