Ok, so, we’re still househunting…and still haven’t found anything. EXCEPT WE MIGHT HAVE. We aren’t sure yet. But b/c the # of houses we’ve looked at is now into the 20′s (and we’ve looked at hundreds online at this point), I’ll provide a nice little recap (mostly to remind the two of us what we liked and didn’t like, b/c it’s legit all running together).
Oh, and before you think I take all kinds of good notes to remember these houses by, I don’t. toootally don’t. Our realtor/angel/marriage counselor Linda puts together these super adorable and super functional binders with all kinds of fun information and pictures, including maps and satellite imagery, IN ORDER OF WHERE WE’RE GOING, omg, it’s amazing, I can’t even handle it andjustdroppedfromhappiness. I write notes in chicken scratch upside down and sideways once we’re back in the car and heading to the next house (sidenote – I get seriously car sick, and yet I have no trouble reading or writing in the car, ever. Odd).
House #1: We actually liked it! Halfway between far and really far away from Tampa, the neighborhood was decent (looked like everyone had 5 acre chunks of land) and grass was everywhere. The current owners were outside doing lawn work, which was great except we managed to track in blobs of dewey, freshly mowed grass all over their house. House had a front porch (omggggg, be still my Southern heart), open floor plan, and rear screened in back porch that ran the length of the house. Good so far. Rooms were big, house was clean, garage was attached, and workshop on the property could easily double as a temp barn until we build one – still good. The house needed a bit of updating but nothing we couldn’t live without for awhile – apparently the owners LOVED the color blue b/c it was everywhere. E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. Don’t get me wrong, I love blue – but matching blue tile/kitchen and bathroom countertop/curtains/mats/tablecloth? no thanks. The property was completely fenced but we would need to re-do it to keep the 6 lb dog squirrel in our property (plus section off pasture), and the rear of the property dipped down into the beginnings of a creek – while investigating that, I managed to lose a flip flop in the muck. I actually heard a “sluurPPuck!”, looked down to see my flip flop disappear into mud, and almost fell over. Poor Linda and her adorable little SUV – she tried to hide her dismay as I walked up to her cute little Ford and started wiping my feet onto the grass to get rid of the mud (but I saw your ick face, Linda, I totally did). Note to self – bring baby wipes on the next trip. So, this house sounds well and good, so what’s wrong? Wellllll, they’re asking $360k. Which is about $100k more than I’m comfortable with. Also, we were able to chat to the home owner for a few minutes, and she casually mentioned that they’d like to move North eventually but aren’t in a hurry and figured they’d just put the house on the market “to see what they get”. Mmm, no thanks, I like a little negotiation room. Scrape off the feet, back in the car, and head to house #2.
House #2: ohh, what a gem. The realtor warned us before we even headed over there that this house may not fit our needs – and we’ve worked with her enough now that we’re able to interpret that as “no way in hell are you going to like this”. She was right. It was a big blue house, set in the woods – it was complete heaven for a four wheeler or a hunter, but for a horsie girl and a computer geek? no thanks. Plus, I couldn’t hold it (ahem, venti iced green tea from Starbucks 3 hrs earlier = I was dying) and had to try out the facilities on the first floor, and hubbie said you could hear everything even with the bathroom fan. NOT COOL, BATHROOM. Next!
House #3: This house was a contender. Absolutely in our price range, on 4.9 acres, already fenced w/ the tiny mesh fencing for squirrel puppy, the back half was cleared and looked ready for a few ponies to plop in, and the trees SCREAMED tire swing and climbing adventures. Plus, the current homeowner had a super cute American FoxHound that followed us around “chatting” and led us into each room – we were sold. Until we left and took off our rose colored glasses. Actual concerns are distance from work (50 minutes), right on a busy road, and reduced square footage – possible concerns were comments from current owner like “We screened in the back porch which is really nice, keeps the bugs out, but then we put metal grates up b/c the cats kept climbing the screen…and it’s nice b/c it keeps people from slitting the screen and breaking in.” and “The solar powered gate is new. Some kids from church installed it for me, and I just love it b/c I don’t have to get out when it rains, and it’s so much safer at night – I never have to get out of my car.”
We patted the dog, made note that we got full bars on our cell phones, and put this house down as “a total potential”.
