I haven’t wanted to talk about this publicly much, but something happened this weekend that was so unexpected that I wanted to tell the story.
The husband and I have decided that it is time to test the waters of home ownership. We are looking to answer such questions as what kind of floor plan we like the best and where we would like to live because at the present moment we don’t have the luxury of entertaining the question of how much we can afford, which seems to be $250,000 or less.
We know we want new construction. We know we want a one-story. We know we want at least a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage, but we’re hoping to bump into either a 4 bedroom or a 3 with den that we can afford. We want a yard that we can put a fence up in. We want a screened in lanai. We want a home with efficient windows, insulation, and appliances.
Those are basic desires. I’ve discovered that I enjoy a setup that includes kitchen, dining, and living room in a kind of square, like this:
Salespeople want to talk to us about tile and cabinet knobs and counter tops, but really at this point we’re just seeing what a new house is like and what we like. And also could you let us know what the required down payments and closing costs are? I’m sure there are plenty of schmucks that get roped in on stainless steel appliances but if I can’t come up with the cash at closing we’re all SOL regardless of whether we selected the basic or premium tile for the back splash in the master bath. We’re at the “can we do this at all stage” not the “I want white cabinets instead of brown” stage.
Today we took the dogs to get groomed, and near the groomer there are about four different housing subdivisions that are building and selling. We looked at three today.
One was a builder in the community where we would really prefer to live. They only have 3 floor plans available at the moment, and we saw two of them. One was a little above our price range at $266,000 and the other was below, but smaller than we would like, at $247,000. This particular builder only gave $5000 toward closing costs and expected more both as a deposit and as a down payment. So it’s probably not the direction we’ll go.
The second community we saw was a gated community with an actual, human security guard. We balked so hard at that, and when the salesperson asked us about it, Scott said that we don’t want to live in a community of scared white people who believe that a metal gate and a “security guard” gives them any more safety than the rest of us.
We don’t want a gated community.
The third community was a little bit north for our tastes, but the prices were lower for more square footage. So adding an extra ten minutes to our drives to work might be worth it to save $40,000. The saleslady was very pleasant, and the model home was very nice, with a layout that we liked. It turns out we could get a 4 bed with den for the same price as the 3 bed in the community more south. We were very optimistic to say the least.
But then we saw something strange on the way out. There was a structure like you would expect to see at the front of an apartment complex. (Picture not actual location.)
So we called the saleslady back, and asked politely what the fuck was up with the giant mailbox center at the front. We were informed that none of the houses have their own mailboxes, and that this makes it easier for the postman to disburse mail.
I have been poor my whole life. I know the doors that are closed to me and the ones that hold danger only meant for the desperate. There are doors that hold cheap approximations, meant to create the idea of luxury yet somehow still let the German cockroaches in. I know what it is to live off credit cards and how to turn $30 into two weeks of groceries.
When I finally break through the door that leads to an actual home that is mine, IT IS GOING TO HAVE A FUCKING MAILBOX. And if being poor means I have to wait and save longer, I will get a home that is an actual home and not just a cheap home that is more like a unit in an apartment complex. I am not so wrapped up in the American “dream” that I would give up having control over my own fucking mail. The postman has driven from house to house this long, he can drive to my house too.
I have to admit that as deal breakers go, I did not expect one to be whether I have a mailbox. I thought it would be something stupid like whether I could have a garden tub or not. It just goes to show that sometimes the smaller things are the most important, that something like not having a mailbox can seem like an indignity. Like if I’m so poor that I have to buy there, I’m not responsible enough to receive mail at my home. Or people who live there don’t trust people that might be poor enough to have to buy there, and they’re willing to give up having a mailbox to prevent thievery on their doorsteps. Either way it’s fucking insulting. Making it easier for the postman my fat ass.
At the same time though, I recognize that it is just a mailbox. What I need to explore in the time that I have is why its absence seems to be so important to me. Important enough to possibly pass up a wonderful home for one less so, and more expensive. A mailbox isn’t worth $40,000. So why is it bothering me so much?
So we’ve decided that there are enough new builds going up around us that we can probably afford to wait a little longer than we had originally planned to. We had talked about trying to prequalify in June, but I think we’re going to push that back to September or October at this point. It’ll give our credit more time to recover from all the insanity from last year, it’ll give us more time to save up our own money to maybe do whatever “buying down” the interest rate is, and we’ll be able to finish out our lease here instead of breaking it, making moving into a new home happen for us around April or May of 2019. And we can more clearly identify our priorities and make a better, less rushed decision about what is right for us.
It still feels like I’m meddling in something out of my depth, or reaching for something I don’t deserve or can’t afford. But we won’t know if it’s possible if we don’t try, and I think we’re stable enough at this point to at least try.