July 14, 2010

House Hunting

One of the best things about moving is that it legitimizes my favorite hobby: going through other people's houses.

This week, I've toured quite a number of homes for sale across the Orlando area in an attempt to narrow down suburbs and neighborhoods in which we might want to buy. Right now we're renting.

In Philadelphia, most people leave their homes when they are being shown to prospective buyers. In Orlando, there is an unwritten rule that at least one member of the household must be present during the showing, and be doing something weird.

This afternoon, my realtor and I toured six houses in one neighborhood. In house #1, a woman was drying her hair in the bathroom. She waved when she saw us and told us to watch out for the piles of underwear on the bedroom floor. Duly noted.

In house #2, a teenage boy was playing catch with his dog in the middle of the living room.

In the front yard outside house # 3, a woman was doing yoga. Inside the house, her college-aged daughter was canoodling on the sofa with her boyfriend under a blanket. We shielded our eyes.

I met all 9 occupants of house # 4. I cannot go there. Let's just say that we will not be buying that house.

I liked house #5 the best, at least what I could see of it. Three of the four bedrooms were off limits, as they contained the bodies of sleeping teenagers. The mother of the teenagers was floating on an inflatable raft in the pool when we arrived at the house. She was gracious enough to show us her home while dressed in a bikini. Over 100 family photos hung on the wall, most of which were awkward.

"You can peek in this room if you want," she told us, pointing to one of the closed doors. A knee-deep pile of dirty laundry blocked the actual entrance. "But if someone curses at you for opening the door, don't blame me."

We told her we'd come back at a more reasonable hour for a second look if needed. It was 2:15 pm.

On the way out of the house, we noticed that one of the sleeping teenagers had joined the realm of the living. He was sitting at the kitchen table, wearing boxer shorts and a t-shirt that had the word "Elkaholic" printed across the back. He was methodically eating his way through a box of cold cereal.

"Hey," I said as normally as possible.

The boy belched a reply and reached for the milk, which he drank out of the carton.

I wonder if the boy and his mother are included in the purchase price of the home. If so, I'm definitely going to make an offer.

58 comments

Karen Mortensen said...

I can't believe this is true. This is something else. Good luck with finding a new home.

Laura PARING DOWN said...

Maybe you can keep the coolest of the awkward photos, too, just to perplex visitors.

Cheers!
Laura

WackyMummy said...

I wish you could have come with us when we were house hunting. It would have made it that much more fun. Good luck... it sounds like you'll need it.

Mary Downey said...

So, I live in the Orlando area and bought a house two years ago and I had the same experience. But since I was a first-time home owner it didn't strike me as weird... but now that you point it out it's actually really strange. I remember looking at one house where the family was sitting down to dinner and knew we were coming. They also had their four year old in a diaper only. I wonder if that's the reason why I ended up buying a house that no one had ever lived in! You should check in the Saint Cloud, Florida area. It's small enough to feel like a small town but close enough to all the action. I love it out here! :) Happy House Hunting!

Silvina B. said...

I think you need to come back to Philly!!!! :)

jen said...

This cannot be real! Don't they know it's a buyers' market? Hello!
The mom in the bikini would happen here in AZ, I can promise you that.

[Stacia] said...

I don't believe you. Well at least I didn't until I read Mary's comment. Wow! Good. Luck.

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand people. Whenever I have sold a house it was always spotless.. and we always left while people were viewing.

However, when we were house hunting.. the best EVER was the swinger house. Oh yes.. a real life swinger house. Some doors had key locks instead of handles and some had no doors at all, mattress on the floor (no bed frames anywhere), hall closets were labeled by room # and type (Rm1 - jungle, Rm2 - swing (yes that kind of swing)), showers were completely open with no doors and padded walls, the garage had carpet on the walls, a wet bar, disco ball, and a few beds for group time and some other swinger toys - still not sure how some of them were used and not sure I want to know..

I kept thinking I should wash my shoes after I left. However, hubby and I asked if we could at least leave a recorder hidden somewhere to see what really happend. Dang realtor said no. Kill Joy!

RaeRae

Kerrie (and Jason) said...

See now here in Australia you DO stay home during house inspections.

But you do wear clothes AND you generally sit outside in the garden during inspections..

You Amercians are strange. :)

Marissa said...

I understand your pain. My husband and I toured homes this weekend. We are moving as well. In one home that had tenants I couldn't even count how many people were living there. Every closet had a bed as well. And don't get me started on the dirty diapers or coke cans on the floor.

Samurai Mom said...

My mouth is still hanging open. we always leave when there is a showing. That being said, the house we are trying to sell we bought from people who were there every time.

AzĂșcar said...

Welcome to Florida.

Emily Heizer Photography said...

I've certainly never seen anything like THAT on House Hunters... how deceiving. And I thought house hunting would be fun.

My bad.

Anonymous said...

