Monday, October 4, 2010

House hunt/Russian

This morning, I tagged along with a neighbor and her realtor to see houses in the old, established neighborhood near downtown that I watch. Before today, I had never set foot in a house in this neighborhood. We saw five houses and tried to see a sixth, but the key didn't work. In descending order of price:
  • A 2700 sq. ft. early 1950s house for $250k. It's a well-maintained, comfy home, but not very exciting. It backs to commercial and is on a big street. There are new roundabouts on the street that slow down traffic.
  • Another 2700 sq. ft. rambling early 1950s house for $195k, also backing to commercial, also on that same big street. It's prettier than the previous one, but in a less solid part of the neighborhood. There's practically no grass with all the pavement in the front and rock-covered patio in the back. The owners have 90% of the house staged, and have retreated to the mother-in-law suite. It's a lot of house for the money, and it wouldn't kill me to live there, but it doesn't speak to me.
  • A 2000 sq. ft. home listed at $180k. This one is my favorite of all the houses, but the price isn't right for us. The owner is living in a different city, but refused a previous offer of $155k and she says she "has to" get $178k. It Zillows at between 100k and 155k, and the local tax people assess it at 140k. It's a 1.5 story 4BR/2BA and very cute. It was built in the early 1950s, but doesn't really give off a 1950s vibe. It's on a .16 acre lot (good news for my husband) but doesn't feel crowded. There's a free-standing single-car garage around the back. The kitchen is small, white, and old, but I don't hold that against it. There's also an undisturbed pink bathroom. I can't really describe what gets me about this place, but it really does feel like my house. So many times, I see houses that are objectively pretty, but I think to myself, this isn't my house. The street is toward the edge of the neighborhood, there's an Episcopal church a few blocks away, and I've never seen too much traffic here (although it probably is on Sundays or other major occasions at the church). It's a street full of small, tidy homes. Can we get the owner to budge on the price? That is the question.
  • A 2000 sq. ft. home listed at $168k. This is an extremely pretty early 1950s 3BR/3BA home, with very cleverly painted wooden floors. Unfortunately, it's a bit high for its location, and the neighbors' dogs were barking loudly the whole time we were there: woof, woof, WOOF!, WOOF!, woof, WOOF!, WOOF!, woof, etc.
  • A 2000 sq. ft. home listed at $150. (The four of us did a drive-by of this house a few weeks ago.) This 3/3 house is in an excellent location, but we were unable to get into it, because the key didn't fit any of the doors. Oops! From the online photos, it has a very pretty interior. The exterior is so-so, and they seem to have converted the garage into living-space, which is on my list of the 7 Deadly Real Estate Sins.
  • A 1500 sq. ft. home for $115k. It's also in a marginal location, near the $168k house, but it has fun-house floors because of foundation issues. I immediately made a big X on the flyer for the house.
I got home before noon and rushed to tidy up before my new Russian tutor (a graduate student at my husband's department) came to work with me for the first time. I had been planning to spend the morning prepping for my lesson with her, but wound up looking at houses instead. I served her tea, we had a very good chat, she looked at my Russian books, I gave her her pick of some other Russian books I had been planning to send over to the Russian department here, and the hour was over before I even noticed.

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