Today, my wife and I closed on our new house. Here’s the background. We’ve been renting a house in Texas for the past two years. We rented because we didn’t know how we wanted to play this situation. We thought we’d play it safe in case things didn’t work out and we wanted to move back to our home in Virginia. In fact, we still own that house and friends are currently renting it. Per our agreement, as long as they keep paying, they can keep living there. Thank God we took that course in property management! But, after almost twenty-four months of paying good money to live in someone else’s house — a house, by the way, that is huge and quite lovely, but that we cannot decorate or alter to our own tastes — we decided to stick around for at least another year. Since property values are so low in this area and our mortgage payments will be less than half of our monthly rent, it made perfect sense to buy. Let me repeat that with emphasis. Our mortgage payments will be less than half of our monthly rent. Again, I didn’t do so well in math, but that seems like a good deal to me.
The house we bought is on the other side of town. Yes, it’s a bit of a downgrade. We’re moving from a gated community on a golf course to a, well, not that. Our current house has many beautiful appointments and the new house has, well, not that. In fact, the new house was built in the mid 1960’s and the current owner is the son of the original owners. He inherited it from them. He owned it outright and wanted to sell because he’s never there. He runs a business that takes him out of town for two-thirds of the year. He’s a scuba instructor. How frightfully interesting! And he’s collected forty years worth of
crap stuff that he didn’t seem able to part with. During our final walk-through a few days ago he began telling us about all the great crap stuff he thought we’d love. “No, no,” I told him, “we have plenty of crap stuff we’re bringing on our own. Trying to pare down a bit ourselves.” “Oh, it’s really no problem. For instance, this monkey themed rug… I picked it up in Peru years ago and I think your kids would love it!” I took a look down at the 6 foot square, braided creation. “Is the monkey anatomically correct?” I asked, scratching my head. “Or how about that recliner in there?” he asked. “In there” referred to his living room. “It’s man-tested and man-approved,” he added. “Gross,” I said (not certain I hadn’t actually verbalized that.
Oh heck, let me just take a few lines to describe the dude to you. I believe he had worked as a jeweler at some point in his past. He’s about fifty years old and doesn’t seem to have ever been able to throw anything out. I can understand how difficult it can be to divest oneself of years worth of memories. Sure, that receipt from dinner with your first ex-wife and her boyfriend at the Arby’s carries much sentimental value. I know how it goes. But you gotta’ let go sometime. It seemed that every time we stopped by the house we caught him in the middle of a workout… in 1982. He liked his headbands. And yet, I gather he must have just started working out since, well, I’ll be kind to him. So where was I? Oh yes, the monkey
balls rug. Sorry, there I go again.
In Texas, we found out, the buyer and seller do not close at the same table. My wife and I found this odd since in Virginia, we were all at the same closing. We came to the table at 10AM with our realtor the quite competent and quite funny Tina Dale Earnhardt. I added the last name because of her knack for leading us at breakneck speed from house to house. She’s a busy lady. And today she was preparing to head to the Florida Gulf Coast for some vacation. She’s had a rough few weeks. First, she told us about the cat. Not her cat, mind you. In the very first house she showed us we noticed a cat. Cute. To a seasoned realtor, though, not so cute. Especially not cute if you recently encountered a dead cat in a home showing. Yep, at 9:30 on a Saturday morning, with the owners just having vacated the premises a half-hour before (and their fluffy companion still very much alive), Tina and her clients noticed a feline form curled up on the bed. Imagine their great surprise when, approaching the bed, the noticed kitty’s eyes wide open. It was dead. But that pales in comparison to the dead client she encountered a few weeks later. Being the caring, compassionate realtor she is, she attended the memorial service for the octogenarian just a few days ago. The woman’s daughter tried to comfort her by telling her “We think it was the stress of moving that did her in.” Great. Needless to say, I think we were the sanest people she had dealt with in a while.
Back to the strange real estate laws in the Lone Star State… It turns out that the seller doesn’t have to clean his house either. When we took possession around 2PM today we entered the house and found, well, crap. Notice I didn’t scratch that one out. I got the notion that he was a few miles down Memory Lane when he looked up at the clock, realized he needed to be at a closing, put the push broom down, and walked away. Lucky for me, because the stuff he left behind is comic gold. A small sampling of wares: an adult sailor suit, three refrigerators, dirt, dust, grime, a Hugh Hefner smoking jacket, a pull-up bar (never been used), a bottle of wine, several cans of soup, about fifteen cordless phones, video recording and playback equipment, power tools, and assorted knick knacks. Looking around with my mother-in-law, the two of us came to several conclusions. First, he may have been a bookie. Second, he was probably filming movies of ill-repute in this house. Actually, that was about it. Oh, and he didn’t like soup. If he had, clearly he wouldn’t have left the cans unopened.