Backstory: Unreal estate
At first I thought the real estate listing was a joke. A multimillion dollar "fixer-upper"? Obviously, they were talking about a castle in need of a coat of paint or two. But no, it was your average three-bedroom Palo Alto, Calif. home in disrepair. That was more than five years ago. Since then I've seen similar jaw-dropping ads for six-figure Malibu beach shacks and one-bedroom New York apartments teetering on the edge of the East River. So the following listings may be very real very soon.
Imaginative? Creative? Wealthy? This potentially inhabitable, former residence poulet offers the electrician, plumber, and exterminator in you a chance to show your stuff. You'll be exhausted, yet somewhat fulfilled, as you conquer yet another life-threatening task; from replacing all the exposed electrical wiring (be sure your feet are grounded) to ridding the house of those itchy, multilegged insects, to moving the outhouse in-house. A great opportunity to unleash the inner handyman your mother would be shocked to know resides within you.
Grab it or weep – $4,000,000.
The sound of waves crashing will awaken you each morning as this tide-friendly vacation home lifts you out of bed and, perhaps, out to sea. Originally a beach cottage in Malaysia, this seaworthy structure has also spent time in Maui and Tahiti.
$2,000,000 (without lifeboat); $2,500,000 (with).
Tired of expensive rentals? Then this co-op bed in the city's oh-so-trendy meatpacking district says "you." Share your life with two other lucky bed-owners in this compact studio half a floor above one of the hottest slaughterhouse/singles bars. The initial bed purchaser gets use of the bathroom first in the morning and last in the evening, the next purchaser gets the top two drawers in the built-in dresser, and the final buyer gets to wonder why they didn't buy sooner.
A steal at $999,999.99.
The 453-square-foot home is perfect for families with less than one child. So long as you aren't over 5 feet 7 inches tall, you will walk confidently through this former playhouse. Miniature appliances only enhance the appearance of the kitchenlike kitchen. Marie Antoinette would be green with envy if she'd lived long enough to see you bake your own small, yet tasty, cake in the teeny-weeny oven.
$1,000,000 of pleasure.
If you're tired of cutting the lawn, then you'll fall in love, or at least like, with this vegetation-free homestead. It fills the entire lot from the sidewalk in front to the nuclear power plant in back. Though windows will need to be added, you'll want to spend all your time inside admiring the highly distressed wall treatment.
Priced to sell: $4,000,003.
Take just one step into this tract residence and you'll forget the 28 other homes on the block exactly like it. Every inch of this gem – a ruby alongside zircons – is designed for comfort and convenience. There's a front and back door – enter from two different places! There are three closets, one bathtub and, to get you from the first to the second floor, a real staircase. Everything has been planned with safety in mind; from handles on the kitchen drawers to floors in every room, to a roof to keep out most of the rain.
Will go fast at $1,753,097.
• Chuck Cohen is a California-based satirist.