So I have been looking at houses on and off, casually, for the last few months. I say casually because at first Keen and I together went to a few open houses at the beginning of the season (spring), and I started searching through the MLS listings and frankly, it was just depressing. Houses out here are ridiculously expensive. For those who don’t live in California or New York it will probably be hard to fathom but for a bit of perspective, $300K out here would get you a crack house in the ghetto… if you could find a house priced that low. I’m not kidding.
The houses usually start around $500K in the bad areas and go up from there. But you know… we live here, we grew up here, we don’t want to leave (and the commute out of the area is hellacious) and you just know what you have to deal with and plan accordingly. Right?
OK. So started looking early on at houses in our price range and, basically, the houses available were the same exact thing that we have now with one additional tiny room tacked on. We’re currently in a two bedroom, one bath. I love my house; it’s a perfect little starter home. It’s got a great backyard where I put in a little English garden but we still have lawn. It has a partial basement and a garage with extra rooms in the back (perfect for the arcade!) so there’s plenty of storage. But the rooms are small and we’re busting out at the seams. No way, can we do another kid here for any length of time.
My dream home (and we’re talking dreams here, so cut me some slack) would be a big Victorian on a quarter acre, with a guest house. It would have a ton of gingerbread and gables, funky windows, hardwood floors, creaky noises, and a tower. Yes, a big witch house. (Big surprise.)
What we ultimately need/like: four bedrooms or three bedrooms and an office (since I work from home this is absolutely necessary), two + bathrooms, a garage, a good size yard (or at least as big as what we have now, but bigger would be better – I want to grow my vegetables in the ground instead of pots), a quiet street, and an older home (because we both like older homes and the new homes here have no yards and are utterly charmless). Of course, we’re open to sacrificing some of these qualities if we find the right house.
Anyway. (Damn, this post is getting long. And right after I resolved to write shorter posts because, you know, they wouldn’t take me so long and I would post more often.) In spring and early summer, every house we saw that we liked was WAY out of our price range: $1.3M, 1.5M. Yes, I am absolutely serious! Four bedrooms, two baths were going for that much. I got fairly discouraged and decided to just hang back and watch the listings. We weren’t in a hurry to buy in any case, but wanted to take time to find the right home. If I saw anything potential I’d check out the open houses. We even talked about staying here for a year longer than we planned to see if the housing market would go down.
Then, THEN, as I watched the listings and the summer went on, I saw a very good sign. Houses weren’t flying off the shelves like they had been. In fact, there are houses now that have been on the market for months!
Yay! I thought, sitting at my computer in my office/dining table corner, five feet from where Chance plays and watches TV, with the power cord line we constantly have to step over and the pile of laundry on the other end of the table. The NEXT step is for those house prices to start coming down.
And sure enough, they have started coming down!
For the first time, I called up an actual agent and looked at a couple of houses this week outside of the open homes. For the first time, I saw houses with our above requirements – houses that I liked – that are actually in a doable price range.
Thank god for buyers’ markets. – the weirdgirl