Falling For a Home

I have major a House Hunt Update:  We submitted an offer on this house today!  …Now we’re just waiting to hear back from the sellers.

The house we fell (hard) for is a 3 bedroom (with an extra potential bedroom that currently has no closet), 2 full bathroom Levitt-style home.

If you’re not familiar, Levitts are homes that were created for veterans coming back from war in the 50’s, built by the Levitt family, which resulted in one of the first major suburbs in the country.  Levitts were the first type of cookie-cutter construction in home building and some of their traditional features are:

A double-sided fireplace in the center of the home.  One side faces the kitchen, while the other faces the living room.

A staircase in the back of the house, leading up to the unfinished “attic,” with slanted ceilings, which most people convert into two bedrooms.

No Basement (!!), which means the washer/dryer and oil burner are on the ground floor (usually in the Kitchen).

In a previous post, I listed a basement as a “must-have,” feature for us.  Over time, we realized it’s actually only a must-have under certain circumstances.

To me, a basement is mostly used as extra living space and/or storage.  I realize these can be very important, especially as a family grows, but this house has a lot of open living space, which makes a basement less important to us.

This Levitt is updated, move-in ready and was really, really nicely maintained.  It’s on a large lot with a beautiful yard, has an open floor plan… it’s just perfect for us.

 

The couple that currently lives there raised their family in that home.  They are retired now and looking to move to North Carolina, so they’re selling.

After looking at comparables with our Realtor, we felt the asking price on the house was fair.  So, if we ultimately had to pay asking price to get the house, we’d be okay with it, but it would also be the top of our budget.  We decided to go in with a strong offer, but not our best and final and hope for the best.  They’re having an Open House tomorrow, which worries me a little bit, but we’re hoping our offer is strong enough to seriously be considered, along with our terms, which say we’re flexible on the move-in date, since they’re seeking a new house out of state for themselves.

Our Buyer’s Agent told us that we’re in some sort of mini-Real Estate bubble at the moment, which has been driving prices up since December.  On all of the “comps” we looked at, they each sold for asking or a bit above.  We opted to offer $9,000 under asking price and see how it goes.  Our Agent submitted the offer to the Listing Agent, who said she couldn’t present the offer to the Sellers tonight, because they were not available.  We figure it’s a stalling tactic to try to get multiple offers out of the Open House tomorrow, but we’ll play it by ear.  We hope to have an answer some time tomorrow after the Open House – and we’ll be sure to update the blog as soon as we get one!

 

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The Great House Hunt: An Almost-Brawl Ensues

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In my Introductory Blog Post, I left you with a bit of cliffhanger and mentioned that we were scheduled to see a 3 Bedroom, 2 1/2 Bath, expanded cape yesterday that I had a good feeling about.  Well, not only was it not The One, but we almost didn’t get to see it at all because our Realtor and the Listing Agent got into a huge fight and the whole situation was  just crazypants. 

Here’s how it all went down:

We were originally scheduled to see this house last Saturday (it was one of three we were seeing that day), but on the way to the first property, our Realtor called the Listing Agent to confirm the time we’d be there to see it.  The Listing Agent (let’s call her Crazy Lisa) responds saying that she was expecting his call earlier and she didn’t think she’d be able to make it out to open up the house for us (since it’s currently vacant).  Our Realtor said, “My clients drove a while to get here to see the house, is there any way we can make this work?  She said, “No, let’s reschedule.  But you can take them to see the outside of the property if you want.”  Our Realtor wasn’t happy, but he agreed to reschedule our appointment.  

 

None of the houses we saw that day were of real interest, so we decided to go take a look at the (outside of) the property.  We really liked the yard – it was spacious and had a great half-inground pool with a nice deck that we thought we’d get a lot of use out of (even though a pool isn’t on our must-have list).  

We tried peeking in some windows and liked what we could see through the cracks in the curtains and blinds, so we asked our Realtor to schedule another appointment to see the inside of the house.  He agreed to shuffle around a few things in his schedule and try to get us into the house to see it as soon as the following day.  This is when things started to get a little nuts.

He called Crazy Lisa and tried to reschedule for the following day.  

Her response, “Can’t do tomorrow.”  He said, “Okay, how about Monday?  My clients are willing to come see the house during a weeknight, but they’d have to take time off from work to do so.”  Her response, “Can’t do Monday.”  Our Realtor (more annoyed than ever) asks, “Which day would work for you best then?”  Crazy Lisa responds, “How about Tuesday?  But I can only show it at 4:30”

When our Realtor called to update us on this sequence of events, I was more skeptical than ever.  This house had been listed since DECEMBER of 2012 and had no price decreases (and it was already overpriced to begin with) in a market that has been pretty active otherwise.  Crazy Lisa was not acting like someone who wanted to sell a house – she was acting like an obstruction.

