House Hunters

Finding a rental home sounds easy enough, right? Wrong.

Let’s back up a bit. So we sold our house. Or rather, we’re in the process of selling our house. We close on the 9th, but we’re traveling the three days beforehand, so we need to be fully moved and settled by the 5th. For the past two weeks we’ve been “house hunting” like crazy. I’ve never rented before (apartment or otherwise), so the process of finding somewhere to live has been eye-opening to say the least.

When we put our townhouse on the market this last time (about a year and a half ago), we had several inquiries about renting it. I was confused as to why people would even ask–and now I know what they were thinking. When they came to view our home, it was clean. It was updated. It was in a safe, well-maintained neighborhood. Although renting out our townhouse didn’t make sense for us, after viewing all of the disappointing options out there, I now understand people’s interest in it.

Here’s the basic course of events: We went under contract. Ryan and I can’t seem to agree on anything about what our next home will be like (everything from location to lot size to how long we’ll be there), and since we don’t want to rush into buying another house, we decided to take a year off of owning to think and save. We began looking at super cheap options. What about a studio apartment? It’s only a year… Then, as shopping always tends to do, as we looked, our expectations and budget began to increase. Well, we need at least two bedrooms. No, make that three. And an apartment won’t work for the dogs. So we began looking at townhouses. Oh, that one’s really dirty and unsanitary. That one’s in a bad area. Despite all of the disappointing and disgusting places we viewed, against all odds I fell in love with a townhouse (and the super cool landlord) and was ready to sign a lease. But our wandering eye kept us looking. Maybe we should just go ahead and get a house so we can ditch our storage unit? Almost immediately we found a perfect house: good location, cheap rent, somewhat modern finishes. We talked with the agent, put in an application, and waited for what was told to us would be a quick “yes.” We began packing and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

We talked several times with the agent, who kept basically assuring us that we’d get the go-ahead from the owner “any minute now.” On Tuesday (before we wanted to move in on Thursday) I called to figure out what was taking so long, and the agent finally gave us the answer–no (!). I was shocked to say the least. Long story short, the agent was taking advantage of us the whole time while courting other tenants without telling us. What a waste of time on an already tight schedule! I can’t even think about it because it makes me so annoyed. So, back to square one.

We began looking again, this time in a huge hurry considering we were packed and planning on moving in two days at that point. When all the viewing and calling and scrambling was done, I looked at Ryan and said, “This totally feels like an episode of ‘House Hunters!'”

So, in true House Hunters fashion, we narrowed it down to three options:

1. Newly Renovated Townhouse with Storage Issues
2. Big Fixer-Upper on Lots of Land
3. Perfect but Not Pet-Friendly

(Remember, this has all happened in the last 48 hours. Sheesh.)

We applied with all three, but chose #3 as our best option. Too bad they didn’t like the idea of pets, so they chose another tenant. So between #1 and #2, wouldn’t you believe that Ryan and I were completely split on the decision!

I wanted #1. I loved the landlord, the low-maintenance, the updated interior and the safety of a neighborhood. Ryan didn’t like the trafficky drive to 400, the serious lack of space, and the fact that we’d have to park the Scout in a storage garage. Plus it was the significantly more expensive option.

Ryan wanted #2. He loved the idea of ditching our storage unit, the dogs having room to run, and the location and proximity to 400. I didn’t like the out-of-date everything, the fact that it isn’t in a neighborhood, and having to maintain a lawn. Plus it’s way more affordable.

So we began the discussions. HOURS of discussions. Eventually I realized that despite #2 being old and outdated, the most important things to me are a.) actually having somewhere to move into IMMEDIATELY, and b.) saving money. House #2 meets those requirements, so (drum roll) we’re moving!

I’m struggling to get excited about this transition; the closer our closing date comes, the more dread I have in my stomach. Unfortunately we’re not moving on to our dream house quite yet, so it’s hard to look at our little townhouse, our home, and be glad to be leaving it for something that’s well, to be truthful, just not exciting.

Of course, I look around our rental house and see so much potential: KILZ and paint every inch of the home, put in new carpets, update the appliances, and voila! Cute and kitschy! Over the next 12 months, I’m asking all of you to constantly remind me that it’s only a year, and I should NOT put one penny into updating this space. Help me remember that it’s not worth it, that it’s just temporary, okay?

Now that our search has come to an end, after two weeks of experience in being a potential renter, here’s what I’ve learned: The rental market is competitive and ruthless. Most rentals are not to our standard of acceptable living. People really don’t like having pets in their homes. (But Oscar and Olive are so cute! How could you not want them around?) Rentals with agents are a LOT harder to deal with than rentals by owner. And, finally, I never want to rent again if possible!

After perhaps the most stressful two days we’ve had in a while, I’m happy to say that although it may not be the nicest, prettiest place we’ll ever live, but for the next year, it’s HOME! Yay!

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