House Hunters Irrational

So, my girlfriend and me are looking into buying a house. The process thus far has been good, or at least not bad. It's definitely been a bit strange. It's hard to get your head around. When did I become an adult with the resources to purchase property? I'm pretty sure that's for old people who don't write online fart jokes for a living. But I guess a lot of people buy houses, right? RIGHT? This is a thing? That people do?

99.999% of the purchases you make in life are confined to a single spending tier. The ceiling for this tier is around 500 bucks. More if you're "My stars, what to do with it all?" wealthy, but around 500 bucks for the rest of us. If I told you I'd just spent over 500 dollars on a jacket or a table or lunch you'd probably think to yourself "Well, I guess ol' Nate is doing okay!" or possibly, "Who does that prick Nate think he is spending $500 on lunch?"

The next tier up, which you'll probably visit less than a dozen times in your life, is the car tier. If you buy your car used the upper limit for that one is maybe 10 to 15 thousand dollars. Pretty big jump from the "basic necessities and random junk" tier.

Then, with no intermediate steps you're at the house tier, where suddenly the ceiling is hundreds of thousands of dollars. The last major purchase I made was an HD TV, which ended up costing around $450. I agonized over that purchase. I went to countless stores to compare prices, and probably stood in front of the TV I ultimately bought for over an hour just to confirm that uh, well, I'm not really sure. That it was in fact a TV and not a 40-inch wide slab of particleboard painted black? Now I'm looking into buying something that's going to cost around 500 times more. How do you even process that?

The answer, I guess, is that you're not supposed to. The proceedings don't really increase in pomp or weight when you go up a tier. You're expected to do more or less the same amount of shopping around and stressing over the purchase of a new fridge, a new car or a new house. Actually, you're free to do more shopping and stressing over the fridge and car. If I had paid over $500 for that TV I mentioned earlier I would have felt like I'd been ripped off, but if I can get a three-bedroom house downtown for less than a quarter million, well now, that's a deal! Nothing reduces money to meaningless symbols etched on paper and/or silicon faster than buying property!

Speaking of fast, it's pretty clear the whole real estate system is designed to quickly get you into a house before you have a chance to contemplate the insane thing you're doing. That's not a criticism -- if it wasn't that way, nobody would ever buy a house ever.

Before you're even allowed to seriously start looking at houses, you have to get pre-approved for a mortgage, basically promising that "Yes yes yes, I'm totally buying something" then your agent throws a million options at you and you see one you like and then suddenly it's SECRET BIDDING TIME so you better get your bid in there or the house you like will be GONE FOREVER. Now you have to raise your bid because other offers have come in and you don't want to lose your dream house! But awww, darn, you didn't bid high enough, but don't worry, there's even nicer houses out there! Don't think about it! Spin that roulette wheel again!

Sigh. Why can't there just be a house store, where you pick something off the shelf and sign up for the NO MONEY 'TILL MARCH MADNESS payment plan? I mean, I guess there is if you want to live in a beige box on the edge of a cow pasture, but unfortunately we both want a house with character. You know, something homey at least one person has died in.

So yeah, looking for houses is kind of baffling, but eventually a person needs to make their mark on the world. To buy that little stamp of land and pile of bricks and really make it their own. Or at the very least, you can't live in a basement apartment with a leaky bathroom ceiling and radiators that sound like they're haunted forever. We'll persevere.