Ding, Dong, the Witch is Almost Dead

champagne_houseI just realized that I haven’t filled you in on some exciting news. Remember my post about the vacant house next door? If not, please read parts one and two of the abandoned house saga here and here. Great. Now that you have all necessary background information, you’ll understand my excitement when I tell you that the house is finally FOR SALE!!!

I’ll back up a bit so you can fully savor this sweet victory with me. You may recall that, at the end of our last installment of the house drama, the owners’ daughter told us she was getting bids to have the house torn down in March. We were cautiously optimistic. It was no surprise, however, when March came and went and the house remained (barely) standing.

Despite being approached over the past few years by builders offering respectable sums of money, the owners’ daughter has steadfastly refused to sell the home. I can only assume she’s done this for some sneaky estate tax reasons. She actually told one of the builders that she was waiting for her father to die to sell the property. Charming woman.

The eyesore remained and we felt defeated. That was, until the day Ad Man saw a notice tacked up on the front door. It was a letter from the city informing the owners that they were overdue on taxes for a number of years. If they did not pay the taxes due, in full, by X date in August, the house would be sold at auction. This was great news!

I went back to work, reconnecting with the builders I’d approached about buying the property and others who’d expressed interest in it. I wanted to avoid having some schmuck we didn’t know buy it at auction and build a hideous McMansion on the lot. Yet, the weeks ticked by and still nothing happened. Well, nothing other than the owners’ son-in-law requesting to connect with me on LinkedIn. Huh? Um, no.

for_sale_sign_boo_radleyThen one day a couple weeks ago, I left the house to do what I like to call “Mom Circuit Training.” You’re probably familiar with it…you know, home to Target to Trader Joe’s to Whole Foods and back again. I’d arrived home and was unloading the car when something caught my eye. I wouldn’t have believed what I was seeing if our painter weren’t in the front yard to confirm that there was, indeed, a For Sale sign in the front yard of the Boo Radley house!

My first instinct was to walk up and down the block banging on pans like the neighborhood gossip town crier. Instead, I quickly sent off texts to Ad Man and a couple friends and wrote an email to the rest of the neighbors that began…”Good tidings of great joy I bring to you!” (See? All those years of Sunday School weren’t a total waste.) and closed with a proposal that we all get together the following weekend for a celebratory glass of Champagne under the gigantic tree next door.

Our excitement was tempered a bit when we found out the house was listed for $600,000. You read that right…six hundred thousand American dollars for a house-turned-wildlife-preserve that’s being held together with mold and cobwebs. Prices are skyrocketing in our neighborhood, but this was ridiculous! We were all concerned this meant the owners weren’t actually interested in selling the property. I was baffled as to how the owners’ daughter convinced a legitimate real estate agent to list the property for such an inflated price. My friend E called the listing agent to see if she was serious about the price (E honestly thought it was a mistake) and it was obvious from the agent’s response that she hadn’t actually seen the house before listing it.

Since my “Lipstick on a Pig” email to the owner’s daughter, she’s refused to communicate with me, instead sending all correspondence to Ad Man which we both find pretty damn funny. Most recently, she asked Ad Man to please, “tell your wife not to talk to any of my workers.” This was apparently in response to my chat with a couple 20 year-old guys with a moving truck she hired to take things out of the house. I said to one of them, “You know, you really shouldn’t be in there breathing that air without a mask.” He responded, “Yeah, I know. I just called my boss about it.” Unfortunately, they continued working and his partner told me that it was no big deal; he did this all the time.

I was apparently a troublemaker and completely out-of-line for being concerned about these young guys breathing black mold for hours on end in exchange for what was likely not much more than minimum wage. If you want to be horrified (and who doesn’t?), take a look at this web page for all of the potential effects of breathing in toxic black mold spores. Anyway, Ad Man responded to the owners’ daughter by saying basically…1) I don’t TELL my wife to do anything, and 2) If we’re concerned about a dangerous situation inside the house, we’re not going to keep our mouths shut.

The following weekend, a bunch of the neighbors enjoyed a lovely afternoon gathering on the lawn of the shanty next door. We drank cheap Champagne in plastic glasses while trying to identify the brown gunk oozing from the yard’s ancient, neglected tree. It was fucking poetic.

PS: Last week, the real estate agent finally came by to check out the local rattrap in person. The next day, the listing price of the house was reduced to $425,000 and designated as a teardown only. Anyone want a prime lot in Buckhead? You can build your dream house and the neighbors are awesome!

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