REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Paint-by-numbers: House follows appealing formula
ADDRESS: 2205 Rocky Top Road
NEIGHBORHOOD: Rocky Hollow
YEAR BUILT: 1990
SIZE: 3,360 fin. sq. ft. / 800 unfin.
LAND: 3.10 acres
CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10
AGENT: Roger Voisinet, RE/MAX Realty Specialists, 974-1500
House reviews can seem a bit formulaic. But is formula such a bad thing? It certainly pays in fiction.
For instance, every Dean Koontz story seems to feature a man doing horrible things in his sleep that he forgets by day (if this sounds like a lousy idea for a primetime drama/adventure, don't tell Christian Slater). Most of John Grisham's novels feature protagonists– usually lawyers– triumphing over long odds but only in a pyrrhic, moral sense ("All the months of hard work finally behind him, Rex could only sigh, knowing it was unlikely his clients would ever see a penny of the landmark settlement.")
We sincerely hope that formula in real estate writing is similarly enriching (although, of course, the creative outlet is often payment enough). Here, then, is our formula for a successful review (patent pending), with instructions in italics.
Begin with a broad and witty observation.
Houses are pretty similar. Kitchen, bedroom, bathrooms– people can eat, sleep, or pretend to wash their hands anywhere.
Introduce the house– in a tongue-in-cheek manner whenever possible.
This house, just five minutes from Pantops on Rocky Top Road, which is both rocky and a road, combines commuting convenience with the natural beauty and privacy of the countryside. The owner leaves the lower portion of the gently sloping three-acre lot un-mowed so deer can bed down at dusk. Deer being nervous creatures, anywhere they're willing to sleep must be extremely tranquil.
Emphasize the features that set the house apart from others.
Soapstone tiles and solid maple cabinets in the spacious custom kitchen set this house apart from others. Originally the builder's home, it's currently home to a furniture maker. This makes both the house and its furniture far more solid than, say, a place that passed from an accountant to an assistant principal.
Walking down the basement steps, the agent points out the sturdiness of the staircase. Piqued by the thought, we notice other advantageous construction decisions obviously made by someone with experience and a contractor's discount.
A stone fireplace ascends to the great room's ceiling. Skylights in almost every upstairs room allow welcome natural light. Casement windows retain energy and open completely, as opposed to only halfway in the more common double-hung variety.
Outside, a deck wrapping around three sides of the house effectively solves the "morning or afternoon sun?" dilemma: read the paper at whichever side you prefer at that particular time of day.
Maintain objective journalistic creds by pointing out a flaw or two...
Although the basement has ample space for a rec room— two large rooms, in fact— some modification would be required to give a teenager or long-term guest sufficient privacy. In each room, glass double doors open to the front under the deck, and a large open doorway separates the spaces.
...but maintain creds with the agent, who was kind enough to give you a tour, by quickly minimizing the flaw(s):
That said, three bedrooms upstairs will accommodate most families. The large space and extra kitchen in the basement also preserve the option for a downstairs tenant.
Draw the camera away, movie style, to tie the column to the bigger social picture.
These days, a renter would provide added economic security, as well as someone to help eat leftovers.
Close by returning to an earlier observation:
While the artfully crafted furniture shown in the listing photos will move out with the sellers, the serene, picturesque location will remain. It's likely the local deer will stay, too– as long as new buyers remember not to mow the bottom part of the yard.
Final step: e-mail to editor and await subsequent Pulitzer Prize, wealth, and fame. Do not hold breath or quit day job.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE AGENT
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