Our next NEXT house (really skipping ahead a bit here – let’s imagine our house-buying world, five years from now, k?)
Soooo… (cue fanfare…)… we bought a house. Yay!!! Home inspection looming, assuming everything goes well we’ll be moving in at the end of September. And while sixty days wasn’t our ideal closing period (we were desperately hoping for a lovely and quick-ish and nice and tidy little thirty day turn around), we’re both super excited to start a new adventure in a new home in a new community.
Which house did we buy, you ask? Remember when I chatted about this house, which, in real life, looks like this…
Yep. We bought that house, squishy kitchen floor and tiled countertops and unruly bushes and far too many tchotchkes and all. Why? Location location location. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get that darn place out of my head. I love the little tree-lined street, I love the big and private (and, sadly, rather overgrown at the moment) yard, and I absolutely adore the community. The house is most definitely not perfect, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect that house would be for us.
And I don’t believe that the perfect house has to be absolutely perfect.
A short while ago, a friend (having heard that we were house hunting) mentioned that a mutual friend had recently purchased a house. In fact, not just any house. A really nice house, he said. With an en suite bathroom off the master bedroom and nice finishes in every room and as move-in ready and as perfect and pretty as any house can be.
Truth? At first I was indeed a little envious. Sigh, how nice it’d be to buy the sort of house where we could simply move in, shuffle the furniture around a little, put our feet up to test the ever-important ottoman positioning and declare that – poof! – we’re all settled in. Easy peasy! No painting, no major cleaning, no planning, no obsessing. Just instant comfy-cozy comfort awesomeness from closing day on in. Just… like… that.
But then, when my wits suddenly snapped back into action, I realized that as nice (ok, way better than nice perhaps… let’s go with FANTASTIC) as it would be to find and purchase our dream home, we’re just not in that position right now. Sure, if we had the available funds and didn’t have any other high-priority items currently dominating our monthly budget, and if we both had secure jobs without worry of layoff or strike or other similarly unfortunate potential work-related circumstances, then yes – maybe a sparkly and finished house would be the answer for us. And sure, if we weren’t fairly certain that in five years or so we’ll be in a much better financial position and able to maybe buy or even (gasp!) build the house of our dreams, a pre-finished no-renos-required sorta house might be blinking wildly on our radar and we might be excitedly planning our fancy-house buying strategy or signing documents on lovely white corian (swoon!) countertops in our newly purchased swanky and perfect kitchen.
But that’s not where we are right now. As much as it pains me to type this, our next house won’t be our forever house. And as much as I dislike this whole selling/buying/moving/angst-ing process, I’ve come to terms with the fact that this won’t be my last dabble in the rather fickle (and cruel) world of real estate. This house will be yet another stepping stone house, one that we can use to keep our costs down, freeing up money for other, far more important ventures for now, and hopefully enabling us to once again make a profit when we do (a few years down the line) decide that it’s time to find “the one.”
But, until then, I’m ok with another fixer upper. It’s just a house. It’s a roof over our heads, walls to keep us warm and safe, and a place that we can settle back into life in. Whatever else it becomes is completely up to us. And I guess that’s the benefit of a fixer-upper: we are starting from scratch. The house, despite having a great layout and good bones, needs some work before it’ll be the home we want it to be. And, by bringing it up to our standards, we’ll increase the value as well. Just like we did with our last house. And just like with did with the house before that.
And, truth be told (since we’re divulging everything here!) I am kind of looking forward to finally getting my hands dirty once again. It’s been a long two-month paint-free period. I’m missing the fun of planning, and the delight of realizing that I’ve mysteriously and miraculously somehow managed to choose the perfect paint colour or I’ve rearranged the furniture in the best pattern possible or found the best deal on a much needed somethingmerother in Ikea’s As-Is section.
Yep. I may be entering reno withdrawl.
But soon I will triumphantly hold paintbrush in hand once again and proudly slap some fantastic new colour on our walls in a house that we’ll make into a home that’s perfect for Sweetie and me and the cats and anyone else who’d like to join us there.
Until then, I’ll start planning the fixer-upping yet to come for our next little fixer upper. Quite excited. Quite giddy, in fact! Our new house may not be perfect and sparkly or have an en suite loo or anything else fancy like that, but it’ll be perfect for us once we’re done with it.