Even though weeknights are tough for us to see houses, we really wanted to take a look at this one, so we BOTH got out of work early (for me it was a half day) and left our house to sit in rush hour traffic to go see this house at a time that was most convenient for Crazy Lisa.  On our way, we realized the traffic was worse than we had anticipated, so we called our Realtor to tell him we were running a little late.  He said, “Don’t worry – take your time.  The Agent called me to tell me that she’s ALSO running very late and likely won’t get there until 4:50 or 5:00.  So, take your time.”  We arrived at the house at 4:50 exactly and no one was there. Not our Realtor and not Crazy Lisa.  We thought this was strange, so I called our Realtor and he didn’t answer, which was also odd (he always picks up his phone).  About 15 minutes later, our Realtor pulls up and just by the way he got out of his car, I could tell there was a problem.  I said, “Uh-oh, what’s going on?”  He says, “Guys, I don’t even know what to say.  She called me and basically told me she wasn’t able to come and we got into a fight over the phone.  I had to pull over to talk to her, because I was so angry.”  I said, “What do you mean she’s not coming?  He said, “She called me to tell me it was no longer convenient for her to come and that she just wanted to ‘forget it’ and reschedule for another time.”  He said that he told her, “We can’t just forget it.  My clients took time off from work and drove in from the City to come see this house when it was most convenient for you and now you’re cancelling… AGAIN?!  You can’t do this.”  She said, “Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do!” And hung up on him.

So, now we’re standing outside of this house (that we’ve already seen the outside of) waiting for Crazy Lisa to come and let us in – and now she’s not coming.  Now, at this point, I would normally say “Forget it” myself and just walk away.  But we had taken time off from work (which I will never again do, by the way) and drove all that way.  It couldn’t be for no reason.  

Our Realtor said he had already been in touch with his VP to report her and his VP called Crazy Lisa’s boss to find out what the deal was.  We kind of thought there might have been something else going on and that, she didn’t want to really show the house at all.  But we didn’t really have any way of knowing.

A few minutes later, Crazy Lisa sends a text message to our Realtor saying, “I’m coming, but I will have someone to accompany me as you have made me feel unsafe with the way you yelled at me over the phone.  I’ll be there at 5:45.”  

So, now Crazy Lisa is coming with a bodyguard to show us the house.  Great. 

But my real concern was, what if we actually liked this house?  What if we wanted to put in an offer?  How could our Realtor realistically negotiate on our behalf with Crazy Lisa?  It was looking more and more like this wasn’t the house for us.

We sat on the front stoop for another 20 minutes waiting for Crazy Lisa and her Bodyguard and she finally shows up.  She gets out of the car with the cell phone to her ear and aside from the fact that she looks like she stepped straight out of an episode of Jersey Shore, she basically ignores all three of us waiting on the front stoop and lets herself into the house.  She comes back out and says, “Okay, you can come in and take a look.”  

To say that it was awkward would be the understatement of the year.  She never once hung up her phone the entire time we were there – so as to avoid having to interact with us, I’m sure.  

But anyway, back to the house.  The first thing I noticed when we walked in was that every single room had some sort of air freshener in it.  Whether it was a bag of potpourri or a candle – each room smelled strongly of artificial fragrance – which is usually a red flag that they’re trying to cover up some other kind of smell (ie: musk, mold, mildew).  I know it was an old house (built in 1950), but mold and mildew are usually a bad sign.  Nonetheless, we did a full walk-through.  We noticed the hardwood flooring in the Living Room wasn’t level and there was a significant dip near a wall and that although it looked like it had been recently refinished, it wasn’t in the best condition with lots of spaces between the planks near the edges of the room.  

Down in the basement, we noticed a significant dip in one portion of the room on the floor, which is never a good sign as far as foundations are concerned.  If we were to pursue this house, we would surely need an inspector to check it out for us.  But soon we realized we would not be pursuing this house any further.

The deal-breaker for us was really the layout.  That there were three bedrooms, but one was on the main floor, while two were upstairs – and the Master was one of the upstairs rooms.  To us, this isn’t an ideal layout, because when we have young kids in the future, we don’t really want to be split up between floors.  We even considered switching the Master to be the downstairs bedroom, but it simply wasn’t big enough.  So, we both agreed it wasn’t The One.

Looking back, I think the writing was on the wall, because it took an exhaustive amount of effort just to get the Listing Agent to commit to a time to show us the inside of the property.  The whole thing was a crazy experience, but I’ve learned a couple of things:  It’s rare that I would leave work early again to see a house on a Listing Agent’s schedule (if they really want to sell a house – they might pick a time that’s more convenient for the Buyers) and secondly, I don’t know if ANY house is worth that much trouble.  Our Realtor said that in all his years, he’s never dealt with something like that.  It figures, when the Duffy’s go house-shopping, you can’t expect it to go off without a hitch!  

