Monday, October 11, 2010

*Flipping Off The House Flippers

["Let Inga Tell You", La Jolla Light, published February 25, 2010] © 2010


Let me be the first to say that not all house flippers are bottom-feeding life forms not dissimilar to cockroaches. There are a few who either by accident or by design actually take into account the impact of their quickie “upgrades” on the neighbors that they themselves aren’t going to have to live next to. But from the stories I’ve heard over the past thirty-seven years in La Jolla, this doesn’t happen as often as the neighbors would have liked.

We’ve experienced a version of this ourselves.

For reasons known only to the builders, our home and the one next to it were built within ten feet of each other, despite each having a large lot. Fortunately, some common sense prevailed: since the master bedroom of the other house was practically arms length from our kitchen and patio French doors, no windows were built on that side of the neighbor’s house. A fifteen foot high hedge next door provided both visual and sound barriers which the fence between our properties just didn’t do. Everybody had total privacy.

Well, until a house flipper bought the neighbor’s house.

Within days, the hedge was firewood and we learned that a bank of windows was being installed in the neighbor’s master bedroom on our side. I quickly pointed out the privacy issues to the flippers and suggested instead that since they were putting on a new (cheap tacky, but I didn’t say that) roof, they might consider skylights. They ignored this idea, and it being a vastly different market than now, flipped the house at a tidy profit.

Fortunately we won the Neighbor Lottery in the new owner, Bert. Honestly, nicest guy on the planet. But Bert is single. And totally hunky. (Brief pause while Inga splashes cold water on her face.) Which means that Bert is not lacking for female companionship.

It was not long after Bert moved in that we were reading the Sunday paper on our little patio literally right under Bert’s new open bedroom windows when it became clear Bert was entertaining a guest. A very happy guest. My husband, Olof, and I looked at each other and pondered the possibilities before intoning in unison: “Living room?”

Of course, as the situation repeated itself, we tried to delicately convey the situation to Bert by talking loudly.

Olof: ISN’T IT GREAT TO READ THE SUNDAY PAPER ON OUR PATIO, INGA!

Inga: SURE IS, OLOF! I JUST LOVE THESE WARM DAYS WHERE EVERYONE HAS THEIR WINDOWS OPEN. COFFEE?

We definitely had a pulse on Bert’s social life. I say “had” because I think Bert, or more likely one of his lady friends, eventually caught on to our dilemma.

Lady Friend: Um, Bert honey – no, don’t stop - does it seem like there are people right outside your window?

Bert: Hrrmph?

Of course, we have friends with far worse flipper stories . It’s not fair to torture the post-flip owners who are innocent parties but if I were President, I’d make flipper intendees live in the remodeled house for a minimum of a year – enough time for the neighbors on either side to extract at least a modicum of revenge. A flipper flip-off , if you will. The Flipper Pay Back Act would allow anything short of arson (and maybe even that under select circumstances.)

It’s the neighborly thing to do.

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