Female, 62 yrs old, with wrinkles, looking for attention

Have you ever met someone that looks better far away than up close?  Some might call them “a Monet”.  Well, she certainly was one (yes, the house is a she).   We could see past the pictures online and see the potential that this house had. However, what we couldn’t see was all the peeling paint, cracked plaster, water damage, overgrown ivy, unattended landscaping… we could go on, but we’ll just leave it at that.  You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words… these pictures left out all the important parts.

We should have realized that since this house is older than our parents, that the house would have its fair share of wrinkles.  Truthfully, this house wasn’t completely love at first sight.  We loved all the character, but all the things wrong with it were staring us straight in the face.  We originally set our sights out on a home to fix up, but now we had to have a “Come to Jesus” moment of, “Is this really what we want?”  But who had time for that?  Because we were about to be homeless!

When we left the house, we left a little disappointed..  After all, seeing a house full of cracks and peeling paint doesn’t put most people in a mood to sign an offer.  Two days later however, we still couldn’t stop thinking about the house, even IN the shape that it was in.  Where, previously, we had checked out a couple of homes and left saying, “My heart just isn’t in it.”  This one was different.  We still didn’t know much about the neighborhood, except for noticing families walking on the sidewalks together, children riding bikes with their parents, a few people jogging.  Not a chicken coop or a hula hoop in sight.  This was the opposite end of the spectrum from where we had been living for seven years.  This almost seemed like it was from the show “Leave it to Beaver”.  With the closing of our old house coming up soon, we knew we had to make a decision and we just had the feeling this was the right fit.  Besides, we were still young so what the hell.  Plus… we found out that an open house was scheduled for the upcoming weekend.  So, we decided to jump and to make an offer.  If it wasn’t meant to be, it wouldn’t be.
We’ll spare you the bore of the details pertaining to the offer, only asking one question:  How does a realtor not really use or check their email?  It still blows our minds to this day.  Ultimately, we came to an agreement with the seller and the contract was signed.  On the day of the open house, a friend of ours wanted to see it, so we took her along.  It was the perfect day for an open house; The first beautiful day of Spring.  The house was packed!  Carloads of people were getting out to take a look.  It was clear that people were interested to see what this house looked like on the inside.  Avoiding an awkward situation with the listing realtor, we decided to play along as nosey neighbors instead of the people who “just signed a contract on the house”.
We found out that a lot of families who were already living in the neighborhood were checking this house out because it had tons of room and a big yard that was appealing to families that were expanding.  And here we were– no kids, with a lawnmower that plugged into an outlet, and wanting to downsize–buying a more spacious home with a larger yard that all these families were interested in.  We felt bad that we might be jumping on someone’s dreamhouse, but we realized that in the end, this house was probably perfect for many families, except they needed a house that was move-in ready, and we had our sledgehammer in the trunk.
photo via shaunring.com
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Third Time’s A Charm

View From Kitchen

Old Home

Seven years ago, we moved into a townhouse that had just been flipped… and by flipped, we mean they basically put down new carpet and painted the walls beige. This was a perfect opportunity for the flipper because it was almost 2100 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 3 and a half bathrooms, and was only 7 yrs old with no problems. It was also a perfect home for us at the time because of the layout and blank slate we had to work with and that it was probably the most spacious home we could have afforded at the time. Over time, our needs changed, and the neighborhood changed.

I suppose every neighborhood has its story. Yours may include toilet papered trees, loud traffic, or the occasional murder. Ours included a little girl playing with a hula hoop on top of our mailbox, bonfires in the neighbors driveway, and a chicken coop in someone’s front yard. Nevertheless, it was time to move.

We put our house on the market on Valentine’s Day. 16 days and 25 showings later and we had a buyer! Sounds great, huh? We only had one problem… nowhere to move to. At that time, Lexington had a very low inventory of homes for sale and quite a few people looking to buy. We checked websites every single day looking for a new place to call home. We knew we wanted a place with character and one that was not showroom ready–There’s no point buying a house that has been remodeled when we are just going to change everything about it. Our realtor even set us on on an email alert for everything in our price range and desired neighborhoods. Still, nothing. We found that there are plenty of homes with character in Lexington, but they all come with a price tag. You know what you learn about buying–it’s location! location! location!–which we totally ignored the first time around. This time, we tried to find something with the charm, but also with location as key. Well… if there’s two things that drive up the price of a home, it’s location and charm. What can we say? Caviar dreams.

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House #1, Lansdowne Neighborhood

The first house–great neighborhood: check, charm: blah

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House #2, Lansdowne Neighborhood

The second house–good neighborhood and potential to make money with a remodel: check, charm: negative (well yes it did if  you like midcentury modern, it just wasn’t the style we were looking for)

At that point, we had to re-evaluate our checklist. How can we get what we want where we want it and make sure we can still afford to keep the lights on?

We remembered a house we saw online about a month before that had great curb appeal (or potential) and in need of updating, but we knew nothing about the neighborhood. At that time, we put it in our “maybe” file, and continued looking, but now after getting nowhere, we decided to go look at it… right then. Literally. We dropped everything (even bailed out on dinner plans) to go explore a neighborhood we knew nothing about, Meadowthorpe.