We’re scheduled to see some more houses this weekend, so here’s hoping we find The One soon!

Dreaming of Decor

As the days go by, I find myself dreaming of how I will decorate the new home we’ve yet to find.  Mr. Duffy is more excited about taking care of the outside of the home, which is great, because I certainly prefer to take care of the inside.

I spend so much time trolling Pinterest, frantically saving pictures of home interiors that I love, in the hopes of being able to apply some of those ideas to our own home.  The thing is it’s nearly impossible to envision it when you don’t even know where you’ll be living.

Since which home we’ll be living in still up in the air, I thought I’d make a post with a bunch of pictures I’ve collected to represent my overall “Dream Home” interior.  Here is what I came up with:

My Dream Foyer:

from hookedonhouses.net

I just love the light fixtures, the crisp, clean lines of gray and white from the wall colors and crown molding, the infiltration of natural light coming from the glass panes that surround the door and the hardwood floors with the matching banister railing totally steal my heart.

My Dream Kitchen:

from decorpad.com

In my world, my dream kitchen would have this awesome Kitchen Island Wine Rack.  We’re huge red wine lovers and a place like this to display our entire collection seems like a great use of what is sometimes wasted space – especially if this is the angle facing the entry into the Kitchen.  I also love, love, love the butcher block counter tops and hanging pots and pans.

My Dream Dining Room:

from alivedinhome.blogspot.com

An ideal Dining Room to me is a place where lots of people can comfortably sit and gather and talk over delicious food.  I love the beautiful ceiling detail, chandelier, crisp white and gray walls and gauzey gray curtains.

Dream Laundry Room:

from thetullyfamilyblog.blogspot.com

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no Suzie-Homemaker.  I HATE folding laundry, but I tend to blame it on the fact that the basement where I currently have to do my laundry is gross.  I mean, unfinished-basement-gross.  So, when I see a nice, compact, clean laundry room like this, I imagine propping up an ipod speaker and just listening to some music while I fold away.  We’ll see if that comes true

Dream Outdoor Space:

from lowescreativeideas.com

I love Outdoor Spaces so much.  To me, they’re the perfect place to make some memories on a summer evening.  I have had some of my favorite nights with friends in the yard making S’Mores over a firepit in a much less fancy setting than this one.  I hope our future place has a yard big enough to replicate something like this!

I keep sifting through pictures on Pinterest to help me hone in on how I’d like to decorate our future home, so if you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, please do so!  I’d also love if you’d provide me with your URL, so I can follow you!

http://pinterest.com/csteen85/for-the-home/

The Great House Hunt

To everyone, I bet “home” means something different.  To us Duffy’s,  it’s a place of great comfort – a place you hate to leave every morning and a place you can’t wait to get back to at the end of the day.  It’s typically filled with people and things you love to be around and a place where memories are constantly created.

I wish I could say exactly where that home will be for us, but we don’t know yet, because we’re still hunting for that home!  We got married just over a month ago and began searching as soon as we got back from our Honeymoon.  We’ve probably seen over 25 houses since we began hunting and even made an offer on one (we lost it to a higher bidder with a healthier down-payment).  We’ve certainly learned a lot, but I’m BUSTING at the seams to find our “Forever Home” and get settled.  I’d be ecstatic to find a place and be moved in by Labor Day, so we can have a Housewarming BBQ!

In case you’re interested in what we’re looking for in our “Forever Home,” here are our Must-Haves and Nice-To-Haves Lists:

Must Haves:

3+ Bedrooms

Bedrooms all on one floor OR if there are four bedrooms, three on one floor and one on another floor

1.5+ Bathrooms

Formal Dining Room

Garage

Basement

Nice-To-Haves:

Fireplace

Large Kitchen

Large Backyard

We’re really looking forward to tracking our progress towards becoming first-time homeowners (and everything that comes with that title) on our little blog here and we hope you’ll join us!  We’re big believers in “The More, the Merrier!”

And just as a little cliffhanger, the house featured in this post is one we’re dying to see and have a really good feeling about.  We’re tentatively scheduled to see the cute 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom expanded cape tomorrow (Tuesday), after work.  We were supposed to see this property last Saturday, but due to a scheduling conflict between our Buyer’s Agent and the Listing Agent, we were only able to see the outside of this house this past weekend – but based solely on the outside of it, we’re excited to see what promise the inside might hold.  I’ll be sure to update the blog after we’ve seen the house!