This post is a part of my 10-day #Countdownto30 series. The series recaps important milestones from every year of my 20s. You can view all posts in this series at http://shellysaysso.com/tag/countdownto30/
So here I am. 25 years old, marketer at a Fortune 500 company by day, Professor by night, and quite a few suitors trying to get my free time. This was the life! But of course, I needed something else to do. I needed a new goal. So what’s the next big, grown-up thing to do? Buy a house. I could finally stop throwing away money on rent. Woop woop!
Now here is where my perfectionism is a problem. I couldn’t just look at 5 houses like the folks on HGTV and pick one. No, I have to look at all the houses before I am satisfied I’ve found the best one for me. I’m a huge fan of due diligence in all decision-making. And on top of that, I have to feel like I am getting the house for a steal. So I looked at homes priced higher than I could afford deliberately. I looked at hundreds of homes, mostly foreclosures. I bid on a few with no success in negotiations. (as I said before, “deal” portion was as important to me as the home itself”). My realtor and the friends and family I occasionally took along were all fed up with me. But I was more than willing to put in the work to try to luck into something that should have been more than I could afford.
One day when looking through listings I saw a property that I had noticed a few months ago had a huge price drop. It was still outside my range, but now within the realm of possibility with some aggressive negotiations. So I went to look at it. It was a garage townhome in decent condition. The previous owners had left it in good condition and with good intentions. They had already bought a bigger house, but were unable to sell this one for what they owed. After a few months of paying two mortgages, they finally just let it foreclose. Between the previous owner trying to sell and the bank trying to sell, the home had been empty for a year. It had 4 levels, each with its own bathroom, and 3 bedrooms, with the master suite occupying the top level alone. Sweet! I reasoned that that was ideal if I ever decided to get a roommate since we’d essentially have our our floors with our own full baths and never need to really cross paths.
So I put in a bid. A ridiculously low bid. After a couple counters, we settled on a price that was way below what it actually appraised for. They were happy to get rid of it.
Before I bought my house, it never occurred to me that it would be strange or revolutionary for a single woman to buy a house. A sista gotta have someplace to live, right? But as I went through the process I got weird questions. My Home Inspector asked if my husband would be joining me when I arrived at the Inspection. When I told him it was just me, he was like “well why do you need all this house to yourself?” Cuz I got stuff, motherfucker. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about what I’m gonna do with 2000 sq. ft myself. I’ll worry about it. Then the appraiser wondered how I could afford it. He didn’t say it directly, but his line of questioning was along the lines of “What do you do, young black girl, that you can buy this on your own?” White men got nerve, I tell ya!
My grandmother asked what I would do if I got married, since I already had a house. I didn’t understand this question. To me it seems obvious that you either just move your boo in, or sell it and buy a new house together. But neither of these were concerns because marriage was not even a thought in my mind. I was single living super hard and not loving them hoes at all. Another person mused that if I had a house there would be nothing a man could do for me and they would all be scared away. Oh?!? Finally, my grandfather said that by getting all bar-height tables it would be difficult for my kids later. Apparently I was supposed to buy furniture to accommodate phantom children that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have ever and certainly not in the near future. Clearly, these people had plans for me that I wasn’t considering in my life choices. But hearing these voices was educational for sure.
I will never forget handing over that big ass check. It hurt my soul to come up off that much money at once! I looked at my bank account and wept, child. But closing on my house, I felt very accomplished. I had my own little slice of the American dream. And I’m glad I got to do it on my own. In true bachelorette style, the FIRST thing I had done after closing was to have a custom closet design company come and re-do my master bedroom closet. LIKE A BAWSE!! Then my family came over to help me clean up the place (the refrigerator had some very questionable things happening, especially) and help paint. We made a day of it! Then I got new carpet and new living/dining furniture and voila! Move in time!
Over the next few years I’ve made other updates and design changes, and I still just LOVE LOVE LOVE my house. But in the process and and different reactions and comments I got from people, I learned that things that seem natural to me can be strange to other people. I was just doing me, but the signals this sent to other people varied significantly and I became a little bit more aware of how much our perceptions could differ.
P.S. There are some before-and-afters of some rooms of the house on a previous blog here: http://shellysaysso.com/2011/11/21/on-my-hgtv-ish/. There’s also an album with more on my FB page if we’re friends 🙂
P.P.S. You do NOT want to ever know how many paint samples a perfectionist has to buy to pick one. SMH. Stressful decisions, man.
We’ve halfway there!
#2009 #wheniwas25 #5daysto30