Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Doorman and the Door

Brunhilda here:

We have a nice penthouse listed in a high rise building. It's in a lovely building and the views are spectacular. One day while showing the unit, Randee finds a note from the management office slipped under the front door. The building needed to change the garage door openers. They are running an exchange program, owners should turn in their current opener at the front desk for a new one. Not too hard, right? Randee's owners don't live in the unit and it would be inconvenient for them to come down to the South Loop to exchange the garage door opener, To be helpful, Randee decides she will go to the front desk and see if she can get the exchange done for them.

The doorman was on the telephone when she arrives. He was loudly complaining about two large dogs that live in the building. He was telling someone on the other end that those big dogs bark at him every time they see him. He even claimed that they have fangs. I guess the poor guy is afraid of dogs. I, Brunhilda, rather like feisty dogs. They seem to like me too!

Randee waited for him to get off the telephone. When he did, she showed him the garage door opener from her listing and asked if she can exchange it for a new one. He told her he cannot do that for a real estate agent. He told her the owner must do it themselves. Randee asked for the forms needed so that perhaps she can get it done with faxes and the building manager. He grudgingly gave her the form. It's just a form, dude. What's going to happen if he gives it to a Realtor! Oh my!

Later that same day, she relayed the whole garage door exchange rules to her owners. They aren't pleased, but what can they do? They say that they will take care of it  A week goes by and still, they haven't had time to come down to exchange the darn garage door opener. Pretty soon they will miss the deadline for the "free exchange" and will get charged for the new one.

So, Randee decides that she will trot on down to the building and visit the manager's office. She's going down to do a showing anyway. As she walked in, she sees there is a different doorman on duty that day. She walks up to this doorman and asks if she can exchange the garage door opener for the new one. He asks for the unit number, hands her a form to fill out, which she does and writes the owners name in the blank. He gives her the new garage door opener, just like that! Done! Pleased as can be, Randee informs her owners that the whole thing is taken care of.

The next day, Randee gets a last minute showing request and goes back down to the building. The first doorman is there. Randee greets him and says nothing about the garage door thing. She just goes about her business and shows the unit. On our way out, I couldn't help myself! I had to do something. Didn't he have it coming? I told him that there was a weird noise coming from the door to the garage. It's a side door that only employees have access to. He said he'd check it out. As he went into the garage I sort of had to shove the door closed and it accidentally locked. I know this because I accidentally locked it.. I also knew that the dogs were just about to walk right past that door. The barking got really crazy and so were the screams!

This is Brunhilda signing off for today. Woof!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Chicago Gold Coast: They'll Just Die To Live Here!

Brunhilda here:

I have been living happily in the Chicago Gold Coast for a few years now. Most people say they would just die to live in this neighborhood! This is why I am so thrilled to hear about a proposed new use for a historic neighborhood building nearby. The Three Arts Club once housed as many as 110 women artists in the landmark building located at 1300 N Dearborn Street. Just thinking about the clubhouse filled with all those women studying the arts back then gives me a chill. Independent women, all together for the sake of the arts, in the early 1900’s! What a scene it must have been. I would love to get in there and do some friendly ghost busting! Maybe there are a few talented lady ghosts that Brunhilda could befriend. Yummy!

Now the Three Arts Club, a property revered by preservationists, sits vacant and useless, basically, dead. Many vultures, (I mean developers) have proposed different uses for the building. For a while Randee and I thought it would become a condo or hotel. But the neighbors fought hard against the congestion and noise that those would bring their beloved neighborhood. Then the real estate market nose-dived, and the developers disappeared.

Now I hear of a proposal for an ingenious way to use the building. A group of investors headed by Chicago architect Bill Bickford has a unique concept. They will turn The Three Arts Club into a “columbarium”. Don’t know what that means?  Brunhilda does! Basically, it’s a permanent home for the cremated remains of loved ones. Yep! It’s a proposal to turn this building into a big, giant vault to house the ashes of as many as 15,000 souls. Brunhilda likes! How perfect! There won’t be any noise makers, it won’t create traffic congestion. You would love it if you lived right next door. No parties! Maybe once in a while some one will come by to visit Granny’s urn. But mostly, their family members will pay the cost of maintaining the place.

