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ARTICLE BY: Maggie Clemens

One of the things I like about real estate is that I learn something new every day.

Yesterday I learned the truth about toilets.

It all happened at a listing I have in La Mesa.  I was there with a housecleaner getting the home ready for our open house this weekend.  Several of the neighbors stopped by when they saw me sitting on the front porch giving the housecleaner some space to work.

As I showed them the property, I explained that we had no idea of when the guest house was built, and there was someone going thru the county records as we spoke to try to determine the year it was built and whether it was permitted or not.

One neighbor said, “look in the toilet.”

What??  I am sure I had a funny look on my face because he quickly said, “no, I’m serious.”

He went on to explain that when it was built they probably bought the toilet at that time and there is a date on the inside lid of every toilet and we could at least use it as an approximate.

Of course, we had to go in and look at the toilet. “Yep,” he said, “it looks like the original toilet.” We looked on the inside of the lid and sure enough there was a date: Jul 8, 1954.

I was astonished, and excited. I quickly called my contact to have them let the person looking thru the county records to look around 1954.  She reached that person who laughed when she told him the story of the toilet, and he said, “that is so funny, because I just found the records and it was built in 1954!”

Who knew!

Later as I was leaving the house I was talking with my client and I told her the story.  She said, “you know Mom has not replaced the toilet in the main bathroom, I wonder what it says.”

Again, of course, I had to go look, after all the main house was built in 1936.  Was it a fluke?  I put her on hold while I went in and checked that toilet, and sure enough there was a date stamp on that one as well – “8-6-36.”

What a fun thing to learn.  When I returned to my office I googled it and sure enough it is a pretty common way to determine the age of a home if you are uncertain.  This obviously doesn’t work when the toilet has been replaced, but the next time I am wondering about the age of a home, I now know that the proof is in the toilet.


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