April 18, 2006

Quirky homes

On our second big day of house shopping we learned two lessons (1) every house has negatives and (2) we are suckers for cute.

We looked at four new houses and re-visited #8 from last week for a close examination. Since we are looking in a limited price range and are sticking to just a couple neighborhoods, the variety in houses is limited, which means the differences come down to small variations. One may have a laundryroom, one may have bigger bedrooms, while yet another might have a more manageable yard. As new home shoppers it is hard to know how much fixes cost and which negatives will bother us more than others.

A co-worker told me that you know you’ve found the house for you when you can picture yourself living there. That’s a good step, however, for someone as imaginative as I, this visualization is not enough. I can picture myself living in all sorts of places, but will they really make me happy?

There was one house yesterday (#13) that has everything on our needs/wants list. It has room for all our projects, all our toys and even room to spare for guests and what not. However, it was built in that unfortunate 1960’s time period and lacks almost all charm. We had to admit that cute charm was at the top of our wants list, even if it hadn’t been written down.

House hunting is like dating, where looks matter and faults can be overlooked, but there must be a happy balance for the chemistry to happen.

The cute brick bungelow (#8) that we fell in love with on week one, sadly may have too many faults for the price. Today we learned that someone has put in an offer. We will keep it on the radar but it is probably gone.

Moving on, this week’s front runners are:
#4 with its renovated kitchen and full basement and #15 with its new everything and large rooms.

Just today I found a new listing that has raised our hopes. We will do some drive-by stalking tonight and plan to do another round of hunting on Monday.

April 15, 2006

Safety Measure

Anyone who has ever lived with me knows that “old” food freaks me out. Old varies a lot depending on my mood. It could be old an hour after it has been put in the fridge. It is not just left overs, but unprepared produce can become “old” too.

Old mushrooms may be one of the most suspicious items in my fridge. How do you know when they are old? They are already fungus. They already smell slightly strange and they come with a firm yet tender feel.

My roomie, JOpp and I would call out, “I’m eating this dented can of beans. If I become violently sick, tell them it was the beans!”, as a safety measure, just in case some questionable food took us out.

Since I’m home alone tonight, I’m letting y’all know, it was the old mushrooms that got me. (Just in case.)

April 10, 2006

Yellow houses

House hunting is both fun and exhausting. Yesterday we drove through the four neighborhoods we were interested in and looked at the curb appeal of places selected by our realtor.

Today, we went back to our favorite hood with our realtor. We had six houses ear marked for viewings. We saw eleven over the course of 5 hours. Whew!

The first house today, had been my front runner after curb shopping. It sits on a cute, curvy street and has a fantastic lawn, complete with a mailbox made from a parking meter. However, inside it suffered from too many years of renters, smokers and peeing cats. Stinky!

As we moved on to house after house we started noticing a trend. They all seemed to be yellow. I made a snide comment about all the yellow houses. Our realtor laughed, saying that a couple years ago there was an article in a local paper saying that yellow houses had a better re-sale value than any other color. Now everyone paints their house yellow before they try to sell.

How strange! I’d much rather have a blue house. But there is something happy and fresh looking about a yellow house.

The winner for today was House #8, which is not yellow, but brick with a snazzy red front door. It has everything we are looking for except for a ton of storage space, but it does have the potential for adding more storage later.

It was built in the 1930’s and is part of a whole block of matching houses, all recently renovated or in the process of being made-over. It may be the house for us. We are going to sleep on it and see what we think tomorrow. How do you know when to stop looking?

April 7, 2006

The hunt begins

Maybe the downstairs neighbors, in all their crazy loudness and chaos, were just what we needed. Or maybe, our enthusiasm for property shopping, which we’ve been covertly practicing for years, has finally blossomed into the real thing.

Yes, we have decided that our time as renters is over, instead of throwing money into someone else’s mortgage we are getting one of our own.

Yesterday we met with our realtor and our loan specialist for the first time. Beforehand I had done some reading here and SB had read a book with tips for the first time home buyer.

We did well getting through the financial terminology and even better at barraging our realtor with wants, needs, wishes and desires. She handled them like a pro and doesn’t seem to be afraid to tell us when we have a bad idea, like buying a house next to active railroad tracks.

You can’t turn around here, without bumping into a realtor and every 5th house is for sale. Our realtor is the wife of a friend of SB’s. We thought she would understand our quirkiness, because she lives with a guy who makes wooden pens in their garage. I think she’s going to work out great!

Supposedly, Atlanta is one of those places where it is better, financially to own than to rent. Property is relatively cheap and plentiful. Happily for us, the city is also going through an urban renewal and infilling, which means more city living options and less emphasis on suburbia.

While this feels a little scary and is all moving a little too fast, the fear is tempered by excitement. Soon we are going to be home owners. Wow!

I’ve started a new category called “House”. I’m going to do my best to photo-blog our House Hunt, so check the side bar for new photos. (Did you know, you can subscribe to RSS feeds of Flickr streams, which is really handy. Here is my feed.)

April 3, 2006

Pollen

When we moved here there were three warnings that all locals had:

1. Traffic – It is awful and it will impact you.

2. Heat + Humidity = Misery

3. Spring pollen – Due to all the trees and plants, all of which flower from March first onwards, everyone should expect to feel miserable. In fact, your car will become covered with pollen, it is that thick.

We are pretty lucky to avoid the traffic most of the time. Our commute is a breeze. And the heat and humidity, well, we have yet to experience it but I will say I’m already gratefully for central air.

The pollen sounded like an urban myth. Who had ever heard of having so much pollen that you could visibly see it? On exactly March first all the plants began their show, as did my nose and eyes. I thought it was bad, but it was nothing.

Sunday morning, it was raining when I got home at 7am. Between 7am and 2pm (7 hours) the car went from clean and damp, to green and dusty. Amazing! Check out the big blobs and stringy masses. The stuff is sticky too. It is like someone sifted chalk dust all over and then added a touch of hair spray.

Car Pollen

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