So began round after round of looking at houses. Houses, houses, houses. I called the listing agents time and again and asked to look, and I’m sure they thought I should have been going through my own buying agent, but I was just practicing. I looked at houses until my head spun with loos, locations, schools, square footage, property taxes, homeowner’s associations, skylights, flood risk, new roofs, oh my God that yard will be a pain, can I see myself cleaning this, they want how much for this? I dreamed of ceiling fixtures and found For Sale signs springing up like mushrooms–the old selective attention thing.
There was a method to my madness. I wanted to learn what kinds of questions to ask, and get a feel for what was available in the area. And it was a real education in seeing the sorts of things listing agents would say, and I wanted to teach myself to say “no” to something that wasn’t quite right. I have tremendous difficulty saying “no” anyway, and I didn’t want to feel sorry for a house and take on a gigantic expensive sinking ship.
My realtor was worried she wasn’t doing her job, because I only called her in twice. The first sale didn’t go through–underwater mortgage meant the seller wanted more than the house appraised for, and I didn’t have a spare $20K lying around to make up the difference, so I had to walk–and the second, well.
The second one almost didn’t happen at all. I paged through listings, and it had what I wanted, but the pictures…well. It’s ugly, I thought. Worse than ugly. It’s downright objectionable. Pass.
But it was in the middle of a good neighborhood, had the schools I wanted, the price was good, and on a whim one day I decided to drive past and take a look. I lost nothing by looking, and frankly, I was beginning to think I’d never find a goddamn house that didn’t have something huge wrong with it. Maybe I’m too picky, I thought, and came around the corner, slowing down so I could get an eyeful. Maybe this just won’t work.
And there it was. The pictures hadn’t done it justice at all. I actually stopped the car on the quiet street and gawked.
It was beautiful. It was downright gorgeous. It was in my price range. It smiled at me, and the trees rustled a welcome overhead.
I drove home and emailed the realtor. This one, I said. How soon can I go take a look?
But you know, I’d already decided. The visit went smoothly, and I made an offer. My realtor was a little nervous. “This is only the second one,” she said. “You should look around a bit more.”
I just smiled. By that time I’d seen somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty houses. “I’m not going to quit looking,” I said. “Let’s just see how this turns out.”
Oh, famous last words. We filled the paperwork out, and the underwriters and title company sprang into action.
That’s when the nightmare started.
to be continued…