Still looking

June 18, 2009

What a lovely week we had in San Francisco. Walking. Touristing. Talking to people. Reconnecting with old friends. Having nice meals.

And our full day looking for homes in the South Bay. It was fun to take the train down and back, even though it stopped in every city along the way. (On weekdays, there are express trains.)

I’m disappointed that we didn’t find our home, because we’re more than ready to have ourselves on a more settled track.

We wanted to avoid yet another trip to the Bay area, but there may not be a way around that. We seemed to have culled the prospects so well last month that nothing that suited came on the market since. I love to travel but I’m ready to stay put. And move things along.

We are watching two prospects from afar, and who knows what else might crop up. But I kind of think we have to act more quickly now, as the market in our range seems to be a bit more active than it was just a month ago. Both our prospects have other interest.

I didn’t think it would be so hard to find the right house in our price range. We have the down payment. We have financing approval. We’re ready. And it’s supposed to be a buyer’s market.

But the “right house” means it has to be right for our specific lifestyle. Because we plan to be there a long time. As will our menagerie. And we want to be comfortable.

The thing about the houses we’ve seen is that when the downstairs is just fabulous, the upstairs is just awful. It’s not that the upstairs has to be perfect, because really, we’ll use it less. But at minimum, it does have to suit our needs.

We’ve seen maybe 30+ homes and I can always tell a home that the owner has designed, instead of an architect. The other day we saw one that on the surface, met all our requirements. I kept asking our Realtor, “Why don’t I like this one? I should like it.”

Something was just “off” about the design. The tiny little bathrooms, with barely enough room to move, that had hugely high tech shower fixtures but no enclosures. Made no sense to expect the owner to put up a shower curtain with that high tech fixture. The out of scale lighting fixtures. The fact that you walked right in the front door to the dining room, practically. The not so perfect flow.

The value of a good architect shouldn’t be underestimated.

Or the last home we saw. The owner had “renovated,” but made inexplicable choices. Two colors of wooden flooring that didn’t match. One hardwood and one pergo. Ugly tweed industrial carpeting. Horrible colors. and yet, a fabulous kitchen. What WAS she thinking?

The seller’s Realtor thought I was also a Realtor and said the owner wanted feedback on how it showed and was willing to make changes to improve prospects. So I provided it. I made all the suggestions and then said “Or, she could lower the price to allow the new owner to do all this.”

“Oh, no, she’s not going to lower the price,” the Realtor responded.

“Well, I don’t know why, because the money’s going to be spent one way or another,” I offered. “Either she pays for upgrading further, or she gives the buyer an allowance out of the purchase price.”

But you could see this owner had no sense, anyway. Like I said. Inexplicable.

I am daydreaming about that gorgeous 6BR that had everything going for it except the freeway noise.

We’re going to be living outside a lot with our various pets, so it just wasn’t going to work for us. But–the layout was incredible and had so many little surprises. I guess the noise was why a home that large ended up in our price range. If only we could do something about it. But it’s the one thing that isn’t fixable.

Too bad.

I want our home. Soon.

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