You’ll see. :)
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It happened: we’re cute-little-1940s-house free (warning: wistful sappyness alert) (it had to happen sooner or later)
We packed like crazy people and closed the door on our perfect little 1940s house for good last Tuesday. It was a whirlwind move – with a mere two week closing, we didn’t have a great deal of time to sort through items and carefully pack them away. The nearer our closing day crept, the more liberally we employed the “toss things in boxes and deal with it later” sort of moving strategy. I watched as the house I worked so hard to put together was rather swiftly disassembled and stuffed into boxes. And while I’m thankful that we found our cute little 1940s house, I’m so sad that we had to leave. It was a good house. It provided us with so many memories in the short two and a half years we called it home, which, I suppose, is the best gift a house can really give.
And, a few days later, all of our stuff is now in storage. And we’re living with family.
I’ve gotta be honest: we feel a little defeated.
Don’t get me wrong – I am so exceedingly thankful to our amazing families for letting us stay with them during this transition period. I don’t know what we would have done otherwise! And I love that we’re getting to spend some extended time with our parents. It’s a bit like being home from university during summer vacation. It’s pretty wonderful.
But, it’s a bit stressful too. We no longer have our own little routine. We no longer have our own space. We’re grown up children living in our parents’ homes.
I’m sure it’s a little (and possibly a lot) stressful for our parents too.
And we still haven’t found our next home. Despite that we’d found THIS house, a lovely house that offered us the perfect location, ultimately we walked away due to possible structural issues and an ongoing nagging feeling that something maybe just wasn’t quite right. Sometimes you need to trust your gut. The older I get, the more I realize that intuition is more often than not pretty bang on. That wasn’t our house. Neither of us is entirely sure why, but we just knew it wasn’t for us. We’ll know when we find the right one.
Let the house hunting frenzy begin. :)
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House hunting woes (location, location, location! – vs – perfect house, perfect house, perfect house…)
With our closing date quickly (rapidly, in fact) approaching (t-minus seven-ish days!) (insert panic attack HERE…) we’ve been house hunting like the dickens (in between packing, more packing, and even more packing still.) While we can absolutely stay with family for a while once this house closes and until we take possession of our next (not yet purchased) home, we obviously do not want to overstay our welcome.
(Erik is a big fan of this moving thing. Moving = boxes. And boxes = one very happy cat.)
The problem? We’re having a tough time finding suitable (ie: not decrepit or showing major electrical flaws or just plain old infected with a big case of ugly) properties within our ideal price range and available in our preferred area. The community we’re looking at is a small village that’s just outside of the city. Home prices are smaller, lot sizes are bigger, and it just seems like a very friendly place to live and features most of the amenities we’d need on a daily basis (grocery store? Check! Small hardware store? Yep! Gas station? Oui! Bank? You betcha! Liquor store? Hell yes!)
But, because it’s a small town, not many properties are ever available at any particular time. Currently there are about seven houses available within our price range in our beloved village, and we’ve visited six of them (and ruled five of them out.) Two came equipped with copious amounts of knob and tube wiring (which we’d need to have removed before taking possession in order to qualify for a mortgage through our bank.) One felt very unstable – the upper floors had most definitely shifted to various, rather unsettling angles (Sweetie instantly got vertigo) (and vertigo means NO.) One had a great deal of water in the basement, and boasted the world’s tiniest kitchen (with no room to expand.) Another had several haphazardly constructed additions, and a rather scary damp crawlspace. And the house that we have not visited is listed as an “as-is” sorta deal, and claims to be “160 years young” (and, unfortunately, as-is plus archaic doesn’t strike me as a particularly good combination.)
There is, however, one house that is in the running. It’s on a beautiful tree-lined street (my favourite kind of street!) and has so much potential! We’ve visited it twice now, and haven’t yet entirely ruled it out. However, nor have we agreed that it should definitely be our next home.
First, the layout doesn’t thrill me. For example, there is no defined entryway (you enter directly into the living room) and while I acknowledge that we could definitely create some sort of entryway area with a cleverly placed wardrobe or strategically aligned bookshelf (I’ve already done some anticipatory “how to create an entryway” searches a la Pinterest, of course) (you know… just in case…), I like having a formal entry space where shoes can be hidden, coats are out of sight, and all the messiness that tends to form around the main entrance door can quickly be stashed away from view.
