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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mr. Potato Head


One of the very best Christmas gifts I ever received was given to me by my big sister back in the early 1950's - it was a Mr. Potato Head. Unlike the Mr. Potato Heads today, you needed a real potato to make this toy work. Today's version is made out of plastic and to me that is just 'wrong'.

The thing I liked about Mr. Potato Head was that I could make him become whoever I wanted him to be. He could look happy, for sure. But I could put his ears or nose in a funny place or move his eyebrows or smile to an odd location and create my own chameleon of sorts. The 1950's was much different from 2012. I was easily amused.

I was talking to another local real estate agent a couple of weeks ago about an experience he had at an open house a few days earlier. I want to relate that episode to my readers because it is a bit instructive about how real estate is sometimes marketed and sold in Key West.

Here is the set-up and the cast of characters. The names and places have been changed to provide a bit of amusement. Location a lovely old Conch House on a nice street in Old Town Key West. An OPEN HOUSE sign invites passers-by to enter to see the house that is for sale. The Asking Price is over a million bucks (isn't everything in Key West?). Inside is Mr. Green Jeans, an affable real estate agent seeking a buyer for his listing. Mr. Potato Head is another local real estate agent at a different real estate company. Mr. and Mrs. Offput are customers of Mr. Potato Head.

The house itself has many of the attributes first and second home buyers want in a place in Key West: three bedrooms, three baths, a pool, and a great location. The place is old but very well cared for. There are no major issues affecting the value of the house other than it is probably priced too high.

The OPEN HOUSE was advertised in the Key West Citizen, our local newspaper. Mr. Green Jeans placed an Open House sign on the street as well. Dozens of tourists entered the house to see what they might possibly buy were they in the market. Several actual real estate buyers showed up to see the house. The potential real buyers seemed excited about the property which pleased Mr. Green Jeans. As is often the case, some neighbors also stopped by to see what their fellow neighbors house looks like and how much it might cost. A favorite past time of many Key Westers is to go house shopping on Sunday afternoons even though they have absolutely no intention of buying anything.

Mr. Green Jeans allowed lookers to move about the house and offered information to anyone who had questions. One couple announced that they had recently purchased another house on the same block. They just wanted to see this particular house because they had not done so when they were looking. The couple moved from room to room. They went out to the pool and talked to each other about various features. Then they went upstairs where they were alone, whereupon Mr. Green Jeans overheard the following exchange:

Mrs. Offput said "Why didn't' we see this when we were looking?"

Mr. Offput replied "Mr. Potato Head said it wasn't what we were looking for".

Mrs. Offput countered "We could have bought this house for a hundred thousand dollars more than we paid for that piece of sh*t house we bought across the street!"

"Mr. Potato Head said it wasn't what we wanted," Mr. Offput said in defense.

Mrs. Offput cried "We could have had this house that is so much larger and so much nicer than the one we bought. If only you hadn't put me on that damned budget!"

Mr. Offput lamented "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
When Mr. Green Jeans related the story of the dueling duo I reminded him that Mr. Potato Head had actually listed the same house a couple of years earlier for a couple of hundred thousand dollars more than the current asking price. I searched the old mls records and looked up the words Mr. Potato Head used to describe the same house. Mr. Potato Head only used glowing terms in his listing. He made it sound like anyone would fall in love with the place.

Mr. Green Jeans then told me that Mr. Potato Head had listed and sold the house that the Offputs purchased. Everything fell into place.

The Key West Association of Realtors mls website is open for all potential buyers to view active listings. Buyers tend to shop online by price, location, and somewhat by photos. The Offputs are responsible for not insisting on at least looking at the house they later regretted not buying. You can't really blame any agent for wanting to sell his or her own listing.

If you are looking for a place in Key West and are not working with a Realtor, please consider working with me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. I am no potato head.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOL, Gary. In other words, you can put all the lipstick you want on a potato, but it's still a potato.

Anonymous said...

Same old story - money talks. Mr. Potato Head got both sides of the deal. Mr. Potato Head wasn't interested in showing this house to the Offputs no matter what the budget. He knew he could sell them on what HE wanted them to have and make $$$ to line his pockets. I live here and have seen this all too many times before. And they say this isn't a sleezy, dirty little town. Yeah right......and this story will keep happening again and again. Afterall, there is a sucker, I mean tourist, I mean buyer born every minute! HA! Keep em coming Gary. Love how stupid people can be in Key West!

Gary Thomas said...

Dear Anon: It happened to me, too. I unknowingly fell into the Potato Head family trap when I bought a house listed by an agent in the same company(the business partner of my agent) as my agent. I had several houses I wanted to see but there was always some excuse why we could not get to see those properties. I finally saw one by going directly to the other agent. I then went back to my agent to write the offer. I offered near full price, cash, close in a week. The offer was not accepted. A couple of years later, after I got my license, the other agent and I talked about the house I attempted to buy. She said something like "We wondered what happened to you." I was told something entirely different by my agent, Mr. Potato Head Sr.

And, yes, people can be stupid in Key West. I must have fallen off the potato truck and struck my noggin.

Gary

Anonymous said...

I know of at least two of those 'potato head' agents that used to be here in Key West. I am glad they have left the area. They were shady, pretentious and arrogant to the point I refused to deal with either again and went with another agent to buy my house here. I know they were very successful here but I heard one too many stories (even from other agents!) about their suspicious past and almost-to-the-point-of-being-illegal shenanigans around town. Needless to say, the town is much better without them. They were potato heads, yes, but also 'bad apples'. One thing the housing market crash did was weed out a great many of them from the barrel!

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.