So today is 3-9-12, which is a supercool date. On top of that, yesterday was International Women’s Day (woot woot!) … and a Full Moon (how’s that for some serious female mojo!). And today I signed the refinance paperwork on my mortgage.
This is noteworthy not only because I now have a 4.0% interest rate (!!??), but also because, even after being a homeowner for over 5 years, the historical significance of being a single woman who owns property by herself, with no help from anyone except a generous employer in a socially acceptable industry :), is not lost on me. When I bought my house and signed my first mortgage paperwork in 2006, I could feel my mother and grandmother and many other female ancestors there with me, proudly looking on like so many signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Not long after, I wrote the following essay. The housing market crashed within a few months, so I figured trying to publish it would likely be futile. But all things happen in their own time, so here I present to you:
Househunting is like dating … or “How finding the right home is like finding the right partner”
Be ready for the hunt.
You have to be serious, and willing to invest the necessary time, energy, and money.
Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about the process before you start.
Talk to people, especially girlfriends, that have had a successful hunt and are happy with their catch. Listen to their advice, but know your experience will be unique.
Decide why you are hunting – is this a long term investment? A place to nest? A temporary place to sleep? A way to make some fast money? Will you be here long or not? Will there be children? Parties? Lazy afternoons together? Everyone has different motives, …and yours may change in time.
It’s important to know what you want BEFORE you start hunting so you can focus, and not waste your time or that of anyone helping you.
But… sometimes it’s good to explore and look around casually before you get serious, so you get a better sense of what you want.
And … know that what you want may change during the hunt.
Learn to communicate what you want clearly to anyone helping you with the hunt.
Use your head
Success has a lot to do with timing and what’s available when and where you are hunting.
Know how much you are willing to spend and invest. Don’t get in over your head!
Have a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Don’t compromise on the must haves.
Listen to past mistakes. If in the past you have settled too quickly out of being tired or thinking you might not find something better, don’t!
Learn from every one you see or go inside. You will get a better idea of what you like and don’t like, the lighting, decoration tips, things you may not have thought of before.
Check the foundation. Check the plumbing. Check the heating and cooling systems. Are the surroundings safe?
Note that the time of day you see it can make a difference. Check it out at difference times of day to see who’s hanging around and what the neighborhood is like at night on weekends.
Always get inspections done before you close the deal!
Don’t beg. Don’t bid too high out of fear of losing. Be clear on how much you’re willing and able to give. Be open to negotiation. Be fair and not greedy … but be willing to give more than you expected.
Listen to advice, but make your own decisions.
Sometimes you need to change your search tactics, or get a new person on your team to help you hunt.
Have faith and hope
Understand that this is as much about heart as it is mind – let the magic happen.
Listen to people who tell you when you find the right one you will “know”.
The hunt is scary! It can be exciting, exasperating, discouraging, exhausting!
Stick to what YOU want, since you have to live with your catch!
Don’t let anyone intimidate, guilt, or talk you into one you don’t want.
Don’t let anyone discourage you from going for the one you DO want, in your heart.
You may be disappointed. You may make an offer that is rejected in favor of someone else’s.
It’s hard to get your hopes up and get excited, thinking this is the one, and then it doesn’t work out.
Try not to pine after the one that got away. Try to avoid driving by and gazing longingly at “yours”, with the “sold” sign on it.
Trust that the right one will come along, and have faith that you lost the ones you did for a reason.
Be sure you have a great support system!
Be sure you have a kind but savvy advocate!
Don’t get out of the game too soon – hold out for the right one, but also know when to take a break, or even when to quit.
Sometimes you’ll wonder whether you’re really ready for your dreams to come true, whether you’re ready for the responsibility.
Enjoy the hunt! Stay present, focused, and kind!
Some of us take longer to recover from loss, rejection and disappointment. There’s nothing wrong with you!
Be ready – it can happen at any time! Be aware, and flexible.
Don’t accept the one in front of you because you’re afraid you won’t find another one better, but because you know you won’t find one better.
You’ll feel/know it when you’ve made a good decision.
