In late October/early November, Swede and I launched The Great House Hunt of 2012. Though with only two months left in the year, it quickly became the Great House Hunt of the 2012-2013 season.
A couple months ago, on a chilly, gray Saturday, the very last place we looked at that afternoon turned out to be a keeper, a potentially sweet little home of our own.
I say potentially because we placed a bid, that bid was accepted, and we’re through the legalities and paperwork and supposed to be closing this afternoon. And while it’s been comparatively smooth sailing so far, the real estate market is so screwy and foreign to me that I probably won’t believe the place is really, really ours until two months after we move in our furniture. I’m not completely convinced that after they hand over the keys they’re not going to jerk them away as if attached to a fishing rod.
Anyway, my obvious trusting and positive outlook aside, having never been a house hunter before, this house-hunting escapade has taught me Things.
Many Things. But here, I’ll just tell you a few.
1) Everyone has a “thing.”
As a first-time homebuyer, you will look at eleventythoumillion properties, and not only will they all start to look the same after awhile, you will come to find that there is some random home component that absolutely annoys the pants off of you every time you see it. For me, it was full bathrooms right off the kitchen. I hate it. The thought of having to go through the kitchen to take a shower was just a little too reminiscent of having to trot down the hall in my college dorm to use the bathroom, except instead of a hallway, it was a kitchen, which also just seems unsanitary to me.
For Swede, it was fireplaces. Specifically, fireplaces that took up precious square footage in condos that were tight on space to begin with. Our realtor eventually started giving Swede a little grief about it, and every time we’d walk into a new condo, he’d look around and immediately pout out, “Oh, good, Swede’s favorite, the fireplace.” Surprisingly, our potential new home does, in fact, have a fireplace. Swede doesn’t seem to mind.
2) It’s not dissimilar to online dating.
It’s true. From my (albeit brief) experience, house hunting shares a startling amount of commonalities with online dating. You cruise the sites (real estate or dating), you see something (or someone) you like, you reach out and hopefully get a showing (or a date).
And even the fibbing about size is there! This guy over here says he’s six feet tall, but in person you realize he’s actually 5’9, and you know this because you yourself are 5’9 without shoes but are currently wearing three-inch heels that put YOU at six feet, and your eyes are directly in alignment with his hairline.
Oh yeah? Well that condo over there says it’s 1,000-square-feet, but really it’s only 900, because the inside of the walls don’t count as living space. Also, you are using the term “steps from the lake” in a very judicious manner, condo listing. Not cool. I may have to report you.
3) Despite a market rife with tragedy, it sure can be a bitch to even see some of the properties out there.
Missing lockboxes, wrong keys, no-shows. Just a few of the issues we encountered in touring homes. Or, trying to tour homes. If we were slated to see six homes on a Saturday, we more often than not ended up seeing only four, five if we were lucky. This wasn’t the fault of our realtor, mind you, but the fault of the sellers’ realtors.
I found this quite surprising—given what you hear on the news, the real estate market is just starting to edge its way out of shambles. I figured, then, that agents would be lunging at any chance they got to show off their clients’ (home) goods. But in reality…not so much. It struck me as incredibly irresponsible, but helpful in a way. After all, if you can’t be counted on to make sure that the correct key to your client’s place is in the lockbox,* then I don’t think I can count on you to handle any further negotiations in a functional manner with MY realtor. I’ll pass on your property, thankyouverymuchandhaveaniceday.
Having now gone through a house hunt, I am now the wiser if and when I ever go through one again. And if you’ve never house hunted, now you’re a little bit wiser, too.
You can thank me later.
Coming soon: All You’ve Never Wanted to Know About Closing on a Home.
*I can understand it happening once. But when my realtor calls to alert you to the issue, and we reschedule a shower for two days later and it’s STILL the wrong key? Here, let me slap your forehead for you. I promise to be gentle. Maybe.