Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The good, the bad, and the ugly

We’re currently in the market for a house, which means I troll ZipRealty.com all day long, waiting to pounce on anything that’s new on the market and fantasizing heavily about houses we can’t afford. It’s basically Internet porn for homeowners and/or wanna-bes. But unlike real porn (at least the quality stuff), the people depicted in the photos, meaning the agents, are extremely unattractive, for the most part. Most of them are middle-aged women, and they obviously all go to the same Extreme Makeover for Realtors® consultant, given that they all have huge hair (apparently the result of bad perms and too much “product,” as the Queer Eye guys would say) and makeup that was apparently slathered on with a trowel. I saw an agent in person a few weeks ago who looked like Vampira -- eyebrows completely plucked off and redrawn with Crayola “raw sienna,” splotches of consumptive-looking blush and a hairdo from which I simply had to avert my eyes. And she had the nerve to give us attitude for coming to an open house five minutes early. Hoo boy.

Also, why must the brokers devote so many photos to the interior furnishings? Who cares that the current owners have lots of Louis-the-Something furniture, swags and valences, etc. -- or that (much more often) they have the worst decorating taste imaginable? Let’s at least see the yard, for Christ’s sake.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that the same semiliterate person possessing absolutely no creativity or writing ability is responsible for writing every single one of the house descriptions. Here are some genuine bits of verbiage from listings (except the last one), together with translations approved by Strunk and White.

  • "This property needs to be seen to be appreciated" -- We don’t know how to work a digital camera.
  • "Beautifully maintained" -- The owners vacuumed sometimes.
  • "Newer kitchen/bath/whatever" -- Installed since the Eisenhower administration.
  • "Tastefully renovated -- The owners spent more than the minimum on new linoleum and shiny glass-‘n-brass lighting fixtures from Home Depot.
  • "A must-see!" -- The owners are desperate for offers.
  • "Great opportunity to buy into an exclusive neighborhood" -- You can’t afford this area unless you live in this dump.
  • "Location, location, location!" -- A teardown.
  • "Contemporary flair" -- The master bathroom has a black toilet, shiny silver wallpaper a mirrored ceiling.
  • "Awaiting your special touches" -- Boy does this place need work.
  • "Needs TLC" -- Functioning furnace not included in purchase price... oh, and watch out for that hole in the floor.
  • "House has great bones with awesome potential" -- Plan to spend as much as the purchase price on renovations to make it habitable.
  • "Elegant and gracious" -- Was nice about 80 years ago; now falling apart.
  • "In the same family for 65 years" -- The old lady who lived in it finally died in the basement and her middle-aged son wants to unload the place.
  • "A gem!" -- Incredibly average!
  • "Picturesque" -- Looks OK from a distance, heavily shaded by overgrown trees and at 72 dpi.
  • "Cozy" -- You can touch the opposite walls of each room with your arms extended.
  • "Dreams do come true!" -- Just not for you, and certainly not in this shack.
  • "A fixer-upper in a rustic neighborhood" -- A hovel in a slum.

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