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September 18

Adventures in House Hunting: Part 3

The house-hunting adventure has been… well… an adventure.

The last time I chatted about house hunting, it was all about our first bidding process with home number one.  We are now on home #5!

Felix and I have bid on several homes up to this point and we’ve lost the bids for various reasons; some were willingly lost (2), some we were quite sad to loose (2).

While 5 properties does seem like a decent amount to go through, Felix and I have learnt a ton and have narrowed down our likes-dislikes and the kind of space it truly is we’re looking for.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is to: Trust your gut.

This is huge & very obvious – but worth stating just the same!!!  When you have that sinking-pit feeling in your stomach, it’s just best to walk away, or perhaps run away.

On property #4, I loved the house and the yard, but was wary about the neighborhood (too family-oriented for us).  I had that icky feeling in my gut.  I kept thinking “I’ll get acclimated to the neighborhood… everything will be fine… I like the house… and so on”.

I was going back and forth on it for several days and this is the one that we consciously lost the bid on.  I can’t tell you how relieved I was.  And it’s really made me focus on trusting myself more and my first impressions.

The #5 property we’re bidding on is a cottage style home in Hyde Park; but to me it more looks like a Victorian cottage style.  It’s in a completely different area of the city than either of us have ever lived which is making us a bit nervous.  But we got nice vibes when we walked around the neighborhood earlier this summer.

The only properties in Hyde Park that were in our budget were condos.  But last week a single family home popped up in our price range and we were pretty quick to get in and see it – and then put in our bid.

The house needs a TON of work.  This fact cannot be understated.  The house was built in 1885 and still has it’s original electrical service (from 1920 or 1930).  Not to mention the state of the kitchen & upstairs floors, etc.

Our next step is to have the inspection (Friday) so we know fully what it is we’re dealing with; the cost & time it will take for us to refinish it and if it’s doable for us.  I’m excited at the prospect of restoring the home to all it’s former glory.

At this time in the game, everything is still up in the air.  The inspection has to happen – Felix and I have till Monday night to make our final decision then Financing & many more details.

Knowing full well this may or may not come to pass, I can’t but help sharing a few photos with you all.

Check out this cute little kitchen:

I’ve always been in love with these white 40’s/50’s cabinets!  They’re staying put for sure; unless they’re beyond repair – but I doubt it.  Isn’t the laminate looovely?!  heh  I don’t even know if the stove still works.  We’re more than happy to pay an inspector to come and give us the full scoop on this!

This room is perhaps the roughest, but once it’s all refreshed and flooring put down it’s going to make for one great (joint) office!

There totally is old water damage.  This happened before it got a new roof in 2009 (supposedly).  There’s a mini balcony off the front of the house (2nd floor).  And this flooring is beyond saving – or at least to my untrained eye it is.

Those are two closets on either side of the balcony which is utilizing the dead space right above the front porch.  It’s kinda nifty.  (I’m already dreaming of a cedar lined closet to store all of my fabrics in.)

Going through the bidding process 5 times now & sharing this much of the house doesn’t feel like I’m jinxing anything.   Simply put: This is just where we are (at this early stage) and I wanted to share it with you all.

Felix and I learnt by now not to get too emotional about places until the keys are in our hands.  We’ve lost several ‘perfect places’ only to be bidding on ‘another perfect place’ weeks later.  Of course we’ve been upset when we lost a place… but it’s taught us that with enough patience another great property will come up again.  Of course we’d love this home, but if it’s not meant to be… it’s not meant to be.

My Realtor Seth put it wonderfully: There are many ways to live.

I love this idea… With each property we’ve fallen in love with, it had all of the basics we’ve wanted – they’re each just a different way to live.  But here’s to hoping that this one sticks.

  1. Marie / Sep 18 2013

    Oh wow, the whole process sounds very stressful in the US! When you say ‘bidding’…is your bid gets accepted, can someone else still outbid you at a later time? I hope not! That’s not so common here in the UK, I don’t think. My boyfriend and I just bought our first house (a cute Victorian one built around 1900)…we picked up the keys yesterday and although it’s all very exciting, we have a lot of work to do…eeep!

    I wish you all the luck with yours…the photos you’ve shared are adorable and I’m so impressed by how light and airy it looks!

    • Liz / Sep 19 2013

      Hey Marie!

      In the US, when the house gets posted on the market there’s a bidding period. Once the sellers accept a bid, no one else can swoop in and take the house. The bidding process closes once the sellers accept one. After that there’s around 1 week to have the home inspected and such. During that time, the buyer (me) can get out of the contract for any reason – based on the home condition found during the inspection.
      And after that – it’s all about waiting for approval from the bank for financing and all of the money stuff. So it does sound similar to your process in the UK, yes?

