Tuesday, January 15, 2013

House hunting and the art of compromise

Adventures in home-buying...

This is the photo from the real estate listing of the house my husband (still getting used to saying that :-) and I have contracted to purchase.  It is a fixer-upper loaded with charm, space, and potential.  The house is a couple of miles south of the local university, not far from the city limits.  
The yard is huge and completely private.  The house has many features I like, as you may have seen from a previous post; but it has features that need to be modified, like bathrooms with showers under the eaves where there is no headroom; and a shoddy job of insulating through the siding, leaving unsightly holes that need to either be plugged properly, or the siding needs to be replaced entirely.  And it currently has a nonfunctional heating system.  This house is not without its problems, but we were willing to address those issues due to its location and its character. 

On December 20, as we were driving to Austin, Texas for our wedding/honeymoon, the sellers failed to sign an extension of the closing date, and breached the contract to buy/sell this property.  Almost one month later, no remedy for the breach has been presented to us.  We still have not closed, nor have we been given a date for that to happen-- the sale remains in limbo.  So, after months of stress and uncertainty, we are looking beyond this house to other possibilities.  

I am obsessed with finding another house.

Just like the buyers on HGTV's Househunters, we have our list of attributes for the new house.  

1.  a good yard with mature trees
2.  a light, spacious-feeling interior
3.  2 bedrooms and an office
4.  charm
5.  curb-appeal
6.  a safe neighborhood

Those are the bare necessities.  

The ideal property would have these features also:

1.  located outside the city limits with small acreage
2.  three bedrooms
3.  no street lights nearby
4.  lots of trees, possibly woods on the property
5.  a good view

My search led us to look at this charmer the other day.

This house has everything on the first list except a separate space for an office.  At just under 1,000 square feet, this house in town is quite diminutive.  Our current house is around 2,200 square feet, and there are rooms we seldom go into, so we could easily down-size somewhat.  The house has 10' ceilings and original features, such as pine floors, a claw-foot tub, and trim.  It has been well-maintained.  The neighborhood, however, is an eclectic one, where student rentals sit next to owner-occupied houses.  I find this house to be quite charming and could see myself living here, although I do not know if it will accomodate a family of pets and 2 adults.  We would have to give up our guest room to make space for my husband's office.  That would be a big sacrifice.  And I am not sure about the neighborhood.

Another option:

Later this week, we will view this brick ranch.  It is larger than the vintage bungalow and has also been very well-maintained.  It hosts the original oak floors but everything else has been upgraded.  From the pictures on-line, it appears to be very clean.  This house sits in a neighborhood that is populated by professors and professional staff who work for the university, which is within walking distance.  This house is really not my favorite style.  I have never been especially partial to ranch houses.  However, it is sensible and solidly built.  There are mature trees and a screen of evergreens along the backside of the lot.  With a fence, it would be private and large enough for our energetic puppy.  

Every house purchase requires a large dose of reality.  Our house dreams do not always match our budgets or the current properties on the market.  Many of the older homes in my area were torn down in the 1960's to build apartment buildings for students.  A lot of the older farmhouses were also torn down due to neglect.  Finding an decent old house in this area, in the safe neighborhood, is exceedingly difficult.  Right now the available houses on the market are probably more limited than in the coming months.  We have been told that more properties come available in spring.  With our crazy puppy, in desperate need of a yard, waiting is almost unbearable.

I am willing to compromise in terms of style and space in order to get into some place comfortable, bright, quiet, surrounded by a bit of earth to garden in.

How have you had to compromise when it came to purchasing your house?  Any thoughts or input for me to consider?

Until next time...


P.S.  Thanks for the sweet comments about my recent wedding!  I appreciate you taking the time to respond to that post.  It was such a joyous occasion for me, I felt compelled to share it with you.


  1. We've moved so frequently that we almost have it down to a science but we make a spreadsheet listing the "must have" features, "wanted features" and finally a space for us to jot down any notes. We use it with every home and allows us to remember the houses without any emotional attachment. This process works well for us and I wish you lots of luck in finding your special home.

  2. Thanks so much for your suggestion! I love the spreadsheet idea and plan to use it.

  3. Whichever you prefer, the most important thing is to know the price of these houses. Even if you have found the ideal house for you, it’d be a problem if you could not afford it, or that there’d be unclear terms with the selling/buying agreement with the owner, just like what happened with the house in the first photo.

    Oscar Lang

  4. I like the curb appeal of the house in the first photo, but sadly, you said in your post that it’s missing one of your qualifications. Hehe! Anyway, have you decided on what house you’ll buy? Remember to consider what Oscar has said here. You should consider the prices of the house so that you can be sure that you can afford the title for your ideal house. :)

    -^ Nannie Toller ^-

  5. The price of the house depend on it’s location, materials used for the construction, size of the house and the year it was built. I hope that you could consider some of these points in selecting a house. This can help you decide on what house you’re planning to get and the price that suits your budget. I know that newlyweds are having some difficulty in finding their new house, but I hope you can have an exciting experience in house hunting. :)

    -^ Armandina Skerl ^-


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