THIS & THAT: How to choose a house you’ll love – the logical/illogical choice


So you’ve decided to buy a house! How wonderful! How exciting! However, the process can also be daunting, even a wee bit nerve-wracking. There are so many options and choices and details to take in during a short amount of time. With every house you look at, you have the very real feeling that other buyers are right behind you, waiting with contract and pen in hand, ready to swoop in and take yet another house off the market. Meanwhile your partner is breathing down your neck – and not in a good way – waiting for you tojust pick something, for God ‘s sake.

But you don’t want to make the wrong choice. If you’ve ever bought a house you ultimately didn’t love, you know what a horrible mistake this is. There is no escaping your bad decision – you literally have to live with and in it every day. So how do you avoid this?

If you’re the logical sort like me, you’ll probably make a checklist of “must haves” when buying a house: mudroom for the three-tons of kids’ junk; two-car garage with room for skis, bikes and your husband’s tool bench that he never ever uses yet insists on keeping; and a master closet for your 30-ish (okay, maybe 40-ish) pairs of shoes and boots. You find a house that “checks all the boxes.” So buy it, right? Oddly, here’s where the purchasing mistake can be made. I call this the “Bob Carlson syndrome.” Bob Carlson was a guy I dated in high school who in every measurable way was ideal: smart, successful, handsome, athletic, nice and universally liked by friends, parents, teachers, animals and probably plants. There was only one problem: despite the fact I thought I should be, I was not attracted to him. In fact, in time I found his perfect-ness oddly repulsive. It made absolutely no sense.

But attraction is like that; it isn’t logical. When it comes to attraction – to a person or painting or a home – there’s the “X-factor,” that un-definable characteristic that makes you want something. I have found out the hard way – and I suspect many other homebuyers have as well – that a house can be perfect on paper but not tug on your heartstrings and thus never really feel like home. Conversely, a house can have a number of supposed flaws and you can s
till love it. Pretty much like most of the beloved people in our lives. So when you’re looking at house, sure, have your “must haves” list. But don’t buy a Bob Carson house; you’ll regret it. Remember you also have to fall a wee bit in love with a home, even if it’s a bit illogical.               

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