Monday, 5 March 2007

Bane of the Real Estate Agent

I have a confession. I’ll get it out quickly while you’re still reeling from the shock that Lonie Polony has yet another foible: I like to go to open homes I have no intention of buying, just so I can have a good old-fashioned stickybeak at someone else’s house.

I like to wander around the house and garden casting a critical eye over everything and pointing out assets and liabilities in an informed-sounding manner. I enjoy the role of ‘Prospective Buyer’ because it is the perfect cover under which to open drawers, peer into cupboards and flick switches with no accusations of impropriety. Whereas I would never so much as peek into the bathroom cabinets of my family and friends, the open home of a stranger is a wonderful place to do all the nosing around one’s heart may desire.

Now before you reach for your phones to report a predatory criminal, let me clarify things. I don’t paw through people’s personal belongings. I don’t scope out houses as part of my plan for a series of daring heists. I don’t pilfer small objects as tokens of a string of psycho serial killings to be carried out at a later date. I just like to see what other people’s living spaces are like. I like to inspect their layout, room sizes, and décor. I like to grimace at their ugly furniture or wallow in envy of their out-of-my-price-range kitchen or store away interesting architectural and decorating ideas that had never occurred to me. It’s a cheap outing and a variation on a favourite Polony family fantasy, ‘What I would do if I won the lottery’.

The problem is I’m a bad liar and a terrible actor. It’s all very well to troop through an empty display home along with other people curious about the latest designs and environmentally-friendly innovations, but an occupied home guarded by a leaflet-wielding real-estate agent is another matter.

Just last weekend we visited a nearby house my mother-in-law had seen in the paper and pointed out as a suitable buy for us. (She evidently failed to comprehend that houses generally do not depreciate in value like cars or computers, reasoning instead that houses built several decades before Stupid Daughter 1’s new mortgage-trap must be cheap. As we predicted, the expected price at auction is almost two-and-a-half times what we paid for our house five years ago.) I felt like a fraud taking the information leaflet, guiltily thinking of the trees and money used to print the attractive colour document, wasted on a gawker like me. I balked at giving our name and number to the woman, who must by then have rumbled us as the impostors we were. I felt her beady commission-seeking eyes following me suspiciously as I frowned at the imperfect cornices, obstinately persisting in my deception.

Luckily for me, the house yielded up a valid excuse not to buy, which I declaimed loudly as I passed the agent on our way out: “Oh no, Mr. Lonie, I can’t possibly put up with a tiny laundry like that, not with two small children.”

I had her; she couldn’t disagree with me on that one.

Oh well. I’ll just have to keep on looking.


Food Kitty said...

back when we lived in Melbourne, we rented a house in a tiny little unsealed treelined street that ran off one of the busiest streets there was (springvale road for anyone who knows melbourne's eastern suburbs). The house across the road came up for sale, and I went to the open home - but as I went in , A VERY KIND LADY loudly told the agent that I was "the neighbour from across the road".

Food Kitty said...

PS I see you have been downgraded from an alleged meat byproduct to a monarchist. dear me.

Lonie Polony said...

No no, foodkitty, I'm working to bring down the decrepit in-bred regime from within. No one ever suspects the polony.