Lessons in House Hunting as First-Time Homebuyers: Lesson #2

Lesson Learned v. 2: Angles Mean Everything

I know I’ve broken the news that G and I are now homeowners. However, it took us quite a bit of hunting to find the house we love. In my first addition of our House Hunting Adventures, you might remember that we visited three houses that had some serious foundation issues going on. Unfortunately, it seems with the high levels of rain this year, foundations were an issue for a number of houses in our area.

Oddly enough the next three houses we toured did not have foundation problems though. Instead, they had a lot more going on which turned us off pursuing them longer. We quickly found out pictures never tell the whole story. How in the world can some couples buy houses without ever going to look at them thoroughly?! There would be no way after these three (which looked great online) that didn’t quite meet up to our expectations. Let me tell you about our next little jolt in attempting to become homeowners…

House #4 was one I had been eyeing for a few days before I asked our agent to schedule a visit for us. The house’s online pictures held a lot of potential. The house was in a country setting, had a big barn, a large deck, and was a three bedroom, two bath. It fit our criteria to a T. Even when we began looking around the outskirts of the property and peeking into the barn, G and I thought this house might be a winner.

Then we took our first step inside.

Straight into the kitchen, I raised an eyebrow. Cosmetically, the house had a lot of issues that were not photographed. Where the angle in the picture captured a large, functional kitchen, in reality the entire left side of the room was unusable. The counter tops were severely cracked, cabinet doors were either falling off the hinges or gone, and the ceiling sported several spots indicating a leaky roof. Moving forward, the living room was so long and narrow that it would be difficult to place a couch inside the space. Then the bedrooms were so small that only a bed would fit into them with no additional space for dressers, nightstands, or anything. We realized the angles of pictures taken were misleading.

What looked so good online, was not good for us in many senses. G and I decided to not even look in the basement because we knew this was not the house for us. So we left.

And the kicker was, as we were leaving, I walked down the deck steps and fell over as my ankle rolled. A huge hole rested at the bottom of the staircase hidden by the uncut grass. I took that for another sign to be more hesitant in our search from online galleries.

It took an entire weekend for my ankle to heal enough for me to be able to walk. Once mobile again, G and I decided to venture to two other houses Monday evening. Learning from the previous week’s mistake, we chose to look at these houses strictly based on the information given rather than the pictures provided. (In all honesty, we looked at the pictures following the visits and they held no benefits to either house, so we wouldn’t have been swayed.)

House #5 sat on five acres and was over 2000 square feet, both interesting factors given the price point which was one of the cheapest we’d seen. Driving to the house, we actually missed the driveway because it was hidden by a lot of brush — something which G loved right away. The house itself was hidden from the road behind the brush as well. Sitting about 300 feet off the road and on a hill, the location was perfect. We wanted to live in the country for the peace and quiet, and House #5 definitely fit that bill.

Have you ever been somewhere that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? You know, that feeling you get when someone is watching you or something simply isn’t right? I can’t explain why, but House #5 gave me that feeling.

Perhaps it was the unusual layout of the house. Two small closet-sized bedrooms lay on one end of the house with a large bathroom separating them from the kitchen with a partial wall. Then, on the other end of the house, sat a huge master bedroom with two rooms behind it. One would think these two smaller rooms would be a master bath and a walk-in closet as the only entrance is through the master bedroom. Strangely, though, these rooms both were additional bedrooms where the current tenants’ children slept.

Or perhaps it was the dark and dingy basement. We scared two cats out of hiding when we crept into the make-shift pantry downstairs. And we were left scratching our heads when we came across a single-stall toilet closed off by a cinder block wall… with a window. That is difficult to describe, but picture this: in the corner of this dark basement is a cinder block stall with a large window directly across from your washer and dryer. You open the door to this stall thinking you’ll find the utilities — furnace, hot water heater, etc. — but instead find one lone toilet with a single light bulb above it. No real privacy doing your business in this house.

Besides the oddities, though, the house just gave me the creeps. There were random holes behind doors where I swore – twice – I saw eyes looking back at me. There were hobbled remodeling jobs begging the question as to why certain things were the way they were (such as the three different tiles in the dining room.) There were the tight passages through the sellers’ hoarded belongings that screamed way more work than this house was worth.

In a few simple words, I did not like this house.

When another real estate agent pulled up to show the house to another family, I about ran back to our car in order to leave. Getting far away from this house was more than I could ask.

I sighed with relief as we journeyed to the second house of the day. Away from the country, we entered a neighborhood filled with a diverse community. It was an older community, but the houses seemed to be in good shape and taken care of. House #6 was on a dead end street and beside a tree line hiding one neighbor from view. On the other side, was a neighbor who appeared to live in a tent. He sat watching us with a 24-pack sitting beside him as we walked around the exterior of the house.

Though I was not opposed to a small, quiet neighborhood, G was not a big fan of anything other than country-living. Seeing a neighbor so close and having his eyes on us the entire visit was not ideal. Given the fact House #6 also had no back yard, we had pretty much made up our minds on the house before ever setting foot inside.

It was unfortunate of the setting, because the interior of this house was actually the best out of all the houses we were shown. It obviously had been remodeled recently, and smelled of fresh paint and new carpets. The rooms were decent sized, the layout was functional, and there were no ghoulish chills.

But again: location, location, location. G and I loved the house for what it offered, but having no yard and no privacy was not an option for us. We departed the week’s findings with a little bit of a heavier heart, and wondered when we would find the correct mix of location, functionality, and warmth to call a house our home.

We continued to look, and our next set of houses were very tempting, but alas, it was still some time until we found our perfect little fit.

NOTE: This post was originally written on my previous blog in 2018 while G and I were house hunting as first-time homebuyers.

2 thoughts on “Lessons in House Hunting as First-Time Homebuyers: Lesson #2

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