Saturday, June 28, 2014

house hunting: in my opinion.

As someone who looks at home ownership with more and more longing every time our landlord asks us to raise the deck of our lawn mower. Or lower the deck of our lawn mower. Or bag our grass clippings because I obviously have too much time on my hands....

I actually love our homeowner. He's a great friend and I know he watches out for us. He engages with my kids. He mows the biggest portion of our grass. He is fair and he is kind, albeit very particular. But...his particular-ness is what ensures I have a beautiful home. He asked my opinion on house colors yesterday. I appreciate that. I will miss him when we're gone. I will miss this beautiful, old house when we're gone. I won't miss the area, but I'll miss this home and all the memories we've made here. But...

As someone who looks at home ownership longingly, I have learned a few things.

1960-present has been a long string of ugly, ugly houses. There is just no style. In my opinion. Rather, there is no desirable style. I should edit that to say:

"I have yet to find an average home
within our price range, 
in the location the military is threatening to send us 
that has the style I am seeking 
that falls within the construction period of 1960-present." 

I'd hate to offend anyone who has a house they love that may have been constructed during that time. I'm only basing this on my experience and my opinions. CHARM can't be built in to new houses. It just can't. I wonder if the women of yesteryear spent agonizing hours choosing just the right leaded glass windows and shade of hardwood flooring. Or did they just go with what they could afford and what was available at the time?

What happened to quality? Style? Why do people forsake history in lieu of shiny and new? Just accidentally drive through any major metropolitan down town area. WHAT HAPPENED? How is it that these old homes have withstood time and acts of God for a hundred years, yet modern day A/C units with all of our advances can't last five good years? Dishwashers? Pshaw!

I hate that stick built homes are just thrown together as cheaply as possible and with no distinction. I don't want to live in a neighborhood where every house looks the same. I want to tell visitors, "It's the brick house or blue house or the one with the big porch" and not have to explain further.

Realtors, a 100 year old tree with roots growing into a garage, "slowing down financing" for a previous buyer...it's a problem. I don't care that it would be "easy to fix." If it's so "easy to fix," why hasn't the current owner fixed it? The fact that half of the garage that I "really don't need" is leaning in on itself...it's a problem. That "little water spot" doesn't make me deaf to the fact that only half the roof is new.

Every single time I leave Jude's room, it's a game of minesweep. The old floors creak badly enough to wake him up. I'm usually pretty good at predicting the squeak, but with Summer here, new sounds arise. It's during those moments I waffle. I think, "I HATE you, Old House!" I really don't. :) There is a bit of a draw for me in a super, super modern house. I'm talking minimalist. Stained concrete floors, openopenopen floor plan, no upper cabinets. Lots of glass, clean lines, floating shelves, crisp, clean, NEW. Like a clean bachelor pad, but for a family.

The one thing that beats out charm is location. LOCATION. I'd live in a stick built, look alike house if it was on the ocean. I mean, I am willing to compromise. As Langley is a likely possibility, I've found many houses that don't necessarily meet all of my "must haves" but are a block from the water. I'm okay with that.

It's been so long since we bought a house. It's been too long since we've lived anywhere long enough to make buying seem like a good idea. That said, our next duty station OUGHT to settle us for four years. Not knowing what is beyond that, I have to balance my desires with thoughts of resale in the future.

We've been pretty fortunate the last two times house hunting. They had/have their quirks and issues, but our 60 year old house in MD and our 90 year old house here have had less problems than our "new" house in Texas. That said, each house was temporary and was selected as a temporary dwelling place. FOUR whole years feels like forever. Like a huge, huge commitment.

I can't decide if I want to live in the country, where I can walk outside in my pajamas and not scare anyone...OR, do I want to live five minutes from a Trader Joes? Is there an option C that in reality says all of the above? I don't want to settle, but I don't want to live in TLF for weeks. Do I want privacy or convenience? Can't there be both?! I really would like to send the kids outside until the streetlights come on and have them be perfectly safe with plenty of friends to pal around with. But...acreage for four wheelers and tree forts sounds awesome. To send them out with a pocket full of nails and a hammer and not worry about a damage deposit? Wow.

In this economy, I think foreclosures are a very real possibility. Every time I'm on zillow there are as many results for foreclosures as there are for existing listings. It's sad. But...I'm an opportunist. I'm a bargain hunter. I'm all for fixer uppers if that means painting and ripping out carpeting. I'm not all for those fixer uppers destroyed by scorned home owners who took the wiring with them.

I'm so ready to just know where we're going. Location, location, location!

1 comment:

Arlene Keller said...

House hunting can be quite frustrating, especially if you can't seem to find your dream house. As you've said, it all boils down to location, and some towns might just have better looking houses. If it's been listed for a long time already, there has to be some problem with it, or with the terms of the sale. I hope your agent comes up with a list of prospect homes that you'll like. Good luck!

Arlene Keller @ ScottSauer.ca