Ever since my separation last summer, I’ve been living in a shoebox of an apartment, fine for me, but instantly crowded if more than three people are occupying the space. It wasn’t long after moving in that I began to entertain thoughts of buying a home, which would give us some much needed breathing room.
Unfortunately, certain realities came crashing in, namely the financial penalties involved in breaking an apartment lease, to the tune of nearly three thousand bucks or more. This is what happens when you don’t read the fine print, children.
That was until yesterday, when I received a gift, a gift in the form of a letter from my apartment management informing me that my lease was set to expire in April, not September. Now I distinctly remember signing a twelve month lease, but here it was, on company letterhead, signed by the property manager, saying that I was up for renewal in April. Whether it was a mistake or not, I’m thinking this may give me some leverage to stand on to get out of that creepy little box and into a real home.
Which of course means I was out house shopping yesterday afternoon. Who wouldn’t be? It’s a great time to buy a house, with home prices and interest rates at all time lows, it is the perfect time to become a property owner?
Sooooo, the girlfriend came up with not only a list of possible new domiciles, but a well thought out tour of each of them, culminating in the one that was without a doubt the nicest of the bunch.
I’ll tell you, the final house had us drooling to the point of considering premature marriage just to be able to afford it. Newly repainted, with new carpeting, tiles, appliances, cabinets, you name it, they had taken care of it. Located in a beautiful cul de sac lot with a LOT of trees and a gorgeous fenced in back yard, I would have signed right then and there if there had been someone on the property with a pen (selling off a couple of my children in the process to come up with the appropriate down payment, as well).
Unfortunately, after some time and realization had set in, I realized that making a move on that home would be unwise. It would have been nice, to be sure, definitely a home I could croak in, but it would have driven my monthly lodging budget up considerably, meaning I would have a roof over my head but also having to do without other little niceties such as food, heating, clothes, gas, etc.
And so after bidding a fond farewell to paradise, I turned to number two on my list. Not quite as perfect, but a heckuva lot more affordable, with a mortgage payment that would actually be cheaper than my current rent. No cul de sac, but still a quiet neighborhood with a lot of trees. I live in Atlanta, and neighborhoods with trees are not exactly common; why most developers adopt the scorched earth policy when planning new subdivisions is beyond me.
The inside is very nice, but the exterior is a bit on the weather beaten side, and the back yard could use some landscaping. But beyond that, not bad. Oh, and the fact that it is over thirty grand cheaper than the other house sounds nice as well. #2 suddenly began to look very appealing.
Sometimes you just have to put the dream on hold for a while and go with what works. I vividly recall being stranded in NC a few years ago when the engine fell out of my van, and faced with having to buy a car so I could, oh I don’t know, GET HOME. We looked at what we could do and I was given the choice between another mini-van and a Pontiac Trans Am. As gorgeous as that T/A was, and armed with the knowledge that I could drive it home (T-tops out of course, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT style), I opted for what was needed at the time, something that could haul musical equipment and small children around with equal aplomb.
So assuming I can turn my apartment manager’s screw up in my favor, assuming I don’t completely screw up my good credit, assuming the owners of house #2 aren’t raving loons and willing to cooperate, and of course assuming that my boss doesn’t start wondering why he’s paying so much money to his creative staff, here’s hoping by summer I will be a homeowner again.
So, today’s lesson, children: don’t be afraid to go with your second string. Sometimes the payoff can be just as sweet. We’ll see just how sweet if I actually get this house, so stay tuned….