Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Hunt

We went house hunting for the first time last Saturday. Actually, that's not accurate. We've been house hunting since we moved to this area in 2004. Steven spends at least half an hour every night scouring for the latest houses on the market.

Back in 2004, when we lived in Arlington, Virginia, we would look at the two-bedroom, one-bath tiny single family houses in our Clarendon neighborhood, and the price tags were seriously $999,999. One dollar short of one million dollars.

We looked at those houses and shook our heads. We're not necessarily poverty stricken, but even our two-income household wasn't about to swing a million dollar mortgage.

But now, four years later, things are very different in Northern Virginia. The bubble has burst, the market has dropped off, and while it seems like this might be a bad thing for lots of folks, for us it screams Carpe Houseum.


And thus we search. Like I said, we went out last Saturday and looked at three houses. We only liked one of them, and even that one badly needed an update to the kitchen.

We went again this morning to look at six different houses. This time, we saw two houses that we liked. One was owned by an older lady, and while her furniture and decor looked outdated, the guts of the house were great, and all it really needed was a good coat of paint, some new carpet and perhaps new appliances and hardwood floors down the road a bit.

The other house was a foreclosure. That sounds scary, I know. Words like "as is" and "with all faults" make me shudder. BUT! The main level of the house was stunningly beautiful. Brazilian cherry hardwoods, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, bay window... Gorgeous.

And then I looked out the window to the backyard and there's a pool out there. A swimming pool.

I can't decide if I'm excited or alarmed about that. A pool is a lot of work. And where would I put my tomato garden?

The basement level had a sink and a place for a fridge. The basement bathroom needed a fix-up - there was a big hole in the wall. And the upstairs of the house was not updated at all. Bathrooms were old and super ick. Oh, and in the ceiling of the kitchen, there was a plastic bag holding up part of the ceiling. It might have been molded under there. Not sure. (That's a whole OTHER problem.)

So, here's my question, faithful readers. Do I want the house with brazilian hardwoods and granite countertops and a pool, but old bathrooms and the potential for mold? Or do I want the older-looking house with the smaller kitchen, pergo floors, space for my tomato garden, but no pool?

This is like an episode of House Hunters, except without pictures and without Suzanne Whang.

(Maybe we'll just keep looking....)


Ms. Debbie said...

House Hunters... almost always wins out in our house as the best of the worst shows to pick from. Funny though, Dan and I rarely chose the same one and in the end, rarely pick the one the buyers pick in the show. The good news, every house we have every purchased was one that we both agreed upon. Enjoy the search.

Jaimy and Bret said...

WOULD love pictures, but I am perfectly fine with House Hunters sans Suzanne Whang :) (she kind of annoys me, after watching TOO MANY episodes). That being said, if you are undecided, it sounds like you should maybe keep looking? You'll know "your house" when you find it, I think!

Eric said...

I'd take the house with a solid foundation that I trust, where I could do things I know I could manage and love right away. The exception might be if the foreclosure is so cheap that foreclosure + repairs = cost of solid foundation. We've been debating this over here too, though we've looked even less than you have!

mom said...

Either one has great potential; however, I like the idea of "move in ready" w/no needed repairs, or carpet replacements, etc. (since you don't have lots of time to knock out walls or paint after work each night. Sometimes builders are begging to sell their Brand New homes because they aren't selling fast. Might get a bargain on a NEW one with all new floors, appliances, etc. maybe even pick out your paint colors if it is not quite finished. I'm hoping for a Brand New or Nearly New house after Chris graduates.

Steven said...

I agree with everyone! :)

Although, I have to say that it really annoyes me to watch House Hunters. Not because of the people or the choices they make... but because they are usually purchasing an all brick, 4 bedroom, 4 bath home for 125K.

Up here in Northern VA / DC we are all cursing you folks who can get a nice home in that price range! :)

Either way, sooner or later we will find the right one. When that happens, everyone can come over and celebrate!


Anonymous said...

A note of caution: Foreclosures - like, bidding from the courtroom steps - is different than "short sale" or "bank owned." The former is not without risks, the worst of which is that if the people who've been foreclosed haven't moved out yet, it's YOUR problem. You get to call the sheriff and hope they don't come back to harass you. The latter two take forever to buy, six months to a year sometimes, and you have to go through a gajillion levels of bank acquiescence, and then the deal still sometimes falls apart at the last minute. Oh, and sometimes people who've been foreclosed on are"upset" and sometimes they "poop" in the "appliances" and pour "cement" down the "pipes."
Sorry to be the bearer of gross news.