If you’re a real estate agent, you really, really, really don’t want your listings to end up on Sara Lorimer’s blog.
That is, of course, unless you want people to laugh at them. Lorimer is the creator and overseer of LovelyListing.com, a two-year-old daily compendium of strange or aggressively ugly homes for sale, culled from multiple listing services by real estate agents around the world.
And each photo usually is accompanied by a deadpan remark, usually from Lorimer, who says she’s been smarting off all her life.
"I remember my math teacher, I must have been in seventh grade, saying my mouth would get me into trouble one day," recalls Lorimer, who says it runs in the family. "My parents are funny people — they were ‘Monty Python’ fans and they raised me that way."
Lorimer’s mouth, instead, got her into a burgeoning online empire. Last year LovelyListing was acquired by Cheezburger Network, the parent company of 34 humor-oriented sites, the most well-known being ICanHazCheezburger.com, an endless collection of LOL (laugh out loud) cat pictures accompanied by captions with fractured grammar and spelling.
Cheezburger Network doesn’t release data on the individual sites, but says that overall, the 34 sites get 13 million unique users and 230 million page views a month. More than 10,000 photos and videos are submitted to the sites each day.
The real estate photos at LovelyListing.com represent a small but nonetheless devoted segment of that total, Lorimer says. She’s unsure how many photo submissions pour in for her own blog because Cheezburger staffers now manage the photos; early on, she got about 20 a day, though suspects now that there are probably 100.
And what an … interesting … assortment they are. Straight from the listing agent’s camera, photographed for your homebuying pleasure, one can survey bedrooms strewn with underwear, houses roped off with crime-scene tape, cats drinking from bathroom faucets, boxes of rat poison prominently displayed in a laundry room. There are rooms slathered in colors not found in nature; rooms that contain enormous pink pig sculptures; rooms with carpeting on the floors, walls and ceiling; and rooms that contain the actual homeowner, unshaven and glaring back at the camera.
"One of my favorites is a kitchen where somebody Photoshopped a giant Labrador Retriever head peering in through a sliding patio door," says Lorimer, who swears that’s exactly how the room appeared in an MLS.
She’s often perplexed at how "unstaged," to put it mildly, some home photography in MLSs is. A growing category, she says, is MLS photos of bathrooms with unflushed toilets: "I’ve stopped posting those, because what more can I say?"
And then there’s Chair.
Chair is hard to explain, except that he/she/it ("I have no opinion on what gender it is," she says) has become a running gag on the site.
Chair is one form or another of the white, molded-plastic yard furniture that has become a mainstay of American patios. And, apparently, of MLS photography.
"I just started noticing these white plastic chairs showing up in listings — they were everywhere," Lorimer said. "I personally hate these chairs. They’re hideous."
Nonetheless, Chair has become something of a LovelyListing star and has its own showcase on the site, though Lorimer has bent the rules to include non-MLS sightings of Chair. …CONTINUED