Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Buyer's Remorse? Naah!

When Tom and I were reading up to prepare for the closing of our house, I skimmed a book entitled Home Buying for Dummies. In one of the final chapters, they briefly covered a concept known as "Buyer's Remorse." I glibly ignored the information, saying to myself that I would never experience such a thing. And then we bought our home and started moving in, and we started dealing with mini-catastrophes, including the ones I mentioned in my 48 hours post, and most recently, Tom's car breaking down on the way home from work. The visions in my head of Tom and me leaping around the house with our magic wands, instantly making it into a beautiful charming home full of character and warmth within a week of moving in, crumbled in front of me as our kitchen sink began to make weird thumping noises when we turned on the water, the ducts in our geek room started making a ticking noise when the heat came on, and our garage door creaked like an old man when we opened and closed it. Why wasn't our home embracing us with warm fuzzies and sunshine? And so I began to worry, and began to be stressed and tense. And I lost sight of what was going right by focusing on what was wrong. I forgot the things I loved about this house in the first place...the ways in which it felt so right from the first moment I clapped eyes on it online. The ways in which it still felt like it was where we were meant to be.

In short, I began to suffer from a form of buyer's remorse. Oh, I didn't dislike our little house, nothing like that. However, realization started to hit that unlike a pair of shoes or even a car, we couldn't call foul and trade this purchase back in. We had made a commitment to this house, come hell or high water as the phrase goes. And a dull panic set in the back of my brain. I realized that when a person is contemplating buying a house, they can completely ignore the how-to home repair manual section of the library and gleefully devour the interior decoration books. But when the house is actually yours, sometimes the home repairs come at you so fast, you have to scramble for the instructions before you ever thought you'd need to know them. (Such is the case currently with learning how to repair a dripping bathtub faucet) I focused so much on the little things going wrong with the house that I forgot that our inspector gave the house a glowing recommendation. I obsessed on the wounded trees, and failed to see the beautiful forest.

So I did some searching online under the heading of "buyer's remorse," feeling guilty and apologetic to our Catty-Corner Cottage for even thinking such a thing. The main suggestion that I found repeated time and again on websites was something I had pretty much already realized and started to do. They suggest you write a list of all the things you love about the house that drew you to it in the first place. I expanded on this, and wrote a list of some of our favorite things about the house, and also some of the positive things that we've experienced since we moved in. After all, many of the problems we've faced have had ultimately simple solutions once we were able to figure them out. So perhaps the lesson I am meant to learn from all this is just that when rough things happen, we still find a way to get through them and emerge on the other side together. Our little family is strong, and our connection to the house is being forged as we speak to be just as strong as well. Right now we're getting to know each other, but slowly I think we'll both gain mutual affection and trust.

Good things!
  • Corvin is taking to the house well. Some cats hide for a couple of hours, some for a couple of days. Corvin didn't hide at all. He acted frightened at first, but by the time the first night was over, he greeted us in the morning as if we had all always lived there. I could learn a lesson from him.
  • We have wifi now, and I can surf the web anywhere in the house and we can watch Hulu on our tv.
  • Our neighbors on both sides are really nice and friendly people who look out for each other and hopefully us as well. They are both older/retirement age couples who don't have loud dogs or screaming children.
  • Jim (old landlord) assured me on the phone that there are no problems with the apartment as we left it. Now we just have to wait for the deposit to be sent back to us.
  • Tom finally got the tax information and magazine in the mail that he was waiting on, so the mail seems to be being forwarded correctly.
  • Mom and dad are amazing. They got our bed upstairs, let us have their dining room table, and they let Tom borrow their car to get to work when his was in the shop, among many other things.
  • Our upstairs bathroom shower is nice and warm with good shower pressure, and I like the way it's just dark enough when you're in there for the water to glint in the light. The purple we painted the walls is just the sort of subtle shade I was hoping for in there, and makes it like a small jewel box. It's magical.
  • Our bedroom is coming together, and will be even nicer when I get the trees painted on the walls and a rug on the floor. The peanut butter shade we painted the walls warms up the room immeasurably compared to the pale green it used to be.
  • Our kitchen appliances all seem to be working well, and the kitchen itself is much more room than I at first thought, and lots more room than at the apartment. The stove made yummy apple pies last Saturday, and the stove top seems to be doing great at making my oatmeal and our tea.
  • Tom found a bookshelf left in the basement by the previous owner that works great as a third set of shelves for his DVD collection. Now we have some room for any future DVDs too.
  • The mini-catastrophes we've had so far have all had reasonable and affordable solutions. Glass for a garage window shouldn't cost too much, getting our bed upstairs just took time, but was free. A new cat litter box hardly cost a thing.
  • Tom's car broke down, yes, but we had mom and dad willing to let us borrow the car, and an awesome mechanic who fixed the problem easily and affordably the next day.
  • We have a house. A real house of our own, where we can paint murals on the walls and stars on the ceilings, and blast our tv without worry for our shared-wall neighbors. At night, we don't hear people coming home at all hours, and we don't have to fight for a nearby parking spot. It's a little corner of the world that belongs to us (as much as anything really does).
  • Our neighborhood seems really amazing. Everyone has been friendly, it's quiet and peaceful, and people seem to take care of their homes. According to our next door neighbors, they actually have a community yard sale every year, and a community picnic in the summer when everyone brings a covered dish. I feel like I've moved to Mayberry. In a good way.
  • The location is awesome. It's very easy to get to work, it's easy to get to the grocery store, it's easy to get to the gym (which is our new voting location, which I love) and it's easy to get to my parents' house to visit. It's easy for Tom to hop onto the highway to get to work, and hop back off at the end of the day.
  • I love all the little original details on the house, like the glass doorknobs, the hardwood floors, the entryway, the uniquely shaped doorbell, the dormer window upstairs, the nestled little bathroom in the eaves, the corner fireplace, and the hammered black hinges on the kitchen cabinets.


  1. Grace,

    I found your blog and Domythic Bliss this week through Terri Windling and I have to say they are exactly what I needed I bought a 100 year old foursquare a year and a half ago. I love it, but though I thought I was prepared for the realities of home ownership it's still a shock. What was also a shock was my own emotional response to "settling down", it's like I'm seeing other possible versions of myself end. Right after we closed I got the urge to move out of state, so I think it's my contrarian nature rearing it's head and wanting what I can't have. Not to sound too morose, just that the house buying coincided with a point where I am coming to terms of the things I will and will not do in my life. Add in the struggle to get settled and find the time and resources to work on the house and sometimes I feel incredibly frustrated.

    On the other hand, the response of friends and family to our home, as beat up and scruffy as it is, has been amazing. We're lucky that we can host parties inside and out, have space for my dance troupes and his band to practice, and our cats love the space. And though I may not up and move across the country at the drop of a hat, there is the bonus of being a part of a community and putting down roots.

    This post was definitely a refreshing wake up call when I read it this morning. When we moved in I painted a piece of our kitchen wall with chalk paint, and I have a feeling I should use it to post my own list of home affirmations. So, thank you!

  2. Hi Amy! It is indeed a huge, enormous life altering change when a person buys his or her first home. It's true that it definitely can take some adjustment to realize the enormity of the commitment to which you are agreeing. Thankfully it sounds like for both of us, we chose a home that will be filled with joy and laughter and spirit!

    Thank you so much for your comment. It lifted my spirit as well.