It’s funny how the process of courting a house is so dissimilar to the process of courting a mate… especially when both relationships hold the potential for “sharing life everlasting”. R & I find ourselves looking for charming but problematic houses, signs of serious neglect, for the purpose of ‘talking down’ the owners from their inflated expectations in this slowing market. This would be an atypical approach in the dating scene. We see a failing foundation and the little cockles in our hearts start to flutter, as ill sounding as that may be. We shy away from that “pretty as a picture” cottage, with fresh paint still agleam, bursting green sod/lawn and floozy-like flowers abloom (and more often than not, vinyl window replacements). We suffer from that fool-hearty notion that “we can do it…yes, we can!”, when it would be imminently better if we didn’t.
PWN your home!
I mean that I cannot imagine approaching the parents of my then-wife-to-be, proclaiming that their daughter was indeed “cute”, but in need of some “serious and expensive work…unstable and broken foundations, neglected siding, sagging plaster, leaky plumbing”. I would have been (rightfully) kicked to the curb. But yet, we seek out houses in terms of their potential…SPECIFICALLY in terms of that potentiality. We suffer from Pygmalion’s Syndrome and seek our own Eliza Doolittle. Part of the reason is indeed the aforementioned ego issue, but another issue for that is a sense of ownership. To know one’s house inside and out, having coursed through every joist and stud, plumbed every pipe and wire, and grouted all the little hex tiles in the bathroom seem to espouse the sense of ownership seen in Melville-ian ship captains and computer gamers of their rigs. If building completely new were feasible for us, we would opt for that, but paying both rent AND a massive mortgage is just not going to happen right now. Purchasing a so-called "blank canvas" seems to be the second-tier option for us first-time buyers, and an older home (read as pre-1945) has a more desirable starting point (forgive us our naïveté).
So we still await the results of our bid, which happened to be significantly lower than asking price. We weren’t outright turned down and our deadline has a day left, and I take that as a good sign that they hope for a better offer that won't come before accepting ours (I can hope too, can’t I?). The market seems glut with houses for sale, many we have been watching this whole year (“Price Reduced!”). And still we find ourselves amidst the hunt, until we hear from this one. But somehow the din of “top of hill”, “historic district”, and “original hardware” sound well above the shouts of “FAILING FOUNDATION”, “LONG NEGLECTED SIDING”, “BATHROOM….bathroom?”. Oddly the inherent charms of so many other houses seem to pale. It's the essence of this house [see below] that has grabbed us, and not in the particulars. I may be projecting, but this house deserves an "extreme makeover" much in the same way that homely friend of Marsha Brady did [name: Molly, was escorted to the banquet by an astronaut in the end]. The potential is so already there! (I must be sick).