Home ownership is the cornerstone of the American dream. Nothing feels as American as lawns and white picket fences, populated by energetic dogs and kids. One can picture Normal Rockwell’s ideal cul-de-sac, and feel content. Home ownership is of course not a reality for many Americans, due to our pervasive wealth inequality, and a housing crash wherein the only people who faced consequences were homeowners, and not the banks that had given them risky loans in the first place. Home ownership is indeed yet another area in which the duality of the American experience raises its ugly head. My fiancé and I have been fortunate enough to be on the potential ownership side, and have spent the last several weekends looking at homes for a purchase later this year. This is the experience of visiting three homes.
Our budget is modest, and we have set our sights on a rural town in Maryland, one which is only likely to remain rural for a few more years. The first home that we observed was in a traditional neighborhood of single family homes. The day we saw it, it was pleasant and sunny outside. Residents were out in their lawns, working on the landscaping. These were promising signs, indicators that this was a neighborhood well kept. The home itself was adequate, if not a bit odd. It was a split level, and well-designed. Split level homes present a problem for my fiancé, however. She grew up in a split level home and found that it lacks privacy. I am inclined to believe the same thing. The upstairs and downstairs did not feel separate enough. Once we have children, I am sure that I will slowly begin losing my mind, as though I have experienced an Eldritch horror. It is necessary, strictly so, that certain locations in my home provide near total privacy.
The realtor of this home was skilled in the art of reserved silence. This was an excellent personality trait for her to have. We were able to observe the home in peace, without having a tag along person explain to us what a microwave is, or how stairs work. She was readily available for questions, but would not interject if unneeded.
If the House Hunters program on HGTV is any indicator, there is always one extremely fixable annoyance that haunts the prospective home buyers. When watching that show, I have in the past been infuriated by purchasers who complain about the color of a room, an issue so trivial to fix that it can be done by an annoyed teenage son. We found our issue with this home, however. The living room blinds were too intense for my fiancé. This was an issue that my undiscerning eye would have never caught, but once pointed out to me, it was impossible to ignore this defect. Our realtor, being unable to read the room, pointed out how expensive these blinds were, as if we were going to be staking our interests in the potential growth value of window blinds.
The second home that we visited was a condo in an equally nice neighborhood. This condo was shaped like a townhome, and came with a hefty homeowner’s association fee. This assault on the free use of our home gave us much to consider. The second home was uniquely designed, and provided great natural light. Our realtor was helpful and reserved. This home shot to the top of the list.
The final home that we visited was a full townhouse on the outskirts of the town. It provided the most space of any of the locations that we looked at. It had a similarly unique layout, but a neighborhood which clearly needed time to grow. Like many townhome neighborhoods, all natural life had simply been stripped out of it prior to the placement of the homes. This leaves a sterile, unnatural appearance for what should be inviting neighborhoods. Every neighborhood needs trees, in my opinion.
While touring this home, we went on to the back deck. This demonstrated a problem, and virtue of the home. The deck unfortunately had little in the way of privacy from the other decks in the townhome community. What was promising was the fact that there was a shirtless, country man just hanging out on his deck a few houses down. I am glad that this community has fellow kindred spirits that recognize the futility of society’s fraudulent shackling and shaming of human beings through the use of clothing. This man, like me, recognizes the importance of nature’s interaction with your bare skin.
The most promising “feature” of this home was the introduction of our potential permanent real estate agent. I will not share her name, but she was energetic and frantic in a way which we believe will sincerely suit our needs. She had a manic air about her, one which would make questioning or crossing her during negotiations a terrifying proposition. As novice home buyers, we could use the rabid fierceness of this agent.
We have made no decisions at this point, still slaves to our apartment lease which expires in October. If we buy a home, I will be sure to write another entry of that experience. Viewing homes by itself gets three out of five stars.