I have always thought of myself as a supportive and patient person. After all, I am a middle child. Our life's goal is to be the peacemaker. Whether it is with my family or my friends, I try to listen first when anyone has a problem. And when I give advice, I try to explore all sides and help the other person figure things out.
Yet, somehow all of those wonderful qualities escape me when I am talking to the Boy about buying a house. It has been almost six months since he started his search. And after countless walk-throughs and at least eight offers on various properties in his neighborhood we are still spending our Saturday evenings in bed listening to his roommate stumble in drunk at 2:00 AM with some random trashy girls.
A few weeks ago, we found a house that would be perfect for him. It was a foreclosure for $95,000 but it was in really good shape. It had only been on the market since Tuesday, so the Boy went to see it on a Friday morning with the hopes of getting in an offer before the weekend house hunters had a chance to discover it.
When the Boy went to make the offer, the real estate agent told him that there were already a bunch of other offers and that they were asking for "best and final" bids. After losing out several times in these types of situations, I talked the Boy into making a really nice offer of $110,000. And then we waited. After a few days, the real estate agent called back to tell the Boy that there were 14 other offers on the house and the bank needed some time to process them all.
The entire week passed and still no word on the $110,000 house. So the Boy kept looking at other properties. On Monday after work, he went to see one that he had considered a few times before, but had never done a walk through. The house was in a great location - just walking distance from Main Street - but they were asking $167,900. A few months ago, that house would have been totally out of the Boy's price range but now he was willing to explore all options.
Since I couldn't go with him, we talked on the phone that night and he sent me a ton of pictures. We probably spent an hour strategizing about the right price to offer and how much work needed to be done to the house after he moved in. The good news was that the house had been on the market a few weeks and since it wasn't a foreclosure, the Boy would not have to deal with the competition of 14 other offers. He decided to come in around $150,000 to leave some room for negotiation.
The next day, I called the Boy to make plans for the evening. As it turned out, he was in the middle of writing up his offer. But it was for a completely different house. It was actually right across the street from the one he was going to make the offer on. The Boy had done a walk through of the third house before, but there were so many other bidders at the time, that he decided not to make an offer. His real estate agent happened to notice that the sale fell through and so the house was back on the market.
As we spoke, the Boy started to rattle off the qualities of this new house. It had a newer kitchen and bathroom, a large master bedroom and a huge deck in the back. But no garage. And the asking price was $168,000.
"No garage?" I questioned him. "I thought that was a deal breaker. Why would you even consider making an offer on a house with no garage?"
"Well, I just thought I would put in an offer and see what happens," he explained cautiously. "There are already at least 5-6 other offers, so I went with $170,000."
"$170,000? That is at the very top of your price range," I continued with my rant. "And if there are other offers, that number isn't even going to hold up, so why bother?" I was so irritated at this point. A few weeks ago the Boy was fighting for the Mold house with the penis graffiti on the walls and now he had completely changed direction and was bidding on houses in the most expensive part of town.
"If I get it, then it's fine. If not, then that's fine too." He said. "I just liked it so I wanted to see what would happen."
To summarize, as of yesterday the Boy was in hot pursuit of three different houses. The one for $110,000 with 14 offers on it, the one for $170,000 with 5-6 offers on it and the one across the street, for which he was still planning to offer $150,000, just as soon as his real estate agent could draw up the papers.
As I was driving home from work, I felt awful about how I reacted to the latest twist in the Boy's house hunting fiasco. I really want to be supportive of the Boy, but this perpetual house hunting continues to expose the vast philosophical differences between us. The whole point of our relationship is to be fun and carefree. We are each other's escape from reality. As a couple, we are not equipped to handle the stress of house hunting and living in a constant state of disagreement.
I was trying to calm down and listening to Joshua Radin's latest CD, which is called the Rock and the Tide, when suddenly I had an epiphany. I am the Rock. Strong and consistent, firmly holding my ground. And the Boy is the Tide. Sweeping in and crashing over me, then retreating back to out to sea and coming back at me from a completely different angle. I am not sure if that is what Joshua Radin was thinking about when he named his album, but it makes perfect sense to me.
Tonight I called the Boy to check in and he told me the latest news on the house front. The house for $110,000 went to another buyer. And someone else put in an offer on the $150,000 house before he could get his offer in. The only thing left was the $170,000 house and he knew when he put that offer in that it was too low to compete in a bidding war.
"So I guess we are back to square one," he said dejectedly. After that tornado of activity over the last few days, the Boy still came up empty. He sounded sad, tired and frustrated.
I realized that I have been focusing so much on how this whole house situation affects me, that I didn't consider how it is affecting the Boy. While he has been dabbling around the real estate market for years, this is the first time that he is buying a house for himself. And it has not been a very positive experience to say the least.
"Let's just call it a fresh start," I told him. I was actually relieved that none of those houses worked out. They were all tainted by my negative reactions from the past few days. "And from now on, I promise that whatever house you decide to make an offer on, I will love it - even if it has penis graffiti on the walls."
"No you won't," the Boy teased.
"Ok. But I will try," I promised. Not only to him, but to myself.
The truth is that I am tired of being the Rock in this scenario. From now on, I am going to aspire to be the Lighthouse. Ever present and stable, but observing from a distance. And gently guiding the Boy as he makes his way home.