Monday, March 10, 2014

Real Talk: Real Estate Horror Photos Edition (Or: "You Don't Want To Sell This House, DO You?")

Good afternoon!

It's Monday! WE LIVED. Whatever the opposite of my Thursday state of mind was, I think I'm in it-- my morning has been like this long slog through book paging slips, paperwork, and minor irritations. I have no photos of the things I did this weekend, either! What kind of a blogger am I? I've been watching 48 Hours Mysteries and repairing books to limit my human interaction in this volatile condition I'm in, but lunch time is here, so why not enjoy some FREAKING INSANE houses I've seen in the midst of my house hunting? Maybe a little haterade and this tofu/brown rice dish will bring my spirits back up. 

Disclaimer: I am not technically looking for a house right now--mainly because I haven't seen anything that meets all the criteria: turns my head, pre-1970, on this side of town, and not astronomically out of my price range (bonus for sixties' wallpaper mural in dining room or pink and black tile bathroom). But as a red blooded American girl of a certain age, I am also always looking for a house. In the next year or two, we're definitely going to be in the market, so practice isn't necessarily a bad thing. And who's to say a prince of showplace mightn't show up while I'm just nosing around?  I collected these photos while sifting through Zillow listings  in the last few months just in case some perfect mid-century ranch pokes its head up from the waters long enough for me to long-net it. THEY'RE SO BAD. 

How bad? Take a look yourself.

1) The Crime Scene House

This house showed up because I forgot to set my parameters to something with a minimum of $100,000. In Metro-Nashville, if it's a full-fledged, two or more bedroom house and under that price, something is usually desperately wrong with it. Me: "Oh, look, this Victorian fixer upper on Cahal is only $100,000! doesn't have a roof. Or a floor. Because of the fire." ((stony glare at computer monitor)) I know house hunting isn't exactly a "bargain" market, but you know I'm still trying, even in my hypothetical searching, to find gold dust in the rough at fool's gold prices. This house was $59,000, a price that makes you go, "Hold up, I might not actually have to take out a million year mortgage to be a homeowner? You mean I could live in my own home for that much?" Drawback-- the house was in a pretty dicey neighborhood in north Nashville. But seeing the cheerful little exterior that might just need a weedwacker and a couple cans of paint to make it liveable, I clicked forward in good faith. The progression went exactly like this:

"Cool, so it looks like it was somebody's grandma's house! Nice fireplace, and look at the interior door there! The paneling...not so good, but we can work with this!"


"Aw, neat, so there's a piano there, too! You know, I hear all the time about people who move into a house and there's still a piano from the previous owner, wouldn't that be great to just inherit a piano? The main thing that's been keeping me from that all these years is having to move one, and it would already just be--"


"Uhhh...ok, so this is a little more cluttered than I thought it would be, and it's weird to have an electrical panel right there in your dining room, but it could be worked with, right? Clear that mess out...put down some crazy cheerful linoleum floor...paint the door...still not terrible! The people were probably still in the process of cleaning out grandma's house when the realtor came to take the photos."


Cue the sound of a dream that has died. "Is Grandma still in there somewhere?" Note that the drawers are missing from the dresser, and everything generally looks "shook down" in the worst way. Hear the tiniest voice of non-reason in my head going, "Hey, free art deco furniture...and hardwood floors...?" and watch me click through to the last  picture, where I will see....

Whatever is happening in this kitchen. Nice work on the ad hoc, cooking pan wall between the stove and the counter. What purpose does this even serve? I feel sad that the house was allowed to be neglected for this long, but way sadder that someone went "No, no need to straighten up for the real estate photos, it'll be fine" and inadvertantly gave me this weird glimpse into how-somebody-lived. I usually am able to at least imagine what the place would look like fixed up, but this one is a head scratcher.

You want more?

2) The Hoarder House

I can't remember what neighborhood this house is in, but realize that all the houses I'm showing you in this batch are no longer on the market. Why, because someone realized they needed to get the joint together before bringing in prospective home owners? No, because they're S-O-L-D. Again, I don't know if to redevelopers, flippers, house-tearer-downers, but this seems impossible to me. About this one, though, how great is the stone work on the outside of the house? Sure, it's got a Grey Gardens vibe going on from the exterior pictures, but maybe things improve when you take it inside!


What surprised me about this house is that it's not Hoarders-level, even if the person who lived in the house might have had issues with hoarding. That up above? That would take me maybe like an eight hour day to get looking like somebody's home they actually live in. The thing that worries me about these photos is maybe somebody already did that much work and this is what it looks like AFTER they exhausted an attempt to get the place together.

The optimist in me goes, "Oooh, look at those door ways." The rest of me goes, "NO. NO. NO. NO. NO."

Luckily, these kitchen and bathroom photos are blurry. Don't even want to speculate on what's going on in that fridge. Another hypothesis about the house-- maybe it's a house someone lived in for awhile, left in an extreme state of disarray, and then sat empty (relatively speaking) for a few years before it was finally put up for sale. I've been to maybe two dozen estate sales where it was obvious that the house was legally kept in the family, but not maintained since the last person (someone's elderly relative, etc) moved into some kind of elder care situation, because we can't sell Aunt So-and-So's house...even if she won't ever return to it as such. Do you ever wonder how many houses in your neighborhood are just sitting empty? Or sitting with-all-the-furniture but no actual tenant?

And then there's....