Some of us fall harder and deeper than others. Some of us need time to mourn and recover.
Sometimes prayer doesn’t work, unless you pray for the right thing to happen.
Hearing “no” is hard.
Sometimes it’s good to get back out there ASAP to see there are other options.
Trust that there are others, that it’s not the end of the world. Don’t lower your standards.
For a while it may seem like none are as good as the one we lost. That passes.
The search can be long and discouraging. You may get tired. You may need to give up or take a break for a while.
Opportunities present themselves at any time, out of nowhere. Be ready!
Sometimes the one that got away gives you a standard to shoot for, a vision to dream about.
Be patient – the hunt may take a LONG time. Hold out for what you want.
Sometimes you will be the only one who understands what you are looking for.
Some aren’t as great as you imagined after you move in.
You will ALWAYS discover something extra after you move in – both flaws and delightful quirks.
The one that got away might haunt you, but hang in there!
Be ready to work
Sometimes you may have to clean up after the previous owner and spruce things up.
Some have been so neglected or abused by previous occupants that it’s hard to see the potential and beauty.
And … Strike a balance between seeing potential and noticing the reality.
Decide how much time and money you want to invest in repairs and decoration – do you mind a fixer upper?
No matter what, when you find the one you want, it will still need some fixing up or just some ol’ fashioned acceptance. It will not be perfect.
Sometimes you don’t appreciate what you’ve found until you’ve lost a couple good ones and regretted it.
You appreciate a good one more when you’ve seen lots of bad ones!
Listen to your heart. Trust your instincts.
Sometimes it looks good on paper or in the ad, but when you see it you don’t want to go inside.
Sometimes they don’t look good on paper but are charming when you see them.
Sometimes the outside looks nice but the inside is in bad shape.
Sometimes the outside isn’t so great but the inside is clean, well-cared for, and cozy.
Sometimes you find one you want to love and think you “should” love, but you just don’t. Don’t force the heart.
Don’t pass up the old ones just because they’re old – they often have a lot of character and charm to offer.
Listen to your heart. It may fit everything on your list, but do you love it? Can you love it?
You may see some that are out of your range, but it’s still fun to peek in the windows!
But … Do a drive by before you peek in the windows. Peek in the windows before you go inside. Consider bringing a friend or an advocate.
Sometimes talking to the present or previous owner yields helpful information. Sometimes it’s just a turn off and not helpful.
It’s hard to get a sense of a place when there are occupants and their things inside.
If you don’t feel at home when you go inside, it’s not meant for you.
If it feels like someone else’s, and not yours, it’s not meant for you.
There may be some you appreciate or admire very much, but they’re not for you.
Remember there are some things that can be changed or modified, but some that can’t.
Be appreciative of those supporting and advocating for you, but be more concerned about not disappointing yourself.
When you’re in love, you forget the things that initially weren’t how you liked or what you expected. Remembering those things can help you get over heartbreak.
You may fall in love with unexpected things you hadn’t thought of or hoped for.
It will only work if they love you back. No matter how much you want or love, if it’s not mutual, it won’t work out well.
When you find it, it may not look like the picture in your head, but you’ll still recognize it.
Know the difference between what you need and what you want.
When you find The One, move heaven and earth to get it.
Inspect carefully before you buy.
Have plans for changes, updates, personal touches but if you want to change it too much, it’s not for you.
You may find yourself wandering back to check out the one you lost. That’s OK as long as you look from the curb.
The one who ended up with the one that got away may not be taking care of the one that got away as well as you would have. Their loss! That doesn’t mean that destiny or history is cruel.
Timing is essential.
Things you didn’t like at first may end up being exactly what you wanted or needed in the end!
You will eventually realize that the one(s) that got away were actually not as perfect as the one you got, and you got a great deal on it to boot!
Someone nearby may have one very similar to yours and fix it up real nice and new, but somehow it’s still not as great as yours and still doesn’t feel like home.
Finding the one is only the start of the journey!
I haven’t yet met my Beloved, but I still love my house! 🙂
Paz, amor … ¡y arriba las mujeres!