Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why house hunting is kinda like reviewing grants....

We've been looking at houses recently and one thing I've noticed is how similar the whole process can be to reviewing grants. Don't believe me? Let me explain.

When you are asked to review a grant, you receive a summary of the grant with some important details so that you can decide whether or not you are qualified or want to review it. On the housing market, your realtor or website sends you a write up on each house that fits your search. It has details about the house, beds/baths, square footage, features, etc., that help you determine whether you want to spend the time taking a look. In both cases there can be warning signs that you are in for trouble. Often the spelling and grammar in the summary can be a subtle clue that you may be tearing your hair out once you receive the whole thing. Terms in the house summary such as "sold as is" or "needs work" are basically advertising the same thing. If you decide to take on the challenge, in both cases you need to get in there, try and ignore the exposed wires and dangling participles and figure out if there is anything worth salvaging.

It's all about potential. Is there something to work with here? Can you see this being successful or if you remove one load-bearing assumption does the whole thing fall apart around you? With a grant, if the ideas are tired and outdated it has no hope, but at least with a house it's possible to see through the decor and imagine what it could look like if you just had a crow bar and could tear the fucking wood paneling off the wall and remove the stained carpets to let the hardwood floors free.

What is the obsession with wood paneling? Seriously? People, this is not a good look unless you live in a log cabin, and even then....

If you decide to bid on a house it's time to call in the house inspector who looks under all the places you weren't qualified to reach into and brings a different viewpoint to the structure. In some ways the other reviewers fill this role, particularly if their background and experience is different from yours. Maybe you didn't want to crawl into the basement and bang on the pipes because you don't know jack about plumbing. Well, that's the specialty of the inspector. He'll put on the coveralls and git on in there.

Finally there are the money matters. That's when the bank and agents get involved and take on the tasks of the panel. They look over all of the opinions and and there is some wrangling over how much money, who gets approved for what and sometimes a focus on seemingly inconsequential details can make or break the whole thing. You see more duds than winners and the whole process seems to drag on, but each time there's an inkling of excitement to check out what's next.


  1. Sweet place; we thought things were bad in flyover country. If the the stacks of styrofoam cups, propane tank, and light convey then I would go for it.

  2. I think the cups are the reall selling point. We won't have to do dishes for weeks!