Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Uncle Sam has decided to kick us to the curb; starting June 1 there will be no apartment subsidy for us. Goodbye $578 a month. I will never forget you. I will love you forever.
The upside of this fiasco is that the lack of reasonably priced rental properties in desirable locations has driven us into the home-buyers market. With so many incentives to buy we could honestly lose 15% of the purchase price and still come out ahead if we sell the place in two years when I finish school, per the five year plan. So it's house hunting for us.
The process has been a whirlwind. We decided just a week ago that we'd like to consider buying a home and are now in the final throes of selection and settling. It is insane. We have held it together relatively well, all things considered, though it would be unfair to fail to report that last night I broke down in a hysterical fit of laughing/crying and actually speaking in tongues. Ryan is faring better. I have mostly recovered.
The best part of buying a house is getting to break into strangers houses, with or without them present. Yesterday we went into a home that had a post-it written on a side door telling us to simply say "kennel" if we wanted to check out the laundry room on the other side. The "friendly dog", we were promised, would hasten to his kennel. Against our better judgment we tried it out and the well-trained beast did in fact obey us, his unexpected and unfamiliar masters. Still, I consider it one of life's little adventures.
Most interesting, though, are the visits where the current tenants are present for the tour. At one home, an entire family lounged around watching TV while we attempted to make ourselves scarce and still get a good look a the place. Tragically, what I most recall getting a good look at was the underpants-clad gentleman reclining on the sofa in the front room who first welcomed us. Although a concerned woman, presumably his wife, hastily covered him with a blanket, we retained a fairly good view of most of him for most of the visit.
My personal favorite, though, has been Vladimir. Bless his heart, the man wants to sell. Most of the property details online describe the sellers as "motivated" but they really ought to have added a superlative for Vlad. When we arrived he was waiting on the front porch, eager to guide us into the parking space out front. He ushered us in, advising us that his wife, who works nights, was asleep, only to then open the bedroom door and turn on the light, revealing a bedroom whose only memorable trait was a wifely lump in the bed. He spared no detail. The bed containing his wife, he assured us, could be included with the house, no problem I'm thinking sans the wife, but you can neve be sure.) Or his kids bunk beds, for that matter, we could have those, too. The circa 1988 blue sofas a la Sears could be ours if we needed them--they were old, sure, but could serve the new tenants until they could be replaced. Cooling the place should be no problem. There was an evaporative cooler, so nice in the summer because not only does it cool the air but also imparts moisture! In our dry desert clime! Relief sublime! Or, if we preferred, he also had an a/c window unit he'd be happy to leave behind. Whatever we like! The attic was in good condition, perhaps we might like to put a bedroom or two atop the little bungalow? It could be done with ease! All we would need was to place a spiral staircase in the middle of the tiny living room. It would be a piece of cake! In the back yard stood a tiny peach tree that, he delighted to tell us, would give fruit in the summer. The fruit was small, but sweet and delicious! The basement! Did we need his tools? BECAUSE WE COULD HAVE THEM!! WE COULD HAVE ANY DAMN THING WE WANTED! WOULD WE LIKE TO HAVE HIS FIRSTBORN SON? HE COULD BE OURS IF WE WOULD BUY HIS HOUSE!!!!
All the caps lock in the kingdom cannot approach justice to Vladimir's enthusiasm about his house. Bless his heart, his strategy is not well-suited to the real estate market. We ran out of there as fast as we could, and, after we recollected our exhausted brains, all we could remember about the experience was his yammering.
We decided on another house. This morning we were set to make an offer. The plan was to meet the realtor this morning at 8:15.
Last night I lay awake thinking. The house we'd picked--was it the best choice? Would Ryan be happy there? Would I? Was there lead paint? Could we rent it or resell it when the time came? Thoughts of other houses floated through my mind as I prepared to kiss the other options goodbye...but I kept thinking of Vladimir and his little peach tree.
We woke up and went to the realtor's. The first words wout of her mouth were "What about that place with the loud guy? Have you given it any more thought?" Strangely, I had! As we talked more Ryan discovered that in his last-minute farewell searches last night he had landed on Vlad's place and wondered why we hadn't visited it (understandably he didn't remember the house, only its owner.) We decided to go back.
In the final hours of our house hunt we just have to see it again, just in case. But I'm prepared to hit Vlad with a tranquilizer dart if he doesn't shut up and leave us alone. If we want his weed wacker, we will ask for it.