Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hi, I'm a grown up! Will you sell me your house?

Hi my name is Sarah, and I can look at real estate listings online for 4 hours in a row, nice to meet you! Alex and I have suddenly found ourselves in the position where we might be able to buy an apartment or a house, if we are lucky. We are finally in the position to be that married couple in love, who want to have a kid eventually, and house hunting. Doesn't that sound romantic?

Isn't that what you picture too? Also this.

So why do we both keep feeling the alternating emotions of dread, despair, anxiety and malaise on a rotating basis every 15 minutes? I think it's because we're both a little "high strung" by nature. And while in my mind, high strung couples are like this:

They're also like this:

with the ability to look at real estate listings for four hours straight and feel like we have absolutely no idea what we are doing. I'm talking "in my pjs, with nothing in my stomach but a cup of coffee, zombie in front of the computer screen," straight, because I can't seem to think about anything else.


But just now, I had a thought over my favorite 1PM summer breakfast of soft-boiled eggs, avocado toast, smoked salmon and coconut water. (I know, mmmm, right?)

And that thought was: I should blog about this.

Now, those of you who have told me you miss my blog are probably saying:

And thank you for missing me, I miss you too. I was sort of going through this, "I don't want to share my life online" phase. And it was working because nothing was really bothering me for a while. I felt like I kept posting about my fabulous weekends, which is fun sometimes, but I hate reading blogs that just post about fun times they're having all of the time. They get boring, and I didn't want to write that blog. So in the meantime, my sister got married, I took a trip to Iceland, Lake Huron and California, I worked on my novel, did some fun city day trips, read books and watched movies, and didn't tell you guys about any of it.

Then Alex and I decided we're definitely going to have a kid eventually- but I didn't want to tell anyone. Then we decided we want to try to buy a place to live- but I didn't want to tell anyone. Then we thought, we're even going to look in New Jersey (!)- but I didn't want to tell anyone.

Well, over toast and eggs this afternoon, I decided I should tell everyone. Because I think it will make me feel better. Here is a list of the million and 20 things going on in my house hunting head:

  • Is there a good public school system near by?
  • What is better, living in a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn in a small apartment, or living in a nice neighborhood in NJ, in a house with a long commute to work?
  • Can we really afford this?
  • Change is scary!
  • Taxes (NJ) and maintenance fees (NY) are total bummers.
We've been pre-approved for a mortgage, but that didn't make us feel anymore secure. So far we're not really working with an agent, just going to open houses and looking online. Can anyone explain to me what exactly "working with an agent" means even? Also it feels like every damn place we show the tiniest interest in is suddenly "in contract." It's like on one hand, people are telling you to think this decision through, don't rush into anything and on the other it feels like if we don't put a bid on something immediately it will be in contract by the time we decide to.

So, I'm going to take a deep breath, remember that this is a really good problem to have and feel some gratitude,

and hope that you guys write some reassuring, advice filled thoughts in the comments. That is, if you're still following and reading my blog. I hope that you are because it feels good to be back.


  1. She's baaaaaack! yessss

    also, that Oprah gif is the best gif on the entire internet. you win!

    1. Hahaha I know, I was really excited when I found it!

  2. Buying our home was one of the most stressful things I had ever done in my life. Sorry, but I just had to say that so you know that if you do feel totally freaked out, it is NORMAL. Going to a real estate agent helps, because you tell them your price range and they find a bunch of houses in the area of your choice that meet your requirements (price, school system, # of rooms, etc.). It really helps.
    Glad to see you back. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Heather! Always good to know when feeling like a freak is actually normal. :)

  3. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah! I about choked on my beverage when I saw your post! You'd have thought Downton Abbey had started again I was soo excited! I was waiting all summer for the updates, pictures of your sister's wedding. :( Well Im glad some awful thing has not happened to you that has kept you away. I totally get why you've been away. I dont have much advice on house buying, we built ours mostly ourselves. Im with you on the "working with an agent" thing, only Im the seller. We are selling my mom's house. Im not sure what they do to sell a house. Please keep us updated on your quest for a home!

    1. Thank you!! Sorry for making you worry about me! Happy though that I made you almost choke on your drink :)

  4. congrats!

    I'm sure that the experience in the NYC metro area is vastly different than in michigan. Having just bought this house with erin, I'd say that the biggest thing the buyer's agent did for us was help us out while we were preparing to close. She had a lot of great suggestions for what had to be done when, and who we needed to have inspect what. She also pointed us to our local lender. She also was able to show us places that didn't have open houses. Our market was crazy when we were buying, lots of houses being sold in hours after they went up.

    Also, I'd highly suggest looking at places that don't match your criteria. just to see what is out there and even just to see things in houses that you like and don't like. Even if they are outside the area you want to live and/or outside your price range. The place we ended up buying was outside of the area we thought we wanted to live, and smaller than we thought we wanted. But it ended up having a lot of amazing things that we would have never seen in a listing.

    1. Thanks Rex! That's really good advice!

  5. You need an agent. An agent isnt going to cost you anything until you buy and they will help you get through this insane confusion that is NY/NJ real estate. Going to open houses and searching online might help you figure out where you want to be or what you can afford, but it will likely generate more questions and confusion. You arent committing to buy anything by getting an agent and they are professionals who deal with people in your situation every day. If you have any friends who have bought in the past 5 years, ask them for recommendations on agents. You are better off finding someone who is recommended than blindly picking, but even someone a friend loved might not be a good fit for you, so never feel bad about switching if your personalities dont mesh.

  6. I am so glad you are back! I don't know anything about buying a house but I was just so excited to see your tweets about new blog posts! Yay :)

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