Location, Location, Location
 

 

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                    LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

                                             by Stephen D. Rogers

Alison pulled up in front of the old Rickman place and tried to
set a first-impression price.  The lawn and gardens had long gone
wild.  The roof needed patching if not replacing.  The exterior
required physical as well as cosmetic attention.

Alison would emphasis the possibilities.

Finding three men standing uneasily on the front porch,  Alison
flashed her real estate smile. "Good morning."

Despite small differences, Alison was sure they were brothers,
and the one she judged to be the oldest stepped forward.  "Martin
Rickman.  We talked on the telephone.  These are my brothers John
and Simon."

Alison nodded to each in turn as she memorized their names.
Martin had a mustache, John was jumpy, and Simon slouched.  "I'm
sorry about your loss."

There was a moment of silence as if they didn't know what she
meant.  Martin cleared his throat.  "We weren't very close to our
Aunt."

"Does the house have sentimental value?"

John laughed.  "None of us have even been here before."

Simon kicked a loose piece of wood off the porch.  "We want a
quick sale, even if you think you could hold out for more."

"Let's get started then."

Martin handed Alison a key and the three men followed her into
the house.

Yes, there was definitely potential here.  Even two hours with a
broom would double the value.  "Do you know when the house was
built?"

The men stared at her blankly and Alison realized that while the
house may have been left to them, this was her party.  Some
sellers were like that.  "I'll research the particulars later."

The house was dark with rich paneling and heavy carpets,
decorated in a style now considered old fashioned.  Today people
wanted big windows and plenty of light.

The three brothers stuck to her like glue as she moved through
the room.

The furniture appeared uncomfortable but would probably do well
on the antiques market.  "Are you planning to include the
furnishings?"

She turned to catch the brothers shrugging in unison.  Martin
licked his lips.  "What do you suggest?"

"It could be an effective bargaining point if you desire a quick
sale, but of course you'd want to get the pieces appraised
first."

Alison nearly clapped when she entered the living room.  As she
ran her fingers along a carved mahogany mantle, Alison realized
that a buyer with the right intentions could turn this house into
something gorgeous.  "How soon would you want to start showing?"

John answered, "Immediately."

Simon coughed.  "Do you know when we could expect the money?  I
borrowed to come out here."

"I've seen houses sell before they were listed and I've seen them
sit for over a year.  While we can hope for quick action, it's
better not to count on it."

The men traded glances, and Alison suddenly felt uncomfortable.
While everyone handled grief differently, these three seemed too
concerned with their cut of the pie.  "Pardon me for asking, but
was your Aunt's death sudden?"

"She fell down the stairs."

"How awful."

When no one added anything, Alison lead the three into the
kitchen.  She may sell houses but people were her business.
Something was wrong here.

The kitchen was large and dark as expected.  The new owners would
definitely want to update.

Doors lead to a panty, a musty cellar, a half bathroom that was
barely large enough for Alison to turn around in.

Martin asked if they would recoup their investment if they fixed
things up.

Alison closed the bathroom door.  "It all depends on the buyer.
Sometimes a smaller purchase price means the difference between
getting a mortgage and not.  The buyers might decide to update
themselves as money and time allows."

"Whatever helps the house sell quicker."  Simon stuck his hands
in his pockets.  "Time and money matter to me too."

Nodding, Alison lead them into the dining room.  "The market is
soft right now, but this place is a real find for the right
person."  She caught her breath.  "What a lovely table."

The brothers followed her through the room and towards the
stairs.  Alison paused as she reached for the bannister but
forced herself forward and up.  "Was the property left to the
three of you?"

"Yes, evenly."

Although she had never been nervous before when touring a house,
Alison found strange comfort in gripping the bannister.
"Understand that antiques are not my business, but I would hazard
a guess that you have quite a collection here."

"How much?"

Alison reached the landing.  "You'd want to talk to an expert.
That dining room set is probably worth several thousand, but the
real draw is bedroom furniture."

"This way."  Simon stepped past Alison to open a door.

Alison stepped into a museum.  While the rest of the house may
have been allowed to decline, here the dark wood shone fiercely
in the sunlight that came through lace curtains.

"The four-poster bed makes the house.  People buy places like
this imaging that they'll sleep in something like that."

The three men nodded, Martin asking if they should include the
bed in the purchase price.

"It could really convince a fence-sitter."  Alison took in the
matching bureaus, makeup table, and desk.  "I think I've seen
enough."

The three mind followed her out of the house silent until they
reached the front porch.  Alison locked the front door.  "If I
keep the key, I can start showing today."

Martin smiled.  "That's great."

Leaving them talking in the driveway, Alison drove to the police
station where she was introduced to Detective Vincent who had
investigated the accidental death.

Alison took a deep breath.  "Even though they had supposedly
never been in the house before, Simon knew which door belonged to
the bedroom."

Detective Vincent nodded.  "That's a pointer, but not proof.  All
he has to do is say that he guessed correctly or he'd been in
houses with a similar layout."

Alison thought for a moment, reviewing the tour.  "They never
left my side.  I can swear to that.  Dust the bathrooms for
fingerprints.  If Simon washed his hands after killing his Aunt,
you'll have him."

Detective Vincent smiled.  "That we will."