House Hunting: About As Successful As The Presidential Debates
Last weekend we went for another round of house hunting. We went to 13 houses over the course of 6 hours.
Yes, it was a long day.
We went into this new round with a different plan than the last round. Before we were really looking for what we wanted. After the thrilling success we had (end sarcasm) we decided to retool our search and have started to focus on houses in a much lower budget range that have the space to have what we want but don’t necessarily have those things at this point in time. There were houses that we were not that excited about seeing, but had left on the list anyway because they were cheap enough to leave us a good bit of money leftover to “fix” things.
For example, the first house we went to look at was on a good-sized bit of land, but the kitchen was not so good, it was a bedroom short of what we’re looking for, and it’s a 2 stall garage. Since it’s on the lower end of the price range however, and has a lot of space, we’d have the money leftover each month to be able to add a pole barn, redo the kitchen, and add the bedroom in a relatively short amount of time.
Taking this approach to the house hunting has definitely given us more options, but it makes executing the search that much more exhausting. There’s a level of imagination that has to go into it now, while evaluating the practicality of those ideas. When we’re doing the search online, we have to try to guess how the house fits together based on the few photos supplied and use Google Earth to guess if there is enough space to add a third stall to a 2 stall garage.
It’s a little stressful.
I think the most exciting part of that house hunting trip was the house we drove up to with no sign out front and no apparent key box. Having been on the seller end of this process before, I suggested that maybe the box was not attached to the doorknob but maybe just laying on the front porch, so we walked up to the front door anyway. No key box still, and peeking into the front window by the door made it look like maybe we were at the wrong house. There was stuff strewn about everywhere. We went back to the car and called the realtor for that house, and that guy assured us that the homeowners knew we were coming and told us where to find the ke box. So, we went inside, and it was very, very obvious that they were not prepared for us to be there. There was stuff everywhere. Dishes still in the sink, shoes all over the foyer, space heaters running, dog running loose (terrible guard dog, by the way), not a single clean surface. The master bath looked like an entire closet had thrown up in it. It was bad.
A few days later we found out that the homeowners had apparently changed their minds about being able to s how the house (they were headquarters for a wedding apparently) and had messaged their realtor on Facebook to cancel the showing, and he just never saw it. I can only imagine their faces when they came home and found our realtor’s business card amongst the kitchen chaos. Assuming they could find anything in that mess.
Anywho, at the end of the day we had a top 3, which was a massive improvement over the first trip. #3 was actually the first house we saw that I described above. #2 was a house that actually had most of what we were looking for (plus a finished basement). #1 was…well, it was a house we shouldn’t have looked at, which now presents a problem…
#1 is a new build. A gorgeous new build. It has the only kitchen I’ve liked, and the only layout I’ve liked. It has the space to have Geoff’s office without giving up one of the bedrooms we want, the basement size to do what we want, it’s in a great area, and it backs up to a vineyard. A vineyard! It felt pretty perfect…and perfectly over budget.
I know what you’re thinking, because it sounds really obvious. “Of course it’s over budget, it has a frigging vineyard.” The funny part is that’s not the problem. The problem is that the house itself is technically in our price range, which is why we went to see it, but it’s the extra up front costs that are the hurdle. It’s new, so in addition to the higher down payment we are on the hook for buying all the appliances, getting the windows covered (even at the cheapest “temporary” blinds it’s still a pretty penny for how many windows there are), and then we’re left with zero funds and an empty house. The builder is (not surprisingly) refusing to budge on price. We also found out the beautiful vineyard are actually going way really soon as well to make room for the next phase of the development.
Logistically, house #1 doesn’t make sense to do. It’s a beautiful house, but to us it doesn’t seem to be good enough to justify the amount of money needed, especially knowing our favorite feature will be going away soon and knowing that there are things we would need to do to the house in the future (finish the basement, extend the garage for Geoff’s workshop, etc). It may be a great house, but at this exact moment it just isn’t feasible.
Of course, this house has ruined any other house for us. You may have noticed I said “was” when talking about houses #2 and #3. Those houses came on the heels of seeing some really awful ones, and now that we’re revisiting them it has become apparent that we thought they were good only by comparison. #3 is off of a road that’s not busy, but it’s not exactly unused. That’s a concern not just for the sake of road noise, but thinking down the line where children may be involved. Not to mention the more I think about that kitchen I know I hate it, but can’t figure out how I could change it. It also needs the basement finished, and we’d need to build the workshop space, so by the time we add all that up it’s almost as expense as #1.
#2 we actually revisited in person last week for a second walk through. After that visit, I honestly cannot tell you what I liked about the house the first time, other than maybe the yard size. The layout is weird, the internal layout is odd meaning the venting and piping is placed oddly), the kitchen has some weird French country thing going on, and we found evidence that it is actually a flip, so who knows what else is hiding there.
So, essentially we’re back at square one…again. We tossed houses #2 and #3 completely, and I’ve mentally tossed house #1 for logical reasons. It’s very quickly getting disheartening, but we haven’t completely given up hope that we may be able to find something before we hit our deadline of moving out of Geoff’s parents. We have another house we’re checking out tomorrow, but that’s the last one left at this point. Fingers crossed!