Real Estate Blues

“It’s sold, boys, come on home. I’m making myself a cocktail!” Our manic realtor has reached an all-time high. I can hear his elated voice through Paul’s phone. “He’s making himself a cocktail?” I ask. It’s not strange that he is drinking. It’s strange that he is drinking in our house. Alone. I suddenly have a vision of him lying on our bed luxuriating in $100 dollar bills, à la Demi Moore in “Indecent Proposal.” It is not a pretty picture, trust me.

We decided to sell our house in New Hampshire four months ago. Paul chose Hank by throwing a dead cat into the air and hitting the first realtor. “Did you use Yelp or get references?” I asked Paul. “Out of the three realtors I spoke with, he’s the one that stayed in contact with me. I think it shows how engaged he’ll be, you know?” No, I don’t know. I think a history of selling houses may have been a more accurate barometer of his abilities. Sending e-mails and making phone calls is something that my teenage daughters are capable of. But, I don’t remember them being in the running.

Hank is a short middle aged man with a cigarette induced gravelly voice, and a nose twice as big as it should be for his face. He is not the first image I conjure when someone says realtor. Now if you said used car salesman, Hank would be that image. “OK, let’s see what you’ve got, boys.” Hank said as he began to tour our house. On a loop through the first floor he says “Nicely decorated living room!” On the second loop “Hey, you’ve got a Family Room!” Paul and I look at each other dumbfounded. He is like a goldfish circling the bowl. Everything is new again after one go around. “Actually, Hank, that’s the Living Room you just noticed.” Paul tries to be polite. “Living Room, Family Room, whatevah’. Hey, that’s a bar!” He is pointing at a grouping of glasses hanging above a small section of the kitchen counter. “That adds value!” Later I would realize the value he saw in our bar was mostly personal.

But Hank appealed to our vanity. “Your house is perfect! Not a thing I can tell you to change, it’s a model home.” So, we signed him on. He produced a virtual tour of our house and e-mailed the link to me at work, with this recommendation “Turn up the volume so you can enjoy the music!” I clicked on the link and jazzy porn music from the 80’s came blaring out of my speakers. Embarrassed, I scrambled to lower the volume. Images of our house faded in and out with captions. “A room to relax in”, “lush gardens” and my personal favorite “Martini’s anyone?” describing our newly discovered martini bar. The cheesy captions, jazz music, and soft focus all had me wondering if soon there would be a beefy actor stepping out of the shower reciting a poorly written porno script: “Oh hello, I am the plumber. I just used my long snake to clean your drain. I hope you don’t mind that I used your shower but I was so dirty. You look dirty too.”

I lamented to my friend Cary. “I don’t know about our realtor. Sometimes I wonder if he is just hanging out at our house drinking when we’re not there.” If anyone can understand, it’s Cary. He has been trying to sell his Laundromat for a year. “My realtor is soooo unprofessional. I told him that I was desperate and would take any offer.” Cary says. I can truly sense the desperation in his face and voice. “Do you know what my realtor said? That he might be interested in buying the Laundromat. Is that even ethical? So then he sends me an e-mail with the subject ‘My Interest’ which made me think that maybe he was serious. The e-mail said ‘I told you I might be interested in buying the Laundromat. Yeah, I’m not...’ Bastard” Cary has the same look of desperation that I have on my face. I tell him “Don’t worry, it will sell.” But I think I’m trying to convince myself.

When we pull into the driveway, Hank is standing with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. “They want everything! The house, the furniture, they loved it all. Asians, they’ve got money.” I am preparing to deliver my “Oh, no you didn’t just say that speech” when he interrupts. “Let’s go price out the rooms!” Hank walks into the kitchen, pours himself another drink and says “Let’s price out the furniture, but not the kitchen table, my wife wants that, actually, she wants the trunk in the bedroom too.” And then it hits me, it’s not just Hank spending time in our house, but his wife too. In the bedroom no less. I am worrying if they have rummaged through the night stand when Hank says. “Oh, there’s a funny smell in here. I think it’s your drain. I put a lemon down my drain every day. Every day I have a gin and tonic and the lemon goes down the drain. You should keep some lemons here.” Subtlety is not Hank’s strong suit.

“So let me ask you a personal question.” Hank says, delirious from a possible offer and two gin and tonics. “You and Paul are a couple of good guys..” Uh-oh, here it comes. The dreaded “but” clause. “But, how could you give up women?” Or “But, how do you decide who’s on top?” or my favorite “But, when did you make the choice?” But then he surprises me with an “And” clause. “And my brother in law has had a tough time with ‘partners’”. He says using air quotes. “Do you have any single friends?”

Suddenly, I start to think that Hank might be an OK guy: part of the family. Sort of like your Uncle Larry that shows up unannounced, drinks your liquor and then asks you to pull his finger. “OK, well give it some thought” Hank says and just like that he is gone.

It’s been four days now with no offer and little word from Hank. I have no idea when he’ll show up again, but when he does, I better have some lemons.

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