Friday, June 28, 2013

Hunting Houses: So Nice, Can We See It Twice?

In between the two showings I described in the last post, we had a house with some real potential!

We debated looking at this house because of the above ground pool in the backyard.  My parents have a pool (in ground) and it seems like a lot of maintenance and upkeep that we really didn't want to deal with.  Although I'm sure it would be expensive, there is the possibility to remove the above ground pool so we added the house to the list.  

The entryway is the same as the other two houses with the dining room to your left and the stairs a little to your right.

Love the hardwood in the foyer that carries into the half bath and we think it might be under the carpet in the office (where Chris is standing the doorway) as well.  Down the road there is the potential to carry that hardwood into the family room (or redo it if a match could not be found).

One structural difference between this house and the other two we saw was no formal living room in front.  Instead this house has a larger dining room that connects to the kitchen via a butler's pantry.  I also love the walk in pantry located across from the butler's pantry.

The cabinets in the kitchen appear to be in great shape and once we save up we could replace the countertops, sink, backsplash and appliances in the future.

The kitchen looks into the family room which has the vaulted ceiling that was on our wish list.

Through that hallway you see above (to the left of the fireplace) is the utility room for the washer and dryer and the master bedroom.

I was a big fan of the bay windows in the master and loved the amount of space in the master bath.

The master bath includes separate vanities, shower, tub, walk in closet and a closed off commode. An interesting addition to this master is a door that leads outside to the side yard and that pool.

The backyard has a lot of potential with some landscaping.  Although this house backs up to other backyards, we had a sense of privacy with all of the mature trees that were planted.

I really like that the concrete slab in the back is extended (compared to the slabs at the other two houses) and it wraps around to the side yard.

Back inside we headed upstairs to check out the gameroom and 3 secondary bedrooms.

The gameroom would be a great space for Chris to make his own.

All 3 bedrooms have vaulted ceilings which I think gives an added feel of space to each room.

Walking through this house was a refreshing change from the first house. Amazing how very similar houses can show so differently!  Once we finished with the third house we spoke with Iris about how this house layout was something that we had been interested since 2011 and that we really liked the second house.  So much so, that we scheduled a second showing for Sunday to take a longer look.

Do you think it is possible to fall in love with a house so quickly?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hunting Houses: First Impressions

Saturday was our first official outing with Iris our realtor to check out some showings!!

With a large purchase such as a house, I feel that first impressions can make or break the deal.  Out of the 3 houses that we viewed on Saturday, 2 of the first impressions left something to be desired.

First off, I should give a little background on the houses that we checked out.  All three of the houses had very similar floorplans.  This is a floorplan that we have noticed during our online house hunting since 2011 and have really fallen in love with it.  All 3 are located in the same subdivision, which meant that they all matched our criteria with the school district.

If you remember my blogging from weddingbee, you know that I love the little details.  I really appreciated the prep book that our realtor Iris created on the properties that we were going to view. The book included information on the houses, the neighborhood and space for us to jot down notes.

We went into the first house (first picture above) thinking we were getting in on a good thing.  Great curb appeal, corner lot. It was a similar layout to house #2 and #3, just listed on the market on Friday and was a whopping $30,000 less than the other two.  The pictures online did make it appear that the house could use a little love, but no real red flags.

Boy were we wrong!

As soon as Iris opened the door we were hit with a not so great smell (and that's putting it mildly).  I don't know if it was a mixture of musty, BO, possible water damage (very stained carpet and a dark spot on the ceiling)...but it hit you like a brick wall.  Looking past the smell, the next thing that I was shocked about was the cleanliness of the house.  I wasn't expecting it to be spic and span tidy, but I also wasn't expecting boxes, clothes and random tapped up big screens in the entryway near the stacked  formal living and dining rooms.

Many upgrades we are willing to make. Cosmetic changes up front and bigger upgrades like appliances, flooring and new countertops down the line. Unfortunately the cabinets and appliances in this kitchen did not have much life left in them so those upgrades would need to be made sooner rather than later.

The cabinets don't look bad in the picture, but up close and in person is a different story

There were some positives to the house, like the decent sized back yard.  In our part of Texas, it's very common to have very small backyards.

