I went to an open house yesterday. I haven’t been going to many open houses lately, either because I’ve been working the weekends or because I’ve had better things to do with my time. There haven’t been that many homes that I might be interested in anyway. But there was one yesterday for a house that hit MLS last week. It was right around the corner and it seemed like something I might be interested in, so I went.

43 Strong Ave is a small, 3 bedroom, 1 story cottage, circa 1930 if the MLS listing is to be believed. The listing says ranch, but it’s more of an unconverted bungalow. According to the usual sources, the current owners purchased the house back in September of 2005 for $378,000. It looks like it was an estate sale, so it’s not unreasonable to assume both that they got somewhat of a deal and that house may have been a bit of a fixer-upper. It sites on a smallish plot of land, 62′ x 111′, has no garage and a gravel driveway. Taxes are under $6,000 year, including village tax.

I’d driven by the place a couple times, so I knew that it was small place, but it looked even smaller inside. There was a moderate-sized kitchen, a small dining room and a cramped, but usable living room. The master bedroom was of a decent size, but the second bedroom was small and the third was little more than an over-sized walk-in closet. Overall, there wasn’t much more total space in the whole house than in my two bedroom apartment. The basement seemed dry, although there was only about six feet of space from the floor to the joists, ruling out using it for an exercise area.

There had obviously been some renovations. The kitchen was all new with light wood cabinetry and gray Corian or something similar for the countertops. The bathroom has been re-tiled and the whole house had nice, new windows. There were still some blemishes apparent, but in the whole the place was bright, airy and livable.

So where does the clueless part come in? It’s the price, of course. For this tiny, three bed cottage on a slip of land with no garage and a gravel driveway, the owners were asking $499,000. For the math challenged, that’s just over $120,000 more than they paid for the place almost exactly two years ago. It’s also $70,000 more than a house two doors over, a four bed, 1.5 bath colonial, sold for two months ago.

I keep wondering what’s going on here. There are a few recent comps that show how silly this price is. There are bigger, better homes that have been languishing on the MLS for months at similar or lower prices. What gives?

I really wanted to talk to the listing agent and ask her what was going on. Did she seriously think that this was the right price for this house or did the owner insist on this price over her objections? But the listing agent wasn’t there. The open house was being run by a young woman who was obviously new to the real estate biz. She didn’t know that much about the house. She was confused about which listings on the block belonged to her agency and was even unable to find the house’s washer and drier. I guess that in itself kind of answers my question.