Friday, December 29, 2006

dan and the snooty saleswoman

One of my favorite hobbies is visiting model houses. I couldn't ever live in one, but I like to see how The Other Half must be living. Here's the first part of a new series: Model House Reviews.

My travels on Wednesday took me through Bethesda, so I stopped at Bethesda Crest, a development of two-million-dollar townhomes near Medical Center. It's already famous with the NIMBY crowd after Park and Planning found out that Craftmark Homes dicked around with the plans and construction was temporarily halted last year.

The sales lady in the Belvedere II model home was waiting for me when I stepped inside. She was a thin, older woman, well-dressed and with white hair and defined wrinkles on her face. "Are you just wandering around? I saw you taking photos," she asked me. Maybe I seemed sketchy after, much to some construction workers' chagrin, climbing on top of a dirt pile to capture the amazing views of NIH (pictured). "Yeah, I'm just wandering," I said.

As I started to walk around the house she sat down at a table in the kitchen. Realizing she was watching me, I sidled over, beginning my normal salesperson spiel. I've had the pleasure to tour classier McMansions, so I didn't think much of her at first.

"How much are these houses selling for?" I asked her. "Two million," she said curtly. "Are you looking to buy?" This raised a slew of issues with me - did she assume I couldn't afford these houses? Were minorities that rare in Bethesda? And, worst of all, am I not allowed here if I'm not about to sign a contract right away?


Maybe she's not used to seeing a black/Indian college student in a natty coat showing up in her model house. I don't know. But I've toured model homes from Burtonsville to Baltimore and found that most sales people are willing to entertain questions from anyone who visits them, whether or not they're "looking to buy." They're not making money off it, but it's still good business, and it reflects well on the builder.

So that's when I decided to be difficult: "I heard there was a big stink last year," I said. "Craftmark got in trouble - something about not including the required affordable housing?" The sales woman became very uncomfortable. "I don't know anything about what you're talking about," she said, folding her arms on the desk. Craftmark did, in fact, build two affordable homes (pictured), and they definitely stick out. Perhaps their presence goes without mention in a development like this.

I asked Sales Lady for a brochure and, without much effort, she slid a single, photocopied page reading "Standard Features" across the table. Before I could reach for it, she pulled it back, then let go. I looked it over and asked if I could see some floorplans. Grumbling, she got up and walked across the kitchen. She opened up a cabinet, saying "they're right in here" as if I should have known, and returned with another sheet, this one in color, for the model I was standing in. There were three models pictured in plaques on the wall, but I knew better than to ask for anything else from her, so I walked away and continued my tour of the house.

I leave you with this warning: IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO BUY A NEW HOME, possibly one in the upper brackets, AVOID BETHESDA CREST AT ALL COSTS. Craftmark Homes may be a well-renowned builder, but they must not know customer service. I can only imagine what it must be like for one of the unlucky families who bought a house here.

11 comments:

ihateyuppies said...

Welcome to Almost Racist, We Really Try Not to Hate Poor People Bethesda.

My dream: a race riot breaks out...but not in Anacostia, Petworth, or PG County. The angry mob burns downtown Bethesda to the ground.

This it is my dream. That is our nightmare.

Rfustero said...

It is not a racist thing it is more of an image thing-

A few years ago my brother had just finished playing softball and decided to look at some new homes near where he played.

He was dirty. sweaty and tired. When he asked about the price of the House- the snooty nose agent treated him the same way as you were.

Little did she know, he could have bought the house with cash.

Anonymous said...

Dan, when a real estate salesperson asks "Are you looking to buy", you should always answer in the affirmative. After all, you are looking to buy (eventually), although maybe not right now.

Debbie Cook said...

Dan, TOO FUNNY - but not sooo funny. It is agents like this that give my industry/profession such a BAD NAME and BAD IMAGE! If I saw you in my open house taking pictures, I would personally love it! It would bring attention to the houses, creates interest, and maybe you are going to tell your uncle, father, mother, brother or friends about the houses.
But, what do you expect from an agent in BETHESDA? (don't get me started on agents that "specialize" in Bethesda)
and by the way, what are you doing over there anyway? Stay away from there! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Maybe she's just a rude agent, overall. Besides, if she didn't like you, just be glad it wasn't in PG, where the way to voice displeasure is to pull out a weapon.

Anonymous said...

ihateyuppies said...

Welcome to Almost Racist, We Really Try Not to Hate Poor People Bethesda.

My dream: a race riot breaks out...but not in Anacostia, Petworth, or PG County. The angry mob burns downtown Bethesda to the ground.

This it is my dream. That is our nightmare.

12/30/2006 1:47 AM

RE: Your "Dream/Nightmare" can be well described about those well to do Maryland hating/closet racist yuppies from Loudon, Fairfax, and Arlington Counties.

Merujo said...

Bethesda Crest is located on the site of what was my first place of employment in the DC area - the international headquarters of Goodwill Industries. It was a huge, stately home at one time - the residence of one of the first major retail giants of the DC area. During WWII, the building was home to the children of the Norwegian royal family, who were brought to the United States for safety - they still have a very warm spot in their hearts for the area, and they visited the site, remembering sledding down the steep hills in winter (Bethesda Crest has leveled out some of those steep hills, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to live there - I remember one of my colleagues sliding down the drive from our office right into a car on Rockville Pike one winter.)

Later, the building was a hospice-type facility, and by the time I got there in 1993, Goodwill had owned it for years and there were stories of hauntings, with voices and shuffling feet and walls of photos that mysteriously were taken down over and over again in the night. Goodwill sold it and I've watched with amusement as more homes for the rich were built, but could not be occupied due to the controversy with the lack of "affordable" housing. Ha. I couldn't afford that if I turned specialty tricks at 14th and K for a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Merujo --

are you talking about the Goodwill building on the corner of Cedar & Wisconsin? I remember sledding there, too.

Haven't been by there in a while. What happened to the older abandoned property -- large house, might have been a church (?) just a little bit north on Wisconsin, same side?

Merujo said...

Yep, that's the spot- Wisconsin and Cedar, just north of the Boy Scouts building. The building next door was the residence of the pastor of the tiny church there. I noticed just the other day that it's gone. As I recall, that was one of the first buildings (or the site of one of the first buildings) in Bethesda - the Bethesda Meeting House. I had a really bad encounter with the pastor of that church one winter morning, when he parked his muscle car across the back exit to our lot. I pointed out to him that he had made it impossible for us to leave without striking his car, and the man went ballistic on me. Colored my perception of the tiny church...

Anonymous said...

Merujo --

Thanks for the update/memories. Hmm, the back exit to your lot -- was that off of Corsica Dr, the neighborhood behind Goodwill? I recall coming up that way as a little kid and discovering the yellow donation box. It was full, so some cool toys were piled up next to it. Took one home, and boy did I get in trouble. Prompt return, or course.

The property next door -- can't remember if it was occupied or not, but we played on the grounds. It served as our personal haunted house (mid 70s).

Kind of a bummer that it's all getting replaced by 2 mill townhomes. Just another reason to dislike the snooty saleswoman.

Desma said...

I met one in Urbana (NV Homes).

I made an appointment the day before arrived 10 minutes early. Waited 30 minutes and then told by her assistant that she was too busy to meet with us that day and will have to reschedule.

At some point she walked past us while we were waiting like a Diva would not even bother to greet people waiting for her.

Her assistant told me they did not have deals going. What ever that means!

So if you are thinking of NV homes, look around.

Other builders in the area have better homes, better deals and better customer service.