Ah, there's nothing quite like real estate shopping to bring home to you exactly what kind of “purchasing power” you really have.
The process begins with a trip to the bank, where a sharp-eyed analyst will review your finances. He or she will look at your income, your car payments, your credit history, your bank accounts, how much your first born is worth in collateral, the number of gold teeth you have for potential extraction, and the exact distance between your knees and the ground so the”payment guarantor” (a guy named Guido) can adjust his swing accordingly.
After this analysis, during which time it was revealed that you have an excellent credit rating, several thousand in savings and a great gross debt ratio, you will be told you can afford: a straw bale house in rural Wawa.
Okay, so maybe you'll be able to buy something in metro Wawa; the next part of the procedure is even worse. That's because you must now start perusing the real estate advertisements. This is a cyclical process that works as follows:
1. You read through the ads rejecting all of those properties not suited to your needs (i.e., anything less than six bales high).
2. You find a few ads that describe houses that sound absolutely perfect (i.e., “Look honey! It's got barley fiber doors!”)
3. You arrange to visit the property and discover that the ad photo was taken with the Real Estate Agent Camera, which is designed to make the home look three times bigger than it really is, filters out unsightly objects like the auto wrecking yard next door, and is just enough out of focus to hide the peeling paint or missing shingles.
4. You start back at Step 1.
If you're house shopping right now, I feel your pain and I have something that may help. I have painstakingly researched and created what may be the world's first Real Estate Agentease-to-English dictionary. Some of the most common estate ad terms have been translated below:
Cute: You cannot swing a cat without hitting all four walls.
Cozy: You cannot swing a gerbil without hitting all four walls.
Handyman's Special: Possibly it's just best to knock it down and start over.
Bargain House in Country with Acreage: Your spouse will suddenly be seized with a mad desire to raise hogs. Or possibly alpacas.
Income Property: Provides a steady stream as long as your tenants do not do something silly, like default on their payments and then suddenly take a keen interest in pit bulldog ownership.
Quiet Location: Located out beyond even rural Wawa.
Immediate Possession: Code for owner is trying to unload this property in a hurry.
Rare Find: A term used to make the property seem special without actually meaning anything. See also: Unique, Exceptional, and Exclusive.
Cozy Kitchen: You must sit in the oven to eat your dinner.
Water Frontage: Expect your basement to flood. Monthly.
One-Floor Living: The second floor was condemned by the building inspector as unsafe.
Newer Windows/Furnace: They might be less than thirty years old.
Compact Single Family Home: Your mother-in-law is guaranteed to think the house is very cute and want to move in with you.
Great Room: A room in an awkward spot on the floor plan that can't be used as a living room, dining room, or even foyer.
Vendor is Motivated: Because the property is being watched by the local police.
Feature Home: Agent has represented this property for more than a year and can't move the thing.
Tent, Sleeps Four: What you might want to consider for your next residence to save yourself the trouble and the expense. And it beats straw bales.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.