My Version of International House Hunters

We have to move. Le sigh. We found out about a month ago, a day or two before C left for the states for the holidays, that the owner of our place would like to actually live in her own place. Time for a crash course in looking for a place to live in our neck of the woods.

I’ll admit, I am a miserable mover. Really. Ask my mother. I don’t know what it is, but the whole physical aspect of packing and organizing and leaving turns me into a monster. I have (literally) already apologized to C for my future behavior. It’s not that I have ever, including now, had any great attachment to the places I’ve lived, nor have I ever been unhappy once I was moved into a new place. But it happens anyway. So there’s that.

The physical moving part aside, I actually loooove looking at houses. I might have even made a good realtor in some other lifetime. And on top of that, the whole thing works just a weeee bit little differently here, which is not only interesting, but to me, sometimes flat out funny. So I thought I’d share some of my observations. First, about the people.

1. When you are looking at, or just looking for a house in a super small town like the ones we live near, the WHOLE town takes note. There is no such thing as inconspicuous. As soon as you park, you start to see curtain corners turning up, pairs of eyes poking out…and the best part is the “casual stroll.” Suddenly those pairs of eyes have found an excuse to take a lil walk. In their slippers and robes. With frost on the ground. Snort. Suddenly it’s time to, uh, take out the trash, or wave a kitchen pan around (kitchen pans need fresh air too). Or the dog has to pee. And the outside patio, shoot, that could always use a sweep. And you just KNOW that Slipper Lady, Pan Waver and Porch Sweeper will TOTALLY be over-the-fence gossiping about you that day. HiLARious.

2. If you want to know something about a house, ask a neighbor. We showed up (with a realtor) to see a house, and she said she had to pick up the house key from the next door neighbor (yeah, I know…). So, knock-knock-knock, lovely little old house-frock wearing neighbor lady comes out. The key? No I don’t have the key. The niece had the key. You didn’t know? Yeah, she supposedly bought the house and was going to move in, but then (in a more whispery tone) had trouble with the bank. Yes, yes, so, the bank might even have the house now. But if you talk to the owner DONT TELL HIM I TOLD YOU.

3. Realtors will be realtors. And independent sellers will be independent sellers. And I appreciate that. Realtors are, after all, sales people. “It only has one bathroom, but of COURSE it would be easy to put in another!” “Yes, just take this cabinet out and install the oven right here! Easy peasy!” “And the best part? The MAYOR lives next door! What better neighbor to have than the mayor!” And for those people who are just trying to get mom’s/grandma’s house off their hands? “Oh, you looked at one like this? How much was it? We really have no idea, we’re just sort of guessing at the price.” Appraisal, shmaisal. Just take your best guess.

4. And then there’s the “OH, you live in Corrales? My cousin/girlfriend/aunt/ex-lover/grandparents live/used to live/are from there. Do you know…?/Ask your uncle, he would definitely know her/him…” Reaffirmation that in Cantabria everyone knows everyone. You gotta watch what you say around here, geez Louise.

5. Owners (if they are living in the house) are usually present when you go to look. No lockbox thing, or giving realtors the keys in many cases. Which also means at the very last minute (like 45 minutes before you’re supposed to be there), said owner can cancel for God only knows what reason. Grrrrrr. Annoying.

All this, to say nothing yet of the houses themselves! More on that to come.

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