For a while now, Tom and I have been talking about getting a house and what we would want in one when we go house hunting. Last year, we figured with the economy being in the favor of home buyers, we should go ahead and start looking. We decided that we needed to focus on things we wanted in a house that we couldn’t buy or install later (we can install a big sink in a laundry room someday; we can’t install an extra bedroom quite so easily). Our main focus was that it have at least 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. We want to be in a house for at least 10 years, which would put us at 33.5 (averaging our ages). By then, we would like to have had all or most of the (four!) kids we’ve talked about trying for someday, and we’ll need somewhere to put them. I’m not totally against having siblings share a room, but I would like to have at least room for us to have our room, a boy’s room, a girl’s room, and a nursery. So each gender is separate, and babies aren’t waking up or woken up by older kids. We also wanted some space to use as an office, and a nice sized kitchen (I am SO ready for a bigger-than-apartment-sized kitchen). We need a backyard to be fenced in or to fence in on our own for the dogs and for kids to play in someday. We definitely wanted a 2 car garage, and some space in the house that we could use for storage, whether it was an attic or a basement or just a really big storage closet somewhere and space in the garage. We also prefered to have a fireplace. And I wanted a laundry room with space for sorting dirty clothes. So, that’s what we knew we wanted.
The house hunting began in early February. Tom and I got on every real estate site we could find and looked at pictures, descriptions, price ranges, how long a house had been on the market, and location. There’s no telling how many houses we looked at. After a couple of weeks, we had narrowed it down to our top 5, and we called the agents to set up meetings with them at the house on Saturday, Feb. 21. (We weren’t working with an agent, just meeting the different agents/brokers that were showing the house.) That Saturday, we found a really cute house, but the rooms were really small (we would have been crowding the guest bedroom with anything more than a twin bed and a dresser). The couple living there has one baby and is moving out for more room. That sent off warning bells for us as to how long that house would work for us, so we moved on. No other houses that day were working. The next day we went to see three more houses. One had just been sold, we found out, so we skipped it (obviously). And the next house was nice. We really liked it, but then noticed a sign that said “Under Contract.” So that was disappointing, but we just figured that it must not be what God wanted for us. The last house was a total bust. It just couldn’t compete with the other house we had seen and liked, and it would need a lot of work, so we passed it up.
Tom was pretty disappointed at how it had gone, but I was remembering how long it took my parents’ old house in River Cove to sell, even though it was a nice house. Sometimes finding the right house just takes a while. So we went back to our computers and found more houses we liked. We also drove around neighborhoods and looked at some of the mansions for sale out here and laughed at how over budget they would be. But it was still fun to look at them. It definitely got us some looks from others driving around looking at those houses when we jumped out and grabbed the “Free Information” on houses that started in the 600s. (yeah right! Like we could do that right now.) We just wanted to see the pictures. We would each guess how much the house cost and then call and see what it was listed at to see who was right. (We only did a that a couple of times.) Then we decided to quit messing around in neighborhoods that kids I teach probably live in and move on to more reasonable real estate for our current place in life.
We set up appointments for six houses to see on February 28th. The first one was nice but not quite what we were looking for as far as size went. It had been made so nice and new inside-new carpet and new hardwood floors, new granite counter tops and new cabinets. New light fixtures, new blinds, new faucets. New whirlpool appliances in the kitchen. I mean, that’s nice. Plus, they were throwing in the hot tub that was on the back patio. We think the woman who made was flipping the house had great taste, but the house structure itself was not what we were looking for. The bathrooms weren’t a good size, and the master bath is smaller than ours is now in an apartment. These ended up being deal breakers.
The next house was not what we were looking for at all. Then the next four houses were all shown to us by the same agent, Ruby, who is this really cute lady from Columbia (she moved to the States when she was 18 or 19) who got a real feeling for what we were looking for in a house. She asked us first thing what structural things in a house were a must have, and she also pointed out every single thing in a house that we would need to fix. That helped us see whether or not a “great deal” on a house was really a good purchase, and it felt like she was working for us more than just someone we called to show us a few houses and was working for Remax. The first couple of houses she showed us were not so great once we saw them in person. Pictures can be so deceiving.