Just imagine the well-to-do Chicagoans jumping on the cremation bandwagon, shopping for urns to house here. I see a future where Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton offer pricey designer urns. Think of the possibilities, older men at the Viagra Triangle indulging in booze and beauties, suffering instant heart attacks and a few days later they can wind up living for all eternity in the Gold Coast! Lucky Schmos!

This is Brunhilda signing off for today feeling like they finally might be getting something right. My Randee, she’s not so sure…..so don’t tell her that I love it!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween...What Humbug!

Brunhilda here:                                                                               

You would think that a woman with my inclinations would be reporting her excitement over yesterday's holiday.  Not so much! What's with all of the kids dressed up in my image?  I am the one and only witchy woman in the Gold Coast!  I don't take kindly to your pointy hats and green face paint. You're just so obvious!
There was the annual Halloween party in Goudy Park on Astor Street that afternoon. You don't know about Astor Street? This is where the hoity toity live and breathe. The mansions are fab, the street is gorgeous. Even the dogs are dressed to the nines on Astor Street. So one expects the costumes would be oh so adorable! My Randee side just loves to take a peek. To my utter joy, it was an unseasonably cold day in Chicago.Most little trick-or-treater's costumes were covered up by their winter coats and hats. Their parents accompanied them as they skipped down the tree lined sidewalks to their neighbor's doors. There, children were greeted by household employees passing candy purchased at the best candy stores. Meanwhile, the parents were served wine from crystal wine goblets. A long standing tradition on Astor Street. It's a whole other world there. I can't tell if I was sickened or envious. I think I should skip both emotions. as they could make me turn green, in public, which would not be good.
By the time we headed home, the city streets were populated with strange creatures. Adult sized people, wearing things like white jumpsuits, bunny ears, devil horns and such. Some had painted faces others just wore silly hats. Did they not see how utterly silly they looked? They were headed to the local bars, of course. We live just off of Division Street. There are several famed establishments with years and years of Halloween party stories. Randee was not about to witness any new ones, thank the spirits. So we headed into the condo where she lives to review properties one more time before our buyer's tour scheduled for tomorrow. We will be going to the South Loop to see 1 bedroom condos with a first time buyer. Randee enjoys first time buyers and is looking forward to the day.
After a lovely dinner with her terrific husband we settled in for a quiet night watching on-demand movies. The noises from the Halloween nonsense were muted by the closed windows and television.This year, Halloween happened to coincide with the end of daylight savings time. So before bed Randee turned all the clocks back one hour. That means shorter days ahead and winter won't be far behind.
Wouldn't you know that someone forgot to turn their clocks back?. What a surprise! Our tour today was nearly ruined by one agent who messed up his own schedules, and ours, by not turning his watch back. Didn't he look at his cell phone? For heaven's sake, everyone has a cell phone! So, the agent had arrived an hour early, not knowing about the time change, and called angrily, accusing us of standing him up. We pointed out his error and he agreed to meet us at the correct hour. He said he just couldn't imagine how he messed up his timing. When we met, he appeared to still have some white makeup on his face and hands from the night before. I don't know what I hate worse, little kids begging for candy or meeting over-indulged Halloween party goers the day after. Both!
On our way out of the showing, the agent offered his hand in an apology handshake. Of course Randee accepted. But somehow I left with an extra mobile phone. Those don't handle deep water well, do they?

Brunhilda signing off for now! Glad that Halloween is over, for this year, anyway.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brunhilda Likes to Play With Dolls

Brunhilda here:
I have an extremely low tolerance for liars, manipulators and time wasters. That is why I am writing again about the River North condo. You know the one, dear reader. It's listed for sale and has the difficult tenants that I've written about before.The good news: the tenants packed up and moved out! Before they left, they became pretty nice about leaving the condo during showings. Even the little bugger was better behaved. I decided that they had learned their lesson about showing etiquette. I'm such a helpful alter-ego!

