I’ve lived in the same house for the last 19 years, which is longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere else in my entire life. When I was a kid we moved around a lot until I was 11. Between the first and fifth grades I went to four different elementary schools, which ignited my comedy career. Constantly relocating like caffeinated nomads forced me to hone my sense of humor. I wasn’t pretty, so I opted for funny in order to fit in and not get beaten to a pulp (or worse, ridiculed) just because I was the tall, skinny, bucktoothed, new girl.
But now I want to move. It’s just my 10th grade son and me rattling around in this big house. And given how time marches on to an allegro tempo, he’ll be out the door for college before I even have a chance to pick out paint chips and new curtains for his soon-to-be vacated room. Plus, the yard’s too big, the driveway too snowy, and what do I need with four bedrooms, three baths, and an unfinished basement? Which, by the way, has remained unfinished since 2001. Something tells me I’m never going to get around to completing it.
But in discussing the details of my impending exit with my friends I’ve found that everyone has a real estate story to tell about the heinous homebuyer (or seller) from hell. Something weird happens when property shifts in and out of people’s lives. Kind of like how a full moon increases business at the ER.
A Split-Level By Any Other Name is Still Two Stories
For example, I read about a lady who wanted to buy a single-level home, but only if it had a fully finished attic. Why? Because she didn’t want multiple stories, but wanted multi-level options just in case. So she only considered real estate agents who could do very customized property searches for her. For example, she’d contemplate a loft (instead of an attic) but only if the house had vaulted ceilings, thus still classifying it as a single-level dwelling.
Oh, and lawn art was a plus. Apparently, ceramic gnomes and plaster replicas of the New York Public Library lions added value to the property. Which is true, I guess, if you were moving to Narnia.
Maternity Leave (in the Living Room)
Then there’s my friend who owns his own real estate brokerage firm. He told me about this couple that sold their home because they had a baby on the way and needed a bigger house. Unfortunately, my friend found a buyer for them sooner than later. This was a problem because the lady of the house was due to have her baby before escrow closed, and she wanted to deliver at home. As a result, the couple moved a huge wading pool into the middle of the living room (during escrow, of course) and called it a birthing tub. Actually, if we’re going to nit-pick over semantics it was an acrylic hot tub, plain and simple.
The birth went fine, but the sellers wanted to leave the hot tub in the living room as an “added feature.” The buyers didn’t want it. The sellers didn’t want to move it. Escrow came to a grinding halt. Finally, my friend (the broker) paid to have the tub hauled away just to get the sale going. That’s when everyone noticed the damage to the wood floors; several big circles that looked like a trailer trash version of the Olympic rings. The buyers backed out. The sellers sued. It quickly turned into a bad episode of House Hunters meets Law and Order with a little bit of Duck Dynasty thrown in.
Real Estate Reality Check: Nobody Lives Here For Free
And finally, my neighbor told me that his brother once had some tenets that got behind in their rent, but would not move when evicted (even after the house sold). As a stall tactic the renters formally complained that the house was haunted by at least four poltergeists that were wreaking havoc, and thus the renters wanted “pain and suffering” restitution in an amount equal to the back rent.
The landlord quickly responded by raising the rent, claiming more than one family now lived in his house, which violated the lease. Plus, he held the tenets liable for any damage the poltergeists caused, because the ghosts weren’t there before, so obviously the tenets had brought this otherworldly baggage with them. The renters scoffed, until the landlord brought in a camera crew from The Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures to investigate the house.
The tenets promptly moved.
All of which makes me wonder, what weird real estate deal-breakers will I demand when I search for a new home? A chandelier made out of Faberge Eggs? A doorbell that plays One Less Bell to Answer? A panic room big enough to hold an Oscar Party (I believe that’s called a ballroom). I haven’t figured any of that out yet because I haven’t started looking. But as soon as I discover my level of real estate crazy, I’ll be sure to let you know.
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Stacy Dymalski is an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage. For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in bookstores and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.