House #4: OH LORD, WE FOUND OUR HOUSE. Ok people, I know I can stretch the truth on occasion and the hubs refers to me as The Exaggerator, but guys…no shitting around, this house and property were AMAZEBALLS. For example, they originally listed the house for $550k (barf). Now it’s down to a measly $350k (ha! still so far away!), and we’ve got Linda working on the comparables to see if we have any wiggle room (c’monnnnn wiggle room). Anywho, house is gorgeous – exterior is a soft gray and white, wide front porch, beautifully manicured lawn, and gravel driveway. Hello classy, this must be what rich feels like. Ceilings are high, floors are wood (real stuff, not that laminate shit), floorplan is open, and kitchen is OMG GORGEOUS – granite everything, room to put a cart/island thing, beautifully detailed cabinets, and plenty of room for a legit dining room table in the breakfast nook – the master bathroom is equally droolworthy with his/her sinks, more granite, a claw footed tub (me!), and a lovely tiled shower (hubs!). The three bedrooms are all very similar in size (no master suite here), but the kitchen/living area make up for it. Screened in back porch looks out of the rest of the property (5 acres), and it’s already partially fenced. There are empty lots next door that I’m already scheming to buy (with my empty wallet), and all the other houses in the neighborhood are big and pretty and new. Walking around outside just makes me sigh and picture hammock naps with freshly squeezed lemonade. Hubs liked the garage with the extra storage (“um, does the Mercedes come w/ the house?”) and was even complimenting the drapes – yes, the drapes. “These are really cool and make the house look…rich. I wonder if they’ll leave these?”. Clearly, we’re sold. However, I’m concerned that we’re going to be THAT couple – the couple that really doesn’t belong but somehow managed to scootch our way into the neighborhood. We brought the yappy dog and put up ugly fencing and OH GAWD how tacky, a pole barn!
The logical part of my brain knows this house is too far away and too expensive. The emotional part of me says “BUT BUT BUT, did you see the laundry room? it has RAINBOW TILES! I want to hug every single tile!!”
Like I said, we sent the realtor off to do some homework regarding deed restrictions and comparables – don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted.
Houses 5-8 were duds compared to the magic of #4.
#5 reminded me of the Brady Bunch House. Homeowners were very sweet (hello sugar daddy, you married young) and were in the middle of renovating, but no matter what they told us, the house was wierd. It had a cool carport that linked the ginormous garage (3 garage doors!) to the house, which reminded me of hotel entrances, so that was cool. But nothing else was – OH, they had a little guard house up by the driveway. We thought it was quite pretentious to put a guard house up on a property that clearly did not need guarding, but then we realized it was covering the septic pump or water thing (as we drove out). Ok, now I get it, but I still didn’t like the house.
#6 – didn’t even get out of the car. The neighborhood was not very nice, and while the property looked quite large for only 2.5 acres, two acres was completely under water. Also, Linda put it quite well when she said “Not to be crass but…you have to think about who your kids will be friends with. Do you want your kids to be friends with this neighborhood?” No, I want my kids to play with the rich snobs in the amazing neighborhood, thankyouverymuch.
#7 – was actually really interesting, and if it weren’t surrounded on all sides by properties owned by a single family, I think it would still be in the running. From what we understand, the large piece of property was owned by one family, and they “sold” chunks of it to their children. Now, the adult child with the middle portion (literally, right smack in the middle) wanted to move with her family. The house was adorable but a little on the small size – impeccably clean (we found out later she had 2 children and 2 LARGE dogs, but you’d never know) and organized, and super updated. Our realtor put it really well (again! Damn Linda, you’re like a wise oracle) with “Well, this is definitely a starter home. It’s beautiful and I think you’ll be happy here, but you’ll outgrow it in 5 yrs, just like the current owner did.” Yuppers.
#8 – no thanks, drove right past it and explored the neighborhood with the 20 spare minutes we had. Ick – the pictures looked ok but were taken very sneakily. What looked like a large front pasture was actually a 10 ft wide chunk of grass – that hadn’t seen a mower in months. We think there was a Toyota Corolla hiding in all that underbrush but we aren’t positive.
SO – we ended the day with 4 possibles, removed the first house b/c it was the most expensive and we liked another house better…removed the tiny house surrounded by family b/c we liked another house better…and removed the possible house b/c of all the random safety comments made by the current homeowner. Looks like the amazing expensive house is the winner!
Just for logic’s sake, I searched for houses in our price range that were closer to hubbie’s office (minus the property), and I only came up with 6 potentials. Four were short sales that already had contracts on them by the time the realtor pulled up their info, one INCREASED their price the next day to officially $no way in hell, and the other? HAD A SINKHOLE. and we still lost it b/c someone else put an offer on it as we were driving over to see it. What the househunting hell? So again…looks like the expensive house is the winner! I wonder if any of our friends and family in Tampa will drive an hour to visit our mini mansion?