This is part 19 of a story following my brother and I as we try to sell our late parents house. We are do it yourself real estate agents. You can find the first 18 instalments under 'short stories - domestic' in the side bar. We've just spent quite a few instalments exploring the house and the memories it triggers as we escort this family through on our first open house afternoon..
Hopes and Lies
How big is the property again?
Sixteen perches I hear my brother reply.
We love the place.
We’d like to get a builder in to do some costing on a few extensions out the back.
I can’t believe my ears. “We love the place!” They’d even improve on the old cottage. Perhaps do the extension that my father had always refused to do. A strange sense of pride pulses through me. And hope. Maybe we’ve hooked a buyer on our first cast.
I could see what they could see. Push out the back wall a couple of metres to double the size of the kitchen and add an outdoor eating area, my mother’s dying wish. How ironic.
This could be a neat ending.
What are you asking, the elder enquired innocently. Four hundred to four twenty I said on a deep breath. The official valuation had been three forty to three sixty.
That sounds about our price said the younger.
We’ve got a couple of other people interested I lie. We’ll take the best offer.
I felt a surge of power. Wow! Could it be this easy? Maybe we should be asking for a bit more.
Then I see the message in my brother’s eyes. Steady. Play them gently he’s saying. He knows me too well. I’m ready to jump. Don’t want them to spook and throw the hook. Reel them in slowly. Our eyes meet over their heads. He’s right.
We’ll get our builder around here in the next couple of days.
We’re keen, so if he’s happy and the figures add up... the daughter proffers her hand confidently and grasps mine in a firm Germanic handshake.
Here’s my contact details says her blue eyed mother and hands me her card.
My heart sinks. She’s a bloody real estate agent. Cripes! We’re dealing with professionals. My bravado is shaken. My mind races back over the past thirty minutes. Had I missed a vital clue? Tracking back at high speed rewinding, I’m looking for clues. Are they really interested? Had I overplayed my hand.
Then my paranoia kicks in. It becomes clear. She’s been leading me around like a puppy. It’s been a great piece of team work. Two blue eyed women beguiling me while their husbands do the real inspection below decks.
They’re the ones who’ll make the decision. I still haven’t exchanged a word with them. The two women are just the decoys. The blokes talk to each other but in muted tones. Their words are coded. Full of builders terms and engineering references. I haven’t got a chance. I’m a public servant who manages feel-good community projects. I don’t know where the wheel jack is in my car to change a flat tyre. My brother is a soil scientist for god's sake.
Then like a school of fish they turn and head for the exit.
I shake their hands as we reach the front door but it’s not with any meaning. I may as well be the dignitary at a state function clasping anonymous hands. My heart’s not in it. It’s all formality. I fake a smile.
We’ll be in touch once we’ve done the figures, the real estate agent says from the bottom step.
I join my brother on the settee as the afternoon shadows fill the sun room.
We sit and wait.