3) The Do Not Enter/ Silent Hill House

Last but not least, this house wasn't nearly as terrible as the two I've just shown you, but there was something decidedly spooky about the photos. Is this just how an empty house looks, kind of lonely and foreboding? Realtors talk about "staging" a house (imagine Annette Benning in American Beauty, trying to make the house look as "marketable" as possible), and good gracious, this one could use a pole lamp, a chair, even a chevron rug-- something! Anything!-- to make it look a less like "the forbidden zone".

Look at this picture:

It would be reasonable for me to be going "Oh, nice closet! Knotty pine paneling!" Instead, a little fearful thought is quailing from it in my subconscious. "Whaaaat's.... beeeehind....the doooor....Liiiiisssaaa..." I should have never been allowed to read Stephen King and seventies' horror comics at a young, impressionable age...but then maybe I wouldn't be the person I am today!

It's not me, dude, it's THE ROOM in this case:

Don't they remind you of those "escape the [insert horrifying location here]" point and click games? In college, I used to freak myself the frank out clicking on a bathroom mirror in a flash game like that where suddenly a skull or a bloody handprint would appear. At least this picture was taken in broad daylight!


a) Attic storage, silly! There's probably a bunch of asbestos shingles and old coat hangers up there. Go look and see if they left anything good.
b) The last known whereabouts of the people who disappeared from this house exactly a year ago...under mysterious circumstances.
c) Ghost City, USA; population: YOU.

David Lynch would get a kick out of these interiors. Just add some industrial noise, slow panning cameras, and a closeup of a cigarette's ash.

Anyway! I can't lie, that kick to my blood sugar levels and my hate train refueling made me feel a little better! What about you? Which of these houses oogs you out the worst? Can you imagine a terrifying old time radio show set in one of these locales? What's the weirdest home listing you've ever seen? Let's talk.

I gotta get back to work, but have a fabulous Monday, and I'll see you tomorrow (in a better mood, I hope)! Til then.


  1. Uggh, these houses make my stomach hurt because I can smell them in my mind. My least favorite room would have to be that bathroom. Anytime that the tub, toilet and sink are full of things that aren't bathroom related? I get REALLY skeeved out.

  2. Haha I love these! I'm pretty much constantly looking at homes as well. There was one I found last year sometime (should have saved the pics) that was like $50,000, little 30's bungalow, out in the middle of nowhere, and I went ohhhh what is this (hoping some how it would be in repairable shape)! And the entire inside was painted someone had murdered someone in a gruesome fashion and instead of cleaning it up they thought "what if I just painted everything white?" Like the floor was white...the fireplace...everything. All the same color white. It was really..really weird. It was also done really badly, which gave the impression they took large cans of paint and just poured it over every inch of the house. Any who, I really enjoyed looked at these!


  3. OMG I KNOW. Like you and Emma, I'm always looking at houses, and given the rent here in "Mayberry" I thought it might make sense to buy. I even have a realtor who sends me new listings per my criteria just automatically because I'm always looking.

    There are some relatively less safe places to live even here in Franklin, and those that are safer have people asking HUGE MONEY for homes with a single bathroom. Many of them are asking premium prices (because it's Williamson County) for a house that isn't worth it. And having two bathrooms and storage shed is pretty much all Dan wants, and I don't want something that's too much work. Sigh.

  4. oh god. ohgodohgodohgod.

    (i love your blog.)

  5. Haha, those are some doozies, but I've actually been to worse. My family has been house hunting for more than a year now and we have seen some dandies. One house was missing the floor in the living room (I mean literally, you could fall straight into the basement). One had massive fungal growth all over the basement (think mushrooms covering the walls). Several houses filled with garbage. In all fairness, we tend to look at cheap old farmhouses in need of work (I love "project" houses). The scariest thing I've seen so far has been a horses leg inside an old chicken coop. Seriously, someone cut off a horses leg and propped it up inside. I almost threw up. I've been to a few "haunted houses" too (i.e. we hear footsteps upstairs when there is no one else in the house, doors randomly slam shut, etc). House hunting can be quite an adventure!

  6. oh my gosh that second house! i can't imagine a realtor taking those photos! oh what a nightmare!
    we looked for houses in your area when we were shopping
    in 2009 and couldn't find ANYTHING in our price range that wasn't a crap hole! we looked at one house off gallatin where the entire interior was painted black. and there were huge weird cut outs in all the walls, like the previous owners had giant fish tanks or something!

  7. Sweet sassy molassy. I just don't understand how people LIVE like this!!

  8. My buddy Dirty Gertie was a landlady for years. She would buy old houses, renovate them and rent them out. Once we went into a house she was thinking about buying and we saw human waste on the living room floor. Above us I noticed great peels of ceiling paint hanging down like party decorations. I said, "Hey, there must be a leak." She looked at me like I was crazy and explained the paint was peeling because the previous tennants had been cooking meth. The amount of sad there was not to be believed.

  9. Oh my goodness, that second house--- yikes! I'm always poking around real estate listings and I have yet to come across one like this. I can't imagine taking the pictures, let alone clearing it all out--- there have to be wild animals living in there, 'possums and hoards of cockroaches...perhaps the original owners? No way. Couldn't do it.
    That last one wouldn't have seemed that creepy, had you not suggested it.... I may never look at another house the same way again!!

  10. You know that the piano in the first house is a player piano. The sliding doors in the upper portion are where you load the music scrolls. That may be a find in itself!



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