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Friday, May 20, 2005


Real estate monologue

Looking for a house is one of those experiences that finds you telling your story over and over again...

Yeah, we're just ready for more space. What? Yeah, we own our current apartment. It's a funny story actually. Well, not "funny," but - we bought the place in 2001. We had just started looking and we found this place we really liked, and it was in our price range, but the real estate agent - who was crazy, by the way, he wears big Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops and is completely in your face, but he knows his shit - he told us they were expecting a bidding war that would raise the price by $20-30,000. So we were prepared not to get the place, and then, September 11 happened. Yeah. We placed our bid on September 12. It was completely surreal. There was only one other bidder and I think ours was higher by a couple thousand dollars. So we got the place, for - I think it was $6,000 over the asking price - and we moved in in October.

It's 640 square feet, for us and a dog. What makes it nice is that you walk into this little foyer area, with french doors to the left that lead into the living room, and a door to the right that leads to the bedroom. So the layout creates a sense of space - better than so many one bedrooms, where you walk right into the living room. Yeah. The kitchen is tiny but the living room and bedroom are nice and big...we said we'd live here as long as we could stand it and then we'd upgrade to a house - no incrementally moving up from one bedroom to two, three... live in a one bedroom as long as you can, because it forces you to live minimally - you can't accumulate any junk...and then go right to a house...

So, we were just starting to think, Hmm, is it time to move? - when out of the blue we get this message on our answering machine, and it's the woman we bought our apartment from! What? No, not the real estate agent - that's the crazy Hawaiian shirt guy - no, she was the woman who actually lived here before us, for like 20 years. So anyway, her message was like, "Hello, I'm moving back to D.C., and I was wondering if you're selling your apartment, or if you know of any other apartments in the building going on sale." Yeah. Out of the blue. We took it as a sign from the universe that it was time to move.

So she's going to be buying the place back from us. What? Yeah, we want a house, but we also want to stay urban...I don't need all of Adams Morgan on my doorstep, but I'm not ready for a life where I need a car to do everything. So I don't know...you go into the process feeling like, "Oh, we've done well for ourselves" and then you see what your money can buy and it's pretty depressing. Which then makes you feel gross because you think of how much money you're talking about and how people in this city live in poverty....

Anyway. It's a matter of sorting out our values. Deciding what trade-offs we're willing to make - space versus location. The problem is we see a tiny place in our neighborhood and we think, "space!" - but then we look at houses where we couldn't walk to anything and we think, "location!" I'm hoping there's a middle ground, but -- I'm not sure.

So anyway - blah blah blah. Enough about me. What's going on with you?

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