Dating Houses

Finding lasting love in the housing market.

By , Columnist

I found out a few weeks ago that I need to move. So, I am dating houses. Or, as my friend says, I’m “speed dating” because I don’t have a lot of time. I may not find the perfect place to buy fast enough, so I’m searching for marriage material while staying open to the long term dating arrangement of a rental.

The good news these days is you can do online house dating. The problem with the online house profiles is the same thing that’s wrong with the human ones: what you see is not always what you get. Some houses photograph quite well. Other houses only show their best, most obscure angles. One recent profile had a photograph of a rose bush. There wasn’t even a wall behind it. In the human dating world, we’d call that a red flag.

You learn a lot about a house online before you meet it: age, size, extras, improvements. You also see its dating history. Who’s it been with? What did they do to it to make it better or worse? Unfortunately, if they made it worse, you may never know. Homeowners are expert at sweeping their dirty laundry under dreadful old carpets. Others herald the hideousness as home design genius.

I went to a house yesterday that claimed it had two bathrooms. My agent and I walked into the third bedroom, and saw on the other side of the bed a wall of what looked like closets with particle board sliding doors. The owner popped his head in and exclaimed, “That’s the second bathroom!”

We looked at each other in disbelief: “In the closet?”

“Yes,” the owner proudly offered.

The agent tentatively slid the door to unveil the most awkward bathroom configuration I’ve ever seen: one tiny toilet and sink in an area of roughly 24” x 36”. We feigned interest at the ingenuity, aka absurdity. The owner then exclaimed, “And, behind the other door is the shower!” Never mind that you had to climb over the bed to get to it.

Some houses have been abused, and they act out in retaliation with hideous ancient odors, or sinking floorboards. I have walked into houses that felt like they were slapping me in the face. Other houses wiggle their fingers seductively to draw you in with their vast, shiny, wood-floored living rooms, only to trip you later so you fall on your face.

When a house is attracted to you, though, it rises up to greet you, puts its hand out as if to say “Nice to meet you!” I met a house like that. And, I was happy to take its hand. It was a happy date. It’s a bit out of my price range to buy, but if the current sale offer is not accepted, it may ask me back for a second date. And, one day we may be married. I hope so. It was love at first sight.

And, yes, I do believe in that.

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Bridget Fonger is the co-author of “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Just About Everything,” a book that helps women become happier, more passionate and fulfilled by living the “Lazy Way,” aka with less stress and more joy! Ms. Fonger has been featured on HGTV several times with her home décor and…

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