Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Our House Hunt

We've hit the one year mark of house hunting and have yet to find our forever home. In the spring I remember telling Phil that I was sure we'd be in a new house by the fall and he said he highly doubted it. At the time I was kind of crushed by his suggestion that we wouldn't find the right house. But here we are in September, still looking.

That said, we are being very particular and picky. Some might say we are being "too picky" but our next house is going to be what I consider our "forever home." If there is ever a time to be picky, it's when you are buying a home in my opinion. Plus we have plenty of space for the time being in our current home. Yes, it would be nice for Paul to have his own room. Right now his room is a combination nursery/guest room. We sleep in there with him when we have guests and give our guests our bedroom. We don't have guests often so most of the time it's "his" room, but it's a little cramped in there.
I am fascinated by what others are looking for their next home so I thought I'd share what we are looking for!

1.Location. This is the MOST IMPORTANT requirement for us. We are focusing our search in a very particular area of south Minneapolis - about 14 blocks x 14 blocks to be exact. We want to be on a quieter street that doesn't have bus traffic. The area we are focusing on is close to a major freeway that goes into downtown and it's also the freeway we take to get to Phil's mom's house. The neighborhood is great for runs/walks as there are miles upon miles of dedicated bike and run paths along a creek and around a lake. We are also happy with the schools in the neighborhood, which is obviously important now that we have a child. When the time comes to send Paul to school, we will be opting for a public school and the ones in our neighborhood are well-ranked with good reputations.

2. Turn key/no major renovations needed. We are not handy people and do not want to take on a large remodeling project so the space needs to be pretty turn key. We are fine with doing cosmetic changes, like painting, but we aren't willing to remodel a kitchen, for example.

3.  A roomy kitchen. Speaking of kitchens, we (err, I, since I pretty much do all the cooking) want a nice, roomy kitchen with plenty of cupboard and counter space. We sometimes see homes with a tiny galley kitchen and that just doesn't work for me. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen so that is the part of the house I'm most particular about. For example, we are totally fine with small bedrooms since you are mostly only in the bedroom to sleep. But I need a roomy kitchen!

3. More space, but not too much space. Our current home has about 1,300 sq ft. We'd like our next house to have at least 2,000 sq ft but when it gets above 2,800 sq ft, it starts to feel too big for us. Bigger is not always better, in our opinion. We also want the space to be laid out well so that we will use all of the space in the house. For example, we don't want a formal living room and another living room on the same level which is something we commonly see. We just want one living room/family room space on the main floor. One house we looked at had a living room-type space on every floor and there were 3 floors! Who needs that much living room space?? Certainly not us! Another house we looked at had dining rooms on either side of the kitchen. Who needs 2 dining rooms? Again, not us.

Those are the 3 big things guiding our search but we have other requirements like a 2-stall garage, central air and 2 bathrooms with showers and some other "it would be really nice" requirements like having 3 bedrooms on one level.

Sometimes it feels like we are looking for a unicorn but I know that in the long run, it will pay off to be so particular. Barring any unforeseen circumstances that would require us to move, we expect to be in our next house for 20+ years so it is as long term investment. The housing market is definitely cooling off now that school has started so I've given up on finding a home in 2018 but maybe 2019 will be the year that we find our forever home! We will see what the future holds. For the time being, I'm glad that we are happy with our current home and have plenty of space for now!

How long have you lived in your house? Is it your forever home? If you were house hunting, what would be important to you?


Allison said...

We were house-hunting and came to the same conclusion, that we just couldn't find anything that met our needs in our budget. So we are going to do some remodeling to make our current house more functional for us and improve the resale value.

Another Day said...

