I haven’t talked much about the house-buying thing we have going on here, mainly because I figured I might as well save your eyeballs the strain of rolling backwards into your head. Oh god, here’s yet another detail-laden narrative about a pile of lumber and glass.
But now I can’t not talk about this thing anymore, because my house-thoughts are occupying every square centimeter of my brain. There is no room for anything else, people. It’s a constant, annoying hum; making me question my sanity, doubt my motives, pace the floors, and strip down to my skivvies to sing Freddie’s Mercury’s part of “Under Pressure” in my best falsetto. I mean, you know, just for kicks.
A large part of why we chose to relocate to Denver was the affordable housing market. The two times we were here, in summer of 2011 and autumn of 2012, the prices looked great. Especially coming from California, where the average housing prices made me feel like hugging a cold porcelain toilet for the better part of an afternoon. During our visits we would scroll through Denver’s real estate listings on our phones, chortle, and flag the bartender down for another drink. What clever people we were, moving to Colorado and saving a bunch of money!
And then we finally moved here, and the realty world got flip-turned upside down. House prices seemed to escalate weekly, and they were disappearing like buttered hotcakes. Sometimes they wouldn’t even last a full 24 hours on the market, and if they lasted from one weekend to the next, well, you knew something was wrong, like maybe it was located next door to a stinking, flaming pit of garbage. Even our seasoned realtor looked stunned. “If you’d have gotten here four to six months ago, this would have been a different story,” she said.
THANKS FOR LETTING US KNOW ABOUT THAT.
Then, of course, was the fact that we put in an offer on a cream-and-red Victorian and came in second, then we put an offer in on a brick bungalow and came in second again — behind someone who put in an offer $40,000 over asking price. I have to admit, this was when I wanted to throw my hands in the air and give up. “If this is what we’re up against, we’re just not going to be able to afford a house, period,” I ranted to the beau.
And then the weekend before last, we went to look at another batch of houses. Some had already gone under contract before we could even make an appointment for a showing, and I just shrugged and sighed like the hardened, cynical househunter I’ve become.
One of the ones left was a little blue Victorian in the northeast corner of the city. We went in and had a look around. It had many of the features we wanted. It needed some work, but the price reflected that (read: cheaper). It had charm. We decided to put in an offer for a little under asking.
I guessed the offer wouldn’t be accepted.
The next night, our realtor called and told us the seller had accepted our offer.
And I started to panic, and I haven’t figured out how to stop.
Turns out that when I start to panic, I do research. So does the beau. While I engaged in a frantic online hunt for information about local businesses and development plans for the area, the beau went back to walk around and found some neighbors to talk to about the ‘hood. From our own observations and from what the neighbors said, I cobbled together a list of pros and cons about this house.
- It’s cute as balls.
- It’s from 1896, and it’s got the old character and charm and quirks we like.
- It’s got 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and decent closet space, which is unusual for a house that age.
- It has a large kitchen.
- Tall ceilings.
- The upstairs doors have transom lights.
- Very close to downtown.
- Walking distance of Coors Field (where the Rockies play), independent breweries, distilleries, coffee shops, music venues.
- Three blocks from light rail, which can now take us out to Golden and will eventually be able to take us to the airport.
- Easy to get to City Park and myriad bike paths.
- Fairly safe neighborhood overall.
- Billed as the next up-and-coming, desirable area of Denver (good investment in terms property value?).
- House needs updating (yay for making it ours!).
- House needs some updating (moar $$$).
- Billed as the next up-and-coming, desirable area of Denver (bad in terms of gentrification?).
- No master bathroom, but at least there is a bathroom on the same floor as the bedrooms.
- Living room/dining room layout is narrow and strange.
- Low ceiling in partially-finished basement makes it difficult to put it to use.
- No garage, but room to build one off the alley in the back (dolla dolla billz y’all).
- Mortuary across the street (potential strike against property value on resell?).
- Scummy apartments at the end of the block.
- Evangelical church one house down from ours means that our lazy weekend breakfasts will be scored with the strains of Sunday morning sermons.
- Playground at end of street attracts negative elements at night.
- Occasional gunfire.
Over the last week I have been turning and turning and turning this list over in my mind. My good friend asked me to put the list aside and listen to my my gut instinct about it, and I couldn’t because I… don’t have one. What I keep grappling with is: how do you really know which is the right house for you? Is there ever really a “right” house? Like anything else in life, don’t you just pick one that hits a lot of good marks and cross your fingers for the best?
The good people I’ve talked to so far assure me that fear and anxiety are normal when it comes to buying a house. This is reassuring, but it doesn’t help me sort my feelings into the proper bins. Am I generally anxious? Or specifically anxious?
I am not in love with this house — quite honestly, I wasn’t in love with the beau after we first met, either (sorry, dude) — but I see the potential for a relationship to grow. Is that bad that I’m not all moony-eyed? Is there some bad omen juju witchery here that my senses have picked up on but the message hasn’t quite gotten to my brain? Or am I doing myself a disservice to entertain the notion that house-buying should be anything but a rational, intellectual decision? How much should “love” even factor into the equation, here?
We’re marching forward with this contract at least until the inspections later today. In the meantime, I am desperately wondering: HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO DO WHAT YOU DO??? This burning question can also be applied to choosing a career, picking a partner, deciding whether or not to reproduce, selecting which songs to be played at your funeral, etc.
Any insight or guidance is appreciated. You could just tell me I’m being a giant insensitive dick and turn around and go after that house! Or you could just tell me I’m nuts for even going out with this house at all, I mean, I could do so much better for myself! Or you could just tell me to set a suitcase of money on fire and continue renting because that’s basically the same as buying a house except without the headaches of maintaining one!
Tell me anything as long as it’s something!