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My View: House hunting shifts to the back burner

By Bob O'Connor

Some 40 years ago, my wife headed to Albany for a job. Everything we owned fit into one of those small U-Haul trucks. We didn’t have kids yet, although she was pregnant. With babies came the cribs, changing tables and hundreds of tiny little outfits that would fit them for about 10 days.

Older kids also meant bikes, basketballs and a billion school projects. My two girls saved absolutely everything from nursery school to college. The boys, less sentimental, still managed to hoard an awful lot of stuff.

Then all of our kids vanished, leaving us with enough notebooks, outdated clothing and empty CD cases to fill Coca-Cola Field.

Somehow we have found places to store it all, hoping there will be a second coming and the kids will haul it away to their homes and create their own fire hazards.

When I try to toss some of it out, I hear cries and moans about the sentimental value of that peach junior prom dress or the game ball that No. 2 son was given in Little League. My younger daughter claims we need to keep all her “important papers” for her presidential library or university archives.

The solution came to me as I was searching the attic for my long-lost college textbooks. (I, too, have hopes for my own archives, but the college I attended claims not to know me.) If we move to a smaller house, simple math will force us to get rid of all the junk: You can’t fit 50 pounds of manure into a 5-pound bag. So I began my search for our 5-pound bag.

I haven’t house hunted in 35 years and I had forgotten the sheer joy of reading real estate ads. When we bought our first and only house, the realtor described it as “cute.” In the realty game, cute means small. If the ad says “adorable,” that means the current owners are elves.

I looked over the Buffalo Homefinder and discovered that the real estate agents have come up with a host of new catchy phrases. I actually saw houses described as “savory” or having “endless charm.”

And then there is this puzzler: The house has “tremendous curb appeal.” Why would someone buy a house based upon how it looks from the street?

Of course, the opposite is the homes that one “must see inside.” Don’t worry about the shoddy landscape, missing roof tiles and crumbling driveway – this baby has bathroom tile to die for.

And why do so many modern homes look like the inside of a Lord and Taylor store? They have two-story windows, 25-foot ceilings and chandeliers liberated from Liberace. How do you paint the ceilings? How do you change a light bulb in a fixture so high you can’t reach it with a stepladder?

Along the way, I learned a few other tricks. If the ad says, “owner anxious to sell,” that means a meth lab just opened up down the street. A fixer-upper is a house with no doors and windows. And a “handyman’s delight” is just off the main drag in Aleppo.

If the property is in a “park-like setting,” you’ll need GPS to find the front door. “Rustic” means there is no indoor plumbing. My favorite selling point is “you’ll never want to leave your house!” This means it is either situated in a neighborhood with a high murder rate or the house is downwind from a sewage treatment plant.

So, at least for the moment, we’ll stay in our cute, overstuffed house. My eldest daughter recently asked what she and her siblings were supposed to do with all this junk when her mom and I bite the dust. I tell her that I will be dead and won’t care.

I should be so lucky.

Bob O’Connor, of Hamburg, has decided it would be easier to stay put than to move four decades’ worth of stuff.
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