House Shopping

A weekend plus a day is a long time to hold your breath, but I’m trying. :)

On Friday we submitted an offer on a house.  That evening we found out a few other parties (all investors, we think/hope since occupants should get priority) are interested.  They set 10:00 this morning as the deadline for all of us to put in our best offer.  Now we wait and wait and wait….and jump when the phone rings….and try to keep our minds busy.

It is a happy, happy thing to finally have found a house that is livable!  It seems like we have done so much house shopping in the last few years.  We looked in South Carolina for a long time.  We didn’t actually look through too many, but often simply nixed them because of location or lack of privacy or something similar.  We did find our {dream} fixer-upper, and made an offer; but we never heard back from the bank.

After we gave up buying a house in South Carolina, we had a short break then started searching out a place to rent here in Atlanta.  That was quite the process with not knowing the area, the safety of the neighborhoods, and living a little over two hours away.  Finally, we found one and have had a wonderful experience with our leasing agency and our sweet neighborhood.

When we were looking for houses here, a realtor told Steve, “When people move to Atlanta, they either love it or they hate it.  In six months you’ll know which one.”  In less than six months we knew we loved it!  I wonder sometimes if we’ll get very tired of city life at some point.  There are things I miss.  I miss things like fresh produce–especially sweet corn and peaches–being readily available, having a lake within 30 minutes from home or a private pool within five minutes, wide open spaces, backyard barbecues with friends, the stars…  Still, we are loving our city life, and after six months we made the decision to make it a more permanent home than our first year commitment.

Immediately Steve started house shopping online.  I wonder is this a fun pastime for men?  It seems like it might be judging how much it happens.  :)  At first we had a really hard time getting in touch with the realtors who were selling places.  I thought that they would be thrilled if someone was interested in their houses, but most of them never answered our calls or emails.
We did quite a bit of looking around, and were able to tour a few houses.  Here’s where we were often in for a surprise.  We would get the stats online, and be impressed with the NICE rooms from the pictures on the website.  Then we’d unlock the door to the house and find–crumbling conditions, the water heater stolen, walls and ceilings with large sections ripped out where someone had stolen copper wire–which of course not only means major wall repair, but rewiring.  Quite a few of the houses we have looked at didn’t have a washer and dryer hook-up.

After awhile, our friends referred us to a realtor who was doing great work for them.  They also told us that not all realtors were willing to work on the properties that were selling for the low prices we were wanting to pay.  (Ooooooh!)  Mary really has been wonderful to work with us!  She helped us find a number of houses to look at and also took us through some of the houses we found.  She is very honest and tells us if she doesn’t think a house is in a safe enough area, or if there is too much structural repair needed.

Even after she came on board, it felt a little discouraging.  We’d always get excited about looking at these great houses, then house after house left us with disappointments.

We’d be smiling as we drove up, and start picturing what all we could improve.  But the moment of truth was that minute when the door was unlocked and swung open. Sometimes the stench of mold choked us the minute we walked in.  Mary told us that here in the inner-city, almost anytime there is mold you will also find asbestos; so those houses were out immediately.  Sometimes there were houses with lots of potential, but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much work needed for Steve and I.  Steve loves to do that kind of work, but he already works long hours and lots of Saturdays.  We knew what we’d be able to do on our own would be limited.  Sometimes there was water damage on some ceilings plus lots(!!!) of other repair needed.  One house had a city sewer overflow tank in the back yard.  Really not something you want in your back yard.  Mary said, if there’s too much rain there could be flooding.  Most of the floors were ripped out–possibly due to just that thing. :(

In spite of all these problems and design issues (such as a teeny-tiny bedroom being downstairs and the master bedroom upstairs or no eating area except a little corner which was also a doors swinging space), we’d go through the houses with positive attitudes trying to think how it could work.  Well we could….and we’d have to….and as we’d be listing repairs we’d realize there would be so many things that needed to change it really wasn’t a good choice.

Some of our main hopes for a house:

–safe neighborhood (safe is relative, I know.  We wanted a place where we would feel okay with the boys and I being alone when Steve needs to be gone in the evenings.)

–a neighborhood that is a place of need

–within our price range

–at least three bedrooms, in our dreams–four

–ideally we would like for one of the bedrooms to be able to have a separate outdoor entrance or for there to be a basement (very rare), so that we could comfortably invite a person who needs a bed to come spend a night with us or have it available for a single woman who needs temporary housing.

After months of searching, we found a house last week that we were eXciTed about.  It was the first time that instead of thinking, “We cooooould make it work if we had to,” thinking, “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”  The house is small, but it has four bedrooms(!!), a nice sized kitchen, has a fenced in back yard, new windows(!!!), and a few other perks. It was the first house that had rooms that could be cleaned instead of needing to be repainted.  It had some damaged areas –okay thousands of dollars worth of repairs–and missing heating/ac unit; but still so much less work than any other house we’d looked at. Another bonus is that it is really, really close to the mission!  There are lots of needy neighborhoods around here, but we thought it would be especially nice if we could help build up the same neighborhood.

I try not to get my hopes up too high….but I’ve already done a lot of dreaming and planning and even figured out most of the paint colors. :)  Please help us pray….we think this house seems ideal in so many ways.  We really want to be in the neighborhood where God needs us, and we are hoping this is the one. ;)



3 thoughts on “House Shopping”

  1. Christy, I loved all your house pictures. And hoping for you good news on this house. Before we signed “on the dotted line” for our house, we had a proffessional inspector come out and look at the place. It was the second house we had looked at and it was the right price, 4 bedrooms, needed some work, but we were open to that. Our two main concerns were the mold smell and evidence on the carpet, and the brick damage near the top of the house indicating a bad roof. The inspector was able to confirm that the mold was just surface (we were going to replace the carpet anyway) and could tell the roof had been replaced in the last year or two, meaning the brick damage was from pre-new roof and we would not have to spend 1000’s on a new roof. All that to say, for us, things weren’t as bad as they originally seemed once we had a proffessional look at it.
    Hoping this house works out for you and if not, that God would guide you to the right one soon.

    1. That’s great! We are having an inspector check out our house, hopefully soon. It does actually have mold issues, too, but is contained mold, and should be easy to treat. Possibly in some of the houses the mold would not have been as bad as our realtor indicated. We did trust her opinion on this, since she has done extensive research on mold and asbestos. Most of the houses had multiple issues….some of them we would have considered if we would have had the time to remodel extensively, but it’s just not right for us right now. Makes me really hang my hopes on this one, too.

  2. My heart goes out to you as we are house shopping as well….talk about a stressful/intimidating experience. I hope everything works out for you guys!

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