Buying a House, the Play by Play

by Arielle O’Shea

March 30: Start looking online. We moved to Charlottesville, Va. in October and have been renting an apartment. We’ll buy anything with a yard and more than two rooms after living in Brooklyn for seven years.

April 8: Find a realtor via Google search. She has high reviews and looks about my age. I need friends.

April 10: Look at first house. It has a window seat! And a treehouse in the front yard! My unborn children would be really happy here. Unfortunately, it is next to a bus stop. I don’t mind, but my husband spends the weekend pointing out that high-pitched squeal buses make when they stop and convincing me that those unborn children will die of exhaust inhalation before they ever make it to the tree house.

April 13: Meet with mortgage lender, as suggested by agent. Get scared. Go home and furiously purchase all three credit scores, even though I already obsessively track my score on See they are all high; call my mother and brag.

April 17: Look at more houses. Listing agents lie and use photoshop liberally. Decide my new business will be a Yelp-style review site for homes for sale. (Don’t you steal my idea!) We do find one we like. I know from watching “House Hunters” that I should not be able to live without granite countertops and a “five-piece” master bath, but I somehow manage to overlook that this house is missing both. Also, it is pink. Inside and out.

April 19: Look at house again, along with four others to compare. One was almost certainly a frat house recently. As we drive up, my husband remarks that he’s “seen people being obnoxious on the corner.” We are old. We decide our favorite from two days ago looks better and better. We deliberate over beers and write down pros and cons on the back of a hamburger menu.

April 20: After a late-night email from realtor that indicates someone else may make an offer on our home, we panic, decide that if we don’t want to lose it then that probably means we love it, and put in an offer. I am still confused about how you are supposed to select the one thing that you will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on and live in for 30 years, but luckily, my husband is not a waffler like I am. I promise to stay off Zillow for the rest of my life. After a few deliberations back and forth, we are locked into a contract by 6 p.m. Excited and scared, we treat ourselves to a nice dinner while we can still afford it.

May 8: The inspection. Dun dun dun. This is an old house, built in 1910. It doesn’t look like it’s falling down, but it very well may be. The inspector climbs into the crawl space, tests the appliances and bangs on things. He finds a laundry list of problems and a super cool trap door in the floor of one of the upstairs closets. At least I have a place to hide my jewels.

May 9–16: Negotiate over repairs. Wait for days, which seems like years, for a response. Agonize. Drink.

May 17: We have a deal! Now we just have to wait for closing, which is scheduled for June 21. (And, oh yeah, get approved for that loan. No big deal.)

June 21: Closing at 10 a.m. We are so excited to go to the house after and run through it screaming (possibly in our underwear). Unfortunately, life is not like “My First Place,” another HGTV favorite. Instead, the lawyer tells us we can’t enter until the deed is recorded later that day. We end up there at night, drinking champagne and discovering a mosquito farm in the backyard.

June 25: We start painting. Did I mention the pink? I now understand why people rule out houses because of paint colors. I am in paint hell. I consider killing my husband every time he gets paint on the hardwood floors, but decide this house likely has enough lead paint to do it for me.

June 26: Painting.

June 27: Painting.

June 28: Packing. I naively thought this would be easy because we just moved seven months ago. I was wrong. I actually tried to tell my husband that we don’t even need a moving truck if we’re just going across town. Anything to save a dollar! I am crazy.

June 29: Moving day. It was 101 degrees.

July 1: I’ve been to Bed Bath and Beyond three times in three days.

July 3: Leaky faucet! Interestingly enough, fixing it is quite empowering. This is the American Dream.

Arielle O’Shea lives in Charlottesville, Virginia and writes about money.

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