To All the Homes I’ve Loved Before

As promised, I want to share the stories of all the homes I’ve loved before.

Abelia: Abelia is the first home I ever strongly considered putting an offer on. I wound up there by going into the neighborhood for a different Open House, and deciding to check this one out. It was a 2bd, 2ba end unit town home. I fell in love with the open floor plan and all the natural light. Before I even left the open house, I had mentally purchased, painted, and put mosaic stone around the fireplace. I had no money saved up though, and I hadn’t even taken an important test for my job, so I slowly moved on.

King Edward: I fell in love with King Edward before I even went inside. I had visited a similar house in the neighborhood, so I knew what the layout would be, but I didn’t know what the condition was. King Edward is one of those sketchy listings that show only the front of the house, and no interior shots. When it was finally time to view King Edward, it only took me pulling up and taking a close look at it that I knew he wasn’t for me. The back corner of the house looked like it was hanging on for dear life. There was a crater in the driveway and the siding was falling off. There was a red stain over the fireplace like someone threw a paint filled water balloon and/or ketchup bottle at it. The part of the electric oven that gets hot was on the floor. It was dark and musty. I parted ways with King Edward quickly.

Collier: Collier is one of those forever listings. He sat in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in town and on my favorites list for almost a year. The price dropped, and dropped. He looked like a nice house for me! Look at the built in bookcases! Look at the charm! Why wasn’t anyone buying this cheap house in the most desirable part of town??? I found out when I went to view it. Collier was small, and dark, and needed a lot of work. His kitchen was smaller than the closet in my apartment and there is really nothing you could do about it. There was mouse poop in the sink. The bedrooms were a good size, but only 2. He felt like smaller boxes within a larger box. I loved the big old tree in the front more than the house. After almost a year of a love affair, I said, “it’s not me, it’s you” to Collier. On to the next one.

Arbor Hill: Arbor Hill is my girl. I still secretly love her. Arbor Hill is a gorgeous 3bd, 2.5 bath townhouse on the outside of town. She’s fully updated and feels like she was just built last month. There is a ton of natural light, and has more of a house feel than a townhouse feel. HOA fees are also more reasonable for a lot of the communities in town. All I would need to move in is a can of paint (well, a few cans of paint) and a fridge. The only downside to Arbor Hill? The location. For a young professional like myself, Arbor Hill is in the middle of nowhere. Farm country. In order to get there from where the action is and my friend’s houses, I would have to drive through some sketchy areas. People have made faces at the location, including law enforcement. If I could pick Arbor Hill up and drop her where I wanted, we’d have a deal. I still don’t know if I can live with the location. Location, location, location.

Elam: Oh, Elam. I got a feeling when I visited Elam for the first time. I walked around and I said, “I love this house. I don’t know why, but I love this house.” I saw the potential, and I had a vision. Elam is in my preferred neighborhood, close to everything: downtown, work, stores, friends, life. It’s the kind of neighborhood I would wake up in the summer and go for a walk looking at all the pretty, quaint, little houses. Elam is a fixer upper though. I spent the next week daydreaming about painting the wood paneled studio white, and moving the washer/dryer into the other side room (you only needed to extend the plumbing out there), and adding new kitchen cabinets and appliances, and taking down the weird chimney that’s in a closet, and redoing the kitchen and bathroom floors, and planting my gardens, and repainting the vinyl and replacing the windows… I spent hours on Pinterest and Houzz thinking of ideas and dreaming. I had romanticized renovations into the hour long version I see on HGTV. I visited Elam a second time and loved it even more. Oh, how I would make this into the perfect little home! It will be featured on Pinterest and Apartment Therapy and Houzz and in magazines.

I recently met with a wonderful contractor to talk about how much these renovations would cost. I watched my plans and dreams crumble before my eyes. He pointed out all the safety issues (the chimney basically opens up to a hole in the ceiling and all the warm air goes out there, and the electrical isn’t grounded nor updated). The electrical alone ate up most of the budget. My gut, which had been telling me “THIS IS THE ONE!!!” all week was suddenly screaming “GET OUT! WALK AWAY! MONEY PIT!” I realized that even for the low, low price, I would be married to this house. My lifestyle of vegging out watching Netflix on the weekend would change to “Let’s hit up Lowe’s again for x,y,z$$$$$$” I’m down for DIY, but not like this. I told my realtor and contractor that I would have to think about it, and they said there’s no rush to make a decision, and I got in my car and texted my BFF “Just met with the contractor and omg reality check.” I called my mom and she said, yeah no. Elam had crashed and burned before my eyes. It’s a lovely house, but not for a first time home buyer.

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In conclusion, home buying is an assault on your emotions. It’s because finding a home is a matter of heart and wallet. I want to find a place that I love but that leaves me financially able to continue to enjoy my quality of life. I want to put sweat equity into it but I also don’t want to feel like I’m rebuilding from the ground up. I think what I need to do is reassess what it is I want out of my home. I know why I’m looking: it’s cheaper to buy than rent, I’m sick of listening to my neighbors (who I’ve been listening to while I’ve written this whole post), and I want to exercise my green thumb. There is no perfect home. I can take an imperfect home and make it perfect, though. Location is also important, because I feel that if I lived closer to downtown, I would go out more often. I’m more used to a townhouse, but I want to learn how to take care of a single family. Right now, I’m torn between two places I’ve looked at before: a townhouse and a single family. There are pros and cons to both. This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life!

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