Adventures in Home Buying: The Crying

Part II of a series.

home for sale

We vowed to each other a long time ago that we were making our life and our home in Philadelphia, come hell or high water. Moving outside the city was never an option for us, but we knew realistically that the Center City real estate rates were a little out of our league. And while plenty of neighborhoods that are Center City-adjacent offer excellent values, none would solve our immediate parking issue while simultaneously shortening my husband’s commute.

It did not take long for us to zero in on East Falls. He loved its proximity to 76 and King of Prussia and I was immediately spellbound by streets like West Penn and West Queen Lane where the trees outnumbered the cars and the porches all seemed to have perfectly pitched windchimes. As long as there was a regional rail station nearby, my commute would still be less than 20 minutes by train.


I downloaded the Redfin app. I downloaded the Zillow app. We looked at Estately and realtor.com and lapped up the listing emails from Realtor Friend. We started spending weekend afternoons wandering around the neighborhood and eating pizza at In Riva or getting a beer at Cranky Joe's. I started forming the idea of what my life would look like in a new neighborhood. Finally we decided to stop by an open house on Vaux Street.

My rational self knew that we would never buy the first house we looked at. That is definitely not how life works, we told each other. And it would be antithetical to my nature to let all that other research and looking go to waste. But we walked into the Tudor house and I could imagine eating dinner there. We ventured out back onto the patio and into a lawn I have no idea how to help manage and I envisioned chats over coffee and a series of staked tomato plants. We saw a life start to unfurl.

The bathroom tiles had some cracks in them and the border on the second bedroom needed to go, like, yesterday. There was no way we were going to keep the kitchen walls red. Red! We saw a few other houses that day but none where we felt such kinship. Maybe it was because it was our first look. Maybe it was the romance of starting something new (and scary) together. We reminded each other that we had months to go before we would have to get serious about looking and patted ourselves on the back for being responsible, forward-thinking adults who merely wanted to understand the process and begin to learn the market before making the Biggest Purchase of Our Lives (TM).

I got an email yesterday from Redfin telling me the house on Vaux sold. The fact that it sold for what we estimated it would (about $10k under ask) was cold comfort. I imagined another couple at settlement, celebrating their perfect credit and their perfect timing. They had shiny hair and impeccable shoes and a very cute, hypoallergenic puppy. Good luck with those tiles, I thought.

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  • Monica Hill

    When my clients tell me they want time to think about a house, I ask them how they’ll feel if I call them tomorrow and tell them the house is no longer available. If they can walk away with that possibility, then we’re good. But if it would break their heart, then it’s time to write. Hope you find the house that makes you write! Well.. other than an article. (GREAT article though!)