Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Flip or Flop

Earlier this year an older couple two doors down passed away.  He went first and she followed 27 days later. Though both of them had been ill it was rather shocking that they would both go so quickly. There were no services or funeral and so when I saw her daughter's car in the driveway I went down to offer my sympathy. What was shocking to the neighbors was stunning disbelief to their adult children.

Over the months their kids would be over at the house frequently and in the spring there was an estate sale to sell off what they were not keeping.  I had been in the house many times but never past the living room.  When Will worked at the bagel shop and came home with the extras, I would walk some down to them.  The estate sale gave me the opportunity to see all parts of the house and how they lived.  Though it was a bit dated and needed some work (surely due to their poor health in recent years) it seemed to be in good shape for a house that was more than fifty years old.

In June the house went on the market and sold the first day for eighteen thousand dollars over the asking price.

Houses in this neighborhood have been selling like hotcakes.  While always considered a charming area, for many families these houses were too small.  Maybe the housing crash of a few years ago changed hearts and minds because now they almost all sell on the first day and well over the asking price.  I find all of this disheartening.  I remember when we bought this house and having some time to think it over and weigh the pros and cons.  Young couples and families considering this area don't have that luxury.  With multiple offers almost immediately they have to decide in the blink of an eye if a home is right for them.

Since the sale there has been a lot of conversations among the neighbors over who bought the house. Was it being renovated as we had hoped or torn down?  One week someone would hear one thing and then the next week something conflicting.

A few weeks ago the realtors who sold the house went door to door inviting everyone in for coffee on that Saturday morning and to talk to the new owners about plans for the house.  When they came to my door I said, "This is a very close-knit street.  We all know each other and love where we live. I hope that is being taken into consideration in regards to this house."

"Oh absolutely," they said.  "That's why we're inviting all of you to come and see the plans."

As is typical of this street, everyone showed up for the free food and coffee.  I caught up with my next door neighbor who recently had a baby.  "I'm not going back to work," she said.  "Hooray," I said and we made plans for coffee.

I took it to be a great little social event with little regard to the new owners who seemed extremely uncomfortable. Mark, on the other hand, got the scoop.  "They're tearing it down," he said,  "The foundation is bad."

"It's fifty years old," I said.  All the foundations in this area probably need shoring up.  Did they even have a structural engineer look at it?"

By the next day we would learn more.  The house will be more than 2000 square feet bigger than any of the other homes and the asking price will be nearly three times more than what these homes have been selling for.

No wonder the new owners looked uncomfortable.  They are plopping a McMansion among our humble cape cods and forever changing the landscape of our community.  All we can do is stand by, watch and try not to cry over a perfectly fine house that any young family would have been thrilled to fix up and call home.

Years ago someone said to me, "I give you a lot of credit for staying in one of those old capes and raising three kids there. Most people couldn't have done that in such a small house."

I grimaced a smile in his general direction and thought to myself, "You might be the biggest jackass I've met in a long time."

So loved are these homes that one time when Mark was working in the yard an older guy from a few streets over stopped to talk to him.  "People always ask me when I'm going to move and I say I don't know when but I know how. You want to know how I'm going to move from my house?  Feet first."

From now until spring this end of the street will have more dirt flying through the air and our furnace filters than we can fathom.  Add to that jackhammers, cement trucks, construction workers and landscapers to contend with.  No doubt it will test our patience and not the realtors and the owner who stand to make a killing if this house actually sells for what they are predicting.

Thank goodness this neighborhood has learned to rely on each other over the years - through Friday night beers, after thunderstorms and tornado warnings, and when things in our own homes get challenging.  I hope that whoever moves in quickly learns the drill and doesn't upset the juju.  A neighbor with a decent craft supply who values the restorative nature of the mighty glue gun.  They may need it when the bells and whistles of their newly constructed house start falling off.

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