Thursday, February 21, 2008

Back from the trip

I hesitated to title this post "Back Home". We're not home here. This has just been a landing pad, a stopover on our journey. I think we're ready to get back on the train.

All told, we spent three full days with an agent, looking at about 30 homes, several more than once. Some were quite forgettable; others rather unforgettable, for good and bad. What's amazing is the realization that housing where we're looking is without exaggeration 1/5-1/6 of the cost of comparable housing here. On, our current area rates a 325 for housing costs (U.S. average=100) vs. the prospective community's 53-60.

We had set our priorities: a nice-sized and well-laid out kitchen; a good-sized yard (big enough for a vegetable garden, and running around room for the boys); a decent neighborhood; priced under $150k; 3+ bedrooms (at least two of good size); we need space for our books and piano, space for a home office, space for our entertainment center, and space for the boys to play.

In the end, we were down to three under consideration.

A) Listed at $124,000. Wood exterior, needing paint in the next year or two. Two car garage is a tear-down. Kitchen on the small side, but possible to remodel into the dining room (maybe a rather large eat-in). Large yard, corner lot. 10x10 sun room could be home office); fireplace; hardwood floors throughout; central air, fairly new furnace; unfinished basement; good neighborhood.

B) Listed at $150,000. Three bedrooms upstairs. Large yard, corner lot. Office room on main floor. Nice kitchen (everything updated, new cabinets and stone floor). Hardwood throughout; carpet in living room. Newer furnace; central air; programmable thermostat; vinyl siding; 5-year old 2.5 car garage; unfinished basement; large yard; same neighborhood as above.

C) Listed at $135,000. Great neighborhood. Lots of cosmetic work needed (including new kitchen). Hardwood throughout. Aluminum siding. Partially finished basement. Medium yard (but two houses down from a nice park and playground). 1.5 car garage needs work. Across the street from new friends from the synagogue with two kids. (They had us over for dinner on Saturday).

What are your thoughts? More coming soon...


Tracy said...

Glad you made it there and back safely, despite the horrible weather!

If I were you, I'd probably gravitate toward B. It doesn't need a lot of work, it has a big yard for the kids, and it's got cuteness to spare. It's more polished and has a lot of curb appeal that would make selling it later (as you intend to do, in 3-5 years' time, as I recall) that much easier.

Plus, you're going to be on a limited income if neither you nor RM are going to be working right off the bat. Renovations, as would be required in options A and C, can get pricey quickly, and so it might be best to go with a house that needs nothing but your own personal touches (a few cans of paint and some photographs and rugs).

The housing prices are fantastic, though, and must be almost unbelievable to you given your current location! I had no idea house prices down there were that low, actually.

Good for you for getting a real start on a new life!

Lilian said...

Hmmm, I kept checking and checking and I'm glad you're back online and have so many interesting options to work with! The third house photo is missing...

I tend to agree with Tracy on the houses, the second one seems to be more reliable and means less work for you. I know from the previous post that you'll be tempted by the community aspect of #3.

What we've done in the past for each of the three houses (counting this one) that we've bought is a list of ALL pros and cons that you can think of. And then you can talk about it, evaluate the situation and decide. Gut feeling is also important at this juncture, I think.

Well, we'll be here waiting to hear back from you. This is SOOOO exciting!! Meanwhile I'm inundating my two blogs with pictures and talks of home renovation. I hope that doesn't "inspire" you to go with #1 or 3. ;)

Lilian said...

P.S. I see C now :) It's cute.

There's so much snow in these photos, it's almost scary for me. I'll go read the descriptions again now.

Lilian said...

You know... all things considered C) sounds pretty attractive to me in spite of the kitchen renovation. Is there any other serious updating to do? A park does have much more appeal to the kids than a nice backyard. Ours is huge and even has a swing set, but they always ask to go to the park... And the friends and neighbors. Ah... the neighbors :)

trillwing said...

B appeals to me. Do you want to be putting your time and resources into renovations when you've just moved to an area?

Good to see you have some nice choices, however!

What Now? said...

Ooh, I love house-shopping!

All of the houses have pluses (which is obviously why they're the top three choices). I'd probably be tempted to go with option #B, although a fireplace is a lovely thing.

Question: How far is the synagogue from the neighborhood of houses A and B? Your last post on neighborhoods sounded pretty either/or, but might this a both/and possibility? That is, could you live in house #B and still go to the synagogue and be friends with the folks who live across from house #C?