Now, however I have issues with the River North condo owner. Mr. and Mrs. Owner live out of state. They've told us that the recession has cost them their jobs, and they are working in lesser paying ones. I feel for them, really, I have feelings! Mr. Owner has been lowered to selling cars. Fabulous, another industry that is in the toilet.

An amazing thing just happened. We got a great offer on the place. They came in just $5000 under our asking price. That's pretty great when you consider that the place needs some pretty hefty updating. What with the 1980's mirrored wall in the dining room, the kitchen cabinets that have some peeling veneer, the hardwood floors need refinishing and the entire place just needs a whole lot of paint. Those were rough tenants!

To our utter shock, the owner was troubled with the offer. It's a cash deal! They want to close in 4 weeks! We can negotiate the price a bit, but this is a terrific offer, we tell him. He said he needs them to come up in price. OK we say, let's counter his offer to get him closer to our asking price. He responds by saying he needs the offer to be OVER THE ASKING PRICE! When was he going to tell Randee that little bit of news? Can't sell it for the asking price? He doesn't have the money to go to closing? Is Anthrax through the mail still a crime?

I have this wonderful little doll. It has some amazing abilities. It seems that if I stick my long sharp pins into it here or give the limbs a twist there while I focus my anger very clearly, there will be an interesting affect on the object of my anger. 

Mr. Owner says he has to think about it a bit. Right now though, he needs to go lay down. He suddenly has a terrible headache or eye ache or something. He will call back later. Randee asks him to discuss the offer with Mrs. Owner and call back within the hour. "I will", he says, "but I just have to go now. My right arm is killing me too!"

This is Brunhilda signing off for now. But this isn't over! And do I need to say....don't tell Randee about my little doll. She ain't no Barbie!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Flood, the Tenant and the Landlord

Brunhilda here:
They shouldn’t have messed with my lovely client. Though a renter she may be.
When the guy above flooded the place, they said we will fix it in a hurry.
That was the last nice thing they said. My client had to find another bed.
A hotel stay with her pup cost a ton, she didn’t worry, she trusted them.

She thought people always keep their word. But this landlord is a giant turd.

Out of her home for nearly 4 weeks, the place was wet and began to stink
The building sent in the crew to replace carpet and walls
Her belongs were tossed, clothes were piled up in big balls.
Frustrated and angry she decided to give Randee a call.

Come out come out Mr. Landlord, let’s play!
Brunhilda is here and she’s going to stay.
You can’t do this to our innocent tenant
Take care of her stuff, make that payment.

We ask them to come check the unit right now.
The man comes in and waves his hand just for show.
This is fixed and ready, she should move back in today.
But, first she must pay last month’s rent right away.

Randee says fine, then you refund 4 weeks right back, stat! 
He said he’d do no such thing; why is the dryer leaning like that?
I say, gee look over here, and I place him on the side where it leans.
Now I am going shopping for some great skinny jeans.

The tenant settles with everyone else, suddenly everything is as it should be.
You can tell, no one will believe you. Randee is so little, how could she?

Brunhilda, signing off! Have a nice day!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Brunhilda Does A Job For The Mob?

