In Basement by Surprise

Another below freezing and overcast day came and went, but at least the wind wasn’t blowing or even worse–snowing. While driving to work, I received a text from someone, and when waiting at a stoplight, I looked and noticed it was from a young customer of mine and reading, “The early bird gets the worm.” I was puzzled enough to where I called his number and said, “Where were you? He chuckled a bit and said, “I was sitting in my car waving at you and you didn’t even notice.” Unfortunately, I don’t pay that much attention to parked cars when it’s dark out.

After arriving at office, I busied myself with getting ready for an appointment in Clear Lake, as well as returning some emails from yesterday. The time went quickly enough to where I finished up just as the hour neared for me to head over to the lake, and while driving over, I noticed the traffic being far too heavy for a Saturday morning, and just figured people were out doing some last week Christmas shopping.

I was a few minutes early getting there which was just fine because I’d not shown that unit before, and wanted to make sure I’d be there when the buyers arrived. The showing didn’t go well, and mostly because of how small it was, so on to the next one we flew. When pulling up to the second home, I could see by the design it was a vintage 1880’s classic. From the outside it looked fine, but when we walked in and started looking around, I was certain it was one that someone had recently “lipsticked”. But the highlight of that showing, was my pointing out the visible square nails in the basement rafters which for sure put it being built in the early to mid 1880’s. When I shared that information with them they insisted that the listing said it was built in 1900. I gave them my “look” and said, “You really don’t want to believe everything an assessor’s office posts because I’ve found them wrong a very many times.” It’s just one more reminder for us all that unfortunately everything we find on the internet is NOT always true.

While driving away from that home, I became saddened when thinking how beautiful it must’ve been when it was originally built, but when subsequent owners attempt to modify a given home’s floor plan to tastes and styles of their periods, it quickly turns into something far less than it originally was. I fully understand function and convenience, which is why I have absolutely no problem with people modernizing their kitchens and baths, but when they start painting or removing once beautiful woodwork, opening walls, and adding cheap snap-together flooring, that’s when I begin to bristle.

I have no idea what happened to the original interior doors in that home, but for some reason they were replaced with those cheap composite doors that are as flimsy as painted cardboard. At a glance, the kitchen cabinets looked mid-range, but after a closer look, I soon discovered they were likely low-end Menard’s specials.

When looking at the price of that home and comparing similar ones here in Mason City, I’d say it’s double of what similar homes are priced at here in River City. Oh well, there’s some sort of growing mystique of owning a home in Clear Lake which has me befuddled because with the exception of lakeshore property, their neighborhoods are very much similar to ours, and their income bases the same, which is why I’ll never understand their reasoning. Let’s just hope we don’t have another market correction like we had in 2008 because there’ll be a very many upside-down mortgages over there.

When I finally made it back to my office, it was time for me to get a bite to eat, prep an open house file, and head over to my “open” at 114 – 11th St. NE. When I arrived a few moments early, I made sure all the lights were on and doors unlocked. It wasn’t long after, when a young couple arrived with their two children. They had a good look, but not sure if they were that much interested due to how non-emotional they were. More than once I’ve had buyers comment on all the wallpaper that’s in that home when in fact there’s only paper on the bathroom walls and a border in the kitchen. That darned sponge paint on the downstairs walls is causing people to think it’s wallpaper, so this next week I’m going to call the seller and request she paint over those walls with a neutral color. And to think that home is about half the price of the one I showed in Clear Lake and offering far better bones. Go figure.

I had a couple past customers stop by just before my open house ended just to have a little chat and wish me Merry Christmas. After they left I was once again reminded of a very unfortunate situation that took place that will go down in my history of selling real estate as being the most unfortunate, and all having to do with an erroneous inspection on a home they offered on. It wasn’t until almost four months later when we discovered that inspection having been totally false which angered me greatly. Oh well, today’s customers went on their merry way and purchased a “for sale by owner” and are just as happy as clams, and’ll go forward without even the slightest regrets over that horrible firestorm which was un-necessarily created by those who were supposed to be “experts” in their field. Once again, don’t believe everything you read on the internet to be true.

Late this afternoon, I was informed by a selling agent that her buyers accepted the counteroffer from one of my sellers. I proceeded to call the sellers and tell them it’s under contract which is the first step to finally having a sold sign placed in their yard. I have to give them credit for being patient over these months, so let’s hope it closes without a snag.

I went digging in that old photo album I was given some years ago and found the above which brought back many heartfelt memories. Yes, people did make their own clothes back then. In longhand, the back read, “Caught in basement by surprise.” What a gem!

Tonight’s one-liner is: Friends are the siblings God never gave us.

Joe Chodur

About the Author | Joe Chodur

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