My mail carrier hates me. Before proceeding, I feel obligation to advise that the following information, although riveting, will likely lack depth, as well as much useful real estate market education; nonetheless, it should, at the very least, entertain.
It started last spring, shortly after our society shutdown due to a rouge virus that quickly turned into a pandemic. Like many homeowners, we decided to initiate some projects to increase our home-staying enjoyment. One such project included the complete remake of our backyard.
By “backyard,” I am actually referring to a mountainside. With the exception of a patio, the rest of our yard is essentially part of a mountain. We decided to add some stepping stones leading to a deck. At some point, the endeavor took on a mind of its own. The project escalated to three decks, two patios and several landing areas, with a bridge as well as a waterfall.
Due to the abundance of landscape product needed, the driveway was often the dumping point. Sometimes the dumping point bled out to the street, right in front of the mailbox.
First, we got threatening notes in our mailbox. “The US Postal Service will not deliver mail to a box that is not accessible.” They will, however, deliver the nasty note inside the mailbox that is blocked. The next time we saw our carrier, we apologized in person. She reiterated her disgust. The next day, we apologized again, attaching a note to a box of girl scout cookies ... a peace offering of sort. She took the cookies but left the note behind. We offered another box the next day, but she did not retrieve it from the mailbox. It may have been because the box was blocked again, but who’s to really say?
The mailbox has become an interesting addition to the home. Mail slots or boxes didn’t become mandatory in the United States until 1923. The U.S. Postal Service required that mailboxes were not only big enough and strong enough for magazines as well as letters, but also durable enough to withstand the weather. It was actually a post office employee by the name of Roy J. Joroleman who engineered the common tunnel-style mailbox still in use today.
The mailbox itself is not a common purchase. Most existing homes already have one in place. We generally don’t worry about what kind of mailbox it is, or how it looks, unless it sticks out for some reason. For example, in our neighborhood, although there are no CC&R’s (codes, covenants and restrictions) that mandate it, all of the mailboxes are enclosed in brick. If one home didn’t have a brick-enclosed mailbox, it would be clear that someone in the neighborhood, was not keeping up with the proverbial Joneses. As a side note, I actually hit a brick mailbox while backing out of the driveway of a home I was showing on one occasion. They crumble on impact and they are not cheap.
Fences, garage doors, landscaping and lawn gnomes are all fun, if not interesting, ways to make a home unique. However, the common mailbox has become somewhat of a personality statement. In my local travels, I have seen mailboxes in the form of Snoopy, a phone booth, a cactus, a giant golf ball, a dollhouse, a fish, a myriad of football team helmets, a train, a Dalmatian and a barn. This is just what I’ve seen with my own eyes. There are some seriously creative mailboxes out there. If you have a free afternoon some time, Google it.
A mailbox will likely not increase the value of your home. It also will not affect the sellability of a home — unless it’s ugly, then it should be replaced by Joroleman’s standard tunnel box before selling. Many townhouses and condos have a common spot for all the mailboxes. A key is needed to access the mailbox, and oftentimes it cannot just be passed on to the next owner; rather, the post office requires the new owner to go in person and prove they are the new owners in order to get a new key to access the box. Meantime, the mail piles up.
I just listed a condo that does not have mailboxes. There is not a spot in the community that has been set aside for postal use. The owner, if they want mail (and honestly, who really does?), must pay for a P.O. Box at the local post office to receive mail. Amazon, however, will deliver to the doorstep.
I continue to smile and wave at our mail carrier. She has yet to wave back, but maybe it was just the wrong type of cookie. This year, I have Tagalongs and Samoas. Perhaps one of those will solicit a smile.