Another positive was the size of the house, 2,652 sq feet.  It had a dedicated office space and we loved the vaulted ceilings in the family room and the upstairs bedrooms.

The dimensions of the bedrooms were great for our needs. Sadly you could barely tell what the sizes were due to the amount of stuff, oversized furniture pieces and gym equipment stacked in the rooms.

The master bath was a downer.  We knew about the wallpaper from the listing (which we did not mind removing), but there looked to be some major damage around the tub tiling that would need to be inspected and fixed prior to use.  The cabinets were chipped and peeling, looking like they had seen better days.

Upstairs we found 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and a gameroom.  We also found children's scribbles on the walls.  In actuality, I think there were scribbles downstairs, going up the staircase, pretty much anywhere we looked.  These of course could be cleaned and covered with new paint, but I was just surprised that the sellers would have a showing without trying to cover it up first. The bad smell was intensified upstairs and cut our time up there short.

It's a shame this house did not show better.  I remember when we were selling our house in PA we would always keep it clean and made sure that it was as tidy as can be whenever we left before a showing.  This house has potential, but it is going to require a lot of money in the beginning in order to make it worth it.

I'll skip over the 2nd house for right now (you know what they say about saving the best for last) and move onto the 3rd house that we looked at.

Again, similar layout that met most of our criteria. This was the highest priced house that we looked at on Saturday which I believe was a result of having a legal 5th bedroom and 3rd bath (instead of a half bath) downstairs.  The house was currently occupied by tenants who must LOVE animals.  There were dogs (caged), turtles, and rabbits to greet us as we walked in.  The master bedroom had plenty of room,  with another master bath that would need a little wallpaper removal (it was peeling and splitting over the tub).

The deal killer for us was the backyard.  

It backed right up to a busy road that would be a constant noise issue.  After seeing the backyard, we skipped going upstairs and called it a day.

When you looked at houses, did you have any surprising finds?  Any not so great first impressions?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hunting Houses: The Wish List

This past weekend Chris and I met our realtor Iris for our first house hunting experience!  The excitement kept me awake Saturday morning as I pulled out my phone and went through the listing pictures again at 3 in the morning.  Let's just say Saturday at 4pm couldn't come soon enough! (Chris had to work, so our showings were scheduled for the early evening).

But before I get to the fun, let's start at the beginning - the wish list.

As first time home buyers, our wish list included everything that we could think of for our future house: 

- 4 Bedrooms
- 2.5 Baths
- 2 story
- 2,000+ square feet
- Garage in front 
- Master down
- Master bath with dual sinks & walk in closet
- Decent sized kitchen
- Breakfast nook
- Open layout
- Dining room
- Game Room
- Space for Office (either a Study or a Formal Living room or 5th bedroom that could be used as home office)
- Decent sized back yard
- Mainly Brick house (which is the norm here in Texas)
- Open Stairs
- Vaulted ceiling in living room
- Good school district
- Nice neighborhood
- Good curb appeal

Whew, what a list! Knowing what our budget was, we knew we would not be able to get everything and we were ok with that.  We did have some must haves (mainly the first 7 listed above) that set up the basic criteria for Iris.  The garage in front was one of the interesting ones.  When interviewing realtors, they always asked why we wanted the garage in front.  The answer was simple:

Chris' extended cab F150 (which is about 19.5 feet long) is not the easiest thing to maneuver in tight alleyways.  For those readers that are not familiar with alleyways (I wasn't until we moved to Texas), some builders plan neighborhoods with alleys/garages in the back of the house.    

So with open minds, and a negotiable wish list in our heads, we were off to check out our first set of houses!!

What are some aspects of a home that are or were on your wish list?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Let The House Hunt Begin!

This time last year we were dealing with the hard news that our dreams of home ownership would be delayed.  

After months of paying off credit card and student loan debt, then months of saving back up - we have finally reached our goal!  

We interviewed and selected our Realtor last week and have secured our pre-approval letter.  I finally let myself really look at what is available and can't wait to go and check out some houses!

Any house hunting tips?