Window Shopping For a House

We went out house hunting this past weekend and every house we saw was a dud.

That’s okay though- we don’t want to like anything right now because we can’t make an offer until about the end of February. Mr. Darcy’s parents generously sent us a LARGE gift of money to use towards our down payment. Technically if we were to bid on a house right now that money would be seen as a gift and we’d be required to put down 20% on the house. So, we’re waiting so that when we do bid our bank statements will reflect that amount in our accounts for the past 2 months and we won’t be forced to put 20% down.

It’s good to be looking though since we’re still wondering about what neighborhood best suits us. We’re surprised that many of the areas we thought would be on the top of our list aren’t contenders right now. Maybe THE house will appear in one of the neighborhoods we haven’t set our sights on. . . we’re open to whatever might come.There were many houses that we just drove by because the neighborhood was absolute shit. Like one was right behind a row of run down restaurants and a nail parlor so all you saw was iron-clad windows and doors and trash strewn about. Gross, no thanks!

We looked at a house that was behind the dreamy house we wanted. It’s set back from the road with its own driveway that almost makes it feel like you are in the country. There is a pond in the front or what appears to be an unkempt pond/swamp and the yard is very grown over with moss. It could be cool or it could be a disaster but either way, it needs a lot of work. We couldn’t see inside the house except for peering in windows since the real estate agent didn’t leave a key. Such is the way with bank owned (not short sale) homes. I don’t really want that house as I would likely spend the rest of our life looking over into the dreamy house and thinking about “the one that got away.”

We stopped by a short sale house which is not something we’re interested in dealing with but it helps to see all different kinds of homes that are on the market. This house had not been upgraded and the basement was unfinished though we never went down there since upon entering the house itself we were struck with a) how freezing it was inside- it was colder inside than outside! and b) how eery it was. There was a very unsettling, sad vibe about the house. The bedrooms had deadbolt locks on them that you could lock from the outside. What?! I was like, “They locked people up in this house! I don’t like it here.” Our realtor was like, “Something bad happened here, I just feel it.” I agreed and we quickly left.

There was one house though that had great curb appeal- which I’ve learned means it’s a house that when you drive up you’re like “that’s cute!” And it was- great details on the front, ample front yard with white picket fence with the house set back from the street. We got up to the front door and WOW  you could see the view through the window right away. AMAZING! You could see the water and the cityscape. It had a big deck which would be great for parties. But. . . the layout was crappy, there was no dining room area- it bled into the living room- and the bedrooms were small and oddly laid out. Plus, the basement was not upgraded much and the dark wood paneling and tiny windows made it feel dingy. It just didn’t have enough bedrooms (we want 3 minimum) and there wasn’t a whole lot of wiggle room with the layout to make it work for us. Again, it was bank owned not a short sale. I’m certain it will go fast.

The last house we saw was for sale by owner. He is asking $308,000 and, well, he’s not going to get that. It’s located right under the West Seattle Bridge on ramp and off a very busy, loud street. There is no charm to the neighborhood. The house itself has been upgraded some but it still has an odd layout- you enter into the kitchen which is haphazardly laid out. The master bedroom is off the kitchen and the kids beds were in this strange pass-through room that has stairs that go down to the basement. I could see they tried to fix it up but it was just not for us. The location alone was problematic. I have a feeling that guy is going to learn the hard way that his house is over-priced.

We’re learning more and more what we’re willing to bend on and what we absolutely can’t deal with. We’re more stuck on the flow of the house, the spaciousness of it, and the layout more than anything. There are a lot of people buying up these cheaper houses to turn them over so there is still competition out there and it’ll only get worse as we get into the spring season when all the houses come on the market. But we’ve got our fingers crossed we’ll find the perfect house for us for the right price.


16 thoughts on “Window Shopping For a House

  1. Have you looked at homes in North Bend or Snoqualmie, by any chance? It’s obviously a longer commute, but you get tons more bang for your buck. Plus, the view of Mt Si is BREATHTAKING, and the number and quality of the city parks is hard to beat. And the outlets!

  2. House hunting, though frustrating, is so exciting. Especially because you guys aren’t under the gun to find something, you can take your time and find the house that speaks to you…and you definitely will! The house that we bought was not in the neighborhood we thought it’d be or the type of house we thought we wanted, but it was perfect for us.

