Brokers Are From Mars, Realtors Are From Venus

Brokers Are From Mars, Realtors Are From Venus

Brokers Are From Mars, Realtors Are From Venus

Our family's search for a house
Feb. 5 2009 3:48 PM

Brokers Are From Mars, Realtors Are From Venus

There's a pattern emerging here, and I'm not sure I like it. One of us is leading with her heart; the other with his head. A good balance, yes, but I'd feel better if these roles didn't fall so neatly into gender stereotypes. Still, I should be grateful that while I'm swooning over cabinetry and floor coverings, Michael's scanning legislation for refunds and loopholes. Thanks, Michael!

Chastened by the yellow-house debacle, I'm heading into the next property with a little more rationality. Or at least I'll try. The problem is that thus far I have been able to find great places by sheer good fortune and gut instinct.

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When I moved to Manhattan in 1994, I looked at exactly one apartment before taking it, a spacious two-bedroom I shared with a family friend in ultra-hip NoHo . My rent? $500 a month. (Never mind that this basement apartment was illegal.) I found my next place, a quaint top-floor one-bedroom in a Park Slope brownstone, via a flier at the local supermarket. My rent? $800 a month. The first apartment Michael and I shared, in the lovely Washington Heights section of Manhattan (or Hudson Heights, as Realtors like to call it ), was a fabulous top-floor one-bedroom overlooking the Hudson with a roof deck with panoramic views of Manhattan. Our rent? $1,850 a month. I'd seen the listing on yet another flier, this time in the cafeteria of our former employer , and marched up to the complex, certain that this place was to be ours. I'm not sure we'd actually decided that we were going to live together when I handed the flier to Michael and said, "This is where we're going to live." It remains my favorite home. (Never mind that a piece of it famously fell onto the West Side Highway . Good thing we were just renters!) Things weren't quite as easy when we moved to L.A. and D.C. (I was wondering when you were going to mention that! Michael), but more on that some other time.

Perhaps if I'd been a little less impulsive and more financially shrewd by, say, buying a small apartment in Park Slope in 1999, we'd have had enough money to buy that yellow house. (But I'm over it. Really.) As one of Michael's sisters (who owns two houses) often chides, "You guys need to get in the game!" OK, but parting with my hard-earned Bat Mitzvah money is no easy thing, especially in this economy. We're nonunion journalists who could lose our jobs at any moment . Despite what all you proud homeowners say, our savings account feels like a more cuddly security blanket than a house whose value may not hold. The asking price on my beloved yellow house was less than what the owners paid for it in 2005.

But trudge on we will. Tomorrow is Friday, the big day for new listings. Denise says she's heard whispers of a new listing in a desirable section of Silver Spring. And then there's this place , a bank foreclosure in the very convenient American University Park right here in D.C. It looks tiny and run down, and has asbestos on the exterior can you believe they're admitting that in the listing? but it does have a front porch and could easily be painted yellow.

In the meantime, Michael, can you look into the value of a $100 Israel bond purchased in 1983? We may have more money than we think ...