The place for impulse when buying a home


In truth, I haven’t always exercised the best wisdom when I buy things. In fact, the bigger the purchase, the wonkier I get.

Several years ago, I bought a Mazda RX-7 simply because the headlights winked open as you turned them on. This cool feature distracted me from a more important fact. I couldn’t sit upright in the car unless the sunroof was open. My torso is apparently freakishly long, and no matter how I angled the seat, my head poked out of the roof. Days with snow and rain were particularly bad.

With this purchasing history looming over me, buying a home is sketchy territory. I can be impulsive, and a 30-year mortgage gives you a lot of time to re-evaluate your decision-making skills.

To ensure that emotions wouldn’t take over the buying process and to avoid another "shame buy," I sat down and crafted my house-hunting wish list:

■ A guest-friendly home with 2-3 bedrooms.
■ A small yard, since I don’t own a lawn mower.
■ A pool; water is like Prozac for me.
■ A big tub (same reason as above)
■ An open floor plan with lots of light.
■ A renovated space – so I can just move in and do all the fun creative stuff.

After my plane landed in Sarasota, I met my Realtor, Rachelle Prost. We had only communicated by email and phone, so I was completely unprepared for what she looked like … which was a Ralph Lauren equestrian model. I started feeling old and large.

“Maybe she’s shallow.” I thought, hopefully. Nope, not a chance; she was kind, calm and a well-informed Sarasota native.

For the next several days, we zipped in and out of countless homes until I narrowed the search to two possible nests.

One house was huge. It was in foreclosure and needed no renovations. In fact, it still had that new house smell. There was brand new carpeting, fresh paint, stainless steel appliances and a beautiful pool. Plus, since I am acting like a non-impulsive grown-up now, the price per square foot confirmed that it was a total bargain.

Now, the other house desperately needed a new kitchen and both bathrooms begged for a total makeover. Stenciled green ivy was spilling down the sponged tan walls. The flooring was an awkward combination of tile and wood. Oh, and it was more money and much smaller than the other house.

It also was the brightest most beautiful space. The double front doors swung open to reveal a wonderfully open room with a wall of windows that looked out to the aqua pool. A majestic banyan(esque) tree proudly occupied the backyard.

I made a mental list comparing the two properties. There really was no contest. The foreclosure home was the way to go. I made an offer. That night, I lay awake paralyzed in worry that they might accept it.

Fortunately they didn’t. After a deep exhale of relief, I bought the sun-filled, impressively dated home.

In the end, after crushing all the logical details, I realized that I would rather live in a sun-filled home with an awe-inspiring tree (that I secretly named Rooty) than live in a well-priced investment property.

Sometimes you just have to trust that pesky voice when it says "this feels right." Then make quick friends with a herd of carpenters, painters and handymen.

Amy Archer

Amy Archer is owner of Sarasota-based Creating Inspired Design and writes the Barefooted Designer blog. She can be reached by email.
Last modified: December 3, 2015
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