Thursday, October 22, 2009

Round and Round.

Tuesday night, F. and I set out to hit four houses (hopefully all before dark). First stop is the house that was supposed to be open Sunday - F. has followed the instructions and called to leave a message that we were stopping by. Even so, we are letting ourselves in when the front door opens, and a college-age girl in sweats peers out at us. We explain that we called, she nods and lets us in, and we can clearly smell her dinner in the kitchen. A pudgy old schnauzer trails after us in the living room; when we come to a stop she gently paws my heels, so I turn and pet her. A few more steps, she follows, she paws, I pet. The girl comes out of the kitchen, scoops her up, grabs a bowl from the counter, and heads up to a bedroom, closing the door behind her. Guess we won't see that bedroom. The house is partially updated, kitchen looks good, floors refinished. A card table and folding chair are the only furniture in the living room, and when we see the other bedroom, there are two twin mattresses on the floor. Hmm. Downstairs from the kitchen is the laundry room and entrance to the garage; down another half-flight is a rec room, nice other than the old green linoleum, and the stains where water has pooled in the middle. We walk into the backyard, and along the side of the house is a gully where yesterday's downpour must have flowed, eroding the neighbor's fence. And there's no back fence, just scattered cinderblocks, and a drop-off of a three foot retaining wall into the back neighbor's yard. Huh. Asking price: $469K.

We stop by the "retro" place that the Husband and I checked out Sunday. F. sees too much that needs to be fixed, and doesn't like the flow. We agree that $495K is ridiculous; if they dropped the price $75K it might be worth considering.

Next stop is the place in Richmond, whose exterior set the Husband's heart aflame. So very dated on the inside (made me long for a martini) but the previous owners kept it spotlessly clean. Huge living room, big bedrooms with multiple closets, and a big family room downstairs that would be the perfect office space for the Husband to hole up in. The kitchen has butterfly wallpaper, and even better - butterfly tile backsplash. There's also a giant banquette in the kitchen (this is clearly banquette week in the home search). We go downstairs and open up the doors to the basement, and gasp - neither of us have ever seen a basement this immaculate. No dirt anywhere, not a cobweb or a twig - I would eat off this floor. Tons of storage, 1400 square feet, and a double garage. The Husband must see this place. My imagination is already hard at work, tearing up carpet, pulling down drapes. Asking price $325K.

Last stop on our whirlwind tour (and it's dark out, we just can't go that fast) is back in El Cerrito. Another old, tired house; about 1200 sq ft, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath. Even though the painters' equipment is sitting in the living room, it still feels like the elderly folk who lived here just left the room; beat-up plaid couch; thin, frayed towels hanging in the bathroom; mismatched sheets on a little old bed in the back. Why didn't the selling agent clear this place out? The layout is bizarre: there's a door from the dining room into the kitchen, kitchen into the utility room, utility room into the hall, hall into the dining room. That's a crapload of doors in a very small area. Bathroom is antique, the kitchen linoleum is truly vintage, I think I've seen Joan Crawford standing on this linoleum in a movie. Big yard full of crumbling cement levels. This place kinda gives me the creeps - like bad feelings are floating around. Someone needs to smudge some serious sage here, but it won't be us. Asking price: $440K.

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