F. tells us that the tenants are still moving out of the last property we tried to look at in El Cerrito, but it is available for realtor-escorted viewings. She meets us there on Tuesday night, and she is not impressed by the overgrowth or the ancient garage door. We go inside, and it looks like several tornadoes collided. The tenants have taken their furniture, but they have left scattered piles of clothes, toys, books and trash spread out everywhere. A turtle squats in a dirty terrarium in one of the bedrooms. Every cabinet door is open in the kitchen, food still sits in the pantry and is spread on the floor. Mold grows on all four walls of the bathroom.
We make ourselves focus on the house, not what's in it. 1100 square feet, a big kitchen with the laundry in a utility room with a door. Big, open living and dining room space. The bedrooms are on the smallish side, but the closets are not. And once we pick our way across the crumbling patio, the yard opens up - the lot is 5000 square feet. Plenty of space for small dogs to play. It needs a new fence, and hopefully the rusty swing set will disappear.
F. is clucking her tongue with disapproval. None of us can believe children lived in this mess. We will wait for the pest report, due on Aug. 27, to see if the problems are mostly cosmetic. But I like this house, I think we can fix it, and the price is right. Asking price: $350K.