It’s messy and complicated and there’s no theme music
Your realtor waits with a smile at the end of the paved sidewalk. A slate-gray home is nestled in the old growth trees, a floral skirt welcoming you. You feel your partner’s hand slip into yours as you envision your lives there, in that mid-century modern, price 325,000. A fixer-upper.
The realtor walks you through the property, highlighting all of the “ooo’s and ahhh’s” and the backyard big enough for a barbecue with all of your friends. White subway tiles grace the kitchen and baths and there’s actual hardwood floors shining beneath it all.
House number one you commit to memory. House number two and three are equally remarkable, while cameras pan in and out on your café conversation with the love of your life. House number two is out — that layout was all wrong. Besides, how can one live in just 3000 square feet? And the color of those tiles were so ‘90’s. House number three, however —
Except, in reality — there’s no theme music, no camera crew, no realtor with all the answers. House hunting, in short, sucks. It’s likely you won’t settle on a home and make a purchase until house FIFTY-three or ONE HUNDRED and three.
It’s hours upon hours of home-buying websites, all with conflicting information on the same foreclosed property — the only listing today in your area that you could afford. It’s umpteen emails asking questions about the property — which goes under contract before you can get an appointment to see the property. It’s loss. It’s frustration. It’s unbreakable hope.
It’s a well-meaning yet overworked realtor who’s just doing their best to keep up.
It’s putting in an offer on a home that needs work and praying no one else will want it.
It’s awful — it’s stressful — and it’s everything. Even on a 100,000 budget, it’s everything. Even when the waiting and the worry of it keeps you up, night after night. Even when the yard at the house is a bit worse for wear or the kitchen floor was last updated in 1949 — finding that right place, warts and all, is everything.
So, you keep looking into the wee hours of the night and pester your realtor into premature gray and a weathered smile because one day soon you’ll sign those papers and become one of those other people. The other half.
When we rode through nice neighborhoods as a child my parents would lovingly joke that we were just “seeing how the other half lives.” Similarly, I recall riding by brick homes at Christmas times — ones with nice wreaths on the door — and praying I’d make it home on the gas fumes in the tank of my car. I have never known, really, how the other half lives. I have only known unbreakable hope.
If you’re searching for your home, keep searching. If you’re waiting for theme music and cameras — you may have to take a deep breath and prepare yourself. It’s not like the HGTV shows. But as difficult as it can be — it is worth it. So says I —a simple and hard-working person who’s working really, really hard to prepare for home buying, brick by brick— warts and all.