September 8, 2011 by Leah
Looking for a house to buy is not for the faint of heart. Yesterday was (probably) our final day of looking at houses. As you know, I was set on that one that Aaron mentioned in his guerrilla guest blog (so called because I was asleep when he wrote it). Oh, and I also wrote an entire entry about that house. We’ll call it “Whitman.”
Aaron seemed to really like another one we looked at yesterday. (That one can be “Dakota.”) There was one more house that we both liked well enough that we included in our “top three,” mostly because “top two” sounds silly (or maybe because I always watch “House Hunters” whenever I have a TV, which means whenever I fly JetBlue), but it wasn’t the favorite of either of us. We’ll call that one “Chestnut.”
So, as we drove around discussing the merits of our top two houses (I liked the price and look of Whitman, Aaron liked the land and extra space in the form of a basement and garage at Dakota), I suggested we make a pro/con list for each of our top three houses. I think my mother taught me about pro/con lists; I know I’ve used this technique with great success before. I distinctly remember using it to rank the various boys on whom I had crushes in junior high school, actually.
I really didn’t have an agenda when I suggested making such a list, but the results were pretty shocking all the same.
Whitman’s columns were about equal. Dakota’s columns were so sparse it became clear we actually didn’t have much of an attachment to the house at all. And Chestnut’s “pro” column filled the page and vastly overbalanced the “con” column.
It seems ridiculous in hindsight, but while we had been talking about how great it would be to have the Whitman house on the Dakota lot, we failed to realize that the Chestnut house basically IS the Whitman house on the Dakota lot. Both Chestnut and Whitman were built in 1900, seem to be of solid construction, have two bedrooms and one bath, an archway in the main living area, lots of windows with natural light, great curb appeal, and mature vegetation. Oh, and they come with all their appliances. The lot at Chestnut is 1/5th of an acre (over twice as large as at Whitman) and surrounded by an amazing privacy hedge that will make gardening a bit of a challenge, but should help keep the place cool in the summer. Chestnut also has a sun porch that I’m planning to use as a greenhouse, a garage that’s been converted to a “music room” (where Aaron wants to install our hallowed projector), and a shop/workroom off the garage. There’s also a smallish, partially-finished basement, and my two favorite features are the pantry (it’s got a window, storage, and workspace for all my experiments in fermentation) and the claw-foot tub. My least favorite feature is the kitchen, but while it looks awkward and ugly, it seems like it will be pretty functional. Oh, and I hate carpet on principle, but that’s an easy fix.
Oh, and one more thing – the price. I liked the list price of Whitman a lot because we would have easily been able to afford 10% down AND the other up-front costs without asking anyone for money. Chestnut is $8500 more than Whitman. Dakota is $40,000 more than Whitman. (This is only even possible because Dakota advertises itself as four bedrooms, but the two in the basement are terrible – like, I would never make a loved one sleep in them terrible.) Based on that alone, we probably should have realized that Chestnut was a serious contender from the get-go, but apparently we are stubborn.
We’re going to make an offer on the Chestnut house tomorrow. We are working out the specifics with our broker, but it really seems well-priced, and it hasn’t been on the market very long, so I don’t think we will underbid too much. If the offer is accepted, we will cross our fingers that the home inspection doesn’t come back with negative findings regarding pipes or the foundation (the inspector we are planning to hire is known locally as “The Dealbreaker”). If all that goes well, we will get a mortgage and move in. Then, as soon as we have paid off the 15 months of back rent we owe on the house in Long Beach, I will start a “kitchen remodel” fund and rip out the carpets. In the meantime, I’ll keep myself busy doing cosmetic updates and enjoying the novelty of having more than one room to live in. I think we will be pretty happy there. Oh, and here’s the listing.