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Top Spots to Live 2014

The house hunter’s lament

Lust, flirting, rejection . . . just another day of searching in a competitive market.

Juliette Borda

I’m sitting at my laptop composing a note. I want to sound enthusiastic, yet cagey. Candid, yet confident. After an hour, I’m satisfied. I attach a cheerful photo and hope for the best.

No, I am not in the throes of an online romance. I’m bidding on yet another house in Arlington, one of the most cutthroat real estate markets in suburban Boston. Housing inventory is low, demand is high, and multiple offers are the norm. Penning a love letter to a seller — complete with personal photo — is par for the course.

My husband and I scan Redfin daily, prowling for “the one.” We have standards, of course: location, price, size, appearance. When we spotted a promising specimen a few weeks ago, we were giddy. But staged photos can lie, just like the aging coach potato on Match.com who claims to be a 25-year-old bodybuilder. Ergo, the open house: a first date. Like any relationship, we had deal breakers. Structural flaws? It’d never work. Cosmetic issues? Fixable. We turned on the faucets. We opened the closets. We evaluated the crowds — competitors, keeping us from our fate — and fretted. Who was just flirting? Who was a threat? Then we submitted a bid (complete with letter, photo, detailed financing — how could they refuse?). And finally, like some 18th-century bride preparing a dowry, we awaited word. Meanwhile, I drove by the home, feeling possessive. I envisioned myself hosting dinner parties in the dining room. I confess: I practiced writing the address in cursive.

Then came the realtor’s call. We didn’t get it. There were other offers. Someone was willing to pay cash. (These are the Amazonian supermodels of the real estate world. Mortals don’t stand a chance against them.) All we had left was a good-faith deposit check, never to be cashed. Like a jilted lover, I tore it up. I didn’t like the house anyway, I told myself. Who did they think they were, peddling that 1970s bathroom like it was HGTV? I looked at the photo of my family posing in their backyard and felt heartbroken.


The right one will come along, our realtor promised.


Sure enough, it did. I was comfortable from the moment we walked into the foyer. As of this writing, we’re preparing an inspection to ensure there aren’t any skeletons in the closets. Could it be? Even in the near suburbs, true love awaits.

Kara Baskin is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.