Monday, January 21, 2008

Movin' on

We have been part of the college community where we live for many years, but the time has come for us to move on. I will post more about that in the future, but right now I am seeking your wisdom and advice on the house hunting process. Neither my husband nor I have ever done this before. When we got married, I moved into the house he was already living in on campus. Before that, I lived in apartments.

We're staying local, so have the luxury of taking our time. In a small town, our housing options are limited, which can be a positive and a negative. But after two rounds of touring houses, I'm struggling to "see" ourselves in any house but this one. Yes, sentimentality is involved, and big changes are often hard for me! We have made a list of things that are important to us regarding location, layout and various amenities. Since many of the homes around us are older, we have seen some pretty quirky things, such as a tin-can miniature golf course built into a basement floor, and (also in a basement) a working toilet in the middle of the concrete floor with a shower curtain around it. Yikes!

For those of you who have been through this before, what were some of the questions you asked as you toured homes and made this decision? I appreciate your input to help broaden my perspective!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Carrie,
I have moved 4 times ain 2 years and I DO not well either. I think because of the sentimental part and relo stinks!!! I kinda plant my heart in my home. God has shown me HE is my home and my family. Ok I alway heard roof and foundation are very imprtant. I highly recommend a *home inspector*!!! Don't concern yourself with small cosmetic issues. And PRAY,PRAY, PRAY!!!! I will pray for ya too. It is good you have time, rushed dicisions so hard. tammyp

A, B & C said...

I'll send you an email with more advice about the process. You'll find it gets easier to picture yourself in a new place as you get more used to the idea. I still mourn my life and apartment in Paris and we're long gone, so just know it's a process.

Angela - Life w/ One Busy Boy said...

In my "spare time" I am a realtor. So I know quite a bit about this topic. One thing I would say is if something isn't perfect in a home...is it fixable, is there room to add on. Also, overlook paint color and small cosmetic issues. Good homes are often overlooked because of a simple paint job. Remember things like laundry room space, do you want a garage, yard, etc. 2 of the most important things are...can you resell it and location, location, location. It sounds so cliche but it's true. Even if you choose to homeschool you still want to live in a good school district in case you resell. The other thing I would say is neighbors. Don't be afraid to knock on doors around a certain house and ask people what they think of the area, neighborhood etc. You will also get to see how friendly they are or aren't. Good luck!!

Amy said...

Call us geeks, but one of the first things we asked was if we could get wireless internet in our homes. This was a criteria because of Ryan's job and you would be surprised how many people build their own houses or move into newer neighborhoods to discover that they can't get anything but dial-up. I don't know if that is tops on your list, but I figured I would at least mention it :)

Good luck with your house-hunting, Carrie!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Carrie -- you may not remember how often we moved when you were a little girl since we have been in one place for so long now. I never liked it! I think one reason it is often harder for women to move than men is that by nature we are "nesters" -- we get our "nest" fixed up how we want it and then have to leave it, undo everything, and start over.

I agree with the comments about cosmetics. Paint, curtains, rugs, and your own furnishings go a long way toward changing the look of a house. Other things to look for that are harder to fix are the number of electrical outlets and their placement, closets, and the condition of the roof, basement, and plumbing. (I agree with the comment about a home inspector, too!)

You're in our thoughts and prayers as you go through this process! Love you, Mom

mer said...

How exciting, Carrie!

My advice:
PRAY! Before every home you enter, ask for God's wisdom and discernment. (You probably do this already.)

Like others have said, look for a house with good bones. I was completely turned off by one house we looked at because every room in the entire house was painted raspberry sherbert pink. I'm not kidding...even the baseboards and window trim was painted pink. It was appalling. BUT, we ended up buying that house (and repainting EVERYTHING!) because we loved the floorplan, the location, the yard, and everything else about it! But seriously, we had to go home and re-think the pink!

Every home we've owned has had its quirks and I think you have to live in a couple of different houses to get a feel for what you like and what you don't...like big kitchen windows and windows in the bathrooms, etc.

I'l be praying for you. Take your time, and be prepared to see some incredibly odd things. Nothing makes me laugh quite like house hunting discoveries, and it sounds like you've already found some odd ones.

MyHeartIsAlwaysHome said...

I agree with looking at the bones. Things like a toilet in the basement can be fixed. When you see that see if you can see vision for a finished bath and maybe a guest room. As you do that be real about how much you can do yourself and how much it will cost to make it a home to you.