      CONGRATS on picking up your keys! How exciting!!! Are you guys nervous? At this point in time, Felix and I are nervous-excited. :)

      • Marie / Sep 19 2013

        Oh yes, that does sound like a pretty similar process to be fair! And yep, we’re very nervous-excited too. I must be honest – when we went in for the first time after we got our keys…we were shell-shocked. It was a cold, rainy day and the house was dark and empty and it looked shabby without any furniture or wall hangings. But, having been back on a brighter day it felt much nicer, despite the fact that we have plenty of work ahead of us, in terms of decorating etc. I think the key is to try and enjoy the process and not worry that these things take a while to put right…that’s the theory anyway ;o) I have my fingers crossed for you guys!

  2. Charlotte / Sep 18 2013

    That floor may not be beyond repair — if you like a dark stain. I’ve seen it done a few times on the H&G network where a sufficiently dark stain makes those watermarks just seem like character on the floor. Might be worth a shot before replacing it – stain is cheap!

    Best of luck – it’s a big nerve-wracking process, but so worth it once you’re on the other side. That first night in YOUR walls is so sweet.

  3. lsaspacey / Sep 18 2013

    Hey, I saw that kitchen and the first thing I thought of was Daniel at Manhattan Nest and his house refurbishing job. He’s doing an amazing job on the thrift and a lot of informed and researched DIY (the best way to DIY) Here’s the link to his kitchen work: http://manhattan-nest.com/tag/kitchen/ which basically just used tile, paint, and vinyl flooring. However, it could be in a decor magazine. Good luck on the search.

    • Liz / Sep 19 2013

      Thanks so much for sending me this link!! I remember seeing it a little while ago, but I quite forgot about it since then. It’s a great new kitchen he did and on the cheap to boot. I’ll have to share this with Felix… if we get that far.

  4. joelle / Sep 19 2013

    what a wonderful kitchen! i also love 50s style kitchen cupboards (and lucky enough to have original cupboards from 1952 in my own kitchen!) i remebmer very vividly how nerve-wracking and emotional the process of buying an appartment was. i remember this appartment that we were absolutely in love with and bidded on in a fierce war, and lost in the end. i was crushed at that time, but i realise now that there are many places you can live happily in and make your home. i love even more the appartment we bought and live in now! i am happy to see that you have found some kind of peace with this exhausting process. just know that the perfect home is waiting for you!
    good luck on this one!

    • Liz / Sep 19 2013

      Thanks for all of the moral support, Joelle. So happy you were able to find your current apartment; sucks to loose bids when you’re in love with a place.

  5. Ginny / Sep 19 2013

    I really hope you find a place you both love soon! This one does look very nice from the photos. That kitchen is lovely (oh, so many cupboards!) and I love the quirky bits in the other room. I like a house with weird-shaped ceilings and odd little windows, haha. The floor possibly looks worse than it is; it depends how long it was exposed to the wet. Water leaks on old floors can soak out the 100 year old grime and make some pretty nasty stains, even though the wood is still sound, or they can do a lot of damage you can’t always see. Make sure the inspection covers the beams supporting the floor as that is where the damage tends to happen, where the water seeps in and can’t dry out as easily.

    Good luck with the hunt!

    • Liz / Sep 19 2013

      Thanks so much Ginny! The inspection is tomorrow so I’m going to have to ask our inspector about that… I’ll sound like I know what I’m talking about thanks to you. :)

  6. Frangipaniis / Sep 19 2013

    Good luck with the house hunting it can be stressful but I have always found that if its meant to be it will happen. Re the water stains some stains can be bleached out by the a flooriing experts prior to coating if they are unable to sanded them off again it depends on how long the floor was exposed to water

  7. Vicki Kate / Sep 19 2013

    I have to admit to being completely clueless how you go about buying houses in the US. Here in the UK you make an offer and if it’s accepted you start all the legal paperwork and hope nobody ‘gazumps’ you which is putting in a higher offer. You don’t have to make an offer on every house you view. In Scotland (and I like this system!) once an offer is made and accepted its binding on both parties so no possibility of gazumping and takes some of the stress out of the situation. In the UK everything is binding only once contracts are exchanged… And it can take months to get to that point!
    Good luck, and you’re right to turst your gut instinct, you know intuitavely if it’s right or not – that’s how we’ve chosen our homes. Not that we’re planning to leave where we are for decades!!
    Fingers crossed for everything going forward…

  8. Molly / Sep 19 2013

    Hi!

