You can’t test-drive a house. And that’s insane

Prior to moving into the new house — yes, we bought a house — I’m sitting in our rental, listening to the various noises it makes when the heater kicks in or after a toilet gets flushed.

And it occurs to me that we just spent a ton of money on a place where we will sleep, conceivably for the next 30 years, and we have no idea what it sounds like at night.

You can test-drive a car. Some dealers will even let you take them home for 24 hours. You can try on your clothes. Hell, you can sample beer, wine, and food before buying. Some animal shelters will let you try out a dog or cat to make sure it’s a good fit for your family.

But a house? Nope.

Sure, you get to have an inspector come through and make sure most things are in working order. But even that is done AFTER you’ve made the offer on the house. And that offer is typically based on a fifteen-minute walk-through. In a competitive market, it might be made after blazing through a crowded open house in five minutes.

Think about it. “Well, it’s got a roof and all the walls and the pipes and what not. We’ll give you half a million dollars. Here’s ten grand cash in earnest money.”

THEN you hire an inspector.

And the inspector is merely looking at structural and functional issues. During the day. He’s not spending the night to listen for ticking or clicking pipes, animals scurrying through the walls, yetis throwing boulders onto your roof, or poltergeists outraged that your house was built on that old burial ground. He’s not checking for weird shadows, lights that only flicker at night, or pockets of cold air.

These seem like oversights!

We watch a lot of horror movies. We always joke that we wouldn’t be THAT couple, the one that hangs around no matter what. The first time the closet starts whispering or the wall starts to bleed the word “GET OUT” into the paint — well, you wouldn’t have to tell us twice! No need for a fight. No need for psychics. Pack up the dogs and haul ass.

But now that we’ve sunk all that money and considering the tax hit we’d take trying to unload the house so soon, I’m not so sure. Besides, how would you explain your behavior to a prospective buyer.

“It says you bought this house two weeks ago and you’re already selling it. What’s up with that?”

“Uh. We hit the wrong button on the Rocket Mortgage App and accidentally bought it. Yeah. That’s it. Nothing to do with the pitter-patter of little feet and giggling coming from the extra bedroom in the middle of the night.”

Anyway. All I’m saying is maybe you should be able to test-drive a house.

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