Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Adventures in House Hunting

The sun is shining today. It's chilly out there and the threat of rain looms but it's still a day, struggling to start brightly.

I know how it feels. Once again, I got to bed far too late last night and had to get up far too soon. I'm currently devouring my rather large cup of coffee which I actually made at home with my nifty little French press. That thing makes tasty coffee and it's way easier even than a regular coffee maker. It's a bit messy to clean but it's well worth it. It means I can bypass the office coffee for a day which, while no longer vile, is still just office coffee.

I did go look at houses last night. Naturally, I did the one thing I'm not supposed to do. I loved the first one I saw. Granted, we looked at four and the other three were definitely not to my tastes but that first one...well, I could live there. Don't worry, I'm going to keep looking but it's definitely on my radar.

Looking at houses is fascinating. The first one had just been redone and you could tell that the owners had put time and into effort into making their house sellable. They had put in new appliances, painted and cleaned. It looked liked they wanted someone to buy their house. I wanted to buy their house. Then we looked at two others, priced similarly to the first. What a contrast. The second one felt wrong when I went in. It had old carpet, no longer lying flat but easily trip-able. The basement was dark and gloomy and though there was an interesting '70's style padded bar and seats, the newly installed wall paneling had already buckled and I knew it was hiding something bad. It just felt like an antique store that sold nothing but junk, no treasures thrown in to keep it interesting.

The third house was a bachelor pad. The owner was asking the same price as for the first house I had seen. This was also a contrast. The carpets were thick, shaglike. They were dirty. As mean as it sounds, it smelled like a bachelor pad. The bathrooms were sparse and the corners were dirty. The kitchen had potatoes that were actually growing leaves because they had been left for so long. It was just...dirty.

It was an eye-opening experience. People think very highly of their houses and ask a lot of money. It amazes me that the first house was clean, airy, the fridge, oven and dishwasher still with their factory manuals taped to them, they were so new. For the same price, the third house had an oven that looked like it belonged in a bomb shelter from the 1970's, the yellowed plastic and manual clock frozen in their attempts to blend in to the 21st century. Both the good house and the other two were within three blocks of each other so there's not even much room to rationalize that the vastly different quality but the similar prices were about location.

I'm lucky. My realtor is fantastic. She's thourough. She's blunt. She's not afraid to point out flaws and tell me what to look for. She also refuses to allow me to fall madly in love with one place but wants me to keep looking and if that first place is still appealing after a lot more looking, then it can be a possibility.

I did look at another place but though the door was supposed to be unlocked, it wasn't and the best we could do is look in the windows. That was enough for me. The driveway was almost vertical up a hill. As a wary winter driver, I'm not about to think about trying to get my little Corolla up a hill that would be tough, even in summer. So, that was an automatic no.

House hunting is fun. Each place offers the chance for me to picture myself living there, to picture where I'd write, the ways I can decorate to make it my own. I am in the best situation possible to buy a home: I rent so I don't have to sell a home before I can buy a new one, the market is a buyer's market, the interest rates low enough that even I on my meager salary can consider buying instead of renting and I'm willing to compromise. The possibilities are endless and I'm no longer terrified of the possibility but excited.

I finally rolled into my apartment around 10 p.m. last night. Being Monday, I had my weekly calls from the Derron-lady on my answering machine. Since that first night, I've realized her urgent need to talk to Derron is limited to Mondays. I feel for her because she clearly can't comprehend that when my answering machine says, "Hello, you've reached [Captain Monkeypants]", it's not really code for "Derron is really here but he's hiding from you." Personally, I'd rather like to take Derron aside and give him a good talking-to. Clearly, he's either not calling this lady back or he keeps giving her the wrong number which happens to be MY number. She doesn't believe me when I tell her it's not Derron's number. She doesn't believe my answering machine. Short of changing my number or unplugging the phone, there's little I can do. It's just another incentive to move, I suppose.

Happy Tuesday!

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