Hi Lisa! I've been reading your (interesting and well-written) blog for a while and thought I'd finally comment today because I'm in a similar situation. My husband and I were happy (renting) in our well-located two bedroom but want to buy a bigger house so started looking before our daughter was born...2.5 years ago! Things were fine in our rental even with the baby though like you we'd sleep in her room when we had guests. Then...we had a second baby six months ago! I was sure we'd find a house by the time he was born but nope! We're still in our two bedroom and while more space would be wonderful, it's surprisingly okay even with two kids, at least for now. We're also being really picky (looking for just the right layout, state of repair and location) but like you, I hope our patience will eventually pay off. Anyway, keep up the great blogging and good luck in the search!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

We have lived in our house for 12 years. It is most definitely not our 'forever' house. I would move tomorrow if it was up to me. I did not forsee us still living here when we bought it 12 years ago. We basically bought it because it was easy and we were wanting to get something bought before our rent went up. If we had just freaking waited a few months the housing market crashed and we could have bought something nicer. Most likely we will unfortunately live here until we retire. We will be buying a house on a lake. Our house will be paid off next year and we will start looking then. Depending on a lot of factors we may buy one lake house and then up grade when we retire. Ideally I want a bigger bedroom where my husband can actually fit a dresser in it with a bathroom. Central air, attached garage, living space upstairs and down and 4 bedrooms.

katielookingforward said...

Your list makes so much sense! Its a tall order, but I'm thinking that when you find it on the market, you're willing to bid to get it! I did a very small remodel and I'm glad I did it, because it gave me a good insight into what remodeling requires....and how badly I want to avoid it in the future!

Amber said...

I think it makes sense to be picky since this will be your house for such a long time. Our current house is not our forever house, but I really really like it. I love the layout of the house the best. I like that our top floor has 3 bedrooms and that it's separate from the kitchen / living area. And I like that we have a finished basement as that space has become really practical for us. I don't love our location, but we live in such a small city it just didn't really make sense to pay thousands of extra dollars to live a 7 minute drive across town. I also don't love that we are in a duplex so share a wall with our next door neighbours, but it was a sacrifice we had to make to get the layout we wanted and also to get the turn key we wanted as we also didn't want to do any major renovations. I don't expect to stay in this house much more than 5-6 more years though... and even then I'm not 100% sure we will be shopping for our forever house. We will see what the market is like and what our life is like at that point.

Keeping my fingers crossed that something good comes up in 2019!

Charbelle said...

Are you working with a realtor? I think you are but I can't remember. That way you have someone dedicated to helping you jump on the newest available real estate when it comes up. For the situations where they have a formal living room and living room, would it be possible to repurpose a room? Our dining room is Michael's office and we have a large enough kitchen to fit a table so we can comfortably fit 6-8 people in the kitchen. I agree that bigger is not always better! We contemplated moving to a bigger house but ultimately appreciate the freedom of not taking on a larger mortgage. Houses in our area are selling crazy quickly but if it sells quickly it means you have to buy quickly unless you can make alternate arrangements. Y'all are my role models for making wise decisions and smart money management! Fortunately, Michael is also very responsible and thinks things through! I keep the bathrooms and floors clean though! LOL!

Marlys said...

I so hope the "right" house pops up soon, as I know you want more space. We lived in two not-so-great homes before we built our first home, but with 4 children, we had to do something. Housing was so reasonable back then, but the interest rates were horrendous! I think we started out @ 10%. :(
Happy house hunting! it's kind of a fun thing to do, don't you think?

Jeanie said...

Excellent qualifications and I hope you find what you are looking for. You're right -- the forever home is worth waiting for.

I've been in my house almost 25 years. You could call it forever unless I have to downsize. I had one major "must" in a forever home and that was having a room on the ground (first) floor that could be converted, if need be, into a bedroom. For one thing, anyone can have a foot or back injury that makes stairs difficult if not impossible. Also, one might also have a temporary guest (such as a parent or grandparent) who is staying who might not be able to manipulate steps. I learned this during a transition period for my grandmother, who lived in my parents' home for several months between locations and it was so much easier. I also learned it when I lived in an apartment -- and was on crutches!

