Saturday, August 11, 2007

Only fools rush in

In addition to being pregnant, we are also engaging in that ritual of adulthood, that harbinger of the life to come, that flirtation with the future that is buying our first house. In the lingo, I should have said 'home' right there, of course, but I'll refrain for the time being, largely because it's impossible for me to associate the agita and agony of this process with any feelings even remotely home-like. Clearly, the romance of the search escapes me.

The good news is, we are coming in at the beginning of the 'housing bust,' meaning it's a 'buyer's market' out there (jargon, jargon, everywhere). The bad news is, few sellers in Charleston have realized that the bust has or is occurring and are continuing to price their homes as if everything were hunky-dorry, which it most decidedly is not. All of this translates into a perplexing state of affairs in which it is next to impossible to tell which of two identically priced houses is filled with cockroaches, mold, and a washer/dryer hookup in the closet of the so-called master bedroom and which is a cute, open, brand-new, well-designed place with a new HVAC and roof. We have seen these and everything in between.

And we have, of course, run into problems we, in our naivete, never anticipated. Who could think that someone would build an addition onto their house in which the ceiling is not even 6 feet tall? (I kept hearing the lollipop league chorus.) And who would have imagined that it would be so popular in the south to place bedroom closests inside adjoining half baths? (Have they never heard of mold??) And who knew there was a type of plumbing popular in the south in the 80's that has subsequently proven prone to catastrophic but unannounced failure after years of pumping chlorinated water (because the chlorine interacts with the material out of which the pipes were made). La la la, just a few little areas of concern!

Back when we first contemplated buying a house, the idea of paying for one sent chills down my spine, but I thought that at least the looking would be entertaining. Now that we are embroiled in it, looking has become a necessary evil. And it doesn't help that we actually do need to move sooner rather than later, since I want to be all moved in before I am mammoth and/or towing along a kid. (When they hear that, people here nod knowingly and say things like "ahh, she's nesting," which kind of makes me want to beat them.)

So, updates as they arise. So far, we've seen some 14 properties (all in one day last week--our realtor calls us "fast lookers"-- with 8-10 on for tomorrow after church (which feels vaguely like breaking the Sabbath to me, but there's just no help for it...yet another morally ambiguous part of the whole process!). Wish us luck!

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