it’s just as good to know what you DON’T want

Now that I am looking into buying a house a bit more seriously, it is getting to be a bit overwhelming. I am relearning to decipher the realtor’s descriptions of houses and to question what they aren’t showing in the pictures.

For example, my mom and I went to check out another house last night that looked promising. The description said that the property was 1.02 acres, waterfront, and the home was a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom manufactured home built in 2008. The pictures showed a cute house with little character, but had a “big” unfinished yard area, a nice open layout inside, and it didn’t show any neighbors close by.

What they didn’t say is that the “waterfront” meant that there was a small creek running through the property with wetlands all around it, making less than .25 acre* of the 1.02 even legally usable. I say “legally” because that .25 acre is so wet and swampy there is a raised walkway to get from the (damp) parking pad to the front door of the house and where they didn’t have grass struggling to survive they had straw to control the mud. There are also close neighbors, although not as close as my neighbor at my rental, and the yard the pictured was actually combined with the neighbor’s yard.

Oh, and they also didn’t mention that the lot is across the road from a quarry that does explosions in the middle of the night. I don’t think my wuss of a pup would be able to handle that.

Even though I decided I wasn’t interested in this specific house anymore, it was still a great learning experience. My mom said that it was just as good to figure out what I don’t like as to figure out what I do like. (Made me think of dating philosophies… hmm correlations between house-buying and husband-finding? Who knew!)

We also looked at a little place up in Hansville over the weekend. It was on .52 acre of usable land, 2 small bedrooms, and 1.5 bathrooms. It was cute and a lot closer to work, but I think it was too small. I wish I could switch the “waterfront” house with the Hansville house… ah well.

So a few things I learned:

– Be wary of what “waterfront” means… because it could mean “water-LOGGED” or “FLOODS”

– Once again, don’t believe everything seen in the pictures. They’re a good start, but they don’t replace seeing the place in person. I think this can go both ways, too. Some pictures may not do a place justice, and others may make the place seem a lot better than it is in reality.

– Local knowledge is priceless. (My grandmother used to be on the city’s planning commission and knew about the quarry.)

– And I’m still trying to figure out a balance between not settling for something I don’t like and being too picky.

I wish I could get on that TLC show where the home buyers go around with a designer that uses a nifty program to show what the house COULD look like after some remodeling.

It would also be nice if they could help with the financing, but that would just be greedy…

*I’m really bad at spatial things… it could have been a bit more or less than .25 acre, but it wasn’t much.