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.
We closed on a house last Friday. A lovely four-bedroom, four-bath — that’s two each for both of us — in the foothills town of Conifer, west of Denver. It’s up on Shadow mountain and sits on two acres of sloping pine and aspen and other assorted plants that I don’t know the names of. It’s the very picture of serenity, and the close on Friday couldn’t have gone smoother except for the LAST MINUTE FLIGHT TO AND FROM DALLAS THAT CARA WAS FORCED TO TAKE BECAUSE CAPITAL ONE IS NOT ONLY THE WORST BANK IN THE WORLD BUT IS THE EPITOME OF ALL THAT IS WRONG WITH LATE STAGE CAPITALISM IN THE UNITED STATES.
But more on that later.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We moved to Colorado last fall with the intention of renting for a year, figuring out where we wanted to live, then buying toward the end of our lease — or even after the lease was up.
Then again, it wasn’t originally supposed to be like that either. We’d come to Colorado last spring with the intention of just buying a house and then moving. We checked out the mountain town of Nederland, which was full of hippies, had a semi-functional traffic circle, a few coffee shops and a lot of houses set on dirt roads where murderers, bears, and murderous bears might lurk. It was small is what I’m saying. And we’d just stayed at The Stanley, so maybe we were primed to think Colorado ghosts were out to get us.
We saw an amazing house in Nederland, one we considered out of our price range at the time (if you watch House Hunters, you know what kind of foreshadowing that is), and some not-so-amazing houses. But we learned that we didn’t know a thing about Colorado in general and mountain (or mountain-ish) living in particular. We also didn’t know what our work situations would be, so Nederland — west of Boulder — wasn’t going to be practical if either of us had to take a job in Denver. Also, trying to get a mortgage while living out of state seemed like it was going to be a pain in the ass.
So we found a place in Superior, a bedroom town between Boulder and Denver, and two hundred yards between the target and a massive open space with trails and amazing views of the Flat Irons.
Note: My smart-ass comment about tiny houses in yesterday’s post prompted a great comment from my stepsister, which in turn led me to write this. Not quite what she was asking for, but I like it.
HAUNTED TINY HOUSE
EXTERIOR – NIGHT: A dark, cloudy moonless night. The wind whips through the trees surrounding a clearing. In the clearing sits what looks like a child’s playhouse.
INTERIOR – NIGHT: We’re inside of a tiny house, 8 x 10 if that. We enter through the door and into a kitchen/living area, with a tiny fridge and a tiny stove and a tiny table. The camera tracks left and up a tiny ladder to a tiny loft where a white hipster couple — CLEMENTINE and DJANGO — sleep. Clementine has dark black hair cut into a bob. Django has red shaggy hair and a giant beard. Both have multiple piercings and tattoos.
A LOUD BANG IS HEARD — awakening the CLEMENTINE, who sits up too fast and bangs her head into the ceiling.
For their part, sellers and their brokers are seething over what they perceive as a lack of accountability, hidden or misanthropic motives, and the fact that defending one’s property — even correcting a factual error — can prolong or aggravate its turn under the collective microscope. Sellers also object to being typecast as Marie Antoinette in the French Revolution-style discourse.
“Now is the perfect time to buy,” I’m being told by realtors in New York. “You won’t see prices this low again in your lifetime. And the mortgage rates? Forget it. Never be this low again.”
Oddly enough, they were telling me this last October — when prices were 8% higher and rates were at 6%. And again in December, when one apartment developer refused to cover closing costs and wouldn’t drop his price another $10,000 to meet our offer. At the time, we were sort of desperate and thought that apartment–with all its faults–was the only similar that we’d ever see in our price range. Now we know better. And that apartment’s still on the market. Has been on the market for over four months now. They’ve dropped the asking price. Even if we were to overlook all the faults and make another run at it, we wouldn’t offer the price we made last year.
Hey, developers and owners. Consider this. That offer might be 20% below asking price, but you might not see offers this generous again in your lifetime.
Buying that first house had a snowball effect. Almost immediately, Mitch and Gina bought two adjacent lots for even less and, with the help of friends and local youngsters, dug in a garden. Then they bought the house next door for $500, reselling it to a pair of local artists for a $50 profit. When they heard about the $100 place down the street, they called their friends Jon and Sarah.
Admittedly, the $100 home needed some work, a hole patched, some windows replaced. But Mitch plans to connect their home to his mini-green grid and a neighborhood is slowly coming together.
Quick observation: Looking at apartments in Brooklyn is fun … up until the point where you actually think about pulling the trigger and the money becomes real. I’m from Louisiana — the part of Louisiana where you can buy a three-bedroom house for what’s considered a downpayment in these parts. I’m glad there are sites like Brownstoner and StreetEasy to make modern house-hunting a little less intimidating.