How to Buy a House

1

If you’re willing to save the relationship, but not ready for kids, it might be time to buy a house. Planning is the first step. Talk about gardens, an office with a window looking out over pecan trees. Goats, someday; cows, maybe. Pick names for them. This is the work you’ve heard about; shared experiences are what bind us together.

Evenings and weekends, drive randomly around neighborhoods close to parks and historic districts. Take information packets from the most expensive looking houses you can find. This gives you an idea of range. When you venture into shabbier neighborhoods, working class neighborhoods, ghettos, places closer to where you currently live, make jokes about rolling up the windows. Then turn around and make your way back to the higher end houses. Avoid making eye contact with anyone walking the streets, sitting on their porches, etc. Play music loudly to cover the sound of your ratty engine. Ignore the fact that your muffler fell off two months ago.

2

Stop at an upscale grocery store to pick up some of those ‘Home Buying Guide’ papers they give out for free over by the automatic doors. If it is so upscale that they don’t have any, go to the Kroger a couple blocks over. Compare prices and locations, find the most reasonable seeming deals and try not to wonder why they are so reasonable. Make maps, plot out trips to look at houses. Pack a lunch, (remember- you’re saving for a house; this isn’t the time for frivolous trips to Wendy’s), and park in the driveway of the nicest looking house you can find and share sandwiches.

If you find a house you like that is for sale, circle back to it a couple times to make sure you want it, then, with the engine running, one of you hop out and steal the ‘For Sale’ sign from the yard so no one else will know about it. It might be best to do this at night. Begin to seriously consider trying to get a home loan, or, if applicable, a job.

3

If you can’t find a house that you want for sale, you might have to try another approach. Take off work (if you’re working), pack a tent, a grill. You can take shifts if you have to, but be careful you don’t turn this into something too much like work. Better yet- both of you go; treat it like a vacation, a camp out, which it is.

Pitch a tent on the sidewalk in front of the house you want to go on the market. The sidewalk is public property. If the current occupants of the house threaten to call the cops, tell them this. Once you’re pretty sure they have called the cops, strip the camp and take off. It’s best if you use an easily removable tent, or maybe just sleeping bags.

Don’t go too far. Climb a tree, go to the top of a hill or just use a police scanner. The cops will come, the (current) homeowners will complain. The cops will leave.

This is when you go back.

4

As I’ve hinted at above, anonymity is an important factor in house buying. When camping in front of a prospective home, you may want to wear masks or disguises. This can be not only an effective means of disguise and a good way to further confuse the (current) homeowners, but it can also be fun and stimulating. Many couples find this to be a good opportunity to add a little spice to their love-lives. Why not encourage your wife to disguise herself as a seductive nurse, and you, a Hollywood stuntman, recovering in your sleeping bag from a near-fatal accident on the set of a Hollywood blockbuster? You can develop fantasy lives, pretend to know famous or even dead or imaginary people, such as race car drivers, or Richard Dean Anderson. This is an opportunity for quality time between you and your significant other; a chance to work on building that mythology between the two of you. In doing this, you may discover that every situation offers an opportunity for adventure and for strengthening the relationship between you and your loved one. This is an important lesson and one you’ll be glad to have learned.

5

The important thing to remember when buying a house isn’t just persistence, but randomness. In war movies, when they talk about water torture, notice that it is drops of water that drive people crazy. If it were a steady stream, one could adapt.

Bearing this in mind, it may be a good idea to pack up camp every so often and leave. And just when they think it’s over, come back. If you’ve got your eye on a different house, this would be a good way to divide your time between the two. Hop back and forth between them randomly. After a few days, you won’t even have to camp there anymore. It will only require occasional visits to remind the (current) homeowners of your presence. You can even get away with simply driving by playing music loudly at late hours. But be sure to vary the types of music you play: country one night, salsa the next. This serves a two-fold purpose: 1. it distracts from the fact that one person or one group of people are the cause of this disturbance, and 2. it confuses them. (See above.) Just imagine them, sitting in their comfy house/s trembling in terror every time a loud vehicle drives by or backfires, while you sit on your tattered couch watching reality shows. It is always best to take not only pride in your work, but enjoyment from it.

6

Now it is a question of waiting. I’ve known people who’ve waited months or even years for a (current) homeowner to break down and move out. Many lose sight of the long-term goal, until they’re taking Sunday drives through neighborhoods they’ve long given up on moving into, playing traditional German folk music at full blast and not even remembering why. Maybe they see a For Sale sign on that house they’ve always liked, but all ability to move forward has been lost in the blare of accordions.

Even worse are the ones who succeed and wake up one day to find a pair of strangers dressed in skydiving apparatus making love in a hammock in their front yard. These poor souls have become the thing they once hated: they huddle on the linoleum on their kitchen floor, drinking bottled water and waiting for the police to come, hoping that will be the end of it, but knowing somehow that it won’t be; all the while trying to remember something about this that all seems familiar.

These are examples of the most dreaded of words: habit. Habit is death not only to home buying, but to a relationship. Imagine a life as an automaton, doing the same things day in and day out. It isn’t difficult because it requires little imagination. Now we are beginning to see what this has been about all along. It is to be hoped that in buying a home, you will keep in mind not only issues of comfort and secrecy, but also the adventure of it all. Home buying is a big step, it marks a transition in one’s life from adolescence to maturity. Remember, it was only a couple centuries ago that the only people who could vote in this, and many other countries, were ones who owned homes. This idea can be looked at in two ways: 1. it shows that home owners were generally seen as being mature, responsible people capable of making big decisions. 2. since these laws were made by home owners themselves, it serves as a warning to prospective home buyers to remember where they came from and never take themselves too seriously. It is to be hoped that when you succeed in buying your home and wake up one morning to find that ragged pair camped out on your sidewalk, you’ll pack your things and move on. In this way, we all can benefit, as you will have acquired equity, and will make a nice profit on the sale of your home. This is the final lesson of home buying. Now, you are ready. Good luck.

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