Monday, August 25, 2008

Sword of Damocles

Having failed to murder my neighbor, for the moment at least ― I gotta give this effort some time, since my wife’s now visiting him on a regular basis and I think he suspects I’ve been trying to kill him ― I’m fixing my sights on others who need to go. I’ll be the Sword of Damocles, hanging with my blade ― or a Glock if it suits me better ― by a horsehair over useless people of power. Power To The People, huh? How about reversing that a bit.

Heh, heh, heh. A role I’ll relish.

Targets. Gotta find targets if my blade is gonna swing.

Politicians are too easy. Everybody wants to kill them. I’d have to stand in line. And no lawyers. I’m a lawyer. Put your guns down.

How about realtors? Nobody likes them. And I’ve got a couple in my sights now.

What is it about realtors? They tell you what you want to hear when they’re looking for a listing. “What? You think that trailer with the leaky roof sitting on a fire ant mound is worth three million dollars? Sounds good to me.” Then, as soon as you sign the listing agreement, they start tearing your place down. “Well, you did live in that house, you know, and it only has seven bedrooms. And your marble bathroom floors are slippery. That’s a safety defect. We can’t let anyone walk in there. The market is telling you three dollars is the right price. You should accept that offer.”

And what about the offer/counteroffer scenario? You know these realtors go back and forth on their iPhones and then sit around sipping wine, playing Tetris, and cracking jokes with the office staff until enough time passes that they can call their client and say they had a long, heated negotiation with the other side and their panel of experts.

Negotiation? Hah! Pricing was decided in about three seconds. “Well, increase our offer by a dollar.” The rest of the "negotiation" focused on dreaming up new criticisms to pass on to the seller. “Oh, and your Venetian Plaster looks old. The stuccoing might flake sometime in the next ten years.” Or “the buyers think your chimney may fall on the children next door during the next hundred year storm.” Or “the buyers want you to warrant that no chemicals have ever been used on the lawn.” Or “your view of the lake isn’t the best. You can’t see any fish from any of the third story windows.” Or "the fish look smaller here than elsewhere on the lake." Or "your boathouse is near the water. It may be damp inside." Or "you're on the windy side. A breeze might blow out the buyers' candles."

The realtor's license exam must have a section on creative criticisms, plus one on the art of the smile during a client's disembowelment.

Recently, we had a real kicker. Seems the buyers’ realtor snuck somebody in to look over a house we’re selling. A structural engineer, they told us later. No permission sought. Then the “structural engineer” claimed our deck was unsafe. No report, no reason why. Our realtor called us in a panic, said she’d have to put safety tape across the deck so nobody would walk on it. We should accept the buyer’s low ball offer. “Who is this guy?” we asked. Our realtor hadn’t bothered to inquire, and hadn’t raised any objection to the buyers’ bringing in a “home inspector” without our knowledge or presence. So we did a little research ourselves. Turns out, this guy’s not a structural engineer at all, not even an engineer. Heck, he’s not even a licensed home inspector. He’s some schmo who bought a house just south of ours and then remodeled it. No experience or savvy on what changes pay off, and his place became the proverbial Money Pit. Now he can't sell it; it's been on the market for three years. So not only is Schmo-boy no expert or possess any license as one, he's a competitor. Our neighbor, who knows Schmo-boy and talked to him while he was at our place, says the guy was promoting his place and bad mouthing ours. But do you think our realtor looked into any of this, or even whether there was any safety defect at all?

Hah! It doesn’t work that way. Seems claiming a safety defect where there is none is just another tool in a realtor’s box of tricks.

So why not have a few less realtors? Heck, nothing’s moving in this real estate market anyway. Maybe nobody will miss ‘em.

Arranging this murder should be easy. I’ll just call a realtor and say I want to look at some houses. Give a fake name. But I’ll have to whisper. If I’m overheard, I might be trampled in the rush. Not many buyers these days.

The next step is even easier. We’ll just look at some houses. I won’t touch anything, and I’ll stuff a plastic rain poncho in my back pocket. And then when we get to a really nice house, I’ll unscabbard my sword and go medieval. Slice and dice. Sausage for the doggies.

And the best thing is, other realtors will applaud me. The buyers' and sellers' representatives will get together and register a new complaint about the property: “Well, you know, somebody was murdered on those floors.”

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