On Monday night I went to revisit a house I’d seen before and another house I had previously rejected seeing. I recognized that I was eternally torn between price and location and these houses had the price and location I was comfortable with.
House A was the house I saw on the epic Sunday where my realtor and I visited probably seven homes. This was the third home we looked at that day, making it one of the earlier homes I visited in my search. Before I went to revisit it on Monday, I looked back at the notes I took after that initial visit:
“Felt too small, weird where the washer and dryer are”
“kitchen had a lot of potential”
“window in the bathroom opened to porch”
“no natural light”
“feel like I would grow out of it quickly”
After visiting so many homes and townhouses, old and new, I read these notes with a set of fresh eyes. These weren’t very concrete reasons to turn down this home, which is priced at a point I’m extremely comfortable with and is in the center of everything. As I sat at home counting down the moments to leave, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was nervous! I haven’t been nervous to look at houses before. It was like the nervous/excitement you feel before a first date. I hope I like it! I remember thinking.
When I pulled up to the house, I was early which was okay because that meant I could sit in the neighborhood. I had stalked the neighborhood on crimemapping.com for about two weeks prior to this and was satisfied with what I saw. I’d even driven through the neighborhood a few times over the weekend. I watched what was going on around me. The house across the street was undergoing renovations. Everyone had chairs and tables on their front porches. There were two black cats lounging on the porch of the house a few blocks down. It felt like a working class neighborhood. Nothing too fancy, but nothing too sketchy either.
I liked the house more seeing it this time than last time. And it wasn’t because I wanted to like it. The first time I saw it, it was a cloudy day. This time, it was a nicer day and I saw that there was, actually, natural light. The living room was a good size and I could put a sectional in like I want to. The kitchen still has a ton of potential. I love the built in shelves over the sink. I would eventually replace the cabinets but I wouldn’t need to right away. I would move the refrigerator over and bring my dining room table from New York and make it into a nice eat-in kitchen. The windows were in good shape. The sunroom/laundry room was bright with light. Sure, it’s weird that the washer/dryer are out in the open and on opposite walls. But I could make it work with some shelving around them. If I got a sectional, I could put my couch in here and have a bright reading nook and home for my kids. The bathroom is smaller than my current bathroom but I think my current bathroom is too big anyway. I love the built-in closets that remind me of my Nana’s bathroom. The window opening up to the sunroom didn’t bother me because it’s up so high and it lets in natural light. The bedrooms felt bigger, and the windows that were placed high up on the walls were perfect because I don’t want a lot of light in my bedroom anyway. I need a cave-like setting to sleep. I would pull the carpet up and repaint the walls and add crown molding, but I could do that at my leisure. The house felt bigger, as I’ve learned that I really don’t want a huge house because huge houses cost more money to maintain. Outside lacked character, but with some petunias in the window boxes and planting some bushes and putting in some stones for a patio, it would instantly be transformed into a lovely little home.
The next home, House B, was rejected initially for the mere fact it has a basement. Never mind the roof, windows, and bathrooms are new. I really don’t like basements. This house is more money, but still in my comfortable budget, and is in a good location. Here are the pro’s and con’s of House B:
- New roof, new windows, updated bathrooms, and refinished hardwood floors
- More square footage, about 1200 square feet
- Enormous kitchen, almost too big, with a giant pantry
- The greenway runs through the backyard and it’s down the street from the park
- Beautiful back yard with updated deck
- There were 2 dead roaches. We’re not talking the pitiful light brown roaches I find at my job and can kill pretty easily. We’re talking the dark brown, shell of armor, prehistoric looking cockroaches that would crunch if I killed it. The kind of roaches that would survive a nuclear war. And if there are 2 dead roaches, there might be 200 living roaches somewhere in the walls or in the basement. *
- The house might back up to the greenway, but it also backs up to the third busiest road in the city and an animal hospital. While in the bedroom, I could hear the zoom zoom of cars going by. When I drove by last night, the animal hospital lights lit up the house like it was day time. I can’t sleep with unnatural light and noise.
- The basement appeared to be in good shape. The furnace was ancient, though, and I wasn’t feeling the sump pump. I would have to come down here to do my laundry. This seems like added stress to worry about moisture and also bugs like basements.
- My realtor pointed out that there were a lot of holes in the mulch in the front. She said that critters and snakes live in these holes. These critters probably have a secret entrance to my house, too. *
- The dishwasher is on wheels but I don’t know how the water gets in because there was no pipe.
- There’s a carport. Ew. This is just a matter of personal taste.
*Disclaimer: I am fully aware that in order to get rid of roaches and mice, all I need to do is simply call an exterminator. I am also fully aware that even in House A, there will be the risk of critters and bugs.
Overall, even though House B had the appearance of being well maintained, it felt dirty. It didn’t feel like the cozy home I want, which is the feeling I got from House A. It also felt like a lot more work with the larger yard and basement. The yard on House A was pitiful, but I can handle pitiful and make it beautiful. I also like that the neighborhood in House A has established trees, whereas the trees in House B’s neighborhood had been removed.
Last night, around 10:00pm, I drove through House A’s neighborhood. Granted, it was a Thursday which I kept mistaking for a Friday, but it was so quiet. I saw a woman walking for exercise by herself, which is always a good sign. I sat in my car for a few minutes and looked around. People were home, their lights were on, but it was quiet. I could see the skyline of my city in the distance. Earlier that day, I had found a website where I could find information about who owns the homes. Most of them had been lived in for 5+ years by either couples or people like me. Sure, a lot of them could be rentals, which House A used to be. The neighborhood feels established, though, which is important to me.
I know I’d like to see House A one more time before deciding if I want to make an offer or nah. I know my mom will hate it and she says it sounds too small (it’s about 900 square feet, but that’s not counting the sunroom/laundry room which is almost 250 additional square feet). It might be too small but I don’t want to live a life where I’m buying stuff just to fill space. I love the charm, the retro shelves and cabinets and even the very retro ceiling lamp in the hallway. Is it perfect? Heck no. But for the price, I can make it perfect for me, and for a first time homebuyer, price is one of the most important factors.