September 2, 2011 by Leah
I was really hating house-hunting. The thought of cold-calling a realtor had me practically in tears. Once we found a broker through word-of-mouth, I was uncomfortable whenever we set out to a meeting (even though the topic was “tell me what you want”) or to look at places. (Granted, we just started looking two days ago.) I feel bad for not liking certain houses – like I’m letting down the dead owners who hadn’t updated anything since 1977 – and awkward for being in homes that are still occupied, and rude for snooping in cupboards or asking questions that one needs to ask but that aren’t exactly dinner-table conversation (“Really? This whole neighborhood is populated by a close-knit religious cult?”) And then we have to talk about money, another taboo topic. Gah!
Then, yesterday, we walked into a house we didn’t hate, and I started to understand why people might enjoy this process. There’s almost a thrill-of-the-chase aspect to it.
It’s wrong to say we didn’t hate the house. In fact, I loved it, and it’s Aaron’s favorite, too. I think what I mostly felt was relief: relief that I didn’t have to justify my dislike for a place, or imagine really hard what it might be like with upgrades, or spend time poking around a house I would never live in.
The House is the cutest and the best-priced of all those we’ve seen. I love the colorful neighborhood (a pretty good cross-section of the population seems to be represented, which makes for an environment I would be much more comfortable in than, say, if we moved into an entirely Adventist community) and the tree-lined streets. Being in the house makes me feel light and happy – instead of vaguely uneasy, downright grossed-out, or like I am pretending to be my friends’ parents circa 1985 (’70s era ranch houses do that to me).
The House is a Small House, and on a tiny lot, but this is okay. It sports a comparatively huge kitchen and living area, unlike so many of the houses we have looked at that waste square footage on useless spaces like garages, sheds, enclosed porches, or giant bedrooms. We might have to get rid of some furniture, but we knew this was a possibility when we moved into a sprawling three-bedroom place in SoCal. The vast majority of our furniture is several years old or was purchased used, so swapping out two pieces for one multi-functional piece wouldn’t be a hardship. There is a furniture consignment shop down the street, and The House has an attic to store excess boxes of books and anything else we can get up a pull-down staircase.
Clearly, I am now experiencing house-love. And, as usual, I am getting ahead of myself. And, I’m getting to know all about the worries associated with house-hunting. I told our broker how much I loved the house at the end of yesterday and he was all, “Do you want to make an offer?” And I was momentarily paralyzed because I can’t believe They would just let us make an offer for an amount of money we don’t have. Yes, we’ve been pre-approved to make an offer for half again as much, but it’s still a really bizarre concept. Should we make an offer? It’s really well-priced, it has been well cared-for, it has a new foundation and a good roof, a fenced yard, lots of interior updates, and a rose garden. What if we don’t make an offer and someone takes it while we’re away for the long weekend?
Aaron wants to see a few more houses to get a better idea of what’s on the market before we commit to making an offer. (He’s so prudent.) I’m trying to strong-arm (er, persuade) him into seeing said houses today so that we could decide to put in an offer tonight if we felt like it. (It would certainly make my weekend more enjoyable to know no one was scooping us while we are out of cell phone range.) Then again, we might find something we like better (although today we will be looking in a price range above my comfort zone, so I’d be surprised if I decide to cheat on my little house with something better).
I guess the upshot is: I have no idea if we will actually get into a house we love anytime soon. I am learning to enjoy imagining the possibilities, though.