I have been at the house hunting gig for over a month now and I have learned
a couple things I would like to put to words in an ordered list. This is mostly
me just complaining so if you have better things to do (which if you are
reading my blog you probably do not), go do them.
1. You are buying a house for the next person who lives there.
You cannot just buy a house with only yourself in mind. You have to consider
the resell value which means you have to consider who might buy this house from
you. This means things like three bedrooms, good schools nearby, a decent
neighborhood, is of great importance even if you do not care at all. That two
bedroom on a busy road might be nice, but how can you sell that 10 years from
now to the family with three kids? This should not stop you from buying a house
that appeals to you, but keep it in mind.
2. House hunting is great for nosy people.
The most private place you can have is your home. Now how would you like
letting a bunch of strangers tramp around taking a bunch of photos, poking and
prodding in all your little hidey-holes. I am just acting in my best interest,
trying to find flaws in the property, but it is another magnitude of social
awkwardness to look in other people’s closets. I also now have a great quantity
of photos of other people’s houses.
3. House hunting is about convincing yourself to spend more money.
The first time you start considering to buy a house you will arbitrarily
pick a number and start to look at houses near that number. For me it was
$150k. Every house below that price is a crack house. Every house above that
price is a mansion. So unless you want to live like an extra on The Wire, you
bump that number up. Then when you are at $200k the houses start looking
better, but you also start seeing some real estate euphemisms like ‘needs sweat
equity’ or ‘perfect for a diy person’. This basically means the house stands
up, but you are gonna have to fix some stuff. I am pretty lazy about things
like that so you start thinking well, maybe I can bust it up to $250k and not
worry about stuff like that. Houses at this level are nice and even livable for
the most part, but they just are not quite there yet. It is like having eggs
with no bacon. Either the road the house is on is too busy, it is too far from
the highway, it abuts a train track, etc. So then you start thinking, maybe I
should stretch to $275k-$300k. Then you realize you exceeded your down payment
and bank loan and you have to stop. The point is you can always spend more
money on a house, at some point you need to compromise on something that is not
4. The easiest thing you can do is not buy a house.
I visited four houses, and looked at around a 100 hundred online listings at
this point. If this were a bar it would be 7:00AM, aka amateur hour. That said,
you can always find something you do not like about a house that would make you
not want to live there. Chief among them at this point is all the houses in
Massachusetts that have oil heat. So many promising prospects dashed because of
oil heat. Natural gas is cheaper home owners! Get your neighbors to band
together and get the gas company in to install a line. Then sell your house to
me for a reasonable price. This is just one example, but it is a whole litany
of big/tiny things like this that just make it so easy to not do anything. It
is of course not helping that it generally takes me forever to change anything.
I literally have worn the same shoes for five years because I cannot be
bothered to buy new ones.
5. This task is not exciting, you are not a better person for doing it.
People keep saying, “It is great you are looking for a house at your age.”
or “It must be fun to go house touring.” The last thing I need is more people
to inflate my head
further. I am not especially smart or good with money, I just happen to be
easily amused which means most of my money ends up getting saved. It is real
easy to get a house down payment going if you just SAVE MONEY. Everyone also
needs to disabuse themselves of the notion that this task is at all
entertaining. Every other homeowner must be so much more level minded than me,
because I am going mental running through all the possibilities here. This will
probably be the most expensive thing I have ever bought. Which means I have to
be extremely careful I do not buy a dud or a home that needs a lot of work or a
home that will lose all its value or any number of other obvious/not obvious
pitfalls I teeter on the edge of falling into daily. I cannot wait until I am
done with the whole sordid affair and have to (maybe) never deal with it ever
So despite all that complaining I still want to do this. If that does
not make you question my mental state, stay tuned readers yet more disasters