Real Estate Advice


House prices are down, and there are some real bargains out there, especially for someone with a housing allowance. But before you run out and buy a house, there are some important things to think about. The first thing I would recommend is to step back and take an objective look at the place in which you are about to invest your hard earned money.

I’d start at the street where you can view the entire house as others will see it, because curb appeal is important. While you’re there, look to see if there is a tree in the front yard. This is where you really need to focus.

Is it an evergreen? Is it big? Could it one day double as an outdoor Christmas tree?

If the answer to those three questions is yes, turn around and drive away. Just drive away and don’t look back. You’ll thank me later.

We have such a tree. It is a massive Blue Spruce that stands three stories tall. It is Redwood Forest big. If Paul Bunyan ever tied Babe the Blue Ox to a tree, this was probably the one. My task every year is to put lights on it (wife’s perspective) and not kill myself in the process (my perspective).

(That’s a two story house next to the tree)

Unless you’re a fireman, there isn’t a ladder tall enough to get the lights up to the tippy top (and if there was, I wouldn’t climb it anyway). So each holiday season I jump into MacGyver mode and try to come up with a clever and labor-minimizing method to get the string of lights all the way up the monster tree.

So far I have failed.

I’ve tried tall ladders, poles, tall ladders AND poles…and to date nothing has worked. The tree is inevitably left with an apron of lights at the bottom and a dark, ominous top that silently mocks me all season long.

This year, though, we almost did it. The 2008 version of the light-stringing apparatus was a combination of two window-washing extension poles taped end to end (duct tape), and two ladders. By balancing on a ladder (20 feet in the air) and extending the poles I was able to come close to the top. Unfortunately, the contraption weighed roughly the same as the Denver Broncos offensive line, making it difficult to handle, so close was good enough for me. Bottom line: At the end of the day I was alive and the lights were on the tree.

The payoff always comes when you plug it all in, and you are met with a night sky filled with Christmas lights. I called my family out for the big moment, and hit the switch. The tree (or about three quarters of it) exploded in color – reds, yellows, greens and blues. The apron of lights looked more like bib-overalls this year, and since this was an improvement over previous attempts, the operation was declared a success (my interpretation). The family went back inside, satisfied. Savoring the moment, I turned around for one more look and…

The lights went out.

All of them.

Somewhere in the massive Blue Spruce, hidden in the more than 1000 feet of electrical wire, was a fault. I wailed in frustration and defeat.

The tree didn’t say anything. It didn’t have to.

Real estate purchases can be tricky, so take your time and make sure it’s the right home for you. If it is, but it has a big evergreen in the yard, you have a couple of options.

You can walk away – there are lots of houses that can be just as satisfying. Or, you can disregard my advice and go ahead with the purchase.

But only if you’re a fireman.

Or maybe a lumberjack.


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  1. That’s awesome. What a funny way to tell the story of your christmas light woes – the realty aspect of it I mean. Very creative! Thanks for the laugh, and sorry for your misfortune.

  2. My answer is “misery lves company”. My wife used to want to go crazy with lights, until I made her help me one year. Now she doesn’t care if they go up or not 🙂

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