Since it's been 22 years since we have moved, my husband and I had no idea how difficult the search for a new home was going to be. As you may have read, I am very emotionally attached to my home but need more room. Wait, your kids are leaving the nest and you need more room??? Well yes, yes I do. Something about those beautiful young ladies I bred sucking up all our cash for 25 years. College, clothing, general overall raising resulted in our living in a teeny, teeny tiny little house. Now it's time for US.
The initial thing we did not discuss (what the hell is wrong with us??) was how much to spend and where to live. Two minor details. Imagine a dream bubble over my head: "All I want is a house that I can just move into and not have to remodel or fix a thing". Over his head: "I hope we find a great fixer upper for super cheap". Word.
When setting out with our realtor we gave him our parameters. Certain square footage, number of bedrooms, bathrooms. Had to have a basement so I could have "Teppi's world". A room where I could set up all my assorted hobby crap and not have to put it away. Sewing equipment? Check. Painting supplies? Check. Scrapbooking paraphernalia? Check. Jewelry making supplies? Check (This is a ridiculous one - so not any talent in this area). Just a place where I could go and immerse myself in things I love to do. And leave hubby with the remote to fall asleep in his chair.
We discovered very quickly that anything in our price range had the three following flaws: train tracks running through the backyard, power towers almost connected to the house or we could set up chairs in front or back to watch tollway traffic zip by. One house qualified for the triple crown - it had all three. We should have known that "priced for quick sale" came with baggage.
We also learned that some people don't give a hoot what their home looks like even though they know people are coming to look. There's a lot to be said for "staging" a home. Though we thought it was ridiculous when our realtor suggested it (it took us four months to prepare our home) we sold our place pretty darned quick. Homes we looked at had been on the market for well over a year had dirty underwear laying on the floor, dishes in the sink and all sorts of beautiful attractions. We also smelled some beauties. Just sayin'.
We also discovered some very important things in general:
1) Always go back at least twice before you bid on a house. What looked great the first time may not be as appealing the second. I likened our first choice to a movie set: looked great on the surface but behind the scenes? Not so much.
2) Hang around outside the home for awhile. If our inspector had not been late to our first choice we would never have had the time to yell at each other over tollway noise while waiting.
3) Check the fine print on the listing. Make sure you know that the 55 year old house you are falling in love with has air conditioning and won't cost $25,000 to install it.
4) Make sure you note if it's a short sale. It may look good but it also could take a year to find out if the bank will take your offer. In the meanwhile you may be pitching a tent under lower Wacker Drive.
5) Discuss where you both want to live in advance. We did not have to worry about school districts anymore so that left too many options.
6) Make sure the house you fall in love with isn't in a flood plain. Or, have canoe ready.
7) Have a great inspector and go with him for it. Watch his face when he goes up into the attic. If he turns white, get the hell out. If he is shaking his head a lot, get the hell out. We took a heating and air guy to one of our choices. He looked at us square in the eye and said "RUN, don't walk".
After weeks of searching and arguing and feeling as though we'd never find a new home, we looked at something completely out of our budget. Just to see, you know. And after looking at 30-40 other homes before it we decided to do just as it was said in Risky Business.
We're hoping this opportunity makes our future. If not? What the fuck.