In The Market / Footnotes on a House Hunt

It's the kind of thing people say to you when they know you're immersed in the hunt for a new home. Sentiments usually along the lines of "the right one will come along" or you'll end up where you're "suppose to be," designed to ease the dread attached to looking for the right house. Part of this is derived from past experience - to assure our foe that the stresses of searching and waiting and doubting and loosing will not be suffered in vain (we've all been through it a time or two before and for the most part, all ended up in what we consider to be pleasant places) - But also an easy way to ease the let downs. "Things will work out." "It wasn't meant to be." Assurances we believe because we have to. Because fate is always more alluring than sheer luck.

Same goes for the whole dating game in a sense too. In which we keep trusting that "the right one" is somewhere out there waiting for us. The idealized notion of a soul mate, lingering somewhere out there in limbo waiting for timing and fate collide. Hope reminiscent of our single years (brief as mine proved) where we put ourselves out there again and again, failure after failure, heartache after heartache, bad date after bad date in hopes of finding exactly who (or"what") it is we think we're destined for. Never mind the doubt and discouragement that keeps mounting inside of us along the way.

Which is where we're at now after losing out on a couple houses we fell hard for. Proving how similar house shopping is to spouse shopping in the way we use to be seeking "funny, smart, witty, creative, and handsome 30 somethings with good taste in music" have become a hunt for sleek "modern, pre 70's preferably, single story (ideally Spanish style) exposed beams, with a decent school district, under market fixer uppers." A metaphor I've been entertaining for weeks now as way of keeping myself mildly entertained while having my own housing hopes bent and broken more than a few times already. As is the rocky state of California real estate. With housing prices inflating faster than our poor incomes can keep up (literally) and a routine that use to consist of finding something you like, putting in an offer and waiting on a response to open up negotiations is now what basically feels like straight up war zone, waged by dueling counter offers, tossing around over asking price bids, coming from cash buyers, or ruthless investors all there to undercut people like us. Families looking to make a home out of a house that could use a little love in way of DIY renovations, instead of another soul less flip, or disenchanted rental property to line the pockets of someone who will never come to love or even live in the house.

The things that go through you mind while touring these properties - at a certain point - become almost laughable at how identical they are to the frame of mind while dating:

 "Can I see myself here forever?" 

"I think we can make it work..."

"Am I'm settling?" 

"is this good for a family?" 

"Can I overlook the flaws, or will they just worsen with age?" 

and of course, the ultimate: "Is, this, THE ONE?" 

For the past few months we've been casually, then seriously, now extensively, hoping the right house to come along. Luckily with the support of two extremely patient, exceptionally inviting in laws who have taken us in while we do. It has not only allowed us the convenience of finishing out the school year without having to uproot the kids, but also the luxury of saving money and taking our time to ensure where it is that we truly want to be. Instead of being pressured into something because of circumstance and contingencies.

It's given us the means of bouncing around various cities, trying to determine where to focus our efforts and stalk house listings that began as a fun feat in the start, but has felt tiresome as of late.

And we've been burned a couple times too. Getting our hopes up only to find them stamped out by a handful of annoying circumstances. First, the run down Spanish beauty with mass potential built prettily around an old tiled courtyard with wild cacti sprouting wickedly in surrounding yards that stole our heart (Only to be handed off to another offer in the end) Then the tiny 60's ranch style with an ocean slice view from the corner window in the living room - which was probably way too small - but got our creative straws stirring nonetheless when within the 35 minutes of being there Mike determined a practical way to turn the laundry room into a cute but crammed third bedroom. And the attic, a glorious second story addition which would offer a rooftop view of the San Clemente sea. This house, inherited by the San Diego Zoo by way of donation because the women who owned it was apparently very fond of exotic animals and in turn, left them all her life savings. And her cute house with the pretty beamed ceilings that we wanted it so bad we wrote a loving cover letter professing why it was so special to us attached with a photograph showing just two of our children (suspecting the reality that all four could hinder all chances, because who is crazy enough to cram four kids into a tiny two bedroom beach house?)

But we lost that one to a cash buyer. A fact that caused me quite a few tears as well as a sore begrudging of all humanity in one dramatic low point when I started to see that cash will almost always out speak heart when it comes to prime real estate scenarios. Even when it's the good natured zoo folks in charge of such dire decisions.

There were a couple others in between. The women who went back and forth on her decision to sell the four bedroom home we pined for in Capo Beach based on the manic course of a freshly unfolding divorce. Sometimes they were splitting and selling, other days staying and reuniting. Eventually we gave up and wished them the best in what appeared to be a long term rollercoaster romance dwindling.

 And then of course there's the onslaught of multiple offers we're typically up against. A slew of bids coming in for anything even slightly resembling a "good deal." Which is basically the only properties our budget has allotted. Plus we know we will want to strip nearly any house we buy regardless, so figure we might as well start with one of the ones that need it most. But this aspect works like stacking bricks of defeat as we are wading in tides of a seller's market. Anchored by this exhausting plight to find the "right one." Some place we feel confident we can grow, and thrive, and build this next chapter of life together where it feels "right."

So we continue the tours, waking early and dressing ourselves for the game. Scouring websites and bouncing round agents. Trusting that somewhere along the way we end up in the place we do for good reason. A soul mate built of brick and mortar, as if the story could in some ways be written before it's ours to live. And we continue putting ourselves out there. Trusting that the "one" meant for us is still waiting on us to find it. Good timing, wood beams, handsome bones, mass demo wants, loads of baggage, and all.

But man if fate keeps failing us, I just might just take to reading horoscopes daily and begging for a twist of luck as I sit stone faced at the bar contemplating my losses. So here's to prospects finding promises soon.