So I don't know if these stories make us living here in Palo Alto, California more or less crazy. People MOVE OUT of their homes, hire professional stagers to dress up their homes, and then hold open houses on the weekend. That being said, the cheapest house you can buy is a teardown for just under a million. Yes, a million dollars for a home that should be gutted and rebuilt.

Micki said...

If we hadn't had this same sort of thing happen to us, I would think you were making this up! Hopefully you will find a house soon!

kristina said...

You should actually be happy you get to see how weird the people are that you're buying from! We bought from weird people and didn't know until it was too late. After we moved in they'd randomly be standing in our yard talking to the neighbors when we'd come home, they called to tell us they'd bring over some spare house keys they found and were insulted when we said we had changed the locks, and the list goes on!

Vicky said...

HAHAHA, I DO NOT envy you, however, good luck with the house hunting. There are bound to be some awesome deals, not including belching and bikinis!!

Whatsfordinner said...

What! That would be uber-awkward!

Corey said...

We, too, are in the process of selling our home and looking for a new one. And we have also had the unfortunate experience of having people be in the house when we look at it. I do not know what people are thinking. If you can't a) clean your house, b) leave your house and c) take your barking dog with you for a showing, just hang a big sign on it that says WE DON'T ACTUALLY WANT TO SELL IT.

TORI said...

they just want it to have the lived-in feel. That's awesome. I love it when owners are at open houses.

Katie said...

Oh, but your experience isn't confined just to Florida. We here in podunk Texas had some similar experiences. Not the bikini, but doors locked and people at home doing strange things. Not all houses, but several over the time we househunted. It's amazing what people have convinced themselves is ok. I have always left the house when my realtor was showing. Always. And it was clean.

Jen said...

I can't believe how many people out there are TOTALLY CLUELESS when it comes to selling a house. In this market, you can't afford to make those kind of stupid mistakes. But it did make for a very enjoyable blog post. :)

Dazee Dreamer said...

OMG, I don't think I would buy in that neighborhood at all. Scary.

Gina said...

I thought your hobby was going to be "hunting for my dream house on the internet" (honestly, because that's my hobby) But your hobby is way better. And so much funnier.

Cindy said...

Well I guess I should stop feeling guilty for not being able to leave our house for every showing when we had 6 month old triplets!

Christine said...

Reminds me of the time when we were househunting and a random teenager (he was a friend of the occupants home alone for some reason) thought he'd show us around the house he didn't live in in a "F%@& You!" shirt...needless to say we didn't buy it.

Ophelia said...

This is confusing to me - do they not want to sell their homes?

Good Luck in Florida!

Russ and Em said...

Our house is for sale and I am doing major cleaning to keep it "show worthy" daily. (With little kids I don't have a choice.) Also, we always leave when people come to look. (That is unless our Realtor thinks we are still on vacation and forgets to call...) It sounds more entertaining and less productive your way. Good luck!

Bond's said...

FUNNIEST POST EVER!!!

Jennifer said...

maybe they were staging the house, as in "See? You too can be doing yoga in the front yard/playing catch with your family dog in your forever-home/floating lazily in your pool while your kid sleep" I dunno... it's a thought. I think it's weird too, though. But then again, I live near Philadelphia.

BensonFam said...

Oh the flashbacks to our own househunting experience... my favorites were the green carpeted/everything smelled like spaghetti house and the family room tiled in carpet sample squares house.

becca said...

i was going to say, Only you Jana, but clearly, it happens to other people too! LOL. Thanks for the laughs today. :)

Xaleyn said...

My curiosity is burning a hole in my brain! What was going on in house #4? =]

Tara - SanitySrchr said...

Oh Jana! I have to wonder what side of town you're looking in.

Mindy said...

Where are you looking, Jana??

Anonymous said...

Do you watch 30 Rock? Because one of the best lines ever was when he said, "Have you ever been to Florida? It's basically a criminal population. It's America's Australia."

That being said I hope you guys are really happy there :).

Courtney said...

Check out Seminole County, the schools are amazing and have down wonders for my 11 yr old. In fact, you could hand me a 100% paid for home in Orange County/Orlando and I wouldn't move from where I'm at in Seminole County, that is how well my children are doing school wise. Lake Mary, Longwood, Winter Springs....check em out. Good Luck!

Courtney said...

ha! my comment should say DONE not Down.

Jen said...

You should have retrieved a bowl from a cupboard and sat down next to the teenager to have a bowl of cereal. That might have brought home the point to the fourth family. Plus a free meal!

Heather said...

OH man. We had to do sprint cleaning and evacuate EVERYBODY when there was going to be a showing. I tried to convince my husband we could just outside, but he would not accept that. We had to load up and drive to Austin or something.
Good luck on House #5.

GMS said...

Love it!

Try Apopka (near the State Park) or Winter Park is nice too!

Good luck!

WendyLou said...

You have GOT to be kidding! Hilarious!!

The Mamma Bear said...

