House Hunting Update

Hey Y’all! There have been some changes since we started dipping our toes into the house-search pond, so I’m here with a little update:

Change #1 – The last week of July our landlord/rental company gave us the option to extend our lease for another year or go month-to-month when our lease ends at the end of September. In my last apartment, going month-to-month included a slight cost increase, but this time the increase is several hundred dollars a month. Say what?!? So, our idea of being moved in by October-November has changed to hopefully mid-September (we’ll probably need a week or two of overlap to get minor things done before we move all of our stuff over). Of course, we can go month-to-month if needed, but we’d really rather not shell out the extra money.

Change #2 – The housing market in D.C. is definitely on the upswing. I wanted to go to an open house for a new listing last weekend; the house hit the market on Monday and when the Sunday open house rolled around, there was a sign on the front door saying that the house had gone under contract the night before, so the open house was cancelled! Even worse, I found a house coming back on the market after a buyer’s financing had fallen through that was PERFECT. I immediately got in touch with our realtor to schedule a showing, and found out that it had gone under contract 2 days earlier and the realtor hadn’t updated the listing… RAWR.Β To help with this, we’re expanding our search a little further south and west than we had originally thought. This will require that I get my own car (right now we share, and I don’t really drive because the hubs wanted a manual, which I suck at driving) but the houses in these areas are so much cheaper that another car payment won’t be an issue. I’ve lived here for 4 years without my own car, so this would be an interesting change! It also means I will probably end up tele-working more often, so an office space separate from a guest room would be ideal.

Change #3 – Since we moved our time-table up, we decided to go ahead and get a buyer’s agent/realtor. This is our first home, so it will be nice to have someone help us through the whole process. We had a good recommendation from a friend for a realtor in D.C., but since we’re looking so much further south/west, we decided to get a realtor more familiar with the area. The hubs, since he’s a servicemember, has an account with USAA and they have great resources for their account holders for things like buying houses, buying cars, moving, etc. (given how often some military members are required to move, these services are pretty stellar). We went through their process when we purchased our Fit, and got a crazy good deal, so we’re optimistic that our realtor will be just as awesome.

Change #4 – As we’ve been looking at houses and getting a feel for the market, our preferences have changed a bit (although we’re sticking pretty closely to our original list).

– Because the houses further out of D.C. are so much less expensive, we’re willing to do a little more work, if necessary.
– We’ve also realized that we both really prefer houses with a basement, whether finished or unfinished. I think that’s partly because we’re both from the Midwest where tornadoes dictate that everyone should have a basement if possible. The houses we’ve stalked online the most have all had walk-out basements, which are really our jam. I mean, a kitchen that opens onto a wood deck and a basement that opens onto a concrete patio to hang out on outdoors? Sold. Also, the patio doors that the walk-out basements have let in lots of light, which I really enjoy. Here are some of my favorite basements from Pinterest (all on my House Ideas board)

Basement idea with a fireplace!

Basement Family Room Design - love it!

basement idea
– The houses in our area are mostly ramblers (cute, 1-story brick homes,) colonials, or split-levels. Care to guess which one of those options I’m not thrilled about? The ramblers are my favorite, but it’s entirely possible that we’ll end up with a different style. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any Craftsman style homes in this area, and the Cape Cods tend to be really small, so those options are probably out unless we get really lucky.

– Backyard should be a good combination of sun and shade. This isn’t something we had really considered initially, but I really want to plant a large garden and we I don’t want to cook every time we step outdoors from May to September, so a combination of some trees and some open space would be ideal.

– I would rather have a totally outdated, decent-sized kitchen than a brand-new kitchen with granite and stainless appliances that isn’t big enough/laid out well. I know that people add granite and new appliances to up their re-sale value, but some of the kitchens I’ve seen are laid out so poorly that cooking in them would be a disaster. I’d rather rip the room down to the studs and deal with the stress (and cost) of a renovation than deal with some of these kitchens. I think a lot of them would be OK if you’re not the kind of person who cooks and bakes from scratch all the time, but clearly I am not that person. I mean, my blog title is Barks and Baking for goodness’ sake. Some kitchen ideas from Pinterest:

896 YDC: Before and After Kitchen remodel

I love the size, color, and layout of this kitchen!

Funnily enough, the hubs is usually the first one to veto houses based on the kitchen. I’m still in a maybe-I-can-make-this-work mode, but he knows me so well that he can tell when my “maybe” really means “this is a problem.” My ideal kitchen is actually not large so much as medium-sized and well laid-out, so I’m very hopeful that we’ll be able to find something that fits the bill – especially if the price allows us to think about significant renovation/updating! (Plus, a renovation would give me so much more to blog about πŸ™‚ )

Here are some other, slightly random, home-related faves I’ve added to my Pinterest lately:

Great entry

Cute idea for small spaces - bar under the stairs in a basement.

Simple small bathroom

Laundry nook

Cute storage nook/entry.

Closet organization idea.

We’re set to visit 5-7 homes tomorrow in the new areas of our search. None of them really “spoke to me” in the online listings, but it will be a good way to check out the neighborhoods and common layouts. Now I’m off to troll the interwebs for open houses that are scheduled for this Sunday. Anyone else joining us in the house hunt? How many houses have you looked at so far? For people who purchased recently, how many houses did you see before you found “the one?”

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