Monday, April 13, 2015


Once, back in the early seventies, I acquired a real estate license and tried my hand at selling houses. These were the days before McMansions. Most of the houses for sale in my area were post WWII capes and ranches of around eight hundred to twelve hundred square feet. Small homes for new families.

But every so often an old majestic Victorian would come up for sale. I loved them. In San Francisco they referred to them as the "painted ladies". Painted up with four or five different colors in a nice fresh coat they were beautiful. Tall turrets with spiral stair cases. Big dining rooms. A kitchen with a butlers pantry. A home to be cherished.

But before we make an offer, lets examine things a little more closely. Let's start with the foundation. A great old stone foundation is certainly a suitable footing for an attractive older piece of real estate. But as I poke at the mortar, I see that it is crumbling in places. Quite a few places. And there are signs of water leakage. That is not good. 

So, lets check out the plumbing. There is not much bright shiny copper here. I see a lot of dangerous old lead piping. And those old iron drains are cracking and starting to leak. Some of the plumbing seems to be held together with duct tape. Slap-dash amateur repairs. This is definitely not good. 

There's the electrical box over there. Let's check that out. Ouch! A thirty amp service for this big house. And it has fuses rather than breakers. Oh my, knob and tube wiring. This house hasn't been updated since it was built. It is certainly inadequate for today's high powered living.  So now we have gone beyond "not good" into inadequate for the time and the task.

So, as attractive as this "painted lady" may appear on the surface and no matter how much you see it as part of your future, it would be a terribly bad purchase that anyone would live to regret.

If you wouldn't buy an old house because it speaks to you charmingly, whispering "buy me, buy me", why would you vote for a painted lady who whispers to you, elect me, elect me, for I am a woman. 

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