pour une belle maison

Three years ago when I moved to Silicon Valley I was not quite sure if I would like it here. I moved because most of the people I knew in the US lived here and I wanted a shorter commute to my client. The SVP of my ex-company was kind enough to congratulate me on my move. I do not recollect his exact words, but it was something to the effect of, “It is really nice in the bay area. You might even find a home there.” Well he was right. I did fall in love with this area, and I am finding a home here.

Just like people say marriages are made in heaven, I feel that each home is built for its occupants. I am not panicking with the sudden increase in real estate prices in the area (thanks to the recent Facebook IPO). Because I know that when the time is right and the right house is in front of me – I will know it. And I will do whatever it will take to own it. Until then, let’s keep looking.

It is a fun process, you know. It is like playing ghar-ghar (home-home) with your husband. You step in and you know whether you will like it or not. How? Don’t ask. It is probably a combination of the sunlight sneaking into the house and the fresh air (or the lack if it) that you feel in the first few minutes. The location matters of course. But more than the location, it matters what you see from your kitchen, your bedroom or your patio. Do you see yourself cooking in that kitchen or relaxing in that patio? These are the questions that I ask myself when I am in there, exploring my future home.

And then there are the schools. Good Heavens! Don’t get me started on that topic. Someday I will tell my future offspring about how much their father and I debated over schools during our home search. Schools matter to me because I know my father struggled hard to send us to the best schools. And I want to be the parent that my parents were to me. I turned out fine. A little bit screwed up in the mind and of course the heart. But I think my schooling has a big role to play in who I am. Agam disagrees with me. But maybe he does that because he loves disagreeing. What a boring life it would be if he agreed to everything I said. I love the challenge of convincing him. And 9/10 times I am right. Or so I believe anyway.

The best aspect about home buying is that you become better at it after you have looked at a few houses. You make a mental inventory of things you want and things you don’t want. And it impresses me how during these home showings I suddenly get curious about things. Like e.g.  “what is behind these doors” (aha the washer dryer right in the living room – noisy), or “what does this window look out to?” (oops it is a trailer park), or “wait why don’t I see a fridge here?” (because the kitchen is tiny and if they had the fridge in there, almost no one would agree to buy the house). I guess intuition is what it is called. Or maybe it is just logic. Almost always these curiosities result in revealing negative aspects about the home and we walk out of it, disappointed, but relieved that we saw the flaw before it was too late.

What worries me is if I will ever know for sure if I am paying a fair value. I am sort of sensitive to this topic. I am not one of the bargain hunters, but I like to believe that hard earned money is well spent on something that is worth the price.

You see, so far we have only purchased things that have a fixed value. There is never room for negotiation. In this case, the current market is so dynamic that I wonder if traditional negotiation strategies even work. There is certainly very little value in looking at some comparable sales. And all the foreclosures add to the dynamics as well. So how will I know that it was a bang for the buck? Maybe I won’t. And if it is a perfect house, then maybe it won’t even matter. I say that just to give Agam a sleepless night. Isn’t it what a man worries about most? What if she likes something far beyond our means and then convinces me that it is the right thing to do?. Well I will not do that, because as much as I am interested in buying a house, I am not interested in foregoing our mutual indulgences.

It is an exhausting process though. Sometimes you attach too much emotion to a property and if you lose it to a higher bid or if you failed to make an offer in time, you feel very disappointed. And the vivid scenes that you had pictured with your family in that house come back and haunt you. But like I said, there is a perfect house for everyone. And I am sure ours is waiting for us as well. We are just playing hide and seek for now and soon we will meet. But until then, we are home hunting, so wish us luck!

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