This past week, Bf and I had our first taste of house-hunting. We felt pretty prepared for the houses because we'd done a lot of looking online before we actually set foot in any of the homes. We looked at six houses, all of which fir in to four major requirements:
- They were all 3+ bedroom and 1.5+ bath.
- They all were in our preferred part of the city.
- They all had central air conditioning.
- They each had a two car garage.
First I'll tell you about the four houses we knew didn't want (after one look).
The Smelly Crockpot
This house was great on paper. Set in a quiet cul de sac, it was a nice 3 bedroom split-level house. Unfortunately, that cul de sac was apparently a zoning nightmare full of duplexes and single-wides with dead cars on the front lawns, and the back yard was only a chain-link fence away from row after row of rental condos. Oh, and the people obviously had dogs. And the homeowner tried to cover up the dog smell by leaving a crockpot full of beef something-or-other bubbling in the kitchen. The smell in there was horrendous. I had a bad-neighbors-and-worse-odors headache when I left.
The Hopeful Oldie
We fell in love with one of the houses before we visited it. It was over 100 years old and seemingly well-updated. It had beautiful majestic wood detailing and leaded windows. Unfortunately, it came with extremely high heating bills, a floor plan indicative of its past use as multiple apartments, and the bathrooms were semi-usable at best. Not to mention its horror-movie basement. We decided it'd be a great project for someone, but we're not looking for a project.
The Leaky Craftsman
I loved this beautiful 90 year old house, but unfortunately some past owner had decided that putting on an addition equates to chopping a hole in the roof and slapping on half an unplumbed, poorly-sealed triangle-shaped dungeon that causes the roof to leak and the ceiling to sag. Oh and the seller also must be immune to the smell of mildew, judging by the sickly stench that was coming from the basement.
The French Doors to Nowhere and the Mystery Garage
This home was nice. Our Realtor said it'd been flipped - bought the previous year for much less money. There were some odd things about it though. A built-in island taking up space where the dining room should be, for example. And a small random room with beautiful french doors and a hardwood floor... connected to nothing but the master bedroom. Too big to be a closet, to small to be a room. A previous owner had also half-way built in to the original attached 1-car garage. It was no longer big enough for a car, but was still being used for lawn and garden storage. (A newer detached garage had been built behind the house.) None of the problems with this house were insurmountable, but added up together, it just ended up being a house we did not like very much.
The four above were duds, but there were two houses that stood out for both of us...
The Brick Wall Split
A 1975 split level home. At first look, this house had everything we needed and nothing we didn't. We liked its attached garage and secluded location. Its kitchen was big and its upstairs had a flexible floor plan. We were set to make a bid on this house... until we took another look. The day of our first visit was stormy, so we paid little attention to the exterior of the house. Yesterday was a nicer day, so we walked around carefully noticed at least a half-dozen expensive things that would definitely not stand up to an FHA inspection. On top of those things, the siding was apparently original (and poorly maintained, unevenly painted, and completely missing or rotten in a few places). The deck was a hodgepodge of rotten wood and broken plastic rails. The windows were original too, with peeling trim work and painted-shut storm windows and a crack in one of the big ones. This would be a good house for someone who wanted to put the time and money in to fixing up its exterior. I'm up for tearing out wallpaper and refinishing cabinets. But a 50k construction loan? Not so much. We still have it in the back of our minds (damn, it was a nice location!) but we're going to keep looking.
This brings us to the other viable option from our initial outing...
The Woody Ranch
This 1959 ranch style house was beautiful. It had way more wood-paneling than I ever thought I'd be comfortable with, but its layout and features made it very appealing. Did I mention that it probably had as much closet space as it had living space? Me likey. And oh, my god, the bathrooms. The spacious main bathroom had a full-size linen closet and a double-sink vanity. The other bathroom was almost just as nice. It also had a really awesome door knob. (That's the make-or-break, am I right?!) There's a fine line between "terribly dated" and "classy retro" and this house stayed on the proper side of that line. Most of the windows have been replaced with nice new ones too. The siding is well-maintained and in great condition. The roof's fairly new and the exterior details were well-coordinated.
We're going back to look at the woody ranch again (hopefully Wednesday). There are two possible outcomes from this second look: we'll either have the same experience as we did with the Brick Wall Split, or we'll be ready for the next step in this big, stressful process.