LOOKING for a house can be a trying experience...

SALMAGUNDI

September 05, 1995

LOOKING for a house can be a trying experience emotionally. A writer we know, who had been encouraged by reports of the current buyer's market, recently returned from a scouting expedition confused, dejected and nearly at wit's end over how difficult finding a place to live was proving.

It wasn't that there weren't lots of houses on the market -- including many attractive, affordable, convenient homes in pleasant surroundings. Realtors and sellers were most cooperative. Friends and colleagues offered helpful tips about where to look for good deals. Lenders seemed eager to extend credit.

It was as if a mighty chorus were urging him to buy, Buy, BUY!

But there was also much conflicting advice. His city friends urged him to be their neighbor and deplored the suburbs' lack of diversity and culture. His county friends wanted him to move to the 'burbs and warned darkly of high city taxes and crime.

"How can you live without trees?" they asked. It takes an effort of will for our writer friend to remind himself that there are trees in the city, too, while the suburbs also have culture, of a sort.

Our friend is trying to be realistic, though when he thinks about it he has to admit that perhaps he'd prefer 65 acres with a dozen horses on it somewhere, or maybe a stately old mansion in Guilford that the National Geographic could write an article about. Someday, he sighs.

In the meantime, he keeps looking, knowing that he is lucky to be a buyer in a buyer's market and thankful for the warm welcome extended wherever he appears. He would like to buy a house soon and settle down, and now he realizes that this is the real source of his frustration: Lots of houses, but what he can't seem to find is a home.

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