Friday, October 26, 2012

House Hunting

Perfect in time for Halloween is the spooky reality that is my life right now...House Hunting.  Spooky? Yup!

The backstory:  my husband came to the realization that the dream job (working for a record label) he had spent a decade working his butt off to get just wasn't so dreamy.  He was gone most nights, had a horrible commute, and there was a lot of instability in the industry.  Unfortunately, he was kind of limited with his very specialized resume.  This led to the realization that going back to school was the best option.  I whole heartedly supported the idea.

However, Matt going to school full-time and my teacher's salary weren't going to cover our expenses.  My parents were super amazing and agreed to let us move in with them.  Our then family of three (plus two pugs) packed up our stuff and moved back into my parents'.

Violet and me in Long Beach
That was four and a half years ago.  

Matt's now done with school and scored a job immediately after graduation working for the same university he had just graduated from.  We've been saving to finally move back out on our own and with the bank's go ahead, we started looking for houses.

Graduation Day!
In case you aren't shopping for homes right now, here's what is happening (at least in California):  interest rates are really low, but there is a very small supply of homes on the market.  Other than the low interest rates, we are at a big disadvantage.  Since we are working with a modest budget, we are competing with all of the investors who can quite easily pay cash for homes.  Of course, I don't begrudge them.  Score for them!  Suckage for me!

Some of our house options after the jump...

So here was house #1...the Bunny Hop House.

I adored this house.  Love, love, loved this house.  It was super charming and felt vintage, but didn't need a ton of work.   It was named the "Bunny Hop House" because my daughters figured out how many bunny hops it took to get from one side to the other.  

Much to my dismay, dozens of other families also adored this house.  Although we offered well over the asking price, we were outbid.  I still watch it on the MLS websites, quietly hoping that it falls out of escrow.

Our search led us to House #2...the House of Horrors.

The neighborhood was super nice and from the outside one might think we had hit the jackpot.  But then you went inside...

The kitchen had no floor.  Not like, "Oh, I don't care for this flooring and I'll have it replaced."  It literally had rotten plywood.  

Matt and I agreed that we would cover this bathroom with caution tape until it was repaired. Something you need to know about my husband and myself is that we are both very creative.  We are not handy.  We have no skills in that regard.  None.  So we brought over some friends and family who were able to do remodels to see if there was hope for this house.  

Matt had a really strong emotional connection to this house.  He looked at it and saw it's potential.  He could see past the insane water damage, disintegrating carpet, un-permitted add-on, and unusable bathrooms and kitchen.  He saw an investment and an opportunity to create a dream home.  I saw a house we wouldn't be able to live in for at least three months...three months if nothing other than what we saw on the surface was ailing this home.

A very common comment regarding this house was "I can't believe people lived like this."  My response was they didn't.  They died, and that's why it's on the market.  Not joking there.  The owner passed away and the children were selling it.  Silver lining: I promised my parents that they will NEVER live like that.  

The reality that the remodels were too much for us sunk in, and we decided to move on.  

House #3...Fruit Trees & a Craft Room

After that mess, we were thrilled to see the Fruit Trees & a Craft Room House.  It's small, but it was totally doable.  The kitchen has a floor!  The only real problem was that neither bathroom has a bathtub.  That's a bummer for little kiddos, but we could fix that easily.  The previous owner enclosed the space between the house and the garage.  I'm not sure what they had used it for, but it was perfect for all of our crafts.  It was a glitter-lover's dream room.  Lots of storage, but separate from the actual living space so we don't have to worry too much about the mess.

So we put in our second offer.  Still haven't heard anything after two weeks.  We don't want to sit around waiting, so... 

On to House #4...the Murder House!

We saw this house online when we were out of town and knew we had to rush home to see it.  It had some of the vintage charm as House #1.  There had been a bunch of upgrades, but still were lots of things we'd like to do over time to make it our own.  

One area of concern was the neighborhood.  The old man across the street was crazy and went off yelling and screaming at the realtor when we were trying to leave.  Concerning, but we weren't completely deterred.  It certainly had some questionable neighbors, but it was also extremely close to an area of town that the city is investing a lot of money in.  There are fun new vegan restaurants within walking distance (score for me), a new brewery (score for Matt), and parks and museums (score for the family).  

Since we knew we needed to act quick in today's market, we put on offer in.  Our offer was accepted!  Score!  So we brought our parents over to check it out.  It was A MESS!  I felt like no one liked it, and I was heartbroken.  (Side note: I had already had more serious, life-changing bad news than I could handle in one week).  

We still really liked the house itself, but were still concerned about the neighborhood.  Then it got its name.  The headline of the local newspaper online told of a 14-year-old gang member who was shot two streets over.  We're out.

Now, we're back where we started.  Living with my parents (thanks Mom and Dad), daydreaming and pinning things on Pinterest, and still hunting.  Keep your fingers crossed.