Sunday, April 11, 2010

I've got the house-hunting blues.

Well, not really. More of an 'eh' than the blues.

Two Sundays ago, we went 'out for a drive' (think sixty or so miles covered), and looked at a couple-four houses. We hadn't really refined our search technique, or exactly what we wanted, so, well, the day was quite disappointing. We were looking in all the wrong spots and turning up things we absolutely hated in scary ends of town.

Last weekend, we went out again, this time with a slightly better idea what we wanted, and hit right away on a house we still like best of everything we've looked at. There was one other possible that day, a couple other rejects, and one we couldn't find - WITH the help of GPS navigation.

Three more rejects today. We keep saying "You know, that house last weekend looked pretty good..." so now we've got to get into the house from last weekend to look around. It's a bank foreclosure, which means the price is good. HOWEVER. We lived in a former bank foreclosure in Charleston, and you could see where someone went through with a hammer and pounded out walls, doors, and cabinets all through the house, we assume for spite when they lost the house (and this stuff was visible after what was probably a couple thousand in repairs). So at this point, that's the big black mark (sort of) for the choice house - making sure all the walls are in place, and no one's been raising Rottweilers in the downstairs bathroom. (We're so picky about our homes.) More good things about this house - near the (good) schools, potential outdoor dye studio for summer, ramp/handicap access to the basement AND ground floors with two easily-built ramps (one step up to the ground floor, one step down to the basement), and WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE TO DAIRY QUEEN. I say we buy it just for the DQ.

What's really entertaining, though, is how the husbeast and I have started in with the technology since we started this. At this point, we're looking up all the houses on Google Earth before we go out to see them, to get an idea what they're near and how rural they are. We're using GPS to find these things (or we'd probably STILL be out looking for houses from last weekend), and I'm using my Blackberry to take notes and photos. This whole thing is nearly organized.

In typical fashion, the husbeast has got the bit between his teeth and begun watching related TV shows on HGTV. Considering this tiny apartment, I get roped in, too. (Just now- ME: "What's the name of that show you keep subjecting me to?" HIM: "Well that's really fucking specific.") One we've watched a couple times is "Property Virgins", where first-time homeowners go out and buy a house. We had to quit watching because they were so stupid. One episode, the female half of the couple CRIED after she didn't like one house. So I always tell the husbeast "Well, at least I didn't cry today." and he glares at me. The other is "Holmes on Homes". Mike Holmes, the host, is a 'do it right' kind of guy who I'd get along fine with. But he goes into houses where contracting jobs have gone horribly wrong, to fix them. I spend the entire hour repeating "I hope they sued." "They should really sue." "Good GOD, DID THEY SUE?" Last weekend they did some asbestos removal in a house... I will bet you the cost of the removal was more than the value of the house. So, unless I can hire Mike Holmes, I'm never hiring a contractor, I'll do it myself.

So, that's the excitement here. Houses. And fix'em-up stuff.

If I wind up ripping out a swimming pool, first thing after I buy a house, I'm not gonna be happy. And I'm gonna want a saws-all to do it with.

15 comments:

Emily said...

House-hunting....well, don't rush it! I, for one, am looking forward to your blogs on the subject.

amy said...

Good advice from Emily!! We had it down to a science, too. We'd narrow it down, and then my husband would drive by at lunch and we'd eliminate quite a few just from a drive-by. Or if the kid fell asleep in the car, I'd drive by a couple. After a while we knew exactly what we'd compromise on and exactly what we wouldn't. (Like, I can see my neighbors' houses. I hate that. But I'm not rich, so there you go.)

We didn't look at any houses with pools. They make me nervous with kids, and the insurance rates are higher. Besides, we live ten minutes from the beach! I don't know why anyone has a pool around here.

missleya said...

This is awesome. The husband and I started house hunting - as in actually looking at houses - yesterday. It was tiresome! We've got a great agent though, and she's amused by my direct approach to things. (I think it's my Yankee showing through.)

Flipped houses are problematic too. Not just repo'd houses. We look again next Saturday. I'm tempted to suggest to the husband we drive by the other possibles on the list.

Keep us updated! I might learn something too. (And I'm so using the crying bit...)

bellsknits.com said...

When we were looking - and we looked for about a year as first home buyers (tentatively at first and later, seriously) I tried to focus on just enjoying seeing into other homes. The vouyeuristic aspect can't be overstated!

This time around we've employed technology too - I think it narrows down the field a lot!

Crying? Over a house? Jesus.

Catie said...

Yeah, when the people on those shows complain about paint colour I want to scream. Hopefully you'll find something you like and want soon.

Roxie said...

Photos and notes are invaluable. Otherwise, after a while you start saying, "Was it the house with the red kitchen that had the big maple tree in the yard?" and he won't remember any of the colors (unless you point out the avacado appliances to him) or landscaping, but will think of all the places in terms of shop potential and electrical capacity.

katharhino said...

My husband and I bought a house on a tiny budget last year. Which meant: repos. We saw it all – holes in walls, yes, and water heaters knocked over and cabinets ripped off walls and plumbing broken etc. We ended up buying one with a good structure, but it needed three months of pretty non-stop work before we could move in. GOOD LUCK! I hope you find a fantastic deal!

Oh and we did the technology thing too. Our favorite thing was stalking our future possible neighborhoods by looking up tax records online. You can find out past sale prices that way.

Barbara said...

Oh, man, I'm in love with Mike Holmes. Those muscles, that crew cut, that flat Canadian accent. I'd be putty in his hands. He can park his Saws-all in my toolbox any day.

Amy Lane said...

You guys are SO much better off than we were 12 years ago... we're not doityourselfers, either... and we just assumed we were...

Lola said...

I'm one of the regulars in the Thursday knitting group - congratulations on your first romance novel! Of course . . . I got it - had to go to another bookstore to buy it. ;-)

Lola said...

Oops . . . that must have been a left-over comment from some other site. I meant to say that I love Mike Holmes, much to hubby's dismay, and everytime I watch him I want to squeeze his arms.

Alwen said...

Eliminating what you don't want is an important first step!

I remember one of the nicer houses we looked at had someone keeping pigs right next door.

I said something about the pigs to the real estate agent, and what a guy! Instead of arguing with me, all he said was, "Oh?" as if he had never heard of (let alone smelled) a pig!

Emily said...

Weighing in again: your note about the Dairy Queen is important. Looking back, I find that one most valuable thing about this house I raised my kids in was that it was walking/biking distance from a convenient store...as well as other stuff, but the convenient store really mattered to my kids. They could go by themselves.

Vaughnde said...

You can get a couple of books from Mike Holmes and yes he is my favorite guy on HGTV! His website is http://makeitright.ca/ and just click on products, then books. He does give good advice on what to do up front so you don't get into those stupid problems :)

laurel said...

Good luck with house hunting!
I kind of like some of those HGTV shows but they give me horrible urges to grab a hammer and spray paint crackle finishes on everything...

I cannot watch Property Virgins though. All they do is whine the entire time. I think they find people who also believe that people in real life do live "happily ever after"...Urg