    I also live in Logan Square (and have a bunny for that matter), and my fiance and I are going through this same process. It really helped to have a good, independent inspector, and the one we used (on Tuesday no less!) was fabulous. Very chatty. VERY knowledgeable. Slightly opinionated, and kind of funny. Let me know if you’d like a recommendation.

    -M

    • Liz / Sep 19 2013

      Hey Molly. How great you live in Logan Square too! I bet we’ve seen each other and not even known! heh

      You have a bunny too, no less. What’s his/her name? What kind? Must have more details. :)

      We just found out that the same owners of Longman & Eagle are opening up a restaurant in Hyde Park, not 4 blocks from this house called the Promontory. This excites us that new places are coming to that area.

      Thanks for offering up your inspector. We have a guy named Mike that we used on the first place we had bid on. He specializes in old homes… so I know we’re in good hands on that front.

      • Molly / Sep 19 2013

        We used a Mike too! Is it Mike from Speaker of the House Property Inspections? If so, it’s the same one, and he’s great.

        Good news about the L&E guy

        • Liz / Sep 19 2013

          YES! It’s the same Mike from Speaker of the House. :D Small world!! He was indeed really thorough with the first home and was joking a lot. Granted… the house was really not worth it and Mike was even taking pictures to send to his friends. He was incredibly professional – fun – and thorough. We learnt a lot working with him on that first place.

          Now… did you use the same Realtor?? heh Our guy is Seth Captain of Captain Realty.

  9. Liz / Sep 19 2013

    We just had all of the hardwood in our new house redone and I’m like, 99% sure yours can be salvaged. Maybe one or two warped boards need to be relaid, but those stains should come off when they sand off the old finish. It sounds scary, but pros do it so quickly.
    Good luck!!

    • Liz / Sep 19 2013

      Thanks for this Liz!
      I know nothing of old wood floors. I didn’t see any warped boards, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I just saw some major gouges where they poorly ripped out the old carpeting. Those boards will have to be replaced… the gouges are too deep for sanding. But the rest of it looked sand-able if the wood is still good.

  10. Cactus / Sep 19 2013

    Love the pictures you showed of your house. I am especially jealous of all the cabinet space you have in your kitchen, along with the counter space. My total counter space, broken up into 4 sections, is maybe 5 feet. The floors look repairable, even the gouges could probably be filled in with wood filler. But a flooring expert would be able to tell you more. Would you be able to get pre-approved for a house loan? That way, you wouldn’t have to wait for the bank or whoever to do it each time you bid on a house Might save some time. When we bought our house about 20 years ago, we were up against “flippers” who had the ready cash to buy houses while we were dependent on a loan. Patience is the key – it will happen.

  11. Sarah C. / Sep 19 2013

    I was one of the commenters who left a detailed message when you first started looking, and I just have to chime in here to say how lovely it was to read your post. Yes, the house is nice, and if it is the one for you, congratulations. But what I am really referring to is your voice. Your confidence is just shining through, and you & Felix really seem to be working well together. Sounds ridiculous for an online stranger to say, of course, but the home buying process can be very stressful, and you are handling it with such grace. I am sure that there have been moments of frustration, but you are clearly focused on what is right for you & the life that you want to enjoy together. No matter what happens with this house or any other, I hope that you feel great about yourself. Cheers to you, lady!

  12. Another Stephanie / Sep 19 2013

    I just love you for wanting to keep the kitchen cabinets!

    My first thought when I saw that photo was how great they are, but everyone rips this kind of stuff out and puts in lookalike-Ikea, and I kind-of understand because those top cupboards must be pesky. But they are perfect for the room, probably rock solid and definitely worth keeping.

    I hope all the stars align and the time is right and this or something even better works out for you!

  13. Emily / Sep 20 2013

    You could look at http://www.simplythenest.com. It’s a couple doing up a massive Victorian house themselves, apart from being a lovely blog there’s loads of info on how they sorted their floors themselves – good if you’ve got time but not much money! I’ve found their advice v useful. Good luck!

  14. Amy / Sep 20 2013

    I agree with Sarah C.: I like your attitude! And, I just love old (and especially Victorian!) homes. I just moved to Seattle, and my husband and I are house hunting. Here, the market is so crazy that you have to pre-inspect the house before you put in an offer. I’ve had to take much the same what’s-meant-to-be-will-be attitude about the whole process. Keep filling us in on the process. And, good luck!!

  15. Katy / Sep 21 2013

    This will be a fun project for you. Hope your inspections turn out well!

  16. Alaskapsych / Sep 21 2013

    As long as the wood hasn’t rotted, you can likely sand and refinish the flooring. There’s a big drum sander and edge sander that you can rent from an equipment service that will do the job. My first husband and I did it with a floor that had been nearly destroyed by animal urine and a bed wetting child. It turned out great!

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