I’m sitting proxy for my buyer this afternoon at an inspection, presiding over the kitchen table just waiting for the entertainment.
Inspections are like scary movies: You cover your eyes, look through the hood of your sweatshirt, and peek out when the music doesn’t sound too ominous. But you never leave. And just when you think everything couldn’t have gone better, somebody falls through the roof, or the electric panel bursts into flames. Yep, I’ve had some really fun inspections.
This one is particularly fun because the seller has decided to come back to her vacant home and sit in the kitchen with me. She is a smart lady and brought a whole stack of tabloid magazines to pass the time. I, on the other hand, have a laundry list of follow-up calls to make and paperwork to look through.
She is not daunted by my use of the cell phone. At every opportune moment she praises her home’s perfection and asks for my agreement.
"I’ve lived in this house 26 years and raised all my kids here. It’s the perfect house, wouldn’t you agree?"
"It is a lovely home," I say, dialing another number.
"And it fits your buyer’s needs just like a glove, doesn’t it?" she preens.
"Pretty well!" I reply.
"You know, there’s nothing wrong with this house at all. I don’t even know why we have to do inspections. I’d know if there was something wrong." With this, she opens her magazine to the "Dancing with the Stars" expose on "The Situation," while maintaining sharp eye contact.
"Well, whadya think about his abs!" I exclaim.
Last year I sold a really neat little house to an out-of-state couple. Again, I was standing in for my buyers, taking notes, making calls and praying silently that nothing too dramatic would happen. Please, please, just one little tiny sale without hiccups.
Every time the inspector walked through the kitchen I would clutch my phone and hold my breath — but he just kept saying, "Gosh, this house looks good. So clean." Phew.
I liked this inspector — he was the funniest guy. Even his business card was hilarious — a big-eyed oaf pointing at you with a crazy big flashlight — crackup!
Suddenly, he came in the house through the sliding door and ran into the hall bath, slamming the door behind him. I figured he must have looked at his watch — we were running a little late here after all. I was glad he was stepping it up. It’s nice to see somebody who cares about time management.
Twenty minutes later he screeched out of the bathroom, past me, and was outside in a flash. Oh, no, I thought, something must have gone terribly wrong. Two seconds later he was back through the kitchen with a plunger the size of Brazil. Yep. Something had gone terribly wrong.
Turns out he was taking a little man-break in the bathroom, and had stopped-up the toilet. But I’ll bet you had guessed that already.
I wasn’t sure if I should a) comment and/or b) tell my buyers. Or the sellers? I settled on sitting in my car and calling a girlfriend, laughing until my sides hurt.
Not too long after, he was ready to inspect the kitchen area. Poor guy, I could tell he was a bit embarrassed. He was talking faster than my fifth-grade English teacher and going through the inspecting motions at break-neck speed.
Microwave, oven, stove-top, garbage disposal and dishwashing machine — all were turned on full blast while he took pictures. Click-click-click. I felt terrible for making this man so self-conscious, so I quietly excused myself again and went outside for a walk.
Fifteen minutes later I returned through the front door. I heard Mr. Inspector in the master bedroom, putting on his bio-hazard-like suit for the trip under the house. I really don’t envy that job. Silently, I returned to the kitchen, only to find … good golly, Miss Molly — what on earth?!
There were bubbles up to my knees! Peaks and valleys of white foam were cascading over the wood floors — soapy froth pouring out by the bucket load from the dishwasher!
I screamed bloody murder and Mr. Inspector came running. His eyes were very big when he skidded around the corner.
"Oh, my gosh, what happened?" he stammered.
"I don’t know! What was in the dishwasher?" I cried, wading into the melee. Opening the dishwasher door sent the bubbles three inches higher, up to our thighs. Pawing through the bubbles I felt for alien objects in the dishwasher and triumphantly pulled out an economy sized bottle of dishwashing liquid — for the sink.
Apparently, the seller had put everything in the dishwasher that didn’t look appealing on the counter top. I can’t blame her, I’ve done the same thing. And Mr. Inspector, in his embarrassed rush, had failed to look for anything inside the dishwasher before winding it up.
The next hour and a half were spent in true Lucy Ricardo fashion: wrangling bubbles into pots and pans, throwing them out the windows, sopping them up with towels.
Never let anyone tell you it’s not important to be at an inspection.
Today is no different. While the seller goes outside to call her husband to report on our goings-on, the inspector gives me a heads-up. This house is a stay-at-home-handyman’s masterpiece.
It may be perfect in the eyes of his adoring wife, but my buyer might not be too enthused to find out that the master bedroom addition is nothing short of a lean-to on stilts. Or that roof may have actually been installed by a 3-year-old.
Oh well. We’ll see if we can negotiate on the "perfect" house. At least the dishwasher doesn’t leak.