Thursday, September 15, 2005

Adventures in House Hunting - Part 1

TheBoy and I have been looking for a house to buy on and off for the last 6 months or so. I would say in the last 2 months though we've become rather serious about it. Now, because I have a background in real estate I thought I knew what I was getting into (ie: this crap is HARD!) but I realize now... THIS CRAP IS REALLY HARD!

Now of course, I will admit that TheBoy and I are being mildly picky... We want a house as opposed to a condo or townhouse if we can swing it for two reasons, 1) no HOA dues and 2) better chance to get something that needs a little work. (Also, a yard for the dog that I don't own but desperately want - ahem.) We'd love to buy a "fixer upper" because between our immediate families we have a lot of willing expertise at our disposal. Of course my definition of "fixer upper" and TheBoy's definition are a little different. But I'm okay with that. And here's the clincher, because we realize that we're asking for a lot here, we don't want to be more than a 2 hour commute from work.

Only 2 hours?!?! So demanding. I know.

So the first property that we put a bid on was in Aptos. Actually it was in Rio Del Mar which I'm told is very swanky... Who knew? Anyway the lot was very large, like .25 of an acre large and it was surrounded by very well maintained and beautiful homes. And it was less than a mile to the beach which made this little country girl's heart just beat with joy. Sounds ideal right?

Right. Notice how I didn't mention what the house itself was like? (Did you? Bonus points to those that caught that.) Yeah. The listing called this house "a fixer upper in need of TLC". It would have been more appropriately titled "A tear down that needs to keep one wall to pass the red tape for new construction". Seriously.

It had two general rooms - one that I would guess could be a bedroom though neither had a door. Or a closet. The kitchen contained one counter with rusty sink and that's it. No oven. No range. No fridge. It took some hunting to find the bathroom but we managed. It consisted of a toilet and a shower spigot coming directly from the ceiling with a drain underneath. Oh and someone had thoughtfully put up a shower rod and nasty curtain to try to contain the otherwise exposed shower. Though if I'm not mistaken... The toilet would have been inside the "shower" if you pulled the curtain closed. Yeah.

Also the ceilings were maybe about 6' tall. Which, for me? No big deal. But for TheBoy? Who is 6'7"? A little bit of a problem. The floors were so rickety that we were a little nervous about having more than one person in the house at a time. A quick look below gave us proof that we were right to be afraid. In the area that one might have called the "garage" there was one support beam that appeared to be holding up the whole home. Only it didn't quite reach the ground. So someone had thoughtfully put 3 or 4 cinder blocks under it. You know. To support THE WHOLE HOUSE.

The current owner at one time had thoughts of remodeling and had gotten as far as "building" a new retaining wall for the extended foundation. Unfortunately for them I sat on the wall and it started wobbling so I got up. TheBoy put his foot against it and pushed (ever so gently I'm sure) and it FELL OVER! Totally safe. Totally. Also to code. I'm sure.

Are y'all starting to see why I thought it was more of a "tear down" than a "fixer upper"? Yes? Okay good.

So you might wonder why we wanted this property at all right? Well... As mentioned above, it was a .25 acre parcel in an awesome neighborhood, less than a mile from the beach. And it was in our price range. And it had been on the market for 6 months with 3 price drops. Also, as mentioned above, we have the resources to do something like that.

We thought it was perfect!

We should have known it wouldn't be that easy...

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