Sunday, April 16, 2006


When thank you notes go bad

It started out innocently enough...

B and I had been invited to a dinner party, where the hosts had put themselves out with a lavish spread and which had enough formality that a thank you note was called for. My invitation was through the host, a colleague, but I realized I did not know that hostess's last name. I knew, however, that she did not use her husband's last name.

What to do to address the envelope? Do you write "Bob Smith and Elaine"? That's just too weird. And "Elaine and Bob Smith," implying that she has taken on "Smith" as her married name, would just be wrong. Neither the phone book nor the web-based white pages listed her with his name.

So I did what any trained legal researcher would do. I looked up their property on the electronic database for mortgage and property tax records.

There it was: "1234 Maple Street -- Bob Smith and Elaine Jones."

But at this point, I knew that if I just scrolled down a bit, I could find out the assessed property value of their home. How could I be expected not to peek? (And by the way: Holy cow!!)
Dear Ms. Manners:

Which is worse? Addressing a thank you note without the hostess's last name, or looking up how much their house is worth?

omg, are you just now discovering the joys of real estate voyeurism uniquely available to law professors with access to Lexis?

believe me, there's is far more fun to be had with this handy tool. i once developed a fantasy crush on a book author. looking him up, i saw first a house with his name alone on the title (whoo hoo! he's single!); next a house with his name and that of a woman (boo hoo, he's married); later a house with his name only (whoo hooo, he's divorced!) but then, alas, a most recent record with yet a different woman's name on the title with his.

on another occasion, i discovered that right after the election but before the inauguration, george stephanopolous traded in a cheap condo for a bigger and much more expensive one. and colin powell's house was quite modest until his book royalties started rolling in.

believe me, stop this habit now, as it can quickly become quite addictive.


usynwnw - United States wine whiners
Considering that it's public information, in that anyone can go downtown and read any of those deed books and property records the county's keep on file, I don't see it as being a big deal.
You want real estate porn? Try It's not 100% accurate (my Zillow house value is based on a description that does not include the square-footage increase or additional bathroom from our '90s remodel), but it is pretty cool to see a birds-eye view of the values of all of your neighbors' houses.
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