I thought looking was the hard part, finding something too expensive instead of outrageously expensive, knowing about intricate financing possibilities, learning about insulation, taxes and contracts. But that was the easy part, I have just begun to learn. a few initial observations:

1. Mortgage interest rates will continue to go up all the time you are looking and continue to go down all the time after you have signed the note at 14 percent.

2. Homeowners, unlike apartment dwellers, are allowed to have large dogs. When one large dog in the neighborhood starts barking for any reason whatsoever, all the dogs in the neighborhood add verbal support.

3. Dogs always bark as you are trying to get to sleep and before you want to get up in the morning.

4. Grass does not need mowing once a week in Washington in the spring and early summer -- it needs mowing twice a week. Ditto fall.

5. Gas appliances are not as cheap to operate as you have been led to believe.

6. No matter how big the fusebox looks when you move in, it is not big enough.

7. There is something called a slow-burn fuse which is supposed to solve a lot of fuse problems. It takes about one second to burn out. Regular fuses blow instantly.

8. Only people who live in apartments and want their security deposit back clean their ovens before they vacate.

9. A complete archeological record of all happenings in a kitchen may be found under the refrigerator and under the stove top.

10. Other parents do not mind if their children use your yard as a playground.

11. Other homeowners do not mind if their dogs use your yard as a latrine.

12. At least one child on any street has a mini-bike without a muffler which he has not learned to ride safely, but no one minds that he is trying anyway.

13. Shingles do not last nearly as long as you have been led to believe.

14. The house down the street with more improvements that was selling for more than yours will sell a month after you move in for less than you paid.

15. The little shed in the back yard which holds the garden stuff is made of steel, which rusts, and one day the roof will blow off.

16. The trash men cannot be convinced to haul away little rusted garden sheds.

17. The trash men cannot be convinced to haul away anything which is not hermetically sealed and neatly wrapped in expensive plastic bags.

18. The sale of a house becomes a matter of public record, a fact which has not escaped every insurance agent in the United States.

19. Window unit air-conditioners are much more expensive to operate than you have been led to believe.

20. There is no known variety of grass which can be made to grow in the shady spot on the side of the house where there is no grass.

21. Carpeting that looks easily cleanable with a rental steam shampooer will not come clean.

22. A good garden hose is more expensive than you could possibly imagine. You don't even want to ask about the price of a good lawnmower.

23. The utility companies have not yet guessed correctly on an estimated bill for anyone, ever.

24. The telephone company does not want to come to your home to install your new phone. They want you to go to the telephone store to get the phone and install it yourself.

25. Weeds, which are not the least bit meek, will inherit the earth.

26. People who tell you that frequent close mowings will destroy most weeds, leaving only the healthy grass growing, are wrong. Exactly the opposite is true.

27. Old Roto-Rooter stickers on basement pipes are not a good indication that all will be well with the plumbing.

28. Plumbing that looks shiny and new on the outside can be rotted to pieces on the inside.

29. No matter what happens to inflation, your salary, the cost of living and other events in the world, the mortgage payment will never seem smaller.

30. The previous owners will give you a list and description of exotic and esoteric plantings throughout the yard the day after you have unknowingly mowed them down. $31. If you decide that buying a house has been a terrible mistake, your real estate agent will tell you what he hasn't told you before: It will be at least 14 months before you can break even.