After saying that we’re going to let house hunting take a back burner for the next month or so, we still went through with our scheduled appointment with our real estate agent last Sunday. We had about 10 houses on the list and figured it wouldn’t hurt to get in some viewings. The market is picking up and when we are ready to buy, we’re going to have to act fast to get in to see the good ones.
We whipped through the first few viewings because they were not for us. So many of the older houses we are drawn to have terrible layouts. This is becoming a real issue actually and we’re starting to be open to looking at different types of homes not just homes built before the 1950′s. Those older homes have impossibly small bedrooms and quirky kitchens and have been oddly updated.
We are honest with ourselves- we do not want a fixer upper. Not the kind that will take a total overhaul or require us to gut a kitchen. So it was kind of funny when we entered an old house that had two small bedrooms, a beautifully updated bathroom, nice built-in adjacent to the fireplace and small dining area and kitchen. But the kitchen sink was set in the counter at an angle facing a corner. And it was a tiny sink even though the kitchen itself had been updated. There was a big back porch off of that with a sunken hot tub and a yard that went on and on. I mean, we could have gotten married back there- if we wanted to get married when we’re in our mid-40′s because it would take that long to complete. There was a basement that claimed it had 2 more rooms but it was dank and the small windows let in very little light. I wouldn’t even subject Darcy to having his nerd room down there let alone a guest staying with us. Despite all that we could see the potential and got slightly excited.
We moved on to see a 1963 home that looked very promising. It’s a short sale which is not ideal but we’re not opposed to seeing them. You just never know. The fence that surrounds the home actually lent itself to a private feel for the yard which seemed like it was easy to maintain- just enough grass to not overwhelm us with the potential upkeep mixed in with gravel and some landscaping that needed to be updated.
This is a nice photo of the front though it’s not as well maintained as they would like you to think.
When you enter the front door, to the left is a doorway into a kitchen. Not a terrible kitchen but it was small and would need upgrading (electric stove top set into the counter- no thanks- plus dark counters and black appliances). The kitchen opened up onto the dining area and the entire wall on that side of the house is windows. There was a narrow-ish deck that ran the expanse of that side of the house making it ideal for parties.
Yes, I do judge potential houses by how entertaining-ready they might be.
There was this very cool fireplace that coupled with the expanse of windows almost sold me right then and there. We have mid-century modern tastes and this would fit with our aesthetic.
Here’s the fireplace with a built-in. And guess what? The bottom level of this house has another one of these fireplaces!
So through this area we head down the hall. There are three doors, all shut, so we open them slowly to see sad little twin beds in each. The house smells of dog and it’s pretty clear that a bunch of dudes live there. Everywhere you look there are skis and snowboards and the furniture is all mismatched and shabby. Each room is sadder than the last though the master is ample enough with a walk in closet and good-sized bathroom. Whoever updated the place liked this particular type of tile that looks like wet stone even when it’s not wet. (Not a fan, personally.) We check that all out and then head down stairs that are covered in very dirty cream-colored carpet.
The downstairs is as big as the upstairs with a very large sort of work space directly under the kitchen, the same style fireplace and big windows with a sliding door that opens to a lawn area. The floor is concrete but it could be painted a cool color with some rugs put down and would be an ample family room. Along the hallway there are more rooms with doors shut. I open one that is packed with stuff, again, stinking of dog. I continue walking and open a door to find nothing in it but a snowsuit laid out flat on the floor. That was it! Just the snowsuit! Like someone had laid down on the floor in it, spread eagle, and then evaporated. It was totally creepy.
There was another bathroom off that hall and at the end was a laundry area and two doors. One led to outside and the other was a mystery. Mr. Darcy is always very curious and will explore every nook and cranny, even the scary ones. We’re standing there with our agent and he opens the door to a pitch black room. He feels for the light switch and when the light illuminates the room, he sees a guy sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the middle of the room. The guy kind of rolls over and Mr. Darcy was all, “Oh! Sorry man!” and flicked the light back off. We all looked at each other and scrambled out of there.
Despite the creep factor- this house was huge and with some clean up and minor changes to the decor and an expansion to the kitchen, we might be interested. Oh and if they lowered the price from $285,000. Even though it’s huge (maybe too big for us?), it’s priced too high for our taste. We’re going to keep an eye on it and see.
The most surprising thing though was not the creepy guy asleep on a mattress in a room that isn’t technically a room. It was seeing a newer construction home (2011) and actually considering it. I never ever thought I’d be into it. I’ve heard bad things about newer construction homes- shoddy materials and craftsmanship but when one came up we agreed to view it as it was in an ideal location. As we drove into the housing complex I remarked that it reminded me of “Back to the Future” when Marty goes back in time and there is that big billboard advertising a new housing development. The houses are cookie cutter but the place is very clean and well maintained and quiet. I was still skeptical. I like my houses and neighborhoods to have some character.
We walked into the model home and I was like HOLY WOW! The layout was so open and everything was so new and sparkly. It helped that they had staged it immaculately. But OMG the kitchen. I had a kitchen orgasm right there. So much counter space and stainless steel appliances and you could see from the living room through the dining room to the kitchen. The upstairs had a large master and bath with 2 more rooms. But, there wasn’t any storage or garage and the yard was non-existent. We really want a dog and a kid and I think having at least some yard and a space to bbq and entertain outside is ideal for us.
Still, we spent a lot of time there, taking it all in. We even went and saw another model that wowed me even more. The dining room was in the front that opened onto a massive kitchen that flowed into the family room in the back. The upstairs had an office nook and, same as the other unit, had 3 rooms upstairs but with a better layout (in my opinion). As we walked to the actual open houses to see where they were located on the lot, I mentioned how the place had a “Pleasantville” vibe about it- very Stepford Wives with everything looking the same. That was right around the time that the guy working the leasing office at the property mentioned to us that there would be more construction going up across the way but that on the other side there would be no new developments since there was a cemetary there.
Mr. Darcy and I looked at each other and said conspiratorially, “You moved the head stones but you didn’t move the bodies!”
Dude, POLTERGEIST! Um, no thanks.
And yes, we reference movies a lot. We were MFEO. (What movie is that from?)
From here until after March 20th we’re going to just keep an eye on houses coming on the market and our agent will send us gems. If it’s something great, we’ll go out and see it. If not, we’ll just it pass until I’m through this insane period at work. The right house is out there for us and we’ll know it when we see it.