Post 503: How to buy a house

A stream-of-consciousness account of our most recent emotional roller coaster.

You’re comfortable.

You wake up each day in a cozy, three-floor townhouse that you pay minimal monthly rent for, especially since you split it with your boyfriend.

You have clothes on your back, food in the fridge, and a job to report to each day.

You’re comfortable.

You don’t want for anything, especially since you recently upgraded big-ticket items like your laptop, mountain bike, car, and mattress.

Becoming more of an adult is something you’ve scoffed at, and if buying a house and having children moves you further into that zone, you are good. For right now, at least.

“Ha!” You normally say. “Homeownership. Sounds like that blows.”

And you go off on your merry way, gloating as your friends replace their driveways, install yard drainage, and upgrade failing HVAC systems.

You ride around on your mountain bike, loving life and its simplicity. When you bought your new vehicle, you thought, “Hmm… this will probably have a car seat or two in it someday. BUT NOT TODAY!”

You’re comfortable.

Until that one special house comes on the market and turns your world upside-down for an entire week.

Your boyfriend tells you, “It’s back!” 

You say, “I WANT THAT HOUSE.”

You both have driven by it on several occasions — together and apart — to admire its woodsiness. You were devastated when it left Zillow a month before, though you’d never even bothered to set up a viewing.

So when your boyfriend tells you “It’s back!” you both spring into action.

A message gets sent through Zillow to a random buyer’s agent, who you assume is the listing agent because this is new territory and you have no idea what you’re doing.

You see the house with the buyer’s agent, who you still believe is the listing agent. 

It’s iffy. 

There’s a lot of wood (it’s a log cabin for crying out loud!). 

The heating system leaves a lot to be desired (have you ever seen a coal/wood/oil combo?).

But the land. And the scenery. 

And when your boyfriend’s father, who toured the place with you, mentions it feels like you’re living in the Adirondacks, you practically drool all over the floor.

But your boyfriend is still on the fence. He yearns for continued simplicity, not a matchbox full of things to fix.

You give him space. (Especially after he snaps at you because you’re getting overly emotional about the whole thing and driving him bonkers.)

The next day you leave him alone for a full five hours while he’s at work. And when he comes home, you look at him nervously, hoping he’ll tell you the news you want to hear.

And he DOES.

He wants the house and the land and the weirdly arranged living room and the stupidly complicated heating system and the three-car garage space and the ugly kitchen countertops and the creaky hardwood floors. 

He wants to build mountain bike trails and start woodworking projects and ask the seller if the two of you can keep the seller’s chickens and a rooster who seems to cock-a-doodle-doo at any time of the day.

It’s idyllic. A paradise.

And then you leave town, because you have weekend plans, and drive 5+ hours through urban wastelands and smog-filled thruways. While you’re driving, he calls everyone in his family. He dials up his real-estate-agent aunt, who is fantastic at what she does. She’s on board to help, no question.

The two of you daydream about all the wonderful things you could do together.

Fast forward to the next day. You have to attend your brother’s 30th birthday party, but your prospective log home looms heavily in the air. Your goal is to submit an offer and force the seller to cancel his open house.

Your boyfriend accepts phone call after phone call during the birthday party while you help with the food and watch your 3-year-old niece. You crash in your brother’s bedroom, tap into his wifi, and submit an online offer to the agent. You’ve given the seller a deadline of 9 a.m. the next day. You float through the rest of the evening with a pep in your step and a smile on your face. You’ve told your family about the offer and they (most of them) are pulling for you.

The next day you hear nothing until after 10 a.m. They’re reviewing your offer, they say.

Then, crickets.

For hours and hours and hours.

You’re driving home, back through those 5+ hours of urban wastelands and smog-filled thruways when your agent calls. 

The seller has verbally accepted your offer, but they have a few contingencies. 

You are on cloud nine but you also feel like you’re going to puke. You accept — oh boy do you accept. And you ask them to send the paperwork through so all parties can sign.

Then, crickets.

For hours and hours and hours. You go to bed realizing you might not actually get the house, but you’re hopeful. (Perhaps naively so.)

The next morning you’re told there’s another offer on the table that the seller is considering. You put your head in your hands and start whining like a little girl.

Your boyfriend shushes you and tells you to stop getting emotional.

You get up and clean the house, which is something you do when you’re nervous and need a distraction.

You both realize you need to submit a counter offer, so you pool your money, run the numbers, and go as far in as it makes sense. 

Then you wait.

For hours and hours and hours.

You go for a hike, you take the car through the wash, you make an early dinner and get some work done.

You’re still exchanging ideas for that house, but they’re more fleeting and stated with much less vigor.

You have plans with friends that evening, so you head over there, realizing you will hear the news and either celebrate or drown your sorrows with them. 

Hours pass.

Then, a text from your boyfriend’s aunt, who ran herself ragged helping you go after that house.

You didn’t get it.

Another offer came in, all cash, no inspection.

Crestfallen.

You go home, to your cozy, three-floor townhouse that you pay minimal monthly rent for, especially since you split it with your boyfriend.

You’re comfortable.

And life resumes.

99-cent Barry Manilow

He said it made his day. 

I lugged the record player and the bag full of records up the stairs and entered their townhouse. Kuz and I had picked out a small collection of vinyls to bring back, much to his roommates’ delight.

Especially our friend Kevin. His face lit up when I gave him the 99-cent Barry Manilow records we’d scored at a thrift store. 

We watched the new Walking Dead episode as a group (it’s a weekly ritual) but then rifled through the records I’d brought back. 

From Barry Manilow to Queen to Styx to The Beatles; we were happy campers. We sat around until midnight, dreading the return of classes in the morning. 

“Can we just skip classes tomorrow and do this, instead?” Kevin asked, jokingly. 

I wish.

I knitted and sang, enjoying my friends’ company.

“We listened to a lot of music today,” Kuz said.

Yeah. We really did.

What a perfect day.