House hunting is stressful. Actually, the stressful part is waiting to hear back if your offer was accepted or rejected. I am not good at waiting. I am especially not good at accepting rejection.
The first time we put an offer in on a house, I retained my sanity and handled the anticipation and ensuing rejection with aplomb. I hadn’t fully committed to the house-hunting madness so wasn’t emotionally vested. Plus the house was just ok. Probably a good investment but small with an odd layout. Despite this lackluster review of the property, a bidding war broke out, and the seller accepted an offer that was roughly $30,000 over asking, included something like a 40% down payment, and waived the inspection. Who are these buyers?? Here I am toiling away at what I consider a decent job and yet Michael and I can barely afford an FHA loan with 3% down. Living in California makes me feel like a peasant. Actually, living in California makes me a bonafide peasant in comparison to these 40% down folks. But this is the place I chose to call home (actually Michael chose it so I will conveniently shift the blame to him) so I will embrace my pauper status.
The second time we put an offer in on a house, I inhaled three Ralph’s donuts in thirty seconds out of sweat-inducing anxiety, setting an Olympic world record for gluttony. This was the house that Michael and I fell for hard. It was beautiful on the outside, pristinely-maintained on the inside, and had good bones. A two-story, four-bedroom, and two-bathroom property just down the street from our rental. You could tell the owner had pride of ownership and invested in the upkeep of the house. Another bidding war broke out. Our offer, $10,000 over asking, wasn’t even considered as an offer $25,000 over asking with 30% down took the cake. We were crestfallen. A month or so after our offer was rejected, a landlord with a crossbow and Molotov cocktails barricaded himself in the house across the street from our dream home. A police barricade was set up, in effect shutting down the street for six hours. Sharpshooters, a bomb squad, and news vans arrived on the scene while a helicopter circled above the fray. The story made the evening news (if you are curious, here you go: http://abc7.com/news/landlord-armed-with-crossbow-barricaded-inside-west-hills-home/890031/ ). And the only thought in my head during all this craziness was desperate hope that maybe because of this crossbow-wielding lunatic the buyers would become nervous for their safety and back out of the offer.
The third time we put an offer in on a house, I proceeded to chew off my gel manicure until the tips of my fingers were little bloody nubbins. It cannot be good to eat whatever chemical compounds are in that polish and I was so crazed I voluntarily ate plastic. That’s how deep in the house-hunting mania I resided. But third time is apparently the charm, because our offer was accepted and we opened escrow on my birthday. Happy Birthday to me! My offer anxiety morphed into escrow anxiety and that weekend, I indulged in some retail therapy to calm my nerves. Nothing like adding credit card debt to an elephant-sized mortgage. If Michael is reading this, just kidding honey, I don’t have any credit card debt!
On a quick tangent, how fabulous are the dressing room mirrors in TJ Maxx? They light up on the sides and really illuminate your face. I need to remind myself to bring tweezers the next time I come shopping here because while I thought I plucked my eyebrows nicely the day before, TJ Maxx dressing room mirrors would beg to differ.
Back to the house. Being a first-time homebuyer, I was introduced to all sorts of home inspections – the general home inspection, the sewer inspection, the termite inspection, and on and on and on. I applied the same rigor I had in college to studying these inspection reports. Meaning I procrastinated until the very last minute before needing to make a decision to dive in with highlighters, post-its, and bookmarks, scribbling annotations in the margins and circling paragraphs to refer back to.
Post my studies, I’m ready to herald you with a plethora of useless knowledge about the anatomical composition of two different kinds of termites, their mating habits, and colonization practices. You think you may have dry-wood termites in Pittsburgh, Dad? Nay, you most likely have subterranean ones. Terms such as dry-rot, clean-out, plumbing stacks, striker plates, and split-system HVACs are part of my vocabulary now and I like to liberally sprinkle them into conversations to demonstrate how much random information I have stored in my short-term memory.
And now that we’ve closed escrow and the house is ours, it’s on to turf wars and territorial acquisition.