Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I guess housing doesn't matter.

With the real estate numbers this week (or is it weak?), and the market shrugging it off, I think this story is particularly funny.

Last week I noticed a house come on the market about 5 blocks from my place. So, I drove by. It was being listed about a third what houses are going for now. It was one of those places that even though I didn't have the address on me - I immediately spotted it.

The windows were broken. It had the classic sign that someone had lived in it their entire lives and did nothing to the place the whole time. Worst house on the block sort of thing.

Then the Willow drama happened and I wasn't able to get Mr S. by to look at it. I'm not in the market, but I have a vested interest to keep track of whats going on.

This weekend we finally drove by so Mr S. could see it too.

When we got there, we saw there was an agent showing the property. While we didn't intend to - we figured we'd see if she would let us get inside to look. Which she did.

Honestly, even I was shocked at how much someone could eff up a place in 30 years. Without right out vandalising it. Just letting it go into disrepair. And, I've seen some really amazing crap shacks.

It was the first place I'd been in that you had to try not to breath. Some elderly people who's kids had come in and basically looted the place by taking out all the equity and then letting it go into a short sale. Translation - stopped making payments. All the while letting the pets shit all over the place.

The agent who wasn't even an agent for the house, but the agent of the person looking at the house - was trying to convince us there was going to be a bidding war on this property. This has become a new joke at the Snarkolepsy household.

I can't tell if they are flat our lairs, or they actually believe this shit. We both laughed about the whole thing. It was a short sale, not even a bank owned. I'm not sure why she thought people would fight the banks for 6 months for that place, when they could just get it at the courthouse steps for probably much, much, lower. Until it was bank owned - the liability would be the same.

This is probably a good time to tell you about the worst house we ever visited. It was at the time we were looking for the house we are living in.

There was a listing on the other side of town. As soon as we hit the block, we sort of looked at each other like what the eff. It was a three story structure in a one story neighborhood. It looked like an over blown tree house. That kind of construction. When we went in we couldn't believe our eyes.

I immediately went down into what I thought was a basement. Which is unusual in many part of California, and especially so in our area. So, I was fascinated. Mr S. went off in another direction.

When we met up we concluded that someone must have died there. Yet the agent wasn't really pointing that out. The basement was really a buried train car, and the stairs to the upper levels were train stairs. They'd taken out all the real stairs.

When you got to the second level they led out in three directions. Up and sideways. The rooms basically looked like it would in your rafters. Unfinished exposed wood. At least one room was completely unsafe to walk on.

Finally when we got to the kitchen area there were some papers on the table. They outlined that the son had killed the father in the house and it was mandated the house was a tear down because it was all done without permits. Duh.

The owner knew someone in the city. That is how they were even allowed to bury a train car in the front yard in the first place.

When we got out of the house the neighbors were all pooled in the front yard and talking to the prospective lookers. They said they had all started planting really huge trees to block the sight of the property, and that construction would go on at all times on the night. Clearly, they were happy the property would change owners.

I still think about that place. Only because it is the sort of thing you could never get the city to agree to now. The buried train car would have been the perfect wine cellar. Although, it was made to be a bomb shelter because it had an outlet in the front yard cleverly masked as a well.

I tend to gravitate to these properties. I've come to realize there is a certain segment of the population that will completely let a house rot, and their children don't even care enough to make things better. They just take what they can get and let the bank deal with the rest. It's sad really. Someone has to choose to fix these things up.


  1. I love your crapshack stories. Having never owned a house of my own, but having lived in so many different homes over the years, especially overseas, where architecture and construction are so different. There are some truly funky homes here in Germany.
    I really wish that you could have had some pictures of that train car house. Just the pure novelty of it would have had me hooked.

  2. I love funky homes. I used to move every year when I was a kid - which is probably what created this monster. I spent my whole youth thinking "I can fix that".

    I could never figure out why they just didn't get plain cheap stuff that didn't give you epileptic seizures. Instead it was always some ridiculous pattern or color. I think the brown green decade when I was growing up was the worst.

    I tried to track down the grainy cell photos. It was pre iphone era cell phone. So the pictures were horrible. If I can find them I'll post. But they aren't going to be that great.