Beside the inside of the home I would pay attention to the yard. Is the size good for you, are your neighbors too close. The main selling point for our home was the yard. We fell in love with it! We have spend the past six years fixing it up and it is still a work in progress. We looked at tons of homes, like 60!, so don't give up! Good luck!

Mom2fur said...

Angela is right about the school system. Your number one priority should be the quality of the school district! Even if you homeschool, I'm pretty sure there will be times you have to deal with the school system (not sure about that--someone who homeschools could give a better answer). But the entire class of a neighborhood is determined by the quality of its schools. This can change even from one town to another.
And TammyP is right...invest in a home inspector, someone with a trained eye to see potential troubles. Yes, you can fix this and that...but would you want to find out the whole plumbing system is compromised, or the electrical is substandard?
One small thing, from my own experience...try not to live at the bottom of a hill. (In my case, we're in a house on a corner, at the bottom of two hills.) Trust me on this, every rainstorm you'll be checking to make sure your basement isn't flooding.
Good luck, and I'm sure you will find the home you love!

gail said...

good question! we too will be moving this year as hubby is transferring to BSU which is 2 hours away. when we have bought homes in the past we have looked at the n'borhood as well as all the other things that people have pointed out. we love living in older n'borhoods where people are pretty much settled and their is a mix of families.

also make sure the house has good insulation! unfortunately the house we're in now doesn't and its a huge problem for us. also we're on a corner lot and i wouldn't recommend that. lots of traffic both ways. we didn't realize the police station was just down the road so we hear the sirens all the time.

gail in idaho

Niki RuralWritings said...

You have wonderful advice here, the only tip I have to offer is one my mom gave me and that is to buy the cheapest home in a good neighborhood rather than a "better" home in a not so good neighborhood. I think that it was in the context of the property value in the future.
I'm sure your home is out there waiting for you!

jody said...

Be sure to ask that a radon test be done in the basement of any home you are moving ahead on - especially older homes.

Missy said...

I hate to admit it, but we've moved way too many times! I think the best thing is for you and your husband to make a list of the things you need/want in a home. One thing for me was a good size pantry and enough bedrooms for all my kiddos.
I wish I would of found a house with upstairs laundry.
Also, make sure it's a home you can see yourself in for many years.
Pray too :)

Blessings,
Missy

Angela - Life w/ One Busy Boy said...

Jody makes an excellent point which I ALWAYS have my clients do. Most people aren't very familiar with radon but it can be found in any house in any part of the country. It also changes over time as the air pockets of radon shift under the earth. So I always recommend rechecking it every 5 years or so. A home inspector can do it for about $90 or you can get a test at home depot for about $5 (but they aren't as reliable). Radon is the #2 cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking. Ok...that was my spiel on Radon.

Angela - Life w/ One Busy Boy said...

Oh...and Radon is easily remediated so just cause a house has radon doesn't mean it's a dud.

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

Hi Carrie!!! It's been awhile since I've visited. I got a little off schedule during the holidays, but I'm back on track, now. I have lived in many places in the past few years. I guess the one thing I look for, after much trial and error, honestly...is the sound structure of the house. The roof, the HVAC, the foundation, etc. I look for a house that's not chopped up, one that has a workable kitchen (i.e. fairly big) and one that's not been lived in "hard" - lots of previous owners, pet damage/smell, etc. The house we're in now is near and dear to me, but I didn't love it to begin with. But, we've made it a home and I cherish it. Oh..and don't let bad paint colors scare you. Easy and cheap fix.

Katie said...

Dear Carrie,

I will be praying for your family and that this whole process will go smoothly for you.

The only advice I have is to make sure everything is very clear from all parties on what is to be included (or finished if you buy into a model home or newly built home) BEFORE you close.

How fun house hunting should be though - and I hear it's a "buyer's market" right now...

Many blessings,
Katie

Heather (Rantal) Greene said...

Hey Carrie!

I love watching the show "House Hunters" on HGTV and I feel like I've learned a lot...but unfortunately I've learned what I DON'T want to do. It seems that people NEVER stick to their budget. They decide that it's just so important to have a bigger house or a better neighborhood, and instead of continuing to look they just say, "Oh, well, let's do it." It makes me so sad to think how how many people are in bondage to the debt of their home. So I just recommend, "Know what you can afford and stick to it!" But sometimes you can look at houses out of your price range and offer low and you can get them, especially if they've been on the market longer. Anyway, that's my two cents from someone who's never bought a house. :-)