Tuesday, May 07, 2019

House hunting

House-hunting. Boy, I dunno.

We arrived in Atlanta around noon on Monday and (after a long wait) picked up our rental car and headed straight to our real estate agent's office to formulate a game plan. Or, I suppose (since our agent had already made up a list of houses to visit based on our email discussions), be let in on the game plan. Only one of the houses on our list was occupied so we headed over to look at it right away (since we had to wait so long to get our rental car we almost used up our visiting window for that home).

That house was really rather...blah.

The next house on our list was one that we weren't sure we wanted to see, but our agent convinced us to swing by. It was a little on the small side and a little more expensive than we were hoping, but it was recently redone and looked beautiful, had a big yard (that would certainly require a ride-on lawn mower), a neighbourhood pool, and so forth. But it was a nice home with good schools, so we tucked it away in our minds as an option and went to see a few more houses.

They. Were. Awful.


To be fair, I was probably low-balling our budget, but even the houses that made us sick from sticker shock were horrible. Just. So. Bad.

We were walking through spiderwebs in some places, saw mouse droppings in other places, couldn't step anywhere in one house without creaking the floorboards (in an almost comically-loud fashion—you guys, it was so bad). One house featured a "mother-in-law door" leading from a second-floor bedroom to...a nasty landing on the cement pad below. One house had poison ivy growing on the house by the front door (as well as all over the yard). One house had sink holes in the backyard (Andrew caused another one; he put his foot down and the earth gave way beneath him).

We weren't even able to open the door to get into two of the houses we attempted to look at; the key simply wouldn't turn in the lock.

We came back to the hotel feeling rather dejected and decided we'd better jump on the only tolerable house we'd seen before someone snatched it up. So we asked our agent if we could see it again today, so she arranged for us to visit that house and several others today and it was a much better day.

I actually took notes on all of the houses. I only took notes on two houses yesterday before giving up on that endeavor entirely. I had such a lovely system, too.

Any "pro" point had a checkmark in front. Any "con" point had an X in front. Anything we wondered about had a ? in front.

For example, some of the notes I took today were:

House # 1
X Steep driveway (like, way steep)
 Bedrooms big enough
 No mowing
? Drywall removed from the basement?!

House # 2
X Backyard
? They keep raising the price?
X Too...corporate?
X Left turn, no light
 Pool/tennis community

House # 3
 Lovely backyard
X No storage (small closets, etc)
X Small bedrooms
 Swim/tennis community
? Left turn out of neighbourhood; no light

Yesterday I took notes on the first two houses and then the extent of my notes on subsequent houses was, "HARD PASS." I don't mind adopting a bit of a fixer-upper but if we're spending this much money I figure the house should at least be livable.

The fourth house is the one we decided we liked best and since we have limited time here we're going to try to put an offer on it tomorrow.

It also has a steep driveway (but it looks like a gentle slope compared to the first house we saw today), but it's beautiful. It has a new roof. It's plenty big. The yard doesn't require mowing (though it will require some poison-ivy removal, as most yards here do). It has a swing set. There's a lot of windows, allowing natural light into the house (but there's plenty of shade so it doesn't get too hot...maybe). The closets are small, but there's a big storage room in the basement so storage shouldn't be too much of a problem. It's not in a swim/tennis community, but the recreation center is just by the elementary school, not too far away.

I'm still having queasy how-do-we-commit-to-spending-this-much-money feelings, but I think that would have happened with any house.

And sorry to disappoint everyone who wanted me to take and send pictures of the houses (you can check them out on Zillow, I guess, if you really want to), but dragging a toddler along on a house-hunting trip is no joke.

I couldn't even put Alexander down the first day because the houses were simply too icky (Andrew and I decided that was probably a bad sign). And today I could hardly put him down because most of the homes we saw were still occupied and I didn't want him getting into things. That meant my hands weren't free to take pictures (aside from it being an onerous workout—carrying a toddler around is one thing; wrestling a toddler who is actively trying to break out of your grip so they can run around an explore is an entirely other thing).

The one picture I took on my phone today was in the basement of the fourth house where they had a spectacular music room set up with not one but two organs (and by spectacular, I mean the carpet is purple with giant polka dots and there was no ceiling and the walls were just cement with foam pieces glued to it, but there was a drum set and a couple of organs and, well, an entire recording studio, really). I am honestly not sure it even turned out, but I thought Miriam would have liked to see it.

I suppose another reason I didn't take pictures is because I felt kind of like I was skulking around a stranger's home (because I more or less was). It was much less awkward for me to view empty houses, especially after our agent told us that people frequently leave cameras on to record visits to their home ("Haven't you watched HGTV?" our agent asked, well, no...since we're not actively interested in the housing market), even though I spotted some cameras in empty houses as well.

Hopefully we won't be featured on any HGTV programs...

One final note, regarding toddler-wrangling, and that is that we're so grateful to Andrew's dad for watching the rest of our kids at home. House-hunting is miserable enough with one toddler (and I'm not sure Alexander will ever forgive us for buckling him into his car seat so many times in one day (and then doing it all over again a second day)), I can't even believe we momentarily thought about bringing Zoë with us as well (let alone the entire brood)!

Our friends the Holbeins are also house-hunting this week, but they brought both their (very young) children with it and I'm just so tired thinking about dragging two children through house after house (while trying to scrutinize everything/take notes/measure stuff/make sure your kids don't break anything or get their fingers pinched in the closet doors or whatever).

So, thank you, Grandpa!


  1. How exciting except for all the yuck houses *blech*! So, a yard that doesn't require mowing? Does that mean someone else does the mowing or it has no grass? Is the address Atlanta? Best wishes on your offer being accepted and all that other house-buying stuff!

  2. Very exciting/exhausting! You're getting there and this is really happening!