Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bagged one

I'm spending most of my time staring at the picture in disbelief. After going my whole adult life (which I'll grant you, is only the past 14 years or so) contentedly houseless, it took about 2 1/2 days to find and buy a house. And - to borrow from Red, Morgan Freeman's character in "The Shawshank Redemption" - I find myself so excited I can hardly keep a thought in my head. They say owning a home is the American dream, which I never really thought applied to me. But now that the Red Sox won a World Series in my lifetime, it's been a thought that's at least floated around in my head. Anyway, I'm staring at the picture of the house a lot.

We looked at 23 houses in the first two days of scouring the Milwaukee area. The fact that there were 23 houses in our price range anywhere amazes me in itself. There aren't 2.3 houses in Flagstaff we could comfortably afford. In fact, the entire southwest is full of houses which seemingly only people who have beamed in from Planet Zoog can afford. Somewhere in the last five years or so, the issue of home ownership has gone from being about "finding somewhere to live" to being about "making money off of people not yet able to own a home".

So we looked at 23 houses. Some of them were pretty nice. Some of them were pretty weird. We looked at one house which was still occupied by a woman who was running a daycare. Not only was the place in nightmare shape with clothes and other possessions everywhere, but the daycare - which was still going on - was our nightmare image of daycare - two kids sleeping on couches while the caregiver sat on one of the same couches watching soap operas.

In some cases, it took less than 10 seconds to figure out the house was wrong for us. Note to prospective home sellers: You might as well rip out the old magenta shag carpeting with the holes and tears in master bedroom. Even a plywood floor would be a more attractive option.

We saw one house we nicknamed the "Swinging '80s Bachelor Pad", which was in terrific shape, as long as you were looking for a pink kitchen, a basement festooned with full wet bar (draft beer nozzles included), beer signs and pictures of Ford Mustangs, and a backyard that included a gazebo with hot tub and stereo speakers. Not that I can't imagine taking an outdoor hot tub in Wisconsin this February, but, well, I can't.

We looked a beautiful Victorian in a stylish neighborhood in Milwaukee, which our realtor perceptively guessed was based on my desire to look into at least one beautiful Victorian in a stylish neighborhood in Milwaukee. (And for those of you who have never been to southeastern Wisconsin: Aren't you surprised there is a stylish neighborhood in Milwaukee?)

23 houses in two days. In the end, one of them felt like home. It was a 1925 craftsman bungalow, with hardwood floors, glass doorknobs, oak woodwork, original stained glass, and even a bathroom or two.

And that's the one we bought.

So I'm staring at the picture a lot these days, in between scanning copies of American Bungalow magazine and watching "This Old House". I can only imagine that actually living there will be even more fulfilling.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on getting a house! I can't imagine toting a toddler through 23 houses! Can we see the picture too?

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