Monday, November 8, 2010

On house hunting and soul searching

We've spent most of the ending year in active house hunting. With a new member of the family on the way - and new roles to that, our studio kitchen, one bedroom, 36 sq mt (380 sq ft) apartment doesn't fit the bill anymore.

So we started our search. We had the help of real estate agents, but we conducted our independent searching too. We thought we knew what we wanted in terms of budget, total area and neighborhood, but soon we realized that it was just a little part of it.

With regards to a possible mortgage, we needed to ask ourselves about our professional prospective for the next two decades. Are we so sure we'll be able to spare the money for the payment every month of every year, from now to the next ten or twenty years? What if's? Is it worth the effort?

We thought it would be worth it only if we knew, which we don't, how many people are going to be in our family and what are going to be their needs. If we're going to have more children and if they're going to be more girls or there are going to be boys too. Should our needs change dramatically, we'd be facing the difficulties of selling with a mortgage, which as we're finding out is definitely something to avoid as much as possible.

We visited newer buildings (from 1975 on), designed in the logic of modern life - smaller bedrooms and baths, larger common areas, but the ratio price / total area is ridiculously high. And far too often they are made of poor building materials, so we left feeling a little depressed.

We visited older buildings (from 1900 on), designed in the logic of needs past - with a service bedroom and bath which shows that slavery might have crept well into 20th century in this country, despite what history says. In spite of the attractive details (great ratio price / area, oak and cedar doors, gypsum moldings, high ceilings) far too often those apartments are in a state of derelict that ask for courage to tackle a full renovation, guts on. Are we renovating kind of people, either the DIY or the phone the contractor type? Not really. Not that we know, at least.

While we were in our search the economic tide changed and the bigger banks started offering mortgage loans. Lots of them. Very appealing. So the prices soared, much to our dismay. But we held our ground and our offer was always "money today" and not contingent to bank approval. We know how to be appealing too.

Those questions involving family planning, job prospective, renovation enthusiasm and more, are in fact deep questions that go to the core of our beliefs and foundation of our lifestyle. We found that we held different opinions and points of view that we had to negotiate, not always willingly, not always courteously. But in spite of those exchanges, where we frequently got to learn more about ourselves than the other, or maybe thanks to them, we found something we both liked and made an offer.

Now let's hope that we get the wisdom AND the home.

No comments: