House buying is like dating: Hard to find Mr. Right

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Back over the summer last year, I started thinking about buying a house. I’ve been renting for about six or seven years. I’ve had three Maryland apartments – one in Federal Hill, one in Catonsville, and my current place in Arbutus.

When I was younger, my plan was to rent for a while, move in with Mr. Right, and then buy a house together. I have an amazing boyfriend, but 29 was creeping up fast and I was only dating casually back  in July. Mr. Right seemed like he wasn’t ever coming around, and why the hell should I wait around for him anyway? So I started thinking about investing in real estate.

I started the process in July. Here we are in March, and I am still currently houseless. The process has been exhausting to say the least (#richwhitegirlproblems, I know) and I can’t help but compare the home buying process to my experiences with dating. When you first start out, it’s all exciting and new. You jump onto all the real estate sites, every house you see with a “for sale” sign is fair game, and touring houses is the most interesting Sunday afternoon activity you have seen in a long time.

But eventually the magic wears off and suddenly you find yourself dreading the tour of the next house because you just know the drywall is going to be rotting away, or the bathroom will need gutting, or you’ll walk in and your eyes will water, not with joy but because the stench of cat pee is slapping you across the face. The last home I toured had uneven floors – I don’t even want to guess how much that would cost to fix – smelled like turtles, and there was an actual hole in the floor underneath the bathtub. You could literally see the room downstairs.

The worst part is when you find one that you really do like and it lets you down by being perfect on the outside and a crazy freak on the inside. I put an offer in on a sweet little single family with a spacious yard, back deck and an attic that was converted into a huge master bedroom. There was even a small room I wanted to turn into a personal library.

The inspection went perfectly, my mortgage application was approved, I even had a settlement date. Then my broker found out the house was sitting directly in an apocalyptic flood zone that was going to cost me way more in insurance than I was willing or able to pay. After a lot of tears I decided to walk away. To rub salt in the wound, the new realtor the seller hired after I pulled my offer put the house back on the market within two days – for $15,000 less than what I was going to pay for it. It’s like dating a guy with lovehandles, breaking things off and then seeing him two months later with six pack abs. Brutal.

The fact of the matter is, it all comes down to faith – the blind belief that even though you’ve gone through too many options to count that eventually, one of those guys/girls/houses are going to be the right one for you. It’s challenging – really challenging – and at every turn there is someone or something just waiting to bring you down or trying to break you (a common term for these people is “haters”).

The important thing to remember is not to lose hope – because the moment you do, someone else could snatch up that opportunity that could have been yours. And trust me, whether it’s in real estate or relationships, you do not want that to happen.

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