Monday, June 14, 2010

Looking at houses

This weekend we continued on our tour of towns we can't afford in Union County NJ. (So far we have crossed Westchester NY off our list, all of Bergen County (your blue laws suck, Bergen County), said meh to Essex County....and we've kind of settled on Union County. Sort of. We really like Westfield and Cranford, which have great schools and community programs.

Since at this point we are really just scoping out housing stock and trying to get a feel for the towns, not actually looking to buy, we usually just get a list of open houses in a particular town off and go check them out. The first house we looked at was...well, one of the weirdest open houses I've ever been to.

For anyone unfamiliar with the process, in an open house, the homeowners clean up the house, leave for a few hours, and people are free to come in and look around while the listing agent sits in the house. When we sold our home last year, I was 9 months pregnant and had two kids under the age of 4, and I spent a ridonkulous amount of time cleaning our house so that it was spotless and ready to show at a moment's notice. (It was exhausting and stressful, btw.) Whenever we had an open house, we left at least a half hour before it started and came back about a half hour after it finished.

(My children were not thrilled with the process of showing a house. Every time we left for a showing, my oldest would ask "they aren't going to play with my toys, right?" Once I packed up the kids, drove around for a half hour, came back, and the agent and prospective buyers were still standing on the front porch, so we parked a few houses down the street where I could see them when they left. My oldest son said, Mommy, please roll down the window. I obliged. He stuck his head out the window and started screaming "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!! GET OFF MY PORCH!!! PUT THOSE KEYS BACK IN THE BOX!!! YOU LEAVE NOW!!!!")

So, right, open house. We walk into the house, talk with the realtor, look around the tiny tiny house, and look out the tiny kitchen window....and there's a party in the backyard. Eight people are on the deck, having a cookout, drinking beer. A shirtless, mulleted, moustachioed man is digging a trench in the backyard while another moustachioed man leans on a shovel, watching him. Uh....are those the homeowners? Why yes. And all of them live in this tiny, tiny house. No, I don't want to look around the backyard, thanks, I feel a bit awkward.

We go into the basement, where the realtor shows us "the bedroom." Its a hidey-hole, with extension cords running all over the place. There is a...bathroom, for lack of a better word, with the toilet on a...platform?? a platform that was about the level of my waist? and the ceiling was about 2 inches above my head?...and no lights in the "bathroom" area. My first reaction when I walked in was to say to the Mister, "it puts the lotion in the basket..."

Next, the realtor tells us we can't go into one of the upstairs bedrooms because someone is sleeping in there. We look at him, mouths agape. He says, "yes, this open house is particularly....difficult."

Next up, we go to a house that was clearly professionally decorated. In the 1970s. And it hasn't been touched since. It was actually kind of retro cool again. I would have loved to have taken pictures of the wallpaper and carpets, but the realtor was literally breathing down our necks the entire time we were in the house. I asked a question about the school system, and she knew nothing, but said she would find out and email me the answer. Great!

So today, I have no less than 8 emails from this realtor, with listings of houses from every town in a 5 mile radius. (None of which I requested.) The answer to my question? She emailed me this: "You can google it." Wow. Value add, right there. Totally worth the the $20,000 commission the seller will be paying you.

And lastly, we go to a house where the picture on the website was a bit of a side view, that stopped at the roofline. We pull up and see this:

Um...wth? I now understand the weird angle of the picture.

Yes, its solar panels. The seller has left copies of the utility bills....which are $152. FOR THE YEAR. The weirdness can stay, for that kind of money.

I don't think we are going to be living in Springfield, but I'll keep it in mind.

1 comment:

  1. Love it!

    Real estate in NJ is just interesting. We were looking to rent a duplex in Pompton Lakes area of Passaic oh, in 1998 and it was a romp.

    One place, as we pulled up this woman was stuffing a dog in the back seat of a car. As we approached the front door with the real estate agent, a curler haired woman yells, have you seen my dog? Um yeah, being stuffed in a car three houses down... Then there were people sleeping in the beds too! The real estate agent just walked in and kept on talking. So strange...


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