Friday, August 2, 2013

So You Want to Buy a Home?

So You Want To By a Home
By Micki Peluso

Finding the right home can be a traumatic experience, an exercise in futility, or a comedy of errors for all involved. This is due, in part, to the objectives of the participants. The seller, sometimes through greed, but more often through ignorance, believes his house is worth at least 30% over market value. The bank is reluctant to finance anyone whose name is not Hughes or Trump. The realtor hopes to take his cut, avoid as much aggravation as possible, and fly to the Bahamas for a well-deserved vacation. The poor buyer simply wants a reasonable roof over his head, preferably one that doesn't leak, on a quiet street where his children will not be mugged or whisked away by white slavers. Not too much to ask, one would think.
Before purchasing a home, the buyer must be aware of the actual meaning of real estate jargon. There are many terms that need clarification. For instance, a ‘hospitality suite’ is usually a studio apartment in the basement where you imprison the mother-in-law by closing off all exits except the one leading directly to her car. ‘Love nest’ is an accurate description except that it doesn't always refer to human love. I don't think ‘carpenter’s special’ needs defining, and ‘needs some TLC’ is a synonym for major overhaul. ‘No reasonable offer refused’ is misleading advertising because the owner, realtor and buyer have different concepts of this term.
‘No reasonable offer refused’ is misleading advertising because all concerned have different concepts of the term ‘reasonable’. ‘Next to everything’ is a terrifying statement best left unexplained. ‘Family community’ implies that the entire neighborhood is related and will either play matchmaker to your firstborn child or ostracize you completely. ‘Plenty of room for Mom’ bears a subliminal message, telling your subconscious to hit the old lady up for the down payment. Definitely stay away from anything that is listed as ‘has possibilities’. Life is much too short.
‘View of the beach,’ is probably an honest statement. However, you must inquire about access to the roof and expect basement flooding. ‘Must be seen to appreciate’ means that no one has a long time and inspires unfounded hope. Right before we were married, my husband said the same thing about his mother. ‘Just reduced’ is a ploy stolen from department stores. The prices jacked up by 50%, and then lowered by 10%. ‘One-of-a-kind’ suggests that this house was an unpopular model and only one poor fool ever bought it.
Homeowners are people too, and you must take time to consider their feelings. Many of them are extremely honest, as well as proud of their homes. Sometimes they will offer helpful hints, should you decide to buy; such as ‘the best way to control the rats is to purchase two cats and don't feed them’. One woman, when asked if her house was hot in the summer, reply cagily,  ‘‘Well, we do get the ocean breeze." This was true. Even a 110° breeze is technically a breeze. Homeowners rarely tell an outright lie.
You must also be aware of the various building styles. Today's home classification has stretched dictionary definition beyond its limits. A ‘ranch’ is anything on one floor, including the doghouse; consequently a ‘high ranch’ has steps somewhere if only two or three. A ‘colonial’ can be anything from a log cabin to a new large box with a fake pillar or two. A ‘charming Victorian’ is antiquated, almost always dilapidated and about as charming as your great-great uncle with his teeth of the class. A ‘cape’ is anything that doesn't fit the above descriptions.
Finally you must know your realtor. Realtors, rumors to the contrary, are human and come in several types. There is the sweet young thing who lives to sell. She's usually in her late 20s, with 2.5 children and recently divorced. With luminous brown eyes and an apologetic puppy dog face, she nervously makes statements like. ‘I just know my clients will come down in price.’ She is always wrong, but eternally hopeful.
Sooner or later you will come across the tough cookie. This woman has been selling since she was weaned and could unload a patch of desert to an Arab. She's easy to recognize; frosted or bleached blond hair, large faux gold circular earrings, a miniskirt sprouting varicose veins legs or a cigarette dangling from her ruby red lips. But she knows the business and if you're not careful she'll sell you that one in 1 million duplex sitting beneath the garbage dump and convince you that the dump will be a landmark one day.
Eventually, with perseverance and extra strength Mylanta, you will find the home of your dreams. I would tell you about my own recent purchase, but it's time to activate the sump pump before the tide rolls in, turn on the house alarm system in case the prisoners break out, and spray Lysol throughout the house to kill the smell of the dump. If the next rumbling train doesn't wake the baby, the cat fight outside my window probably will. You would think there were enough rats for both of them. Then I have to run out and rotate my double parked car before the meter maid comes stalking through the complex. I’ll have to take the Doberman who just failed guard dog school with me because there’s a suspicious looking bunch of boisterous beings, vaguely resembling teenagers, hanging around the lamp post making obscene noises. I have to admit homeownership is more than I ever dreamed; except that sometimes I get the feeling that I'm not in Kansas anymore.                 


  1. Micki, this article is a gem. The house-hunting process -a pain in the neck- becomes informative, truthful, and at the same time hilarious in your balance of accurate description and sense of humor.
    Thank you for making my day!

  2. Thanks, Marta,
    I wrote it when I bought my present home and this was before I worked in the real estate business as law assistant for my attorney daughter, Kelly. One day I might write a book about these past ten year! :)
    Love, Micki

  3. Loved today's post! I hope you will write a book about your real estate experiences. I'll stand in line to buy it!

  4. I remember that painted cigarette dangling real estate agent from 1971 and our first search for a home. My husband would not meet with her unless I was there. She was a cougar that really made him nervous. Funny and entertaining post Micki.

  5. Thanks, Sandy, I've thought of doing a book on it, but I'd have to go into a protection plan lol.

    Jackie, Glad to see that you liked it. And visited my blog.


  6. Hi Micki,
    "Thanks, Sandy, I've thought of doing a book on it, but I'd have to go into a protection plan lol."

    Go for this protection plan! It's gotta be a better place than the one you live in now. A great line might be for the realtor to ask the hopeful buyer if they have animals. If yes, then they can share that everyone on their block has a dog; so watch where you step when you leave the house in the morning. Cheers. I enjoyed this piece that might classify as Horror under certain circumstances.

    The eagle guy,
    Don (Greywolf) Ford
    See > &

  7. Hi Don, however did you find me? Now that I'm a landlord I could really do a great one on tenants!! and theeeeir dogs who costr me 20, 00 in repair and lack of reant--the tenants, nott he dogsRe: rent :).

  8. Micki,

    This is too funny and a must read for anyone purchasing a home right now, so they can sit down with a glass of wine and just laugh.

    Although funny, lots of great tips to consider as well.

    I love the humor in your writing.


  9. Made me smile as usual, thank you Micki!

  10. Thanks, Cherrye, I appreciate your comment.

    Hi Deirdre, so glad you stopped by.

    Love, micki

  11. Entertaining reading, Micki! I'm so glad I have no intention of buying a new home just now, Micki. In Scotland where I live the details only differ very slightly. What I dread-if were ever to move- would be getting rid of the junk that has accumululated over the last 25 years of living in my current one!

  12. Some great humor mixed with the unpleasant realities.

  13. Thanks, Nancy, I wa shoping it was only this bad in NYC!! Now that I've worked as a law asst. for a real estate attorney, I have more horroe stories, funny but sick. So glad you dropped by.


  14. Hi Ken, thanks for stopping by. Ihave great trust in your comments on my work.