Monday, March 11, 2013

Adventures in house hunting

A few weeks ago I come across a house for sale listing that really appealed to me. I emailed my friend and neighbor Michelle, and she offered to show it (as well as a nearby house) to me and Josh that weekend.

We fell for the house--the first one we'd looked at since we bought ours almost 10 years ago--but felt we were being crazy. You can't just buy the first thing you look at! Especially when you haven't even decided to start looking! 

So we quickly toured every other house in our price range on the south side of Oak Park. We saw everything from an obscenely large, spanking new 6 bedroom McMansion in a grimy, lonely corner of the village to a bank owned house where the roof was literally caving in. We saw lovely decks and ugly bathrooms and walk-in closets and crazy, fancy granite kitchens that were apparently designed without the advice of an architect. Each house made us like the first house even more, and we finally put an offer on it. Well below asking, but not an insultingly low ball offer.

We heard back fairly quickly that the seller was going to hold steady on her price and was only offering us $2k below list. So we walked. And honestly, we felt a little relieved. We wouldn't have to change elementary schools. I could keep looking for a house with a mudroom. We decided we'd focus exclusively on our own elementary school district. Then, 12 hours later, we heard from our realtor again. The seller wants to meet us halfway, price-wise. We waffled. The price was close to what we were willing to pay. But we'd emotionally already let go. So we withdrew.

I've seen a few houses since, and nothing comes close to being as nice as that first house. Heck, most aren't as nice as our current house, which we've put so much work into.

In the meantime, I'm kind of enjoying the hunt. Walking through open houses is fascinating. The flip jobs are so clean and modern and empty, while the downsizers are museums of 1978 kitsch (one had a pink hair washing sink built into the dressing room vanity!). And then there's the moving-out-of-towners who should probably take down some of their religious iconography and the short sale and foreclosure listings that seem so tempting online...but in person you see the sloping floors, cracked stucco and crumbling walls.