Saturday, July 04, 2009

Ain't No Drama Like a Housing Drama

'Cause a housing drama don't stop!

After eighteen days of maintaining a perfect showroom of a house, we were told that someone was going to make an offer on it. And that was good, because at the same time, someone had made an offer on the house we wanted to buy, and so we'd have 48 hours to close the deal on our own house and thus maintain our contract with the sellers of the house we wanted. "Well," I thought. "This is either all going to fall into place, or it's all going to fall apart."

In this, as in so many things, I'm painfully naive.

Because when the offer on your own house is $20,000 below the asking price, it makes for a long and tense negotiation. And when you're staring down a ticking clock on buying a different house, it can make for a particularly nerve-wracking scenario. As a friend said to me: this is the REAL 24, yo. Where's Jack Bauer when you need him to waterboard someone? Of course, I seldom see JB figuring amortization schedules on the fly. (In truth, I seldom see Jack Bauer at all----I hate that show.) Finally, with 20 minutes to go on the deadline, I told the lawyer to drop the contract on the house we wanted. The offer just wasn't going to clear the amount that would make me feel comfortable with the mortgage and closing costs. (Oh, and BTW: living in the state with the highest closing costs is no picnic. Just saying.) The lawyer, in his pithy vernacular, calls this "killing the deal," as in "Fluff, don't call me at 10 of to tell me to kill the deal. I need more time to write up the letter." or "Fluff, the clock is ticking. Should I kill the deal?" Yes, goddammit, kill the deal, and with it my last month of fantasizing about having coffee on the sunporch of that house, looking out into the wooded backyard. Kill my vision of a small, pristine turquoise office with white furniture. Kill it all.

Ah, but it the midst of that, another decision still needs to be made!! What about the offer? Hello, long night of the soul, and thank you to the 3 people who were patient enough to listen to me running them through the various considerations governing the sale. I'll spare you the outrage, the sobbing, the sleeplessness. We'll just say that it's done, and that I'm confident it was the right decision, even if a disappointing one. Oh, and that when my cat missed the litter box this morning and peed on the floor, I was sorely tempted to leave it there to soak into the floorboards in all of its cat-pissy odiferousness.

So now, we're frantically looking for a house to buy before we're turned out on the street. Now, of course, I remember how hard it was to find something that I liked in the first place. Now, I'm considering living in places I've never thought twice about, because it appears to fit our bizarre criteria. Would it have been better to have let the deal live and have eaten ramen for a few years? I suppose we'll find out in the next month or so. Meanwhile, keep your eyes open for a house that's really quiet, but within easy driving distance to work, that has a post-1984 kitchen. Preferably mid-century modern. With a combined living/family room. And a fireplace. And hopefully central air. And hardwood floors.

How hard can it be?

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