Monday, July 11, 2011

House Hunt (the Hunt Begins!)

So far Texas has been treating us well (other than the noisy train next to our apartment).

Since we signed all the paperwork and no longer own a house in California (as of mid-March), and we decided we can't get away from this train fast enough, we jumped right in to trying to decide where to live.

The city we're in is quite large, and rather sprawling. We figured that we would get a better feel for the neighborhoods, and how they relate to the places we work, and what our commutes might be like, if we drove around a bit.

We figured the best way to decide where to live, and to get familiar with the area at the same time would be to visit open houses.

Now, open houses are not really our favorite thing.

It kind of seems like agents only hold open houses to try to meet house hunters who do not already have an agent. They're not really there to sell the property - they're there to get a captive audience of people who have enough money to buy a house.

I suppose that touring open houses was educational. We definitely learned about the areas. And freeways. And we saw some cool houses. And one house that was infested with bugs (yuck yuck yuck - not enough yucks in the world).

Certainly we viewed homes, and made copious notes on the handouts, and discussed them later, and discarded most of the homes for one reason or another.

  • Too far away from work - the commute would be a nightmare.
  • Too many bugs and we can't get it out of our minds (yes, this was the infested house).
  • The backyard is too small.
  • The floorplan is odd.
  • Too old.
  • It's pretty new but the brass fixtures, decor, and popcorn ceilings make it feel older than it is.
  • Too big and smells like cat piss every time we open a new door (this house had beautiful wood floors, but all we could think about was how expensive it would be to rip all the flooring out to get rid of the smell).
  • Too many bedrooms (yes this was actually a problem).

We also saw some great things in houses, that we would love to be able to incorporate in our own home.

  • Solar screens (a great, eco-friendly, external addition to windows that can make a HUGE difference in how hot a house is).
  • Tiling the wall under a breakfast bar, so when you pull yourself up to the counter and kick the wall dirty shoes/feet don't leave scuff marks.
  • A rope light on a motion-activated switch, installed ankle-level on a stairway so when you stumble around at night it will turn on automatically and you have dim light.
  • Extenders for light switches, so toddlers can turn lights on and off.

Finally we felt we had exhausted the possibilities of open houses, and contacted a Realtor who had helped us when we came out on our whirlwind 4-day tour to find a place to live.

We had compiled a list of houses we wanted to see, so our first day out with her we checked out 5 houses, in varying directions. A couple of homes north of our current apartment. A couple not far away from our place. And one that was south.

Funny how it happened - particularly after the months of house hunting we did in California - but we really liked one of the houses we had picked out to see with the Realtor. We couldn't quite believe our luck of finding a house we liked after only one trip out.

We made an offer. We countered a few times. We came to an agreement. And now we're under contract!

The inspection found a few issues (of course - if a house didn't have issues I would be suspicious) but nothing major - a bunch of deferred maintenence, a broken window. Maybe some water damage from an old leak.

But the house is generally sound. The roof was replaced in 2009 after a hailstorm. So that is a HUGE benefit to us. The same hailstorm probably caused the broken window (it seemed to take the seller by surprise that it was broken). But even though it's a small break (literally a small corner of a pane), we asked for it to be replaced. Also two windowsills where the brick veneer has holes in the cracked mortar. In lieu of a fix we asked for money off the sale price of the house.

And now we wait. The seller is considering our requests, and will hopefully sign off on it soon.

We may be able to move in to our new home in mid-July, just around splorp!'s birthday.

1 comment:

Gayle Ficarra Wolcott said...

Its been fun reading about all your exploits. Keep the stories coming.

A Fan