Adventures in Home Buying: The Not Quite Rights

The fifth in a series on the agony and ecstasy of real estate acquisition.


It took us a few weeks to get over losing the storybook-like house on West Penn Street. Once we did, we behaved like anyone on the rebound: we scheduled five home tours one afternoon at other properties in East Falls in the hopes that sheer quantity would erase our memory.

It cannot be overstated how much we learned between our first open house and our most recent private tour. Open houses used to take us about 30 minutes. We would open cabinets and run the water and spend lots of time talking about flooring and layout. Touring with our realtor Jack felt like research. We spent a half hour in the basement alone, meticulously inspecting pipes and joists. Had the original cast iron been replaced by PVC? Was there evidence of leakage? We stood out front in the polar vortex for another 20 minutes discussing window framing and the pros and cons of stucco. We felt like experts even while we admitted that an eventual professional inspection would probably leave us feeling bewildered.

We had been amassing a list of properties we were interested in touring, a few of which we had seen casually at open houses. One of the first properties we toured that Sunday was a home that held a lot of appeal on our first visit. By the time we left, I was glumly agreeing that it was probably not right for us.