SEWAGEFUNGUS: NOT A SELLING POINT

Coloured_Figures_of_English_Fungi_or_Mushrooms_-_t._126There have been fewer foreclosed houses on the market lately, so when one popped into the MLS today I popped over to take a peek. Emphasis on pee. Or puke: I popped over to take a puke.

Here’s some frustrating background: It takes an average of 600-plus days to foreclose a house. And a whole lot of sh*t can happen in 600 days. Especially if the occupant goes away mad on Day 242 without draining the pipes.

So, in my experience, most foreclosed homes have been through a winter of frozen pipes, and a springtime of indoor flooding. The furnace is often defunct from flooding, freezing, or both. The baseboard pipes may be split in a number of secret locations to be revealed only when the new owner opens a new account with the Portland Water District. The wood floors are buckled; the stench of mold and heartbreak hangs thick in the air.

(In the best cases, the bank that now owns the house has hired someone to drain the pipes, dump antifreeze in the toilet, and return every few months to pull the pin on a Glade grenade the size of a pineapple. I actually prefer the scent of sewagefungus.)

Anyway, foreclosure often sets water free, and free-range water is almost never helpful to the inside of a house. Mold happens. If sewage is stuck somewhere when frost sets in, that too can spread a fantastic feast for fungi. Today’s house had that scent — sewagemold plus heating oil.

People are increasingly freaky about bunking with mold, our species’ cave-sleeping past notwithstanding. Aint no bank gonna lend normal people money to buy a mold house. The only person equipped to purchase a fungusy foreclosed house is generally a renovator. A flipper. A professional fungus jockey.

And so today’s foreclosure, which I had hoped might fit my artistic and modestly-budgeted clients, was a disappointment. The burgundy shag on the stairs they could handle. The blue bathroom they could manage. But mold won’t fly. A Glade bomb had been detonated, but it came nowhere near drowning the smell of waste and heartache.

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