Vendores condominis fantastica

RANGE: From coast to coast—and several hundred yards off shore—these cunning creatures can be found in almost any direction: down in the boondocks; between sliding hills and eroding beaches; on the side of a cliff; deep in the swamp; in what appears to be an immediately post-blitz neighborhood; off the beaten track; right on the fault line; and always—it says here—convt 2 shpng, scls, chrchs, transp.
HABITS: It is the Unreal Estate Brokers who lure swarms of developers to descend on a hick town connected to a city by a defunct railway. Before one can say “zoning law,” the Unreal’s victims have erected thousands of undistinguished and indistinguishable bungalows. Then, as quickly as they appeared, these mesmerized “developers” vanish, only to follow the Unreal Estate Brokers to their next roost: the abandoned lofts of light industry in the inner city, where they install faulty plumbing and picture windows with stunning brick wall exposures, all to the Unreal Estate Broker’s specifications. Goosing down payments through the (low, peeling) ceilings, the Unreal’s victims then move in, ever at the restless Broker’s beck and call. Many of the more spectacular “jokes” (or Urban Renewal Projects, as they are officially called) played upon Americans by the Unreal Estate Brokers could not be accomplished without the help of that architectural elf, the Geodesic Gnome.
HISTORY: Unreal Estate Brokers had a spectacular career in the Old World, where they filled the minds of hovel-dwelling serfs with visions of Heavenly Cities and inspired aristocrats, from the Pharaohs of Egypt to mad Bavarian monarchs, to construct absurdly expensive habitations, thereby increasing beyond reason the value of adjacent lots, and all without providing to a single soul a suitable place to dwell. In America, agents of Unreal Estate Brokers have caused the debilitation of property in every state of the Union, most notably in Florida, where many a lot-buyer has found high tide bringing schools of brightly colored tropical fish right in the window of her mobile home, and in Hawaii, where a retiree’s volcano-top bungalow view is only slightly obscured by clouds of steam rising from the molten rock rivers flowing past the front porch.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: Amphibious backhoes. Old barns bulldozed. A sudden craze for bam wood. A plaster shortage. A sudden craze for exposed brick. Old fixtures bought cheap. A sudden craze for adobe. Antique fixtures sold dear. A massive, across-the-board rent increase to offset declining housing starts. The cancelling of commuter rail and bus services in response to the growth of suburbs; vastly improved highway and parking facilities in reaction to a threatened gas shortage. What was that thing that went bump in the night? Just another Unreal Estate Boom. Unreal Estate Brokers sell nice little lots, midway between Catalina and Hawaii


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