House Hunting


As you eclectic readers can tell, this blog is about a little bit of everything.  One thing that you will probably see on a semi-regular basis are posts about house hunting.  The fiance and I are looking to move out of our apartment and into a house of our own.  When we first started this process I had a short list of things I want to have in a house.  Within a matter of just a few short weeks this list has been twisted, added onto, shortened, added to more, and been painted a gorgeous shade of “what the fuck?!”.
This weekend we revisited four houses with my parents.  We had our third visit to one house.  1st visit…What a gorgeous 1929 house with so much character! 2nd visit…hmmm, we can’t get any hot water and what are these walls made of? 3rd visit…is that my finger pushing through the wall?

This has definitely been a learning experience and a major lesson in the art of surprise.

The houses we visited today confused us even more…sort of in a good way, sort of in a my brain has become baby food kind of way.  Same price.  House #1 is a single family in a planned community.  It was built in 2003, has a large kitchen/dining area, a very night and bright finished basement, and is in a quiet neighborhood.   A debbie downer is that although there is a patio, the yard space is lacking and most of what is there is very much sloped.  It is also a short sale, but as a few friends of ours have said, short sales nowadays do not take as long as they used to.  This is a good thing because we would very much like to stop living above human elephants as soon as possible.
House #2…ohhhh, house #2.  Split level. Built in the 60s.  One owner.  1st visit…”We need to ungrannyfy this house!”  The moment we walked into this house the first go around it reminded me of my grandmother and my almost 96 year old great aunt.  Can you be emotionally drawn to a house while criticizing it in the same breath?  This house feels like home and the community is even cozy. Is that possible??!  The kitchen is very outdated and severely lacks counterspace.  This can be fixed…with money.  The upstairs has four bedrooms, three of which are in an L-shape, forcing you to walk through one to get to another.  WTF??!  Today’s visit did allow us to visualized putting in a hallway, making the front bedroom slightly more narrow while leaving the first back bedroom the same size.  We could expand the master, making it long, and put in a door that would make the master bedroom and bathroom private.  Again…$$.  Could be done over time…but still…$$ over time.

Conflicting pros: Easy to move in vs. cozy to the face.

Conflicting Cons: Short sale vs. Granny

Have you a big housing choice? Is it easier or more difficult when you choose between the better of two goods rather than the lesser of two evils?

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There is a wonderful line in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson.

“We had two bags of gross, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers…and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozem amyls.”

I don’t even know what an amyl is but I do know that even this early on in the house hunting process I could totally roll with Hunter and the attorney. 

When house hunting, within the course of a day…hell, a few hours, your mood can change multiple times as you bump from being gleefully excited to mentally drained.  We’re still pretty new into our house hunt, having only looked at roughly 10 homes.  Today we revisited two with my parents, one of whom is a former real estate lawyer who was armed with binoculars, flashlights, and a legal size notepad…and a shitload of observations that our virgin eyes hadn’t even noticed the first go round.

Let’s just say…it was stressful.  It certainly could have been worse.  Both houses are pretty move in ready but my dad came up with several questions that concerned us.  In both we had issues getting hot water.  In the first house he wasn’t sure if there is a buried oil tank, and in the other the upstairs floors are a little sloped and the layout of the master bathroom and bedroom is awkward.  Walking through the kitchen in a towel…not an issue in a temporary apartment, more than a little akward in a house.

Are these deal breakers? WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME??? I’M A FIRST TIME HOME BUYER AND SCARED SHITELESS!  In the first house we could easily move in as long as the internal/mechanical stuff could be fixed.  The second is more customizeable, which could be wonderful but is also very scary.

Spending so much time watching home buying shows I always thought that doing projects would be OH SO FUN, TEEHEEHEE!  I suppose projects I was actually thinking about were things like changing kitchen tiles and maybe knocking out a wall to expand a bedroom.  But the idea of slanted floors and 1929 walls is a little daunting.  We have friends who own houses that aren’t perfect and there are “those rooms” where no one goes.  When I go to those houses I don’t really think much of it but now I’m wondering if we could live with oddities, at least for a year or two.  The big thing I’m looking for in a home is peace, privacy, and a place to grow into.  After living above elephants for almost a year, the thought of having our own place where we can sit in the living room in silence is what pulls me out of the first time homeowner vortex.

I know that there will never be the perfect house nor am I looking for one.  Projects can happen slowly over time…so am I being a silly virgin by stressing over these things? What are deal breakers and what are fixer uppers?