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R.E.M. - Real Estate Madness


“Well, thank you for taking me through the property.”

“No, thank you for taking the time to visit.”

“It’s a lovely home.”

“Yes, the owners are sorry to let it go.”

“I am interested in bidding on behalf of my client.”

“The auction is next Saturday morning at 10am.”

“I do have a few more questions, though.”

“Certainly, would you care to be more specific?”

"I don’t mean to be rude but I must point out that the brochure’s cabana dimensions seem exaggerated.”

“The brochure’s not to scale.”

“Well, that’s obvious. Here, for example, you’ve printed a living room that’s the same size as the proposed tennis court.”

“Room sizes are expressed in square metres at the bottom of the page.”

“Yes, in a font so small that I’d need a microscope to read it.”

“What other questions did you have?”

“Look, I know how much space a tennis court needs. How can that sloping backyard accommodate a full-sized version?”

“The area has been checked by a reliable independent party.”

“I think you’d be lucky to squeeze in a plunge pool let alone Martina Navratilova’s backswing.”

“Well, perhaps that’s something you could investigate further with an architect.”

“Speaking of architects, which one sketched this proposed attic extension that would help to secure “stunning water vistas?””

“The house has scope for this, yes. Look at the other attics of the other houses on the street.”

“Yes but those attics were installed before this street was heritage listed in April 1986. Is it realistic to expect that council would give permission now? Don’t forget that the current mayor’s rezoning this area to ‘commercial’. Is that why the vendors are keen to consider all offers?”

“I’d like to qualify that query and get back to you,” the real estate agent sighed.

“What sale price are you expecting?” I’d ask, curious, while ticking off items on my clipboard with a Mont Blanc fountain pen.

Some teenagers like playing sport on Saturday afternoons.

Others go to the movies.

When I was a teenager I visited properties for sale.

I spent five years of my life collecting large scrap books of brochures and price trends for houses in Sydney’s wealthier suburbs.

Any house that attracted my attention would be inspected. It became an obsession.

I pretended to be an interested buyer.

Exasperated real estate agents got to know me by my first name.

I’d get the newspapers on Saturday mornings and identify the places that caught my attention. House visits were prioritised using a selection of fluorescent pens. I’d beg my parents to drive me.

The hardest properties to visit were the ones that stated: “Inspection By Appointment Only.”

My parents refused to take me to these ones, so I’d use all my tact and guile to go on my own.

So I’d ring the telephone number that appeared with the advertisement and pretend to be the only child of very wealthy parents.

“Yes, my parents are in Hong Kong for the weekend and have requested me to inspect on their behalf. What do you have on the harbour for sale in Highberry Avenue? I’m looking for fully renovated 12 bedroom homes in the $15-$20 million dollar range.”

I’d catch the bus there and get off two stops too early in my suit and tie, pretending that I had a driver.

I ruined slumber party sleepovers at my house by insisting to my friends that we went and looked at houses under renovation in my area in the middle of the night.

“Look,” I’d whisper from behind a bank of trees while looking up at flapping construction plastic identified under torch light. “I wonder if that’s going to be a billiard room.”

I’d even break into empty shells of houses that were being prepared for full makeovers, roof open, and residents gone.

I’d marvel as the new house took shape like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

“Yes,” I’d say excitedly to anyone stupid enough to accompany me on my real estate walks around the area where I lived. “It looks like they’re installing double-hung sash windows in the new wing to mirror the Georgian façade!”

Mum had a miraculous ability to identify weaknesses in even the most stunning mansions that we’d visit together.

“There are panoramic city skyline views and an infinity spa!” I’d point.

“There aren’t any build-in cupboards in the bedrooms,” Mum would muse.

“The kitchen has Miele appliances,” I’d add.

“The floorboards need re-polishing and the cracked tessellated tiles around the courtyard off the second bedroom are going to need redoing,” Mum would sigh.

Seeing my disappointment Mum would go for the jugular and make me homesick:

“The garden’s going to require more than a green thumb to claw it out of its current state. Hopeless. It’s facing the wrong way, doesn’t get the sun that we get. How are we ever going to have a goldfish pond and azalea patch like we have at home? Impossible.”

I’d listen and sigh.

She was always right.

“I like our house,” Mum would say as she’d drive away from the ‘For Sale’ signs.

When my parents finally sold the family house after 35 years we had an open house visit as well.

A lot of friends and neighbours visited it. Many had comments and criticisms of it. I always thought that it was perfect, though. It was ours.

“It’s nice to be home,” Mum would say, as the garage door squeaked closed behind us and I’d gather the real estate brochures from the day’s visits.

It was.

Suffice to say that I watched Annette Bening’s role in ‘American Beauty’ and laughed my arse off when visitors to a house with a backyard described the tropical pool oasis as a “concrete hole.” It brought back very funny memories!

Did you have any unusual hobbies as a teenager that you’d like to share?


Copyright © 2008 Richard Cannane Publishing
03. Mai 2013