Pliny Writes to a Zillow Agent

Pliny, Letters 1.24 to Baebius Hispanus

“My good friend Suetonius Tranquillus wants to buy a little land which your friend is reportedly selling. I ask you to take care to make sure he buys it for a fair price. Then he will be happy he bought it. A bad purchase is always displeasing and all the more so because it seems to remind its owner of his stupidity. Many things about this property are to Suetonius’ taste, if the price is good. It is close to the city, the roads are good, it is a moderate sized house and enough land to distract him without constraining him.

It is sufficient land for a scholar lately turned owner if it relieves a heavy head and refreshes eyes while one walks the boundary and wears out a single path, becoming familiar, taking the time to learn every little vine and keeping track of every tree.

I am explaining these things to you so you will understand how much he will be in my debt and I in yours if he can purchase this small property which has all the advantages to leave him no space at all for regret.”

C. Plinius Baebio Hispano Suo S.
1Tranquillus contubernalis meus vult emere agellum, quem venditare amicus tuus dicitur. Rogo cures, quanti aequum est emat; ita enim delectabit emisse. Nam mala emptio semper ingrata, eo maxime quod exprobrare stultitiam domino videtur. In hoc autem agello, si modo adriserit pretium, Tranquilli mei stomachum multa sollicitant, vicinitas urbis, opportunitas viae, mediocritas villae, modus ruris, qui avocet magis quam distringat. Scholasticis porro dominis, ut hic est, sufficit abunde tantum soli, ut relevare caput, reficere oculos, reptare per limitem unamque semitam terere omnesque viteculas suas nosse et numerare arbusculas possint. Haec tibi exposui, quo magis scires, quantum esset ille mihi ego tibi debiturus, si praediolum istud, quod commendatur his dotibus, tam salubriter emerit ut paenitentiae locum non relinquat. Vale.

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Pliny Writes to Redfin

Pliny Letters 3.19

“I am seeking your advice in a personal matter, as I usually do. The property next to mine, which intrudes upon it in many places, is for sale. This interests me for many reasons, but there are a few detractors too. The foremost attraction is the beauty of joining the lands and then, which is no less useful than pleasurable, to be able to visit both at the same time on the same trip, to have both under the same steward and have nearly all the same workers, to build and decorate only one house, provided the other was kept safe. On this balance sheet, I place the expenditure of furniture, domestic labor, gardeners, and handymen along with hunting materials since there is a big different in cost if you have all of these in one place instead of spreading them around several.

Against this, I fear that it may be irrational to leave a property of so great a size to the same climate risks and the same fortunes. It seems safer to dilute risk by having property in different places. In addition, there is a much delight in a change of location and a journey between places. The final point of our decision is this: the fields are fertile and has access to water; the property is filled with fields, vineyards, and a forest which produces a regular income.”

Plinius Calvisio Rufo Suo S.

1Adsumo te in consilium rei familiaris, ut soleo. Praedia agris meis vicina atque etiam inserta venalia sunt. In his me multa sollicitant, aliqua nec minora  deterrent. Sollicitat primum ipsa pulchritudo iungendi; deinde, quod non minus utile quam voluptuosum, posse utraque eadem opera eodem viatico invisere, sub eodem procuratore ac paene isdem actoribus habere, unam villam colere et ornare, alteram tantum tueri. Inest huic computationi sumptus supellectilis, sumptus atriensium topiariorum fabrorum atque etiam venatorii instrumenti; quae plurimum refert unum in locum conferas an in diversa dispergas. Contra vereor ne sit incautum, rem tam magnam isdem tempestatibus isdem casibus subdere; tutius videtur incerta fortunae possessionum varietatibus experiri. Habet etiam multum iucunditatis soli caelique mutatio, ipsaque illa peregrinatio 5 inter sua. Iam, quod deliberationis nostrae caput est, agri sunt fertiles pingues aquosi; constant campis vineis silvis, quae materiam et ex ea reditum