Neighborhood

the great house hunt of 2011

Ever since we moved out of our small, 3-bedroom bungalow to a cramped, 4-bedroom ranch a few miles north, we’ve been looking for what our 5-year-old calls our “forever house” (in contrast to our current “in-between house”).  I thought this would be a fun process, given the real estate dystopia NPR describes every morning when the alarm sounds at 0630.  After all, we are buyers.  And buyers are king.

But I’ve felt more like a jester than a king.  Or perhaps that Philip dude whom Edward Longshanks pushed out the window.  Because even in a bad real estate market, areas with good schools, short commutes, and reasonable taxes are always going to be in high demand, and there are always going to be investors who swoop in and outbid normal people with financing contingencies, despite Freddie Mac requirements that sellers allow 15 days for prospective owner/occupants to bid on new listings.  Not that we harbor any resentment.

Nevertheless, we’ve (sometimes) enjoyed touring some interesting homes.  Rather than delete all the data from months of research, I’ve included snapshots of a few of the prospects here:

At first, I really wanted to find something modern.  For a long time, this was my favorite home:

See how clean its lines are?  Pretty Bride wondered aloud as we toured it:  “Are we cool enough for this house?”  Yes, woman.  We are.

It’s a fireplace!  That’s elevated!

Urinal in the master bath?  Yes!  Sign me up!

But alas, it was over-priced and in a not-as-good elementary school district.  Plus, it was more than twice as expensive as everything around it (an obvious tear down).  So, we moved on.

Our relator then took us to what we’ve called the “Late ’80s Mock Colonial.”  It was okay inside, except for this ridiculous rotunda with a hole leading to the upstairs.  We saved these pictures purely for comedic value:

I suggested putting a pole in the hole for sliding down between floors (and the occasional dance routine), but even a GREAT suggestion like this couldn’t keep this place on the short list.

WTF?

This one we actually bid on, but they ignored our admittedly “low ball” offer.  I thought this in poor taste, given that they’ve been on the market 2.5 years and have already dropped the price 33%.  It’s still on the market and likely will remain that way until they drop another $100k.

It had lots of light and nearly 3 acres of woods surrounding it that I envisioned hiking with baby Lola on my back.  Asses.

The next home we visited was custom built by a psychiatrist in the ’70s.  It belonged on a lake or a mountain somewhere, but I liked that it had 6 bedrooms, a pool, and a bunch of decks:

I thought this was a closet full of baby clothes.  It’s not.  It’s dog clothes.  But I don’t judge.

The problem with this house is that it became fairly obvious after walking around it for 2 hours that it’s settling or sliding down the enormous hill on which it’s situated.  Bedroom doors had to be propped open, and the floors were clearly uneven.  No thanks.

Here’s a bank-owned foreclosure we actually liked quite a bit and bid on numerous times, but lost out to an investor:

Isn’t this a great den (except for the green)?  I envisioned an enormous, Clark Griswoldesque, 25′ Christmas tree in that den.

Eventually, we all but gave up on finding a modern house that would work for us and started looking at ranches like this one:

Recently renovated.  Nicely finished basement.  Well staged.

But, it was in the same school district as the super modern house, which we’d already decided against–not that it’s bad (it’s way better than the one we were zoned for at the old house), but I figure if I’m going to buy a “forever house,” I don’t want schools to be good.  They have to be the best.  So, it got scrapped.

Eventually, we raised the upper parameter on our searches (after an unexpectedly great summer of suing people), which provided more options, and we toured more homes, finally finding an estate-owned ranch with potential.  Most importantly, in its basement, it had this:

And that’s how the previous owner rolled.  The entire basement–all 2500 square feet of it–was filled with pinball machines, arcade games, pool tables, beer kegorators, and Marilyn Monroe posters.  In the words of a neighbor I overheard at the estate sale, “He partied. A lot!”

It has an enormous deck, complete with a hot tub (and flanked by a 6-car garage).

And a sun room!  Everyone loves a good sun room with screened windows that open.

So, we started negotiating a few weeks ago and are currently under contract.  And, provided the estate is willing to replace the furnace and the roof, we might actually have a “forever home” and move next month (after painting over the pink walls and God-awful wallpaper) to a subdivision with “Estates” in it.  Just like Marty McFly.

To be continued…

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21 Comments

  1. Congrats on being “under contract”! Hope it works out!
    Those pictures are awesome. Dog clothes?! Hahahaha! The stripper pole would’ve worked, too! Also, that modern house was amazing.
    Please take some before and after pics once you get into your new place. I’m just a house whore. (As opposed to a regular whore. Which I am only with enough drinks. Ha!)

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @SL, The Mrs insists people will be interested in that type of thing and that we MUST take lots of before and afters, so I reckon we will. There’s a good bit of work needed, considering dude lived there nearly 40 years.

    [Reply]

  2. Sweet!

    ZOMG! ARE THE PINBALL MACHINES INCLUDED?!? DAVELANTA AT YOUR HOUSE!!

    How close is it to the 5 Seasons? 🙂
    Dave2´s last blog post ..Purple

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Dave2, I asked them to leave one of them. I wanted the largest pool table and the 65” TV, but the excecutor appears to have sold both. It’s only a couple miles from the Roswell Rd 5 Seasons!

    [Reply]

  3. I want a house with a urinal.

    And I am a girl.
    Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo´s last blog post ..Talk and then talk some more. Dammit.

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Kelley, A very advanced girl, apparently.

    [Reply]

  4. Congrats on your contract! [Although, I kinda wish you had pursued the house with the closet full of doggie clothes, because, you know, it had a closet full of doggie clothes!

    Also, as a former real estate agent, I couldn’t help but be seized by a minor, lung clutching panic attack, as I read this. You know, because OMG selling real estate!
    BuenoBaby´s last blog post ..The Face of Baby #3

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @bueno baby, Yeah, it hasn’t been as much fun as I’d hoped (for us or my agent friend)!

    [Reply]

  5. Congratulations! Sounds like you’ve found a spectacular forever house. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you’ll be rolling into your new estate very soon. Sanitize that hot tub, though. FAST.
    Chrisy´s last blog post ..No Joke

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Chrisy, Sounds like the voice of experience!

    [Reply]

  6. I think I could fit my RV in that driveway.
    Miss Britt´s last blog post ..10 Benefits of Living with Less

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @miss britt, I reckon. Hope to know something soon!

    [Reply]

  7. Oh god, that house. Amazing. Good luck and fingers crossed and I FEEL YOUR FUCKING PAIN, MAN. (PS: You had me at Playboy pinball machine ;))

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @sweetney, Thanks…hope to have a good “follow up” post this week!

    [Reply]

  8. We are still searching for our forever house too, but I think it may be a good long while before that happens.

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @jack, Hope you find it soon!

    [Reply]

  9. Oh good luck! I hope you get it!!

    [Reply]

    muskrat Reply:

    @Jill, Thanks so much!

    [Reply]

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