Stephany said...

I was talking to someone this weekend about house hunting because she and her husband just bought a house and they've been looking for more than 2 years! But they didn't want to settle on just anything, so they were picky and particular about what they wanted. I think if there is ANYTHING to be "too picky" about, it's your house, especially since you want it to be your forever home. And I really don't think your must-haves are all that unreasonable. A beautiful, spacious kitchen is my dream!

Gracie said...

My house list was about six pages long! I am so picky! I mostly wanted: Old, kept-up but not renovated (I detest renovations. I can handle repairs, but renovations that alter the period of the home are an absolute no for me. And yes, I know I'm weird), under 1 mile to Audubon park, immediate access to three major thoroughfares to reduce commute time, gas stove, wooden windows, pre 1920, wood floors, back porch, raised, intact fireplaces, 2 bathrooms, bright paint (a New Orleans tradition!), and no open floor plan (I am much more traditional in how I live in a space, and I prefer my rooms to be separate rooms). David hated my list and thought it was way too detailed, but what do you know? We found a house that checked all the boxes, and we weren't even looking.
Hope yours pops up soon! You're smart to stay picky!

Marisa A. said...

The market here is so challenging. We had/have a lot of the same requirements as you. We are NOT home renovating people and I agree, bigger is not always better. I mean our house is 1500 square feet and we still have a cleaning person come once a month because otherwise we fall behind. Our house could be our forever house, but ideally I'd like to move more downtown and into a condo eventually. But I can see us staying in our house for 10-15 years. Good luck!

Carolina John said...

Wow I see what you mean. If it's only 14 square blocks, you should be able to drive around (or run) and see when something comes up for sale. That's really specific. As a handyman, I prefer to stare down something that takes a major renovation because it gives me leverage over the purchase price. I wanted at least 4 br, 3 baths was great but 2 with a half bath would get us by (and I didn't get the half bath in this house). I like a nice quiet culdesac, but I don't care what part of town we got. Kelley wanted a busy road as close to her dad as possible, so that's what we got. And after 8 years here I'm not bitter about it anymore? ;)

San said...

I think it's smart to have a list of things that is important to you if you're looking for your forever home, even if the hunt for it is lengthy and frustrating. I think if you find a home that doesn't tick off all the things on your list, but you love it so much that you can compromise, you'll know... otherwise, keep looking. At least as long as you're comfortable where you're at.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I love this post; this type of stuff is really interesting to me. I don't think you are being too picky at all. Those are all important things, and you should absolutely hold out for something you LOVE, as you plan to be there for a long time.

I have been in my house for about 11 years. Our place is just over 800 sq feet, but is more than enough room for the two of us. We have three bedrooms (1 down, two up), and two bathrooms (both with showers), a big kitchen, 1.5 car garage and a carport. Actually neither of us park in the garage, ha! We use the driveway and carport, and just use the garage for storage.

We rarely use the basement room and living area at all, other than when we're listening to vinyls, or if Christopher is playing drums or bass downstairs. Our bedroom is quite small, as are the two other rooms which we just have book shelves, cupboard for extra serving dishes etc., in.

If we were to shop for a new house, we'd mostly be looking for:

- really big kitchen, with loads of counter space/cupboards (if it had an island, we would want NO sink in the island, as I think that takes away from the clean counter space look, and doesn't work as well for serving food on the island etc.). I'd prefer the sink to be on the regular counters.
- A bit of a larger bedroom, possibly with walk-in closet(s)
- Two bathrooms (one could just be toilet/sink)
- Well built, on a bit of a higher elevation (so no water issues ...)
- I'd love a front porch
- Well developed yard, with patio or room for one

We don't plan on moving until we're retired though. We love our home, and are very happy here, but it's fun to think about what we'd shop for if we move. I think we'd move to BC or somewhere warmer.

I hope you find your forever home soon, but being patient will pay off.