Like the ranch house in

Like the ranch house in “Litte Shop of Horrors”

(because of the picket fence, not the Black Mildew)

Another piece of big news: Kate and I are buying a house! Or in the process of negotiation, rather. It’s a small white ranch house, single-family, in West Chester (that’s West Chester, PA, not Westchester, NY.) If you were to draw a cartoon of a starter house — white brick, with metal awnings over the front door and the kitchen door — you’d be right on. It’s small, clean, and cute, with a fairly big back yard that even has a stream in it!

At first, buying a house seemed a lot easier than renting an apartment in Manhattan. The people are friendly, the competition doesn’t seem as cutthroat. However, the welter of details involved is adding up. We made a first offer, heard the counter-offer, made a third offer of our own. We signed the agreement of sale, which gives everyone a certain amount of time to get their ducks in a row. I coughed up a first deposit and a second deposit, and then we called in a brigade of insurance representatives, housing inspectors, termite inspectors, roofing companies, et cetera: I half expect to see a parade of young boys marching down the street after our troop of inspectors, towing their little red wagons and making a Norman Rockwell parade.

Anyhow, things are getting more complicated: the house turns out to have black mildew in the subroofing, which is a Bad Thing. The nightly news, apparently, runs Special Reports on the Scourge of Black Mildew, and how it’s gnawing at the very core of our civilization and family values. So we’d need to replace the roof, as well as some other things — fixing the vapor barrier in the crawlspace, grading the yard to keep water from ponding at the foundation, et cetera: all of which would involve enough money to buy a small Korean sedan. So we announced that we’d like to lower the selling price of the house by the amount it would take to by a small Yugoslavian car, and we hope they agree.

It’s hard to know what to do: on the one hand, we could take the house as is, but we’d kinda feel like we’re getting hosed, then. But if we walk away from the house, hey! We liked that house! So we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

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