I guess when you live in a small town, everybody likes to think they know you better than you know yourself. Nothing makes this more evident than the home-buying experience. Pushy Realtors, improvements that are needed but not mentioned, and finding yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place (literally in some of these basements) is all just part of the package.
My own experience took place almost immediately following my engagement, which presented us with some unique challenges. There is nothing that makes a Realtor drool more than a girl, recently engaged, looking for her dream home to settle down in. Don’t get me wrong; I was excited too. My fiance telling the Realtor at every house we visited that “I can envision us starting a family here!” made things pretty difficult.
One of the houses we looked at was extremely small; there were three rooms on the main floor (a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom) and only one large, unfinished room in the basement. The typical Realtor talk of having a “cozy” house that was “near the school” and in a “nice neighborhood” seemed to pass the sniff test, until we walked outside and saw three pit bulls chained to the neighbor’s garage, barking as if they were ready to rip us to shreds. A garage with graffiti in the next yard over sealed the fate of that house; it was on to the next.
The next house we visited was in a country location, with a beautiful windbreak surrounding the yard and a construction date of just a few years prior. We eagerly awaited the Realtor arriving to let us in; the instant we entered the house, we eagerly awaited the Realtor wrapping up the tour. As we ventured in, large cracks in the drywall were clearly evident, as were large cracks in the ceiling. The ceiling fans, which were not of the highest quality, hung in some places only by the electrical wiring. The master bathroom, which boasted on the internet of a hot-tub, had a cracked toilet which had leaked water across the floor, staining the linoleum with rust spots. The garage, which had not been emptied when the previous family departed, was covered with mouse droppings and, worse yet, dead mouse bodies. The Realtor quickly tried to shut the light off and move on to the next area of the house, we but we had seen enough. The final dagger in the property was that a new septic system was needed; estimates put it at an additional $20,000 on top of the price of the house.
I finally found a gorgeous home in a community that prides itself on clean yards, helping neighbors and a low tax rate. The home has three bedrooms, didn’t need any repairs, and has been a complete joy to live in. It is a testament to patience in the market, and waiting until you find exactly what you want.
Avoiding the house of horrors isn’t so hard, as long as you are willing to spend the time in making your decision.