Saturday, October 2, 2010

The hunt is on!

Tim posted back in April about us looking for a house. Fast forward a few months and I'm writing this post from our new casa. It all started about a month and a half ago when I heard from UC regarding a position. We had already narrowed our search down to Fairfield. We knew we didn't want to live inside 275 (the Cincinnati outer belt) because we wanted a more suburban location. Fairfield is ideal for Tim because it's only a 15 minute commute to his job in West Chester. As for me, it's about 35 minutes on a daily basis (25 with no traffic or 50 on heavy traffic days). Then, the search began.

We already had a realtor, Kurt, picked out thanks to our friends, Kathy & Brian, who worked with him to purchase their first home. As first time home buyers, we had endless questions. Kurt was very kind and offered sage advice. The week I got the offer from UC, we decided to look at houses. We selected 5 houses in Fairfield. They were all on the south side of town, but in different areas. At the last minute, Tim showed me a 6th house and we added it to the list.

Some of you have asked about the houses that we looked at prior to purchasing our home. To respect the owners, I'm not going to share pictures of any of these houses as some of them are still on the market. But, I will give you the play by play with our decision.

House #1: This house was a short sale. We didn't realize this when we decided to look at it. The place was a wreck and looked like the family left in the middle of the night mob-style. I really loved the floor plan though. It was a tri-level or split level home. I liked that the bedrooms were clustered together upstairs and the living spaces downstairs. I'm really not a huge fan of stairs because I'm terribly clumsy. Yeah, that's right... I fell down the stairs in Natalie & Alex's apartment. All the way down. I liked the the split or tri-level houses have half stairs. The biggest issue with this house: the back yard was totally wooded. Wooded=buggy. We all know how much I love bugs. I'm calling the Orkin man because I'm creeped out just thinking about it! Oh well, at least my sick-o dog likes to eat them.

House #2: This house was in first place starting the day. The back yard was fantastic and had a pool! It's hard to find a house with any respectable yard in Fairfield. Most of the houses we saw online had 0.125 acres or so. This house also had 4 bedrooms. Amazing! So far so good. This house was a bi-level. Unfortunatley, those homes do not sell well in this area, so our resale opportunity really stinks. The downstairs included a "half bathroom." Yeah, right. It's more like an industrial commode in a unfinished room with the hot water heater, electical and plumbing lines, and a washer. This is a major issue. So major, we couldn't overlook it. We even visited this house again at the end of the day to re-evaluate this terrible "bathroom." No go.

House #3: This was the only ranch we visited. Unfortunatley, ranch homes are scarce in Fairfield. We really hoped for a ranch (again, the stairs issue), but struggled to find any. This house was on a very small lot, but was next to a vacant lot for sale. The yard would have been great size if we purchased both properties. This house was in the best condition. The seller re-carpeted and re-painted everything in the home. The kitchen and appliances were new as well as recently renovated bathrooms. Sounds great, huh? Unfortunately, all of the rooms in this house were tiny. The property taxes were also lower on this house, but as soon as we drove to the house we realized why. The house wasn't in the nicest neighborhood. I'm definitely not above living in a low income neighborhood, but the unfortunate part is the other properties. The other owners lack funds or interest to maintain and improve their properties, so the values decline. This would make resale challenging for us.

House #4: This house was also a short sale. We walked through it and it was nice and clean. The owners seemed to care about their home. This home had a garage tucked under the bedrooms of the home. This is a popular design in many of the areas in Fairfield. I think it was just the trend in that period to get maximum square feet for minimum land. The street was busier than we preferred and had an extreme decline. A very sloped road + too much traffic = car accident waiting to happen. The yard sloped far too much to be functional. Monkey could run around, but that's really it. The home was just kind of bland too. We didn't love it, but we didn't hate it.

House #5: This house was also a split or tri-level with a garage tucked under the living space. This house was also vanilla. The major flaw was definitely the kitchen. Many apartments in Brooklyn have larger kitchens than this place. Tim and I really enjoy cooking and entertaining while I bake more than some pasty chefs. A small kitchen just would not work for us.

House #6: As you're probably guessing, this house was the winner. I'll elaborate more on it in another post. I'll also include pictures because I don't think the homeowners will mind. :)

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