Saturday, March 21, 2009

Shopping Shopping

Raf and I did some shopping shopping today, for houses primarily. We pulled the offer we had on the first house a couple weeks ago. After seeing it in the light of day, we decided it wasn't worth as much to us as we had offered, and there were plenty of other offers waiting in line. As for the other place we put an offer on, we're not sure that ever even got submitted, and at this point we're over it. Way too much drama at that house to bother with.

So, Raf's been feeling a bit frustrated about house hunting lately. It's a lot of work, primarily on his shoulders, to search day in and day out for something of interest at a price we're willing to pay. Last night we decided to venture out to some neighborhoods we hadn't checked out before, and fell in love with a neighborhood we'd never noticed previously. It's further out commute-wise, which we'll need to consider, but the feeling is right. The good news is, after our drivebys last night and checking them out with our agent today, there are 3 places that are contenders. Thank goodness--the boy is revitalized!

One place in particular stands out. It's an estate sale, and very unique. The person who lived there obviously had a lot of talent and interest in landscaping. There isn't a blade of grass on the property (hallelujah!), nor a square inch that isn't planted, and there are 4 Redwood trees in the backyard (including one huge one encroaching on the back of the house--eek). You step on to the back deck (which is very cool), and it's like you've been swept away to some secret garden in the middle of Humboldt county--which is especially weird because it's in the middle of super dry Livermore, just a few houses off a main street.

The bummer is that it lacks any open dirt for me to start my gardening experimentation, and it breaks my heart to think of tearing up anything that has obviously been so lovingly planted--especially since the look is so cohesive. However, there is one good sized patch, smack dab in the middle of the back that I may be able to work with. It appears to be an interestingly shaped raised bed, currently filled with succulents and some native-looking plants. I'm thinking that we could transplant some of the cooler looking plants into large planters to put on the edge of the deck, then use all that fertile dirt to plant some veggies! The nice part is that the sky above that area is completely clear, so it should get some good sunlight.

As for the interior--it needs A LOT of work. The house was last purchased in 1968, and there probably hasn't been much attention paid to the interior of the house since then. We already know there's some dry rot and termite issues that would require full fumigation. Other than that, it's just super outdated, a little dirty, and doesn't have a feel (or smell) of being lived in. And yet....

There's just something about this place. The minute I saw it's dark little mysterious exterior from the front yard, I was curious. And the moment we stepped inside this morning, we were both immediately smitten, despite the numerous and obvious flaws. The flow of the house just feels good. There's lots of natural light, aided by a few skylights throughout. And it's quite spacious, due to the fact that the garage was converted into a huge living space, which flows completely naturally with the rest of the home. (There's plenty of room to add a garage in the front, if that's something we'd want in the future. In the meantime, there's a rad little carport, assuming it doesn't have to be torn down.)

The asking price is already well within our budget...assuming we wouldn't have to sink a good $50k into it...which we would. Thus, conundrum #1. But if we could significantly negotiate on price, I think this just might be exactly the kind of fixer upper we've been looking for.

As for the other 2 houses, one is already beautiful and ready to go. More expensive, but done very nice, and just a few houses down from a huge and beautiful community center that we'd be happy to share a neighborhood with. And the other is on a street we already know we like, but it's on the "wrong" side of downtown, which feeds into the worst school system, so we probably wouldn't stay there for many years. The house is really cozy, a bit on the small side, but I've never seen a more beautiful backyard. It's huge and most of it is nothing but dirt! I had the biggest smile on my face standing back there. The old woman who's moving out used to garden the whole thing, but now she just works one small bed--that was still looking incredibly impressive. I wish we could have that yard in the other neighborhood! Oh, the wonderful world of shopping for a home.

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