We were excited all weekend, highly anticipating this day- the day when we actually get to go inside these houses we've driven by for what seems like months and months. Two of the three houses, we were particularly excited about- everything on paper said that they would fit our criteria perfectly- they had all the right rooms, and the room sizes were good. The lots were great, from what we could tell from the drive-bys we had done. We had basically made our decision on the houses we liked, and, barring anything like Mold or Foundation Problems, we knew what our decision would be.
Well, they say you can't judge a book by its cover. We learned, you can't judge a house by its MLS listing.
We walk into house number 1, a white farmhouse on 1.4 acres. I get all giddy about the apples already on the fruit trees surrounding the house. The wrap-around porch with a porch swing hearkens to the lifestyle we're looking for: slower, relationship-oriented, more time outdoors. From the driveway, this house captured our imaginations and our hearts. And then we walked in the door. The listing said it was 3 bedroom, 1 bath. We were OK with that, and were already discussing how we'd add another bathroom eventually. Three bedrooms would allow for our growing family down the road. No dining room, according to the listing, but it had an eat-in kitchen, which, I figured we'd use anyway. That's what it said on paper.
We walk in, and quickly figure out that, no, there's not an eat-in kitchen, unless, of course, you want to eat on top of the washer-dryer, which was in the eat-in area. The appliances that were in the kitchen were old, and the listed refrigerator wasn't actually there. The one bathroom, tucked in the far corner of the kitchen, was the smallest I've seen- barely not big enough for the pedestal sink, toilet, and bathtub. When we went to check out the bedrooms, we discovered only 2, not the promised 3. I'm not even listing the repairs we saw were needed- my handy husband took note of those and thought they were over his head. Our hearts sank.
On to the next house. While the first house, from the outside, captured my heart, this one captured my head & logic. It was far more practical, I thought. It was four bedroom, two bath and 2600 square feet- plenty of room for the foreseeable future. The lot was smaller, but big enough for play and gardening. Inside the house, however, we found a maze. The house was the size it was because of additions over its 100-year life, and the final floorplan was not thought-out very well. There were lots of rooms, for sure, but some had brick floors, others had low ceilings, and we couldn't figure out what to do with about half of them. Oh, and 4 bedroom? The master bedroom was pretty normal. No argument there. One bedroom was off the back of the kitchen, which I suppose was workable but not desirable. Another was a "loft" not a bedroom- it had stairs leading to it but no door. Another staircase led to the last bedroom, unconnected to the other upstairs section. Did I mention the rest of the house was like a maze? We kept this house as a possibility, because there were no super-major repairs needed, but some mold above a shower seriously worried us. Again, my heart sank.
The last house for the day, we knew was a fixer-upper. The outside sorely needed a coat of paint and some landscaping, but those were simple things to do. Oh, and there was the oddity of a small silo in the corner of the lot. The three-bed, two-bath house on an acre aspect of it was enticing, though, so we wanted to see what the house's potential was. Inside, the downstairs actually had a normal floorplan. Very straightforward and workable. Not perfect, but no major work required. The downstairs bathroom must have been unexciting, because I don't remember anything about it. Upstairs, it was obvious that the last owners had been working to fix up the house. The bedrooms were painted, and the floors had begun to be replaced. A closet was being built between two of the bedrooms, but wasn't complete. Plaster was chipping off the walls, and Josh said to replace plaster walls was a messy task. The room that made our decision, though? The upstairs bathroom, or lack of one. Someone was in the middle of replacing it when the house became bank-owned, so the room was reduced to plywood and pipe connections. No bathroom. Period. There were other repairs that Josh took note of and decided were more than we could handle.
So, this is how our Monday-last-week ended, disappointed and wondering what to do. Do we change our criteria, settle for less than what we'd like? A small yard? A longer commute? Do we wait it out, rent indefinitely until the Right House comes along in our price range? Do we raise our price range to find the Right House? Do we take on a fixer-upper project that we're not 100% sure we can handle, and learn how to add bathrooms, install bathroom vanities, and re-do walls? We had all week to discuss these things, and ended the week more hopeful. But that story is for another day.