Saturday, April 28, 2012

House Hunting Inefficiently

If you are looking to be more time-efficient in hunting houses, see a prior post here

Halfway through the house hunt, the process began to get mechanical. There was not much diversity in house designs, especially the newer ones, although there was this really nice and shiny new house adjacent to a cemetery, which threw me off a bit. Internet forum opinions ranged from "Loved it. Quietest neighbors I ever had" to "Hey, its Halloween every night here!".  The older ones seemed to have more character and personality. However, they came with their own maintenance list. I then got quite interested in the principles of the amazing ancient Indian science of construction and planning 'Vaastu Shastra' that actually turned out to be a pretty useful practical guide (better than my realtor sometimes). And so the search continued ..

A common reason for many houses in the U.S (perhaps not as common in India) being put up for sale is that the children grow up and move away, and their parents want to downsize. Such houses are inevitably full of memory trails frozen within photo frames: childhood sketches, family reunions, high-school trophies, often ending with snaps of a daughter's wedding. Looking at those pictures changed the objective function. What was 'just' a house to tick off the list, was for many years a home where a family was raised from the cradle, parents aged gracefully, and kids grew up with security. That is no easy thing to pull off in today's world, and perhaps there would be very few things more satisfying that emulating what some parents in those families did. It was quite humbling. Each such 'ordinary' house had an extraordinary American tale to tell, some happy, some not so. And no matter how much money one pours into home improvements, that unique signature of how a family lived in that home does not really go away; after all, a family breathes life into a house. 'Must-have' product attributes no longer seemed that important. House-hunting stopped, and the search for a home began. This approach may be inefficient, but it certainly feels more rewarding and less tedious.

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