I might function better when I’m slightly sleepy. The parts of my brain that don’t want to focus seem to be quiet. My standards for productivity are lower. I get to really indulge in caffeine and sugar with less guilt because I need it. Exhaustion isn’t a thing to fear maybe.
At some point in the last few weeks I might have thrown together some half baked notions about house hunting, what I was feeling, what I expected. I think those notes got accidentally deleted, but that doesn’t change the fact that yes, we’re shopping for a house, and yes, I’m relatively freaked out about the entire process.
I find it surprising and (surprise!) frustrating that the process isn’t more standardized. My parents have purchased homes at least 4 times that I can remember, and each situation was completely different for them. Beyond the most generic advice of ‘location, location, location’ and ‘think of the resale value’ their advice isn’t relevant for our current market. My co-workers, who mostly bought homes a decade ago, or purchased custom new construction townhomes also don’t have much help to offer with regards to order of operation and which step comes next in the overall process.
We have an interesting set of requirements to balance. We’re willing to buy a house that isn’t move-in ready, if it’s at the lower end of our price range. However, we’re not in a position to buy a house that needs so much work that we can’t live comfortably there while we gradually add updates. So essentially, we’re willing to update a kitchen or add a bathroom. Maybe we’re willing to install air conditioning, but not also update all of the windows and electrical simultaneously. Essentially, what we’re after is a house that has been well maintained regardless of the current aesthetic.
What we’re finding instead are a plethora of homes with superficial improvements implemented unprofessionally. These updates are often layered on top of each other. For example, we saw a home last night where there had been new cabinets installed in the kitchen about ten years ago. There were awkward small cabinets above the sink. What could we possibly use those cabinets for? We opened the cabinets to check and found that the cabinets were mostly blocked off with 2x4s, possibly structural. There was wiring and light fixture in there which illuminated the sink basin area, so it turned out that the cabinets didn’t have real bottoms either. I mean, it wasn’t horrible, it’s just a little weird, but I would rather not spend money undoing someone else’s improvements, only to discover that the inexplicable protrusion into that second bedroom is actually totally explicable by some constraint that will require us to completely change the floorplan of the home to work around.
The few listing’s we’ve seen online that were actually move-in ready were off the market in less than a week. Think about that. A house goes on the market over the weekend and by Wednesday, multiple families have already viewed the home and gotten preliminary financing and an offer in place, and simultaneously the buyer has instigated a bidding war and declared a winner. Don’t these people have jobs, or lives, or laundry? Do they really have nothing better to do than to stalk the neighborhood waiting for homes to go on the market? I’m afraid that to get a really good house we will have become similarly aggressive. It could be the end of the school year is driving everyone crazy.
The home we saw last night was a nearly perfect match for us in a nearly perfect location. One of my favorite features was the potential to use the entire basement level as a master bedroom suite. I also really liked the yard and the style of the stone patio. I was less enthusiastic about the kitchen, but I knew that in the range of the asking price we would have been able to afford to remodel the interior after a year or two. Despite making several calls during our appointment, our agent was unable to get in touch with the listing agent. We didn’t think anything of it at the time; we were just excited to be putting an offer in a house we loved.
Too excited to sleep, my fiance checked his phone and started cursing a moment later. Worse than being outbid, the house had been put under contract while we were viewing the property. In my imagination, the seller’s agent didn’t answer his phone because he was too busy helping his client review the offer they were about to sign. My soul was crushed. It was the moment when you realize that the hot guy in your class is graduating, or your newest crush is from Europe and going home in a week, when you realize that your love is unrequited entirely for circumstances beyond your control. So unprofessional, I thought, fuck them! The next moment, I wonder if they will accept a backup offer, maybe something will go wrong with the first deal. No! Nevermind, I don’t want that house just to spite them! What if the house across the street is available, would I be comfortable driving past that house every day? We’re never going to buy a house if people keep fucking us over like that! Maybe we should just make a lowball offer on that crappy fixer up-er we saw a few weeks ago, no one else wants her, so I’m sure she’ desperate enough to put out by now.
It was alarmingly similar to a fight with a friend. I knew that house shopping was emotional, but I really wasn’t prepared for the emotions to be like those I reserved for humans. So I guess the thing to do is to get over it like it’s a breakup. I have to delete my links and clear my browser history to discourage myself from lingering on the listing – which still indicates that the house is available, by the way. I get to have a short period of indulging in my misery, self medicating with chocolate and sharing my righteous indignation with any friend who will listen to me. We’ll be getting out of town for a few days soon, so a change of scenery will be a great external factor to break up negative thought patterns. We will make sure that the next few houses we visit are in a different style and neighborhood so that direct comparison is less obvious. I dunno, maybe we will never get over our first house love.
I had a lot of coffee today and it wasn’t enough.