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Paul Turner: Real estate flyers bring up a plethora of questions

This June 20, 2019, file photo shows an existing home is offered for sale in Rutledge, Ga. (John Bazemore / AP)
This June 20, 2019, file photo shows an existing home is offered for sale in Rutledge, Ga. (John Bazemore / AP)

It has been a long time since those flyers in boxes attached to front-yard “For Sale” signs have been the be all/end all of marketing residential real estate.

If they ever were.

But some of us in Spokane still enjoy picking them up when we’re out walking the dog or taking a bike ride. Even when we aren’t really looking to buy or sell property.

It’s a kick to take the flyers home and brutally critique them. Perhaps that has been especially true this summer, when the local housing market has been such a popular topic of conversation.

Why? I’ll tell you. I think it’s because quite a few of us enjoy comparing and contrasting the homes described on the flyers with the strengths and weaknesses of our own, somewhat less mythical residences.

We get a kick out of scrutinizing the flyers and playing a lively game of 20 Questions. For instance:

“They’re calling that an updated bathroom?”

“Isn’t it amazing what a skilled photographer can do with a wide-angle lens?”

“Were they high when they came up with that price?”

“Wonder what that kitchen redo cost them?”

“Does George Jetson live there?”

“I wonder if they stole the idea for that door color from us?”

“Why does the phrase ‘offered at’ always crack me up?”

“Are they counting that dungeon as a bedroom?”

“Oh, man. Are they kidding me? That family room is so sweet.”

“I wonder if ‘charmer’ means the same thing to them that it does to me?”

“Who really needs a breakfast nook?”

“Did they use a warped slide rule to come up with that square footage?”

“Would it be safe to assume some staggering pet smells, cigarette stink and the generational funk of a billion dead skin cells might be trapped in those carpets?”

“Should I email their agent and tell her how much I admire their deck?”

“Are you allowed to just let your yard go and then call it xeriscaping?”

“Are those the names of the schools the kids would attend or is that the subtitle of ‘How the West was Won’?’

“Why do you think they aren’t asking more for this? What aren’t they admitting?”

“Am I mistaken or does that kitchen have ‘slapdash DIY’ written all over it?”

“Have you ever seen anything like that in Spokane?”

“What is that, an open-concept bathroom?”

Of course, you probably would have your own questions. Maybe starting with, “I wonder if anyone in the house saw me pick up one of their flyers?”

And if the answer is yes, the residents of the home for sale might just have a few questions about you. Perhaps questions like these:

“I wonder if that sketchy looking guy who just picked up our flyer could manage to stay sober long enough to make an offer on our place?”

“I didn’t like the looks of that dude in the Yankees cap and Hulk shirt. Would it be discrimination if we said we didn’t want to show him our place because he creeped me out?”

“Am I wrong to assume that guy on the bike would lade his offer on our house with about six different nonstarter contingencies?”

“Do burglars usually go to the trouble of picking up home-for-sale flyers?”

“Why do I get the feeling that guy would want to schedule closing for either tomorrow or early 2020?”

“If that guy made an offer, would we be wise to demand $100,000 in earnest money?”

“Why do I think that gentleman who just picked up our flyer might select a nitpicking home inspector who would prove to be a monumental pain in the glutes?”

“Has anyone in Spokane ever written a counter-offer that says, ‘Go away – you’re bad news’ or some such?”

“Does the law say we have to sell to someone wearing a MAGA cap?”

“Did you see that couple with the sweet little girl and the teddy bear pick up one of our fliers? I want them to live here.”

“I wonder if that guy out there by the curb reading our flyer has gotten to the line where our listing agent calls that hole in the roof a ‘natural skylight’ or something like that?”

“That woman out front reading our flyer doesn’t look too impressed with our place. I wonder if we should have mentioned the time that animal control staffer was going door to door to promote licensing, and the instant we declared we have no pets the neighbor’s cat appeared and gave you a vigorous shin rub?”

“I wonder if that guy out by our ‘For Sale’ sign is going to take one of our flyers home and ridicule this good but modest house, the sale of which represents our family’s hopes and dreams?”

The list could go on and on.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at