Friday, April 01, 2005

And in the beginning, there was real estate...

Remember that gloriously awful movie “The Craft”? Fairuza Balk was totally scary-sexy in that creepy Goth way that makes most of us, at some point, decide that thick Cleopatra eyeliner is a good idea. Anyway, the witchy girls talk about the “rule of three”, how everything you do comes back to you multiplied by three. For example, if you kick someone in the nuts, you’ll get kicked in the nuts three times, as retribution. Like karma on ‘roids, I guess. My perspective on it, as a homeowner, is that it ought to be the “rule of 20%”. Anything you take on will end up costing 20% more and taking 20% longer than anyone tells you. If you expect to get kicked in the nuts, be fully prepared to experience a 20% harder kick than the kicker looks capable of. Or maybe you’ll just get an extra kidney punch in addition. The universe is mysterious.

It starts before you even buy a home. You see a cute place that costs, say, $150,000 (residents of major metropolitan areas, feel free to add a zero if it makes you feel any less despondent). You think, “Hey, I can afford a down payment on that!” So off you go. Soon you realize that $150,000 will get you a really cute house on the corner of Crack Avenue and Whore Street. Or a condo with less square footage than your last office cubicle. Or a fixer in a nice neighborhood that you realize is so cheap because the previous tenants disposed of their KFC detritus by throwing it down the heat registers. Your realtor will seem optimistic (or at the very least will continue returning your calls), but gently begin steering you toward pricier abodes.

Boom. Your first 20%. And it's all downhill from there.

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