In a few weeks I will complete my seventh real estate transaction in as many years. I’m not a realtor, nor do I play one on TV. I have just found myself on the buying and selling end of things for a concentrated period of time. Since my first marriage in 1988, I’ve had 12 different mailing addresses. Add to the mix three additional properties that fell under my jurisdiction–and 15 moves–I’d say this qualifies me as something of an expert. I can can purge, toss, pack, move, and store with the best of them. I have sustained more physical (and emotional) paper-cuts in 10 years than most people do in a lifetime. I’ve also developed a keen eye when it comes to on-line real estate listings.
While in the market for the house that soon shall become home, I realized shopping for real estate these days is very much like dating… particularly on-line dating.
Gone are the days when you drove around different neighborhoods, looking for places to live, kind of like we rarely go trolling for relationships in a bar anymore. Match, eHarmony, Tinder, Hinge… That’s where the goods are, profiled, buffed and fluffed, just like a hot new listing on MLS. The language is similarly codified as well. Just as “Separated” translates to “not emotionally available because I’m still not over my ex,” or “quaint and charming” really means “a small space in need of a lot of renovation.”
On-line you rule out the profiles with obscured or obviously outdated photographs. If sellers aren’t going to take the time to present a nice image, they probably aren’t going to pay attention to other details, like being on time or managing wood rot over the years. Once you’ve found someone/thing that meets your visual standards, you have to decide if the location is geographically desirable. Daily traffic jams on I-90 can be as much of a buzzkill as driving beyond a certain zone for a date that could turn into a long distance relationship. Then, assuming that all fundamental criteria have been met (tax rates/education level, good school systems/number of minor children, bedroom to bathroom ratio/use of proper grammar and syntax) it’s time to go on a date.
Five minutes into a date, you know if it’s going to be a L O N G night, or not. Five minutes visiting an online real estate listing and you know if the place has home written on it. And just as follow-up after a hot date is critical, so is closing the deal on a listing that makes your heart sing. Otherwise, it’s back to daily emails of new matches/listings, which you will blithely swipe through until something causes you to slow down and take a second, lingering look.
Next week we can talk about the correlation between listing your home for sale and ending a long-term relationship. Until then, as we ponder the intimacies between buying a home and finding a partner, there still remains the unanswered question: If you know it’s right, do you sleep together on the first date?