Secondly, there’s the kitchen counter conundrum. While I actually like the layout of the kitchen, the counters must go. They must, in fact, go far far away. The counters have been (rather haphazardly) tiled with some sort of beige tile, and while I’m not normally a countertop snob (I lived with THIS counter for over two years, afterall), I’m not a super huge fan of tiled counters. There’s the porous grout. There’s the nooks and crannies. There’s just something about it that seems a bit unclean to me.
Then, there’s the basement. I have this same problem each time we’ve searched for new homes: I don’t like scary and unusable basements. Crawlspaces are even worse. That said, this basement isn’t overly scary. There’s no dirt on the floor, and it’s brightly lit. However the ceiling height is at about five feet, which means that while (exceedingly tall) Sweetie has to pretty much maneuver around the basement on his knees, even I have to duck. Claustrophobia is a very real type of fear. Thus, by default, the low ceiling height makes the basement quasi-scary.
But most alarming is the back yard. Oh, that back yard… I’m guessing the current owners’ goal was to make the backyard into a meadow-like oasis. Or they’re exceedingly bad gardeners. Or a little of both. There are various wildflowers scattered haphazardly about, but far more prominent are the weeds and overgrown bushes and… well… just stuff everywhere. It’s more a thick dense jungle than a meadow-like oasis. The yard does have potential however – it’s a rather deep lot (over two hundred feet deep) and it has many mature trees (a must for me!) and tonnes of privacy (a must for Sweetie!) but I’m just not sure if I’m up for tackling that ginormous and overgrown space. I was an indoor child, afterall. A spectacular gardener I am not.
Sigh… Decisions decisions. Like my friend Jess said one night while I was lamenting all this to her (during one of our rather epic marathon phone chats): you can change a house, but you can’t change your neighbourhood. And I’m definitely keeping that in mind. Having once lived on a very busy street that I despised from the moment we moved in till the day we moved out, I fully understand that location is possibly the most important consideration when choosing a home.
Yep. Awesome location may indeed trump all the negatives about this house. Even the Amazon out back.
I’ll keep you posted. :)
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It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks filled with showings and open houses and fur-filled feline field trips to the park and obsessive vacuuming and pillow-fluffing and floral arranging, but it happened.
Our house sold. YAY!!!
And, with our house now sold (yay again!), we’ve entered full-fledged house-hunting mode. The buyers wanted an incredibly fast closing (three weeks!) (seriously – who moves that quickly?) so we need to find somewhere new to live asap. Sadly, three measly little weeks isn’t much time to find an amazing house, put an offer in on said house, get an inspector’s blessing on that house, and move into our next humble (and awesome!) little abode. Luckily, we can live with family and friends for a bit until we close on our next home, and we’ll stash all of our worldly possessions in a storage unit in the meantime. Yep, I’m guessing we’ll be of no-fixed-address (also known as “Hotel du Mom and Dad”) for a couple weeks at least.
But my current dilemma is this: as we begin to seriously (and rather feverishly) house-hunt, do we look for another fixer-upper, or do we search for a house that’s shiny and lovely and perfect as-is? The thought has crossed my mind that it’d be nice to move into a for real “move in ready” sorta place. The whole concept is a little foreign to me though. Our first house was adorned with layers of old wallpaper (in each and every single room) and rainbow-painted baseboards and a kitchen that was far uglier than our current one ever was.
Need proof? Here’s our very first kitchen before the wallpaper removal and epic painting project began…
Yep. We bought that house. And it took weekend upon weekend upon weekend to make it pretty and lovely and into a good home for Sweetie and me and the cats. It was a great little house. It just required a bit of work (and a lot less wallpaper.)
The same is true for this place. It too needed a lot of work when we bought it, although not nearly as much as our first home (thankfully, this was a wallpaper-free house from the start!) Still, I’ve spent many many weekends painting walls and caulking baseboards and trim, and trying to make everything here lovely. And I now adore our house. It feels like “us.” And I’m very sad to see it go.
