THE PERFECT HOME
by Frederick Lacroix
Steve Carmel finds a new house thanks to a real estate agent.
The smart house is wonderful, much more than Steve would have initially guessed, but something feels wrong.
Steve finds out just how things can quickly turn around.
Steve Carmel sat down in the lavish office of the real estate agent recommended by one of his client. Bob Donahue, the agent, was the best in the city according to said client. Looking around the office with its wood panels, its gold and brass trims everywhere, the large bookshelf at the back filled with a mix of books and sculptures, as well as the abstract paintings on the walls and the leather sofa and chairs all around, he certainly looked to be one of the most wealthy of them.
“All that’s missing is a fireplace,” someone said behind him.
Steve turned around to a man in a suit, older maybe early sixties, with a pudgy face and an easy smile. Steve got up and shook the man’s hand.
“Mister Donahue, I presume,” he said.
“In the flesh. And you’re Steve Carmel?”
Steve nodded. The man motioned him to sit back down and made his way to the other side of the desk where he sat down after unbuttoning his gray jacket. He rolled himself forward and put his forearms on the desk.
“I’ve been told you want to buy a house,” Donahue said. “Modern, with all the smart features installed. Is that correct?”
Steve nodded again. “That’s correct. I’ve been renting for more than ten years now, and I think it’s time to buy.”
“Splendid!” Donahue said. “It’s a great time to buy. Real estate prices are down from as few months back but this likely won’t last. A few more months, maybe, before it picks up again.”
“That’s good for me, then,” Steve said.
“Let’s take a look at what I’ve come up with.”
The screen facing Steve lit up and the image of a house appeared. It looked a bit old, maybe a decade, but otherwise seemed nice. Donahue took Steve through a series of pictures, but it didn’t seem to fit exactly what he wanted. They moved on to another house.
About forty five minutes later, Donahue reclined in his chair and fished a cigarette case from his jacket pocket. He offered a small cigar to Steve, who declined, and lit up.
“I’m afraid I have only one listing left to show you,” Donahue said. “And I’m a bit hesitant to do so.”
“Well, it’s a new developer who’s just finished the house. The man behind it used to be an engineer and he wanted to try his hand at making a smart house. I think they’ve finished it two weeks ago. This man and his company have no track record in real estate development and, if you’re interested, I’m afraid I won’t be able to offer my usual promise of high quality.”
“Can’t hurt to take a look, I suppose,” Steve said.
“It certainly can’t.”
Donahue brought up the house on the screen. It was all concrete and glass and metal. Two stories tall, double garage. Perfectly manicured lawn. The inside was spacious and bright, everything seemed new and sturdy and inviting.
“Solar powered, of course. Pool, hot tub, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, central air and heating and a computer that controls everything from the temperature and the lights to remembering your food preferences.” Donahue read on something on his own screen. “Apparently, it can even make meals and do your laundry. Now that I’d like to see.”
Steve was fascinated. This seemed to be exactly what he wanted, even with the added bonus of the meals and laundry machines. He doubted that this would work that well, he’d still need to put the laundry in the machine and take it out to fold it, but that might save him a bit of time anyway. Quite, quite tempting. No way this was in his budget.
“How much he asked?”
Donahue clicked a few times around his screen and his eyes bulged. He read for a few seconds, shook his head and sighed. He gave Steve the asking price.
“That’s one tenth of the asking price for other houses,” he said.
Bob Donahue nodded. “It is. But it also comes with certain conditions. If you wish to resell the house, you have to use the developer’s designated agent. The developer reserves the right to visit and make adjustments to your house whenever they need to, with twenty four hours notice unless it’s an emergency. They also require you to send them a log weekly about improvements, or bugs, that you’ve noticed. The house has its own internet access that they monitor twenty four seven, but you can get your own, unmonitored line, if you wish.”
“It’s a lot to think about,” Steve said.
“Yes, mister Carmel, it is. Would you like me to call you in a few days to see if I have found something else for you?”