Vol 199 - Don't Force the Fit.
"Can I help you find anything?" the hip, young salesman at J. Crew eagerly asked. "Yeah, you can help me find my youth," I thought as I beat-feet out of there. It took only a quick glance through the racks for me to realize that the J. Crew fall collection was NOT designed for my middle-age demographic.
First of all, there was nothing above a size four in the store, and second, there was nothing above a size four! The same can be said for the majority of other "women's" shops I visit these days that seem more suited to pre-teens than to any of the women I see or know. (Just who are they designing for anyway? Not me!)
While I'm not yet ready to surrender to elastic waistbands and drawstrings, let's get real - the days of mini skirts and hot pants are well behind the majority of us forty (plus!) gals. With the rare exception of Jennifer Aniston, I find that looking good as one ages, is more and more about creative draping and skilled tailoring.
Mind you, this isn't necessarily a size or weight issue, but candidly speaking, clothing tends to hang a little differently than it did when we were younger (and hadn't yet given birth). The truth is that no matter how well we women keep it together, there comes a point in time at which we should adjust our personal style and donate what no longer accentuates our best features (uh, that would be my ankles). With respect to "flaunting what you've got," perhaps it's time to pass this mantle on to a younger, hipper, braver generation (also known as our daughters)!
With respect to Real Estate, there are moments in the heart of a deal, when I can literally hear and see my Buyers struggling with the "fit" of a home. They like the house, but they are not quite sure it meets ALL their needs. OR . . . they are in contract and have discovered unwelcome surprises that now make them uncomfortable moving forward. OR . . . they are worried the costs to maintain or remodel the property will be too great. OR . . . they're not really sure the East Bay is really the right move for their family after all - and so it goes . . . .
There are a host of good reasons why a house that initially caught your eye, no longer "fits" the same as it did before and why the bloom has fallen off the tree. At which point, I want to assure you that whatever choice you make about moving forward or exiting the deal, it will be okay. However, if you want to see it through, even the most dire objections can be overcome with a talented architect, a skilled contractor, and some well-intentioned negotiation.
Brick foundation? Yes.
Lack of permits? Yes.
Extensive drainage issues? Yes.
Fear or paralysis? Probably not. The fact of the matter is, if you are squeezing into size four jeans - when you actually need a ten - the "fit" is going to suffer. Not that you can't fool yourself into thinking everything still looks good; it's just that maybe you shouldn't force the fit. If you have to "talk" yourself into a home, it's probably not the right property for you in the long run. Let it go and move on. As hard as it is to say good bye, there will be other opportunities and other homes that "fit" much better (I promise).
On the other hand, if you decide to move forward - despite your initial objections - than you'll have to accept the "unknowns" on the house; "own" the decision and embrace the process. Have some faith, if you love the property enough, you'll work through the imperfections and take on the risks (hmmm, sounds a bit like marriage).
In either case, understand that "the perfect fit" probably exists only in magazines - and even then, those multi-million dollar homes are professionally styled for days before the photographer shows up and points the camera. With no curtains, pillows, or miscellaneous items out of place, these architecturally, perfectly designed homes don't really reflect reality; they reflect our fantasies. Don't get too caught up in the "perfect image" - it isn't real.
Speaking of reality, I'm off to the semi-annual sale at Nordstrom's -they're not exactly fashion forward but at least they have pants in my size!
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.