But that’s my dilemma: the weekends consumed by painting and flooring and reno-ing and obsessing… Do I want to continue down that long and tedious road yet again with our next house? I’m undecided.
On one hand, we’ve made a very good profit on both houses we’ve owned, mostly due to all the work we’ve put into fixing them up and making them pretty. And I do love the sense of accomplishment I get when I stand back and see what I’ve done with just a bit of paint and a whole lot of manual labour. Renovating has become my little hobby – it’s what I do in my spare time, and I like it!
But, there are certainly other things I could be doing with my time. And this is where I become a little unsure of what to do next. I’ve spent the past three years obsessing about this house and worrying about my kitchen and wondering what I should do next and painting nearly every single weekend. Would I like to do something else on my weekends? Like relax perhaps? Maybe…
And there’s my inner debate. To fixer-upper, or not to fixer-upper… That really is the question. And there are houses currently on the market that fit onto both ends of that spectrum. We’re going to take a look at houses over the next few days, and hopefully one will feel like home. Either a home that needs work, or a home that’s move in ready. I guess we’ll see which calls to us most, and that’ll be the answer. :)
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A wise friend (you know who you are!) once told me that when you’re selling your house, you should ensure that there are flowers, somewhere, in every room.
Not that scattering a little floral loveliness around my home is a big stretch for me anyway. I am, afterall, a buddy to blossoms. A friend to foliage. A pal to petals.
And I’ve definitely tried to pretty-up the house with flowers for all of our recent showings and open houses. Some spider mums here, some button mums there… There aren’t flowers in EVERY room necessarily, but my kitchen, living room and dining room have all said “Yes please!” to a beautiful bouquet or two over the past couple of weeks.
Here’s hoping that some fellow flower friendly house buyer finds all this effort charming and pretty and subsequently decides to buy our beloved little abode. :)
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So three cats go into a car (and that’s it. No punchline. Just three cats in a car. With me and Sweetie. All weekend.)
With the house finally (fiiiiiiinally) on the market (yay!), the showings and open houses have begun. This past weekend was, in fact, completely devoted to open houses. As in the entire weekend. Two open houses on Saturday, two on Sunday. For a total of five hours each day. Yep. It was a lot and (in all honesty) seemed a little like open house overkill to me. But in the rather tricky world of real estate, this was probably the equivalent of our go-big-or-go-home moment. And our agent was quite enthusiastic about this strategy (and, well, he’s the expert!) so we gave him the official thumbs up on his plan.
The problem with being both a home seller and a cat owner? The two don’t mix particularly well. I like my cats. Sweetie likes our cats. Lots of people love our cats. And as they should – our three fur-babes are pretty darn awesome and friendly and adorable, if you ask me. :) But, sadly, home seekers aren’t necessarily kitty-friendly. There’s the smell-stigma (“ohhhh… honey, look… they have cats… let’s try really really hard to find some sort of cat smell somewhere in this house… it must be here somewhere…”) There’s the distraction (afterall, the kitties are indeed ridiculously cute.) And there’s the terrifying possibility that during all of the open house comings-and-goings one sneaky little fur-ball could weasel its way through the front door.
So what do we do?
We go on field trips! All of us. Sweetie, me, and the three cats, all in one car together.
When we sold our last home, we quickly discovered that the easiest way to create home selling harmony was to pack the cats up in their individual carriers and bring them for a mini roadtrip during house showings. During open houses, they’d get treated to a full-blown field trip to a local park for a couple of hours.
And so, in keeping with house-selling tradition, Jacob, Irwin, Erik, me and Sweetie all hung out at the park for most of the weekend while random strangers wandered through our home. Were the cats excited? No. But did they survive? Absolutely. After about thirty minutes of initial panic, they all settled down and spent the remaining four-ish hours exploring the car/looking out the window/napping.
Until the house sells (hopefully soon!), we’ll likely keep the car set up like a big rolling kitty crate. There’s a litterbox in the back, and a food bowl and water, and some puppy training pads and lots of old towels too just in case of accidents. It’s not pretty, but it’s functional. And if it helps make these outings a little less stressful for the kitties, so be it.
That said, if you need to carpool with someone, I’m likely not your best choice right now. Unless you like a whole lotta cat fur on your clothes.
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