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An American Dream Come True

Long Valley Patch's editor reminisces on the highs and lows of buying a home.

Well, we’ve finally done it. We (my wife Nancy, son Jacob, and I) bought a house in Long Valley. Well, Jacob’s name isn’t on the mortgage, but if not for child labor laws you better believe he’d be contributing to the monthly payment.

Editor’s note: Cynicism, sarcasm, and desperate attempts at humor may follow.

It’s our first house, and I don’t think we could be happier. Well, I mean, if we owned it outright we’d be happier, but then again so would everyone else with a mortgage payment.

The house is great, and the pride in owning a home is an amazing feeling. But it’s the process before hand that makes a new homeowner feel entitled to their property. I mean, what’s with the closing? Or the entire process for that matter? I need a real estate agent, a lawyer, an inspector, an appraiser, a title company, a mortgage lender… the list goes on.

Wal-Mart hasn’t come up with a one-stop alternative yet? That’s preposterous.

We made an offer on the house about a week before Thanksgiving and closed on Jan. 29. Granted, we had extenuating circumstances (an entirely new septic system was installed), but boy did it feel like a long time. Wait, it was a long time.

Once the closing was complete we felt great. Nancy and I have been married just over five years, and we’ve waited patiently for this opportunity. Thanks to a buyer’s market and low interest rates, it was the perfect home at the perfect time for us as a family.

And just when you thought the whole house-buying process wasn’t confusing and arduous enough, then came the moving part. Before I continue, let me say this: the house was in move in condition, but we wanted to make it comfortable and a place we could call our own before actually settling in.

So we painted. And we painted. And worked. And then painted some more. And just when we thought we were done painting, we needed to do a second coat. All tolled, five rooms received new tones and nearly six gallons of paint were splashed, brushed and rolled during countless man hours.

The process of actually selecting the paint was probably more time consuming and strenuous than the labor itself. From ‘Waves of Grain’ to ‘Radiant Sun’ and ‘Healing Waters’, the amount of paints–and their hilarious names–to choose from was dizzying.

And for a guy like me, who thinks ROY G BIV is a ‘90s R&B group, the idea of buying anything but white primer was challenging. But I digress.

What about furniture? Surely we couldn’t use the same couches or kitchen table we had used the previous five years; that would be ludicrous! So the shopping extravaganza began (and as a testament to Nancy, she sure did do her research on the furniture that suited us and the house best, and we ended up saving a nice chunk of change by shopping around).

Speaking of furniture, is there a more ‘focused’ salesperson you can think of? You walk into a furniture store, and there he or she is, waiting for you. “How you folks doing today?” they would ask. Doing just great, we’d reply. Because we were. We just bought a house; how could we not be great?

“Looking for anything in particular?” the salesperson would wonder. Just shopping around for now, we’d usually reply, as Jacob would wander off and try to get his dirty snow boots onto the closest leather couch in the store.

“Well I’ll be right over there at the desk if you need anything. Let me know if I can help.”

What a nice salesperson, we’d think. Then we’d begin having conversations about certain furniture. This couch is comfortable, or this table would look great in the kitchen and so on. And then, out of nowhere, BOOM–the salesperson–the one who was going to be ‘right over there’ is now right over here, practically sitting on my lap as I try to recline a love seat.

This happened in just about every store we walked in to. They’re like hawks, these ‘focused’ salespeople. They can smell your desire, or your distaste for something, and they capitalize on it like a predator to wounded prey.

“I really like this one, Jay,” Nancy might say. And before words could come out of my mouth, the salesperson would begin rattling off color possibilities, financing opportunities and that “everyone who buys this couch LOVES it.”

I also noticed that regardless of the piece of furniture–table, chair, couch, entertainment center, coffee table, you name it­–the salesperson has someone in their family who owns that same piece. “My brother has this couch, and my cousin has this table. They LOVE it.”

It just so happens–and is no coincidence–that the place we bought all our furniture happened to be a store where our salesperson not only left us alone (for the most part), but talked us out of a more expensive sleeper sofa and to just go with a reclining couch. See what happens when you’re not so ‘focused’.

Anyway, we now own a home in the town we both grew up in. It feels great to have a piece of the American Dream, even if at times it felt like a nightmare. In just one week of actually living in the house I’ve learned how to install a ceiling fan, fix a shower spout diverter and hang every size set of blinds you can imagine (the house has a lot of windows).

I can join the ‘my property taxes are too high’ conversation and I’m already on a first name basis with the wonderful folks down at Home Depot (where I’ve learned to be a humble man, hand an associate a piece of my house and say “This doesn’t work. Help me.”).

But we’re comfortable now, thanks to a lot of pre-move leg work, and there were so many people involved that deserve thanks, including parents, friends and yes, all those folks I mentioned earlier who take part in the actual house buying process.

We’re in a home and we truly feel at home, finally, and just like the furniture, we LOVE it.

Tracy Tobin February 20, 2011 at 12:39 PM
Jason Welcome back to Long Valley. Thank you for working so hard to help make it better. One of my frustrations as a Township Committeeman,now retired, was the inability to get information about things happening in town out to the residents. The print media has reduced their staff significantly over the years, and other than the OT, rarely cover anything other than "Big" news about the town. Hope you get a chance to enjoy your new home for many years to come. Tracy Tobin
judi February 20, 2011 at 02:42 PM
Myself and many other "Patch" readers, I am sure, are so very happy that you and your family have found the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood. Enjoy it- you all deserve it!!!! Amusing article-loved it and how true Love it, it brightened my Sunday AM
Thomas Lotito February 20, 2011 at 06:56 PM
Hi Jason, welcome to the club. Are you a fan of "This Old House?" Next time you shop for supplies try Hoffman's Supply, they have a good selection of supplies and the service is first rate. If you thought that buying a house was stressful try a renovatio project, it will test your faith. Congratulations! Tom

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