The second to last house of the day was our favorite. We walked into it and just looked at each other. We both knew we loved it. The laundry room is a great size, and the kitchen has a small, walk-in pantry. (I had been surprised at how many houses have the same pantry size as our apartment, which is like a tiny linen closet.) It has five bedrooms and three bathrooms. The attic has enough room for plenty of storage, and the bedrooms are all a nice size. We loved the size of the master bedroom, bathroom, and closet. (Right now we aren’t even sharing a closet, so that will probably change.) The bedroom that is downstairs is a nice size for an office, and there is a fireplace in the living room. The kitchen is what first made me love the house. It’s got corian (at least, they look and feel like corian; I haven’t read that they are on any papers) countertops, cabinets that have a cherry wood stain, tile backsplash, a breakfast bar, a breakfast table area looking out at the yard, a dishwasher, and a gas range stove. I love it.
The last house of the day was a mess. It smelled all over like a big cigarette, and it had horrible carpet with paint stains all over it. There was wallpaper everywhere that would have to come down, and every room needed to be painted. The carpet and doors looked like they hadn’t been updated since the early nineties, and we were only in there for about five minutes before we told Ruby that we weren’t interested and wanted to make an offer on the house that we had just left.
We started the paperwork that night, and our offer was in on Monday. That night, Ruby called us and said another couple had made an offer as well. We then had to begin revising our offer, and got that in on Tuesday. The bank counter-offered. We counter-offered that. Ruby worked really hard for us. On Wednesday night, she called us and told us to break out the champagne. We could hardly believe it. We got the house, and we’re still excited about it! =) On Friday, Ruby came over with some paperwork for us to sign, and we will close at the end of the month. In April, we plan to fence in the backyard and buy a fridge; those are our top priorities. We also plan to paint (inside) the house and steam clean the carpets. Then we can move in. It hasn’t sunk in yet, and I don’t think it will until we are there. It took us at least six months to quit saying, “Can you believe we’re married?” So I’m figuring that it will take us that long to quit saying, “Can you believe this is our home?” =) By the end of April, we’re planning to be living there. =) What a blessing from God to be able to find the right home so quickly. God guided us to this one, and we definitely spent some time in prayer while we looked online and before and after visits to different houses.
Here are a few pictures of our house, as it is right now:
- Some of the Attic Space-We can put down more plywood over the insulation and use the space for storage.
- Dining Room-This room is on the left as soon as you come in the front door.
- View of the front door from the inside. Dining room is on the right.
- This is the view of the front door from the upstairs hall.
- Our Garage.
- This is the secondary bathroom upstairs. It opens to the hall (where the picture was taken) and to a bedroom (door on left).
- This is the closet for the bedroom that the upstairs bathroom enters to. I don’t know why we don’t have a picture of the room.
- Another picture of a closet. This room is on the left as soon as you come up the stairs.
- This bedroom is on the right when you come up the stairs. That door is to the closet.
- This is the master bedroom. Past the doors, near that window, is a sitting area. I can’t wait to make it cozy so I can read books there.
- This is our master closet. YAY for space! Tom took the picture while I was taking notes. Wish I wasn’t in it, oh well.
- This is looking over the rail down the stairs. The wooden floor you see at the bottom is part of the living room.
- This is the view of the stairs from one of the bedroom doors.
- View of the Living Room
- I can’t wait to get my washer and dryer in this laundry room. It’s got more space than what we have in the apartment.
- Kitchen! Woo! I am so excited to have counterspace!!
Now we just have to find the best yard sales to hit because the furnishings for a two bedroom apartment won’t stretch far in a house! Maybe next year we can post pictures to show what the place looks like when people are actually living there. So that’s what’s happening with us right now, and that’s all I’ve got.