Sunday, December 5, 2010

Letter to a First-Time Homebuyer

Dear Youthful First-Time Homebuyer,

I don't know you.  We most likely will never meet, and that's fine with me.  I don't need to know you.  All I know I learned from your real estate agent, who communicated it to my real estate agent.  And may I say, I don't care.

I don't care if you don't like the color I painted my kitchen.  Or my powder room.  In fact, I don't care what you think of the color of my walls in any room.  There's this stuff called "paint."  I suggest you get familiar with its use and application.  That's what I did, and I am glad to say I survived.  Thrived, even.

Oh, I had help from friends and family grabbed a brush and/or roller and put their backs into it.  Some rooms, however, were all me: the bright pink powder room, for example.  It was the first wall I painted in a home I owned.  It was liberating and educational: I realized I could choose any color and apply it because the walls were mine.  More so than the paying of a mortgage, the painting of the walls made this house mine.  I hope it does the same for you.

While we're talking "decoration," let me mention the carpet.  Yep, it's a little rough, especially downstairs.  It's dirty and rugged.  You don't want me to replace it now so you can feel good during the purchase process, though.  What you want is for me to give you money so you can choose its replacement after my family, including the cats, move out.  I've done that; read the listing.  You see, I know what my cats are capable of, including (but not limited to) hairballs and litterbox "accidents."  I wouldn't want to move into a house with carpet that hasn't been replaced, and I expect your parents will advise you the same way.  Having new carpet while I'm still living here isn't your goal. Moving your furniture into a newly carpeted home should be.

Sure, the drapes convey.  However, the likelihood they'll meet your decor is pretty slim, so I expect you'll take 'em down and use the hardware to hang your own.  That is what I have done in every apartment and condo I've lived in since college.  I don't know you or your preference, so keep them or not, but that's up to you.  I'm not replacing them so you'll feel good about them during your purchasing experience.

The furniture doesn't convey, either, so I don't care if you like my sofa, or if the dining room set is too dark or heavy.  The same for my decor, like my kitchen witch, or my cookie jar.  Do I have too much furniture, or too many books?  Who cares?  The rooms will remain the size they are and your belongings will fill them as well or better.  Don't waste your time telling me those things need to be changed, because we both know they will — as soon as I move out.

You don't have to like my house the way it is.   You have to like this abode enough to imagine it as yours.  And the likelihood that you'll like it off the rack is pretty slim, but I don't want you to settle any more than I would.  You might, however, have to use your imagination and muscle to make it your own home, like I did when I purchased it as a first-time buyer.  The investment is worth it.  Be willing to invest and you'll get the coolest condo in the area.

Just don't expect me to do the work for you.  Your landlords and parents have put in the sweat equity so you don't have to, and that might have been their job.  Mine is just to give you the house you see, and let you use your time, energy and vision to create the home you want.

Good luck.

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