You Don’t Want That One

We went to see a house this weekend. Three, actually. We have stalked one of them. Not stalked the people inside, to clarify. Just drove past the house on our way back from church. Or took the long way through town to drive by at night to see what it looks like with the lights on. And then there was the one time we drove by and discovered the garage door was open, so we backed up into the neighbor’s driveway and left before anyone noticed us house-stalking. You know, those things you do when you see a house you like that’s on the market. 
This home is pretty. It’s stucco, which hubs loves. Nice backyard. Good neighborhood. Great schools. Two weeks after I moseyed on up to the front door to ask the owners if there was a laundry room inside because the pictures on the internet weren’t definitive, we finally had an appointment to walk
through it. Here’s my take:
Pretty outside. Lots of work to do inside. Everything is old-school brass hardware. The paint is not our color palette. The office is incredibly small. No space for homeschooling. And roughly $120/sq ft before we make any updates to it. So it’s okay. Not perfect, but it’s no longer our number one choice. Why? Because what’s inside doesn’t match what’s on the outside. Nice on the outside, not so nice on the inside.
Proceed to house #2. We’ve been through house #2 before. It’s been sitting on a lot for 2 years, owner-less. We’d have to close in the garage to gain the space we need for an office. But it’s pretty outside and has what we need inside. $88/sq ft. Good schools, but on a busy street, so no real “neighborhoodish” feel to it. We like it okay. Well, to be honest, hubs loves it… I like it okay. 
Our realtor friend proceeds to show us around the house, and then take us to another home by another builder on the street just behind this one. Same price. Fewer amenities. He says, “You don’t want to buy house #2. No, you don’t want that house. It’s built by builder X. They have a reputation for building a “house-in-a-box”… just drive up the street a ways, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. No style, no design, no extras. Just a house. And four walls.”   
He then took us to house number four. House four is built by yet another builder. Also around $88/sq ft, the realtor at this address proceeds to tell us that the other builder’s reputation is bad, yada yada. This house builder is better, more house for your money, etc. 
But it didn’t look any different to me. It looks exactly the same!  In fact, their comments sit the wrong way with me. Because what is a house, anyway? Four walls, yes. But it’s all about what’s inside. Who you invite in. Who’s welcome. Who can stay. What’s on the table for Thanksgiving. Who comes over to play. How the family members inside love each other. If they feel safe. If the neighbors wave as you drive by. 
There are lots of homes in Hollywood that are million dollar custom homes that sit empty, uninviting, cold. Lots of homes in our own town whose owners struggle to make the payments and whose kids go to bed hungry because the pantry’s empty not because they’re boycotting the veggies served as a suppertime side dish. And lots of half million dollar homes that get swept up in the same tornados that the trailer homes do. The loss is the same to the families who lived inside them, and when the home is in ruins or sits empty in a bitter divorce argument, no one will care who the builder was. 
Yes, it’s important to consider someone else’s opinion and expertise when making a huge decision (like buying a home, choosing a job, or a mate, or a pet, or lots of other life-decisions) but we can’t discredit our own gut feelings, women’s intuition or whispers from above when making these choices either.

So maybe, sir, I DO want that house. Not because of who the builder is or is not. But because at the end of the day, a house, no matter the cost, size, or builder, becomes a home when the people inside make it their own. 


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