Our First Open House

Mr. Darcy and I spent over three hours yesterday driving around looking at houses for sale. Mostly just to check out neighborhoods and see what is available in our price range. At least we think it’s our price range. We’re kind of flying blind here and making it up as we go along until we take the home buyers workshop in a couple of weeks. We’re absolutely not ready to buy. We still have a lot to learn and money we need to save but we figured we might as well do some research.

There was one house in particular that we both really liked and it happened to be having an open house that day. It claimed to have 3 bedrooms, was built in the 1930’s, and had a finished detached garage that was advertised as a “man cave”. It was our last stop on our afternoon of house hunting. When we pulled up I firmly instructed Mr. Darcy, “Okay. Don’t give away too much information.We aren’t ready to buy. Play it cool.” (I’m paraphrasing.) He’s like, “Yeah, I  know. I got it!” So we make our way inside, greet the realtor and introduce ourselves. And what do I say next? “We’re just looking for research. We’re not ready to buy.”

Yeah. I’m cool like that. Play poker with me sometime.

The house was staged beautifully and had a lot of the original charm- stunning light fixture in the dining room, built ins, big windows, finished basement as well as the “man cave” which Mr. Darcy immediately started to plan where all his little painted soldiers and such would go. Hello! Mr. Darcy! WE ARE NOT READY TO BUY. I thought I’d be the one falling in love with the place and instead I was just the one who blew our cover within 5 seconds of walking in the door.

Getting downstairs was a bit precarious. The stairs were very narrow and the railing a bit wobbly. There was a teeny tiny bedroom off the laundry area which Mr. Darcy and I both agreed was kind of creepy. It was like the room you were sent to when you were being bad. Beyond that was where the previous owners had their tv room- it even had a small kitchenette and full bathroom. The ceilings were very low.

I am 5'3". You do the math.

The upstairs rooms were incredibly small. People in the 1930’s were very tiny apparently. The rooms would fit a queen sized bed and that’s about it. I would point out things I liked and Mr. Darcy would say, “Stop saying all the good stuff. I’m falling in love with this house.” Sensitive to his feelings I was all, “Knock it off! WE ARE NOT READY TO BUY.”

There was a long list of reasons why that house would not have been a yes for me and I listed them to Mr. Darcy as soon as we said our good-byes and were out the door. Here I thought he was going to be the hard one, the practical one and he was getting moony over a man cave where he could store his nerd things. I think we’re both cautiously optimistic about this next step. It’s hard not to get excited (and terrified) when making such a huge life shift.

We’re hoping the workshop we are taking at the end of the month will clear up many of the questions we have like- How much can we actually afford? and, Are we crazy to consider buying  a house? Maybe it will even alleviate some of the anxiety we feel when we think about it. Because, man, I’ve been panicking about money ever since we started talking about this in earnest. As much as I am OVER being apartment managers, it’s hard to give up the “free” rent.

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15 thoughts on “Our First Open House

  1. Well I can tell you home prices really are falling, there are houses in my neighborhood that are selling for $50 – 75k LESS than 2 years ago. They’re only going to go down for a while.
    But it is so fun looking at houses isn’t it?

  2. Isabel sends me Seattle home listings sometimes and I just die at the prices. Then I turn around and show her bigger listings in Tulsa for 25% of the price. And yet still, she refuses to move here. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a state where we’ve had nothing but triple digit temps all summer long?

  3. One of my college apartments was a one-bedroom in an old building built in the 30’s, and I had a similar thought to “People in the 1930′s were very tiny apparently.” I remember looking at my tiny closet and wondering if people back then really just had the one jacket and maybe five shirts than needed hangers.

    Also: a man’s nerd things a very important, and as such their care and storage requires considerable thought. Just tossing that in there.

  4. There is usually a formula that lenders use, they do not want your housing payment to be more than approx 30% of your net income, and that # needs to include everything Payment, Interest, Taxes and Insurance. The class workshop should talk to you about all that stuff. Good Luck!

  5. I would totally fit into that room since I’m an inch shorter than you. Dang people really were tiny back then!
    Mr. Darcy can have a man cave anywhere! Doesn’t have to be this particular place.
    I have no idea what to look for when buying a house and I keep thinking I’ll never be able to afford one. Or even save up for one. Unless we live in the middle of nowhere Virginia (oh hell no that’s not gonna happen).

  6. If you have money for a down payment and a stable income, now is a good time to buy. Rates and housing prices are at records lows. However…with the economy as unstable as it is, I would be super hesitant to make that kind of financial commitment.

    I have worked in the financial industry for almost 8 years now, very closely with mortgage lenders and servicers. The biggest caveat I offer is that there is much, much more to owning a home than just a mortgage payment. Closing costs, inspections, taxes, and other fees can add tens of thousands of dollars to the purchase price. Then, after you get your keys, there is maintenance to consider and more taxes which can sometimes go up double-digit percentage points every year.

    I don’t want to scare you. Like I said, if you have the money and are ready for a long-term commitment, it’s a great time to buy, but owning a home these days is no longer much of an American Dream. And it’s nothing to jump into lightly, not that I think you would. 🙂

  7. I actually went mortgage shopping before I went house shopping…BOTH times. The first was to give me a ballpark that I was comfortable with, and second time because it made me feel better about looking at things like the first time.
    I wish I could say that I’ve walked into an open house, fallen in love and bought the place. My home searches have been fraught with bidding wars, arguments about removal of above-ground swimming pools, and extending deadlines to make things happen. But I’ve loved both my houses.

    I never want to move again.

  8. Ooohoohoo let the fun begin! I loved going to open houses – in fact, I would still love to go to them. It’s totally fun to check out how they stage things and what little quirks exist in each house.

    When I was first considering buying (and was freaking) Mr. W assured me that it’s easier than you think to adjust to the big payment. And he’s right – I haven’t had to tone down my life too much as a result of the mortgage. However, I do feel a sort of heaviness knowing it’s there. I can’t just quit my job and run off to Europe when I have a mortgage to pay!

    Good luck with your class – I’m sure it’ll help a lot!

  9. I seriously love that photo of you. 🙂

    I can’t wait to hear about your adventures in house hunting. It’s been ten years since we bought ours and I remember the thrill of it. 🙂

  10. My only warning is, neither you nor Mr. Darcy should ever get sucked into that thing known as redfin.com. No, really. Stay away. A certain someone in my household (and it’s not Gavin!) checks in on that site weekly. And we’re not house-hunting, either. =)

  11. Our house is from 1941.
    Small closets, no attic, no basement. It’s a pack rat nightmare.
    But….gorgeous crown molding everywhere, it’s super sturdy.
    Luckily, I married a tinker/engineer/plumber who is happily replacing fixtures and making plans to get our charming cape cod brought up to 21st century living satisfactions.

    You do not know how happy I am to have an upstairs sink with only one faucet.
    Washing your face with a two faucet system is the pits.

  12. Hi 🙂 I’ve been gone for a while, but wanted to pop back in to say – is the workshop put on by a neutral party? And also, a lot of people (including me) think the housing market hasn’t bottomed. I think it’s low and near bottom, but I think it could have a good 10% to go. Just something to keep in mind 🙂 xoxo

  13. Aaaahhhh – HERE WE GO!!!! Though very, very far from buying, D-Man and I are always talking about our dream home. Cute little house – HUGE backyard, where we’ll have our own garden. I’m so excited for you and Mr. Darcy. Please share the most important info you get from the workshop!! And happy house-browsing 😉

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