Life Happens: How to Buy a House in 5 Weeks and Not Kill Your Spouse

When you’re on your honeymoon, as PIC and I were this time last year, a trip to the airport is all about holding hands, hinting hopelessly for upgrades, and brandishing your swanky new luggage with the color coordinated “Mr.” and “Mrs.” tags. 

But a year in, when you’ve just bought a new house and have spent the past week and a half basically not sleeping (and not not sleeping for the same reason you were happy to not sleep on your honeymoon), it’s basically just, “Is this your seat? Okay, I’m another nine rows back, see you when we land.” And you don’t event care because you just want to sleep or read a novel or, in my case, write a blog post.

So: we’ve been married a year.

And we bought a new house a few days ago.

Those of you who’ve been reading for a while may recall that I myself bought a new house in the not so distant past (just under three years to be precise), and those of you who know me personally may also recall that we recently renovated the patio at said house, with a brand new deck, the tune of– actually, I’m not going to go there; it’s too painful but it looks great and I (and just about every other warm blooded mammal in South Philadelphia, from the squirrels who eat my succulents to the birds who won’t lay off my basil) LOVE it, so it doesn’t matter.

Of course, it doesn’t make any sense to build a new deck when you’re about to buy a new house, but we weren’t planning to buy a new house back then, all of five weeks ago. 

It also doesn’t make sense to buy a house in five weeks– its savagely inhuman, in fact– not when you already have a perfectly-nice-house-with-the-brand-new-deck and aren’t even in the market… but when something comes up in the HomeFinder Portal, you might as well take a look, right?

That was Mother’s Day. PIC wasn’t even in town but had gone home to Long Island to spend the weekend with his parents. I arranged to see the house on Monday morning, hoping I’d be able to just check it off the list and feel better for having done so. 

But it was not a check-off-the-list kind of a house. It was an across-the-street-from-the-park kind of a house; it was a 4 bedroom kind of a house, with a formal dining room, high ceilings, hardwood floors somewhere beneath the decades of carpet, and a balcony. And a yard. With actual grass. In the city. 

Did I mention it was also a 90 second walk from the library around the corner?

That we’ve been eying this particular neighborhood for years?

I called PIC at work and told him, “Yeaaaah… I think you need to see this place.”

A few minutes later, I called him back. 

“So you know the house I just told you about? Well, were gonna need to make an offer if you like it. And we’re gonna need to make it tonight.”

There were two offers already on the table and the house hadn’t even been on the market for 48 hours. When we returned that evening after PIC got off work, two other couples were hot on our heels, complete with middle aged parents in tow to offer their advice, just as mine had done earlier that day.

PIC has many strengths but moving quickly is not one of them. He’s great in emergency type situations, as evidenced by the fact that our dog did not, in fact, get ran over when he got loose the day after we adopted him last summer, but real estate? Especially real estate he didn’t even know about until that afternoon? Not so much.

We made an offer two years ago, before we got married, on a house in the same neighborhood. It was sold out from under us though, before we could even get the paperwork in order. I was gutted and blamed my husband for taking too long and my mother told me I wasn’t being fair and she was right.

But I wasn’t going to let this one slip away, and PIC still had his old pre-approval from the first time around.

“I get it,” I told him. “It’s a lot to take in. But we don’t have the luxury of ‘sleeping on it’ in this neighborhood so if you’re not comfortable moving at this pace, that’s fine, but then we’ve got to stop looking here because it’s never going to change.”

(At least that’s what I meant to say. What I actually said might possibly have come out in a different tone.)

So we got it together and made the offer, and like those morons on HGTV, I wrote a sappy, heartfelt letter to the seller to “distinguish” us from the other offers, which now totaled four, promising to do my best by the rose bushes in the backyard as a “new but enthusiastic gardener.” I even included a copy of the photo we sent with our Christmas cards last year and told my husband, when he raised an eyebrow, “I’m not above pimping out the dog, okay? Do you want this house or not?”

Then came the wait.

And while we were waiting, I got cold feet. I called my parents who assured me that the emotional roller coaster was perfectly normal, and would likely continue, and if it was meant to be, it would be. But as I sat down on the new deck that I painted all by myself, I started to cry.

I wasn’t ready to leave my little house. Finding it and buying it and renovating it were among the hardest things that I have ever done. But I did it, and even though I had plenty of help and hired hands along the way, it was my project, my baby, and it was where I finally started to become the person I was meant to be.

Secretly I began to hope they wouldn’t accept our offer, and I wished I hadn’t written such a good letter (because let’s face it: this is me we’re talking about and it was damn good letter) but our agent called the next day and said, “Can you do it by the end of June?”

I told her I would have to run it by my husband, who reminded me that the “end of June” really meant even earlier in our case because we already had tickets to Chicago for my friend Katie’s wedding and two weeks worth of reservations all across the southwest for the road trip we’d been planning for months.

“Can we do it?” I asked.

“I think so,” he said. 

I won’t bore you with all the details of mortgage paperwork and home inspections, the trips to City Hall and to the bank, the number crunching and the research that convinced me could keep my little baby as a rental property, so that I won’t have to give it up and we’ll have an extra source of income to help finance the renovations of the new house. Because oh does it need them… but here we are, on our way to Chicago, essentially catatonic because we’ve been painting and pulling carpet and working long hours to make up for the vacation days and still trying to be decent human beings who care about the world, even if doing so left us so cranky that we weren’t speaking to each other by the time the healthcare vigil ended outside of Senator Toomey’s office in Old City…

But it doesn’t matter because there, nine rows back, is my husband. And we have a house now that we’re going to make ours together.

4 Responses to “Life Happens: How to Buy a House in 5 Weeks and Not Kill Your Spouse”

  1. chauffeur

    it is a killer home…. and life does come at you fast. y’all done good!

  2. The Translator

    I understand that when your husband moved into your old house, you worked hard to make him feel at home, too. Yet, I’m sure it was a challenge to not say “my house” all the time (or for him to refer to it as “your house”). Tech Support did the same with me, correcting me to say “our house” when I referred to it as his after we got married. He encouraged me to paint and decorate and make it feel like mine… and what it took to finally make that our house for me was not all of that, not the physical stuff, but the realization that it was my emotional home base, the happy place where I get to live and grow together with my best friend.

    Enjoy the adventure of building your new home together, one that will always be “our house” to you both. Congrats!

  3. Leah

    Wow! You saw a chance and grabbed it. That’s for sure!

    Enjoy that vacation. I see a lot of (very gratifying) work ahead. Just think of the library breaks you can take, when the mess gets to be too much.

    Congratulations, you dog pimp, you.


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