Entering the Twilight Zone

Funny what we Realtors stumble across while we’re out there making the rounds on our regular house calls.  Neither rain, nor sea-level snow, nor gloom of market, nor $4 a gallon gas staying us from the completion of our appointed showings.

Funny ha-ha. Funny-weird. Funny-sad. Funny-ironic. It’s all there.   All grist for the mill.  All constant reminder that surely there must be some lesson in this.  Something of value that can be dredged up out of the murky depths of the underwater housing milieu we are swimming around in.

Even if it isn’t going to be home value for the time being.  And even if it isn’t clear what else on earth it could possibly be.

I was previewing a new listing the other day. Another short sale that just came on. One of those places that sold way, way back (further back than we know) in 2005.  The peak of the market that has subsequently flip-flopped to become such a huge black hole for so many.

Specially now that home prices have supposedly regressed all the way back to  2000.  Flipping houses indeed.

Sometimes it feels like the perfect plot twist for an old Twilight Zone Episode.  All that build up to Y2K.  The millennium bug.  In the end, the end of the world that we speculated about and imagined for ourselves just kind of fizzled out with a whimper. Became a no-show. Missed us by a million miles. Far worse than the Comet Kohoutek ever did in 1973.  New Years Eve struck and there was barely a glitch in the stitch of time.

Except now, I gotta go back and ask the question. Did all those computers controlling the planetary alarm clock really get screwed up after all?  Do we actually have our dates all wrong? Did we oversleep and just dream the whole first decade of the new millennium?  Did any of this really ever happen in the first place? Are we just now waking up with a hell of a hang-over after partying like it was 1999? Somehow thinking there was no tomorrow?  (Play Twilight Zone Theme Song App.)

Sorry, my real estate of mind tends to wander to obscure locales while my body is traveling en route and in rote between houses.

Anyway, I was on my way to preview this place. The MLS printout said the owner’s name was Rich. And the comments mentioned that Rich had pumped a lot of additional money into the property after he bought it.   Making repairs. Upgrading features. Customizing the architecture of his original vision.

Insult to injury.  An all-too common story these days.  One that should be getting old  but isn’t.

I arrived at the house. Parked.  Respectfully knocked to see if there was anyone home, before going to get the key out of the lockbox anchored to the hose-bib.  Just as I was fumbling with the knob,  getting ready to enter,  the door swung open slowly, hesitantly.  The barest hint of an ominous creaking sound.

And there, standing in front of me in the entryway, was a tall, sad looking 40- something fellow  holding a cardboard box stuffed full with a mish-mash of discombobulated lamps and picture frames.   Clearly he was on his way out.

Momentarily surprised, not wanting to seem like one of those pushy Realtors invading someone else’s private space, knowing that short sale situations are lose-lose and ofttimes tenuous , I blurted out in my best, smooth-talking, real estate agent voice:  “Are you Rich?”

Right on cue, without missing a beat, no hesitation to speak of, with perfect comedic timing of the rare but subtle gallows-humor sort,  he said without blinking:  “Not anymore. I used to be rich.”

And all I could respond with was silence. One of those occasions when a word is actually worth a thousand pictures.  Specially when it so eloquently sums up all those short sales continuing to flood the market.


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