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Man of the House by Chris Erskine

The last house in L.A.

Gotta have that home? Here's a form letter (or two) to break hearts.

May 29, 2003|Chris Erskine


estate market like L.A., it takes more than money to acquire a home. It takes love. More precisely, a letter of love to the sellers describing why you, among the dozens who have made offers, should be the one they choose.

But who has time for love anymore? So, we give you the all-purpose "prospective buyer letter," guaranteed to win over any seller:

Dear Sellers,

Recently, our young family had the good fortune to tour your lovely home. We had no expectations. To us, it was just another place we weren't sure we could afford.

Well, when we walked into your house, something special happened. You know that point in every movie where violins play? Where people who should never fall in love lock lips and actually fall in love? This was better than that.

The entry reminded us of our favorite bed and breakfast on Beacon Hill. Though the agent said the home was only __ years old, it seemed to have such a sense of history.

That banister leading upstairs! We could imagine it wrapped in pine boughs at Christmas, or with roses on our daughter's wedding day.

You may not believe this, but my wife wouldn't leave the kitchen.

I mean, she literally would not leave.

When I asked her what was wrong, her pupils dilated and a little spittle dripped from the corner of her pretty mouth. She told me she had finally found her dream kitchen.

"Honey, you don't even cook," I reminded her.

"Now I cook," she said and began to make a nice quiche.

Little Timmy, who has trouble with stairs, then bounded up to the second floor to see his prospective bedroom.

"Dad, you gotta see this!" he yelled, and up we went.

I saw him standing at a bedroom door. One of little Timmy's legs is shorter than the other, so he was leaning against the woodwork. Since he gave up the crutches, he does a lot of leaning.

"Son, this is the master bedroom," I told him.

"I know, Dad," Timmy said. "But think of the Saturday morning pillow fights. Plus, it has a Jacuzzi."

"Come on, son, let's check out the backyard," I told him.

You must have many fine memories of this backyard. The brickwork is exceptional, and I was impressed with the landscaping. The tree in the corner hung heavy with fruit.

Timmy and I noticed that there's just the right amount of room for a kiddie pool. My wife will probably plant some tomatoes (if she ever leaves the kitchen, ha, ha!).

"Dad, what's that?" Timmy asked, pointing to a mound of dirt.

"That must be a compost pile," I explained.

"A compost pile? Cool!" he said.

As we finally left, the agent said she had never seen a home so suited to one particular family.

"I just hope those stairs won't bother little Timmy," she noted.

"Actually, I think they might help him," I said, as he did handsprings in the frontyard.

When considering which offer to choose, we want you to know we love your home very much. It is truly our dream house.


The _____________ Family

Translation (or what you'll really mean):

Dear Real Estate Thieves,

There is nothing on the market. Nothing! So when we saw your home for sale, we lunged at it. Two bedrooms / two baths along the freeway for $675,000? Must be a typo.

The entry is infested with wood beetles and the banister is wobbly, even dangerous. At one point, I stumbled and possibly tore a ligament in my knee.

My wife gasped at the condition of the kitchen and said it resembled a hobo camp.

"What'd they do, slaughter sheep in here?" she asked, then broke down in tears.

The master bedroom is far too small and the carpet smells of hamsters. The pump on the Jacuzzi is shot and contains several wasps.

In the backyard, there seem to be half a dozen shallow graves. FYI, my wife spotted two large rats in the fruit tree in the corner. When the paramedics revived her, she couldn't remember her name.

The only way we'd ever consider buying this shack would be if it were the last house for sale in Los Angeles. Well, apparently, it is the last house for sale in Los Angeles.

We hope you'll consider our insanely stupid offer.

Even more sincerely,

The _____________ Family

Chris Erskine can be reached at

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