My HGTV addiction has taught me several things. You can make your own chandelier out of a wire fruit basket, it’s not a bedroom if it doesn’t have a closet and, of course, always include a clause for a home inspection. But most shockingly, it’s shown me how little the majority of people know about actually buying and decorating a house.
Perhaps it’s not so surprising. Most of us haven’t been trained in home design, nor have we spent hours pouring over figures concerning the recently popped housing bubble or studying the difference between teak and bamboo. What is the average price of a home? What’s the difference between a fixed-rate versus an adjustable-rate mortgage?
To be perfectly honest, at this point in time, I couldn’t give a shit less about what the price of homes are. I’m much more concerned with the atrocious job market into which I’m going to be graduating, and don’t have the time to busy myself about a mortgage I probably won’t have for at least another 10 years. Ugh, that seems too soon.
What I am worried about, however, is the complete and utter lack of knowledge most people seem to demonstrate when they’re looking for a 3,000-square-foot home on a 1,500-square-foot home’s budget.
OK, so it’s television. First and foremost, I’m sure the producers of “Property Virgins” or “My First Place” are seeking entertainment value, and second, they are looking to provide the just-married-and-currently-expecting-twins couple with the home they need, while giving the viewers a few do-it-yourself tips along the way — hence my wire fruit basket skills.
The problem is how easy it is to find that couple, the couple that has taken no initiative on their own and doesn’t understand the first thing about maintaining a home properly or asking the bank for a loan.
If you’re now looking for someone to explain the process of getting a mortgage and building your budget around making sure your payments are on time, then go hop on your computer and look it up. Information is everywhere. It’s so available to us and in such abundance that it can be more intimidating than it is helpful — which ostensibly has become the biggest problem of all.
Sifting through all the false information accessible to us on the Internet and TV is no small feat. But we learned that more than 10 years ago, when the information boom slapped us all in the face and we realized that we could either use this new web of truths and lies for good or for evil.
For example, I can read all day about how the job market sucks — and believe me, there are enough articles about it to give me a solid 24 hours worth of fun. Instead, I choose to use this learning tool to find a loophole. Teach abroad in Spain for a year and get paid by the Spanish government? Deal.
All it takes is a little bit of research and a little bit of common sense. A few questions will get you a long way, and knowing how to separate the libel from the legitimate will take you far. Don’t run away from information because it’s too scary and real. Don’t be that couple on “Property Virgins.” Be the person who can tell them what to do.