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The business of buying a home (1921)

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Common courtesy when buying or selling a home

by Mary Marshall Duffee

Behavior is a mirror in which every one displays his image. – Goethe

The housing problem is a bigger one now than it has ever been in this country. Therefore, a good many of us are either buying or building houses and we are coming up against unaccustomed problems.

The first thing to remember, whether you buy a house from a total stranger or from your next door neighbor, is that the transaction is purely one of business. It should be carried on in an absolutely businesslike way. Just because you know the man you are buying the house from is no reason why you should not have everything about it put down in the legal form. And just because the man who is buying the house from you is a friend of yours is no reason why you should feel any offense because he wants to be purely businesslike about the transaction.

On the other hand, the well-bred buyer or seller of a house tries always to do the courteous thing. If you are selling a house and know that it would be a great convenience to those who buy it to take possession a few days ahead of the specified time, let them do so if you can manage to.

Remember when you sell a house that the garden goes with it. If you want to transplant any of your favorite flowers after the house is sold, it is the courteous thing to ask permission of the persons you have sold it to. And remember that once the deed is signed, everything about the house belongs not to you, who have sold it, even though you are still living in it, but to the person who has bought it. And although you are entitled to live in it until the date agreed upon, you are not entitled to take anything away from it that goes with the house.

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When you buy your new home, it is quite probable that your friends will want to see it. The best way to avoid unpleasant feeling and to make matters easy for you is to specify a given date when you will be at home in the new house. It is even sometimes a good plan to give an informal tea or at-home to welcome your friends to your new house and thus to give them a chance to see it.

Photo: Heath Nesbit House in Charlotte, North Carolina (built in 1921)

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