The girls and I spend a lot of time watching television shows on HGTV and TLC with the result that we can tell you right off the top of our heads what price a three-bed, two-bath, semi-d house in Toronto can fetch in the current market, how to de-clutter a closet to maximize storage space and what kind of jeans to wear if you have cellulite saddlebags.
So the other night we were watching some show we'd never watched before called "My First Home" or something like that? And it turned out to be the most annoying show I'd ever seen in my life and I'm still not over it. I don't know what the other episodes are like -- surely they can't all be that bad -- but I'm cautious about finding out because I like myself without an aneurysm.
This particular episode featured a young couple, newly married, who wanted to buy their first house. He was a teacher and she was a bank teller or something like that, so you get the impression that they weren't rolling in money, right? They were in their mid-twenties. Their realtor was a childhood friend of hers, and like most couples setting out to buy their first house, they had a list of requirements as long as a wet Monday on what kind of house they'd be willing to move into.
Their first desire was to live in a house with several acres of land. Their second? An older home, someplace with three bedrooms and several bathrooms and big gracious rooms. Initially, that didn't seem to be too much to ask, and I expressed mild interest to Meelyn on what type of house their agent would come up with, especially since the mortgage loan amount the couple had been approved for was not exactly a stellar sum.
"Will it be some tumbledown old shack, infested with spiders, featuring linoleum from 1934 and sitting on four acres of unmown weeds?" I wondered.
Much to my surprise, the realtor took the couple to a "historic home" (house agent-speak for the above truthful description) that had been completely renovated inside. The outside retained the historic character, but the interior had been completely gutted and remodeled to reflect a more modern sensibility -- an open concept with modern cabinetry, soothingly neutral colors and new light fixtures, appliances and cable TV and internet hookups. Since the house was sitting on a nice, big lot complete with a barn, I felt a little sad for the two of them because this cute place was at the very top of their budget.
To my surprise, however, they were giving it some serious consideration, already intent on modifying the brand-spankin'-new features of the home.
"Well, we'd really like to have granite countertops in the kichen and baths," she said, disdainfully noting the attractive laminate topping the fresh, clean cabinets.
"And we'd want to have hardwood floors throughout," he said, scuffing a scornful toe on the pristine wall-to-wall carpet.
"And definitely tile floors in the entryway, kitchen and bathrooms instead of this vinyl," she added, wrinkling her nose distastefully.
Yeah? Wouldja like to have those things? Well, newsflash for you here, young'uns: WHO WOULDN'T? Who wouldn't like to have expensive granite countertops in kitchen and baths, who wouldn't like to have gorgeous American hardwood stretching from great room to staircase to hallway to bedrooms? Who wouldn't want to have some nice quarry tile in the foyer?
But you know, you have to start somewhere, and if the house you're looking at is already at the top of your budget and it has none of those things you so deeply would like to have, maybe you should realize that you have Moët & Chandon tastes on a Bud Light budget and set your sights a little lower. Understand that those granite countertops in your parents' kitchen? They worked a long time to get those things and you shouldn't just expect to have them yourselves when you're just starting out, you spoiled, ridiculous brats....whoops! Sorry! Aunt Shelley gets a little irritable between the hours of five and seven-thirty every afternoon, but it's nothing a glass of (on sale) wine from the grocery store can't take care of. Just to take the edge off.
Anyway, these two dipwads, after looking at two other houses that were so far beneath their expectations that they both practically flinched when they walked through the respective front doors, they decided to spring for the top-of-the-budget place, BUT...
They decided to take out a bank loan -- using what as collateral, I don't know -- so that their "upgrades" could be installed before they moved in because asking a couple of twenty-five year olds to move into a house without granite, hardwood and quarry tile? Well, that is JUST. NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN. Even if they're strapped for cash for the next twenty years. At least when they're pacing the floors, worried and wondering how they're going to pay the mortgage, they'll be pacing on that nice hardwood. Geez.
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