Our realtor told us at the outset that she didn’t want us expecting to find the home of our dreams this first time out. Rather, she said that we need to be looking at the areas and determine which area of town we’d rather live in. Many people buy houses they love without checking out the area, and then they find that the services they want and need aren’t available or aren’t nearby. So they wind up with a house they love in an area they hate. The first step, then, is not to find a house, but to find an area.
Yesterday, we found the area.
And we thought we’d found a house. But it’s amazing what a night’s rest will do for your perception of a house.
Didn’t make much of an impression — little enough impression that I didn’t even take a picture.
In a historic district, walking distance from two parks (!!!), Contestant Two had a lot going for it from the beginning. It was was a fairly attractive house, with plantation shutters and picket fence in the front.
The interior was pleasant enough, with a somewhat odd upstairs bedroom — the chimney goes through the middle of the room, dividing it almost in two. Pleasant enough, though requiring some work. “I love it,” K said. “It’s okay,” I thought. Until we went into the “basement.”
Duct tape on a foundation wall can mean only one thing: the owners are trying to hide something. The fact that it’s painted indicates that they’re really trying to hide something.
And then the back of the house: siding clearly put on by a less-than-professional. It’s fairly clear that there’s water running off the roof and into that siding. Which means one thing: water damage. No — it means two things: water damage and mold.
The final negative factor: it was literally covered with trees. Not good for a roof; not good for affordable insurance. At that point, it was decided. Add to it all the age and the possible problems with wiring and plumbing, and, despite the good location, the final verdict was a definitive “no.”
We left the city-proper and went to Maldin.
First impression — standard brick ranch. The house looked good, but nothing spectacular. And then we saw the backyard: huge, wooded, landscaped — in a word, amazing. A couple of kitschy “water falls,” but nothing that couldn’t be removed.
Once we walked in, I thought, “Okay — this is a house worth spending some time in, checking out, really looking it over.”
The kitchen/dining area was open, with a fireplace in the corner. Opposite was the living room. Immediate thought: “Tear out the wall dividing them and what an amazing space!”
Downstairs, a real basement — no quotation marks required. Half of it was finished as a family room. The other half: man cave. Clean, cool cinder-block with a new furnace — everything screams, “Workshop!”
The price is great; the location is perfect; the home is an amazing first-home. And, after the first two disasters, I think, “Hey, there is good stuff in our price range!”
Contestants Four through Seven
It was all downhill after Contestant Three, but we looked further.
Contestant Four: lots of potential (with an amazingly large backyard, too), but requiring a lot of work. Porcelain tiles as a kitchen counter-top treatment just makes you feel like you’re cooking in a bus station bathroom.
Contestant Five: with roads on three of the four sides of the lot, it was a definite “no” before we even got inside.
Contestant Six: no! No! A thousand times no! The Portokalos-style fireplace just was so hideous that I ran screaming from the house.
Contestant Seven: What a kitchen! What an interior! What train tracks five-hundred feet away! What a flood plain! What a disappointment! (View larger picture)
Contestant Eight had a lot going against it from the beginning. Far, far north; on a semi-busy street; few trees.
Then we stepped inside, where it became obvious that this was a case of “Flip this House.” However, as my father said, it was more like “Flop this House.”
At first, everything seems decent. New appliances; new tile floor — which goes all the way from the kitchen, though the dining/living area, down the hall.
And then a close look at the kitchen counter revealed a few things:
- The house-flipper had never done any work like this before.
- The flipper had never even practiced before doing it for real.
- The flipper thought all who looked at the house would be legally blind and not wearing their glasses.
Words do not do it justice, so I present “Counter-Top Edge”
Add to it the fact that the hardwood floor in the living room was finished in the ever-popular Spill-and-Smear style, we decided to give it a pass.
First house hunt behind us, we learned a lot about what we really want and what’s optional.