Monday, February 24, 2014

How “Just Looking” Can Be Dangerous

I am three years into a new career. It’s great! I’m still continuously learning new things about myself, my new profession, and the people I serve. However, three years into a new career is not exactly the ideal time to begin looking at houses (I can’t even find it within myself to switch apartments so I can get a dog, which is something I desperately want, let alone buy a house…). And yet, here I sit, browsing through Zillow with a few specifics in mind for a home.

Now, I’m just looking, but sometimes “just looking” can be dangerous. I have fallen in love with at least three houses I could see as homes. (DANGER!) The last one was a doozie--Gorgeous, spacious, a yard for a someday-dog, appliances included (luxurious!!!). We’d only just met earlier today, and yet… There was something special. I found myself browsing through the photos, picturing my furniture in the living room, picturing my mail scattered on the kitchen counters and my tacky magnets stuck to the fridge. I looked at the square footage, the double garage (no more scraping ice from the windshield!), the deck in the back yard... And then I had to snap myself out of the daydream.

What’s the best way to do that and protect myself from heartbreak? Find a flaw. That’s right, friends. Whenever you’re online shopping (or in-store shopping), the best way to prevent yourself from getting in too deep is to convince yourself that you’ve not fallen head-over-heels. So, in this case, I set to work. I looked at the price history of the property (could have gotten a great deal in 2005, but now this one looks overpriced...and I’m too much of a deal seeker to fall for that). I looked at home buying guides online (to convince myself that the whole process is just too overwhelming to even consider at this point), and I looked at the realtor’s listing. That was the one that indicated the perfect reason for me to fall out of love with this house. It mentioned the words “sump pump.”

I’ve lived in Iowa my whole life. When a listing says “sump pump” that means water in the (lovely, recently refinished) basement. That also means I don’t want to deal with it. But, just to be sure, I Googled how to check if an address is prone to flooding (in case anyone is wondering, it’s And I had my answer, in all-caps, bright red font: THIS PROPERTY IS HIGH-RISK.

I may have been spared this time, but I fear this (tempting and risky) process of falling in and out of love with homes on the internet will continue… But at least I’m safe for now.


Meg said...

Whew! That was a close one! I know exactly what you mean though. The lure of perfect pictures on the internet is hard to resist. We did the same thing last summer before deciding we really weren't ready for a house payment or location commitment yet. Its just so tempting to get that perfect kitchen!

Cara said...

Exactly! And fantasize about paint and never worrying about putting nails in the walls... (And, for me, having a dog. That might be my number one motivation for house-browsing...). I tend to do the same with PetFinder. Fall in love with a pup, only to see it has been adopted by someone else (which is a good thing).

Jill said...

My husband thanks you for this post! He has great hopes that your methods just might get me to stop emailing him house listings, despite the fact that we know we have decided, together, on multiple occasions, that we do not want to buy a house while we still live in the DC area. It's just so tempting, though!! Next step: apply this to online shoe shopping...

Cara said...

It is tempting...Tempting enough for me to have gone on Zillow yesterday during my lunch hour (yes, I'm just setting myself up)... I found another...And this time I can't use the flood zone excuse (I tried. I checked and it's on high ground...Must. find. another. flaw.). Good luck, Jill! :o)