  3. We literally looked at over 400 houses (not including all the MLS listings that I passed on for various reasons) before we found ours. People look at me like I’m crazy when I say that. My Mom has personally never looked for more than a single day without making a decision. I figure if I’m spending that much money, I want to be happy with what I chose. And I am, our house is perfect for us.

  4. It’s okay – a lot of people wait for spring to list homes. You can take your time and get a strong sense of the overall market for the next few months, and then when you see the right home you will be able to bid on it immediately and feel confident in your decision.

  5. With such a major decision, I think it is smart to take your time looking and find something that you feel confident about. When we found our current apartment, I just walked in and saw the wood floors and all the sun coming in through the windows with leafy green outside and felt at home.

  6. I’ve actually always wondered about the history of a house/apt/condo/you name it. Who use to live there? Did something scary happen there? Clearly I watch too much CSI.

    I’m actually learning quite a bit from your house hunting posts! It’s so good to look around and educate yourself on what you want/don’t want. This isn’t a tshirt you’re buying. It’s a house! Take your time. You’ll find it.

  7. You’ll find it! One thing I learned about buying a house is that if it’s meant to be, it’ll work out the way it’s supposed to. There is no such thing as learning to love a house, believe me!

  8. OH MY GOD that creepy house is like EVERY EPISODE of criminal minds. i am 100% sure kidnapped people were held in those rooms.

    …ok, like 80% sure. still awfully sure.

  9. I’m so excited for you! House shopping is so much fun. It’s so much fun that it almost makes me want to move every few years. Just keep looking, just keep refining your priorities, and you’ll know “it” when you see it.

    Mr. Mom and I bought our first house before we were married, in 1990. It was a little brick cottage in one of the most charming neighborhoods in Tulsa. We paid $30,000 for it. Isn’t that crazy? It needed a lot of cosmetic work but we did it all and made a tidy profit three years later when we had children and sold it. It was only a thousand square feet but it was adorable (after we finished, of course) and whenever we are in town we always drive by that house and remember our time there. By the way, about a year ago, we drove by and saw a couple of “for sale” signs in the neighborhood, which I promptly looked up. Houses on our old street are now selling for around $180,000. I know, crazy!

  10. I have a feeling you’ll find the right one right at the right time. I think because you’re not actually ready to find the dream house, you haven’t yet. The Universe is totally intervening. But come late February, you’re going to find it.

    Do you ever watch Property Brothers on HGTV? They have convinced me you can turn any weird layout into an awesome one. Stupid TV…

  11. We also saw a “something bad happened here” house (actually on the same day we found our house. I drive by it often and wonder if it’s haunted. Anyway, it sounds corny, but you’ll know “the one” when you find it. And, seeing lots of duds at least makes for good stories. We always talk about the house with “12 different types of flooring” or “THE ONE THAT WAS PROBABLY HAUNTED.”

  12. You know what? You’re going to be a dangerous buyer (dangerous to the sellers, that is). Because right now, you’re educating yourself. You’re seeing for yourselves what’s on the market and noticing all the factors that affect price. So, when the time comes to put an offer in on a house, your’e going to know that not only is the house right for you,but that your offer is fair and competitive. Pretty amazing!

    When I bought my first condo, my Realtor took me to see roughly 75 properties before I knew my condo was the one. In fact, I walked away from “my” condo, because I thought it was overpriced. I continued looking and waiting probably 4-6 weeks before putting in an offer. By that time, I knew my offer was fair and I also knew the seller wasn’t getting any other bites. It worked – I got the condo for the price I thought was fair … and I’m not sure that would’ve happened if I hadn’t spent some time getting to know the market in my area.

  13. Your house hunting experience mirrors my house hunting experience even though I was looking in Perth, Western Australia 6 years ago. We looked at a tonne of places in a bunch of different suburbs all over the place but ended up finding our place in a neighbourhood we never would have thought of, in a spot we didn’t even know existed. I wasn’t completely in love with it at first, but Jason was, and even our realtors were excited about the find. You’ll find your house eventually, and it will be great.

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