Brunhilda here,
Finally, a reasonable week. No crooks, cuckoos, or evil-doers. I've had the pleasure of staying under the radar. As the alter-ego of the gentle real estate agent, you only get to know me when someone pushes my buttons.  But not this week. This week we worked with strong buyers, had good showings at our listings, and we had a good walk- through for a closing scheduled for Monday. Can't complain about this week. A little boring.
How about another story from the past: I'm exhausted from keeping secrets.
She came to us as a referral from a doorman. We were living in Streeterville at the time. A much desired, new construction, luxury high rise with lots of glass and concrete. This buyer was only interested in our building. She walked into the lobby looking a lot like Michelle Pfieiffer in  the 1988 film "Married to the Mob. Dark hair all puffed up, tight, tight jeans, sparkly top, heavy make up and high-spiky shoes. She must have been about 40 years old, if I were to be kind, which I am not. She chose a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom unit with a view of the park and lake. We made a very reasonable offer. Great!. It got accepted. Even better! When it was time for earnest money to be deposited, there was no problem. She said she was divorced but her Ex was going to give her the money to buy the condo. Her attorney verified this info. The check was handed over to the listing agent for deposit. No problem. Yet the listing agent kept calling. He said he had a bad feeling about her. Funny, we just weren't into the ESP or whatever.
Two days before closing, Ms Mob Chick went missing. No return of phone calls. No walk through request. No communication with her attorney. Gone! Randee wondered if her Ex really was a mob guy. The attorney had slipped a couple of times and said something about not wanting to mess with him. Now what?
Well, I, Brunhilda tracked her down the day after the NO-SHOW never closing, closing. She said she wasn't able to close, period! Now I didn't want to wait for her Ex to EXplain, so I took matters into my own hands. Now she's wearing concrete heels and swimming with da-fishes.
Speaking of fish, there's a new seafood restaurant I'm dying to try. Well, may be not dying.
Hey, I shared this with you, but don't tell Randee. She thinks the lady was punished enough by losing her $78k earnest money deposit. So, seriously, don't tell! I know you!

Friday, October 9, 2009

He Had it Coming

Brunhilda here:
Since last I wrote we've been busy. We have new buyers who really love Chicago. They're terrific. There has been an uptick in showing requests for our listings, which is nice. Its the 4th quarter of 2009 and it hasn't been a great year. But hope for a good finish is growing.
Meanwhile, back at the cursed listing in the River North neighborhood I keep talking about. We've got a showing request. The agent requesting is a fast talking guy. He's coming in the middle of a busy Saturday afternoon. For once we are thrilled to find the tenants have vacated for the day. When the agent arrives, we are struck by an overwhelming scent of nasty big cigar. Let me paint the picture. He swaggers in with a half-smoked but unlit cigar in hand. The only thing missing in this picture is a big black cape a mustache and a large black fedora. He's alone. He's representing himself as a buyer. Randee greets him with her usual sunny smile.
Have you ever noticed how men with big cigars also seem to have giant personalities? Not the good kind. Well, this guy fits the bill. He walks through the condo like a cop at a crime scene. It goes something like this: "Man look at that kitchen, there's some mess, and how about the floors in this joint! Well that bathroom will need a buzz-saw. The master bedroom, was that done in the 80's? I thought this was built in the 90's. Geez, babe, this is a real gut job." Now, Randee knows this place needs work, so she isn't fazed by his vibrato. But I find him quite grating! He continues; "Its too bad, honey, cuz this building's real nice and the location is a dream. Tell you what, I'm gonna make an offer, take this dog off your hands". He then names a number that is $100,000 under the asking price. He says, "I got to get my guys in here to gut the whole place. It's gonna cost me a fortune." He rubs the cigar between his fingers and points it at Randee. She stays pretty cool and tells Mr. Stinky Big Cigar Jerk to put his offer in writing. His answer; "Ya know doll, I will do that right after you call the seller with my verbal offer". Now the unlit cigar is hanging out of his mouth as he plasters a big crooked smile on his face. Randee asks, "What company are you with again?" He answers with his own name. Hmmmm, is he even for real, she wonders? She nicely replies that she will not call her owners with an offer that isn't in writing. She even quotes her managing broker, "A verbal offer isn't worth the paper it isn't written on". She again, says, "If you're serious about your offer, please put it in writing."
This schmo takes a bold step towards Randee with his unlit cigar pointing at her. He says," Now listen doll face, I have saved agents with crappy properties more times than you have sneezed."

Well, that was it for me! Mr. Stinky Big Cigar Jerk! Somehow that cigar just ended up getting pushed down his chunky little throat.

After disposing of the mess, we locked up and headed out to do another showing in the Streeterville neighborhood. On the way, we pass the most adorable little puppy. Don't cute little puppies just make you smile!

Brunhilda signing off for today. Don't tell little Randee, she just couldn't take it.