House Hunted.

August 25, 2011

And the news is…we’re buying a house!!!!

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Early this spring, I started to do some research. Could we get a mortgage? What is the market like here? What timing would be ideal for us to buy? Which neighborhood did we want to live in? We love the house we’re renting right now, but it’s on the other side of town as the bakery, downtown, the gym. I know people roll their eyes when I say that the 3 mile commute to the bakery is “tough” but when you are a biker and you live in a mountainous city, 3 miles vs. 1 mile is huge. We knew we wanted to move closer. After all, walkability and proximity to downtown is why we moved to Charlottesville in the first place!

I met with multiple mortgage brokers and we chose a real estate agent – Karen Ball – who I highly recommend!!

We met to discuss what kind of house we wanted to buy, price ranges, timing and more. I imagined us buying an older home that we could fix up over time, add onto and live in for 30 years. The problem is, those kind of homes are pretty expensive here – even for fixers!

On our wish list in order of importance:

    • Location.Location.Location
    • Charm
    • Hardwood floors
    • 4 bedrooms
    • 2+ bathrooms
    • Guest quarters with its own bathroom
    • Updated kitchen
    • Space to grow into

I was willing to do one or two projects (like a kitchen or bath) but not a whole house.

I met with a mortgage broker and got the ball rolling there, but it was really a big question mark, which is why I’ve been keeping this news a secret. The bakery’s income is not countable since it’s a new business (we’d have to wait 2 years of tax returns to count it) and thus we’d be going off of my income alone.

Karen took us to see a few houses in our range. At this point we still didn’t know if we’d be buying now or a year from now, but we figured it would be wise to get a good feel for what was out there.

House #1

2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

Price: 4/5 stars

The best thing about this house was the location. The interior would need quite a bit of updates, and I’m not sure the floor plan was that idea. And the guest room situation was pretty dismal.

Pros

  • Amazing location
  • Gobloads of charm
  • Amazing backyard
  • Big master with closets
  • Sunporch for blogging
  • Good storage
  • Really nice yard + deck

Cons

  • No guest room (would need to go in basement)
  • Bathrooms needed help and possibly relocation
  • Not too much of an open floor plan
  • Older kitchen, although somewhat spacious
  • No front porch

House #2

4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

Price: 5/5 stars

I really loved this house for its mega historic charm. I could see us living there for 30 years and more. There was space for an addition in the back where we could have grown into in 5-10 years, and room for a master bath upstairs, but ultimately, Matt vetoed this house. He absolutely hated the upstairs floor plan saying it was very claustrophobic (which it was). This house made me a little nervous too because it was at the very top of our price range and had things like plaster walls that made upkeep a little scary.

Pros

  • CHARM
  • Pretty good location, but not totally idea
  • Big enough to grow into
  • Big pretty dining room
  • Sunporch for blogging
  • Nooks + crannies
  • Guest quarters with nice bathroom
  • Pretty enclosed yard
  • OK storage

Cons

  • Kitchen was a bit weirdly laid out
  • Two of the bedrooms were TINY – one was more like a closet
  • Would need some significant renos
  • No brewery area
  • Guest room was open in basement – not ideal
  • Driveway/street not great
  • No front porch

Houses 3-10

I went in many open houses during this time. Most of them were in neighborhoods that I wasn’t crazy about. We’re not having kids quite yet, but I kept imaging myself pushing a stroller to the bakery or downtown and some of the other neighborhoods  had less-than-ideal pathways to get from point A to point B, even if the street the house was on was very nice.

Some of them were just not our style, some were too small, and some were just right but too expensive or with a major flaw – like only 2 bedrooms and no room for more.

I literally stalked the housing market for weeks. Finally, I started to think outside of the box. One house in particular caught my attention a second time. I had overlooked it in the past because it wasn’t historic or 4 bedrooms. It was 3 bedrooms, but it had a lot of other features we were looking for.

Our New House!

[Please note this is NOT the house we bought – photo was for artistic purposes only!]

3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

Price: 3/5 stars

Pros

  • Great location
  • Lowest price we’d seen!
  • Mid-century charm
  • Hardwoods
  • TONS of storage. TONs!!
  • Modern kitchen
  • Awesome architectural features in basement
  • Completely updated including finished basement in 2009
  • Fenced in flat yard with nice deck
  • Walk-up attic
  • Spacious master
  • Guest quarters with own bath
  • Built-in desk charm
  • Really awesome downstairs bath
  • BREWERY space
  • Front porch
  • An incredible laundry room!!
  • Coat closet and linen closet
  • Family room and living room

Cons

  • Probably not a 30 year house…closer to 10 years
  • Nice, but pretty small kitchen
  • Small dining room
  • Reverse floor plan
  • Small guest room
  • No sunroom for blogging
  • Street parking on a quiet street, but room for a 1-car driveway to be built

The house really grew on me. I kept thinking about it. The location is really walkable and great! The house is 2,000 square feet with equal space on the first floor and the basement floor. The basement, however, is very light and bright and feels more like a first floor than a basement. It threw me off at first, but I think it’s really livable.

After some thought, we put in an offer. A pretty low-ball offer. After a few days of relatively painless negotiations, we had ourselves a really good deal!! Our contract price is way lower than we were initially looking, and that makes me so happy. The inspection went really well – the house is really well built. I’m thrilled to be buying a house that won’t have cracks in the floors and all the quirks that I love about old houses but hate at the same time.

Since going under contract in late July, I’ve been anxiously waiting to find out if we would be able to get a mortgage. And earlier this week, we got approval!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Crazy me likes to add on more projects within months of opening the bakery, but that’s why I’ve been home more than usual. I’ve been working hard on all things house related and moving. Matt hasn’t had to bat an eyelash.

Closing: Sept. 7

Moving Day: Sept. 12

We’re painting before we move in (rather, having it painted – we are too busy to DIY) and are considering putting a screened in porch / blogging porch on the back.

I’m not sure if I can post interior photos that I took, so you will have to wait patiently until we close for those : )

Home Neat Home Part II will be in full swing this fall!

***

Whew!

This morning I met with movers and wrote a quick piece and then went for a run. I haven’t been able to run during the day since May! It was nice to go around lunchtime. In the spirit of back to school, I ran around the UVA Grounds, including up the famous Observatory Hill. HARD. I walk/jogged up the hill. It was tough.

5 miles covered.

Time for lunch!

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I made a big ole salad with greens, green pepper, feta, corn, bread hunks and clementine!

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And on the side – the most delicious smoothie!!

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1 cup of cantaloupe, 1 cup milk, 1/2 packet Vega Tropical Smoothie mix (from HLS swag bag) and ice. It was incredible!

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And that’s the end of that chapter!

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