So I sat down to read this after spending the ENTIRE day cleaning, arranging, mowing and packing four kids, two dogs and a big ole pile of stuff to drop off at the local thrift store up in one minivan. All so someone could take 15 minutes to walk through my house and decide if they would consider buying it.

Thanks for the laughs! I needed it today! Good luck~

ChristineSilliman said...

While house hunting in Corpus Christi, we toured one house with a tv left on upstairs (we were told no one was home, but thought perhaps it was a mistake). I was afraid that there'd be a dead person in the bedroom! When we (cautiously) went upstairs, there was a huge dog turd on the landing.

Aubrey said...

Well, we had 8 people in our family (I was pregnant with #9) when we sold our last home. It was also painted in fun (but tasteful) colors that were different through the house. (We didn't repaint it all one color) I spent 3 weeks deep cleaning and patching and painting walls to make it look good. Then I showed it about 8 times and had it spotless each time. (deep cleaning while 7 months pregnant is really fun)

My realtor was on vacation and we didn't get a call about the couple that was on our doorstep at dinner time. The house was very busy and messy and I remember the bathroom smelling like little boys leave it. Oh and I hadn't had a shower that day. Guess who bought the house :) When it's meant to be...

Angi Snyder said...

Oh, I know it's true. We went through a house in good old happy valley utah when we were looking 5 years ago. It was the right size, right price, and included the pet stains and piles on the floor. It was an odd floor plan, so we were walking through politely glancing at the rooms with open doors instead of running out. We came to a room with an odd smoky/skunky/weedy smell coming out from under the door. My mom tried to open it. Luckily it was locked and those of us who were much less naive led her quickly out of the house. As we were driving away, someone walked out and put a brown paper wrapped package in the garbage can, taped to the lid. A few months later we drove by and there was police tape surrounding the property.

Briana said...

Absolutely unreal!! Do people WANT to sell their houses? It's not like it's easy to sell houses these days... incredible!

Amanda Ray said...

Hi Jana! I moved to Orlando a year ago, and have experience as both a home buyer and a realtor. Up until the housing crisis, people left their houses all the time to show. Now that almost all the houses on the market are either pre-foreclosure or short sale, the residents have no motive to sell their home (they are basically being kicked out) and so they don't care if their house shows well or not. It makes it awkward when you are the realtor AND the buyer. Good luck house hunting! We spent a good 6 months looking all around Orlando trying to figure out which area we wanted to live in. We ended up in Lake Nona right by the airport.

A Caring Heart said...

When I bought my house in Kissimmee 8 years ago I dealt with some really unusual house hunting. No wonder houses do not sell down here...no one takes pride in their home anymore. Good luck :)

Itchin' Stitchin' said...

Good luck on the house hunt ... it sounds interesting so far lol

Emily said...

The only place I have done "house" hunting is in New York City. Since most apartments are less than 1,000 square feet - usually the owner is not present when you view the place. This is a very good thing, especially since New York City tends to attract weirdos. We did have the pleasure a couple of times of meeting the owners. The most interesting one was in an area known as Washington Heights at the northern tip of manhattan. We had made an appointment with a realtor who couldn't make it at the last moment so had her husband show us the apartments instead. I believe he was a professor - definitely not a realtor. In one apartment, the owner was home and walked around with us as we checked out the hideously painted rooms with scattered stacks of books, papers, and clothes. My husband is Chinese and soon after we arrived, he looked at my husband and said "So which are you - a doctor or in computers?" My husband was very annoyed by the stereotype, especially when he had to admit that he worked "in computers". When we left, the realtor's husband laughed.

Actually the realtor's husband was really nice and it was fun to look at places with him because he'd point out the flaws in the apartments and give us his honest opinion re: the asking prices. But not so good for making a sale....

lemonlemonlemon said...

i'm not a mother and i never plan on being a mother, but your blog is awesome. i look forward to it everyday. the house hunting situation is crazy and yet also one of my most favorite things to do. i also blogged about it yesterday.
http://thethreelemons.blogspot.com

Debra said...

Oh man. It's 2:45 in the morning here (Japan) almost& I just woke the dogs. Oops! At least the kids & husband stayed asleep! :)

~Debra at http://ourimperfectlife.blogspot.com

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miriamp said...

OMG I just literally choked on my drink!! Now my lungs are killing me.

Anonymous said...

HAHA. Just found your blog. It's hysterical. Regarding the house hunting in Orlando, just hope you didn't end up moving to the Casey Anthony street. Now that would be an experience! I feel for all of you in Orlando who have to deal with that foul family and the press! Good luck. I think it takes a strong stomach to live in Florida, particularly Orlando.

Anonymous said...

The sad truth is that a lot of Florida properties are in foreclosure and the people in them truly don't want them to sell. We encountered several of these while looking in Florida.

Armandina Skerl said...

Hahahaha, that was such a funny experience! Seeing weird things during your house hunt makes it quite an adventure. You certainly made house-hunting sound hilarious, especially that part when the woman wearing that bikini showed you the house! By the way, have you found the house you wanted?