Sorry to disappoint, but this post won't be about how most real estate agents are funny in the head. I'm saving that one for another day. Perhaps I'll write a book about that (once I'm finished writing the great Canadian novel which I'm leaning towards calling "snow on the pumpkin - the melancholic exploits of two average men trapped in a crisis of identity").
This is more about some of the things I see from time to time when I'm in certain houses. I do a few power-of-sale jobs (bank sales), and I quite often see some pretty dreadful things. By the time I get to some of these properties the drama is long over. The house will have been uninhabited for quite some time and walking into these places feels like I'm walking into an abandoned Antarctic whaling station.
I often get the willies. Even though months (sometimes years) have passed since the house was last used as a family home there will still be evidence of strife, and it's very creepy. It's quite amazing how similar these places are. Besides the obvious delapidation, holes punched in the walls, smashed doors and evidence of the petty violence that angry people punish inanimate objects with, there's always graffiti. Some rooms look like the ritualistic sacrificing of small animals would have happened there. I tend to get suspicious when tupperware containers with dead animals in them are lying about.
I usually look around and try to imagine when this was last a happy place. When was the last time someone walked through that front door happy to be coming home? When did everything start falling apart for the people who lived here, and how did it ever get to this? It's very easy to say that some people should never own real estate, and that they were never responsible enough to maintain a property in good order. I'm sure that is the case in many circumstances. However, I'm also pretty positive that a good many people become mentally ill and never get the help they need.
I'm lucky to have never felt the despair that some of these people must have felt. Small things turn into big things, and before long everything slips away. They stop caring about the house, they feel that it has become beyond their abilities to hang on, they stay there because it's a place to live, and eventually they give up the battle and move on. Judging from what I have seen in these places, it must have been a very unpleasant thing for them. I'm sure some people cope better than others, and maybe these people were not well enough to cope properly.
I can't do much for the people, but I can do something for the house. I always hope that someone will buy it, invest the time and energy into it, and make it back into something special again. I also hope that the previous owners can put everything behind them and get the help they need.