Remember your first home as a couple? Not your first apartment, but your first house, the one you bought all my yourself, well,with the assistance of the bank, of course?
Boy, I sure do.
We had rented for the first 2 years we lived in Des Moines. The first apartment was on the ground level and had a remote control wielding intruder and lots of roly poly bugs that ventured in out of the woods; we were outta that place as soon as the lease was up.
The second apartment was a 3 bedroom monstrosity. I had convinced my husband that we needed three bedrooms. Ours, mancave and office. Funny thing…the office remained full of boxes for the better part of the year. Man, what I wouldn’t give for an office now, instead of the dining room table.
Anyhow, so we were about 3 months away from the end of the lease, when we decided we needed to buy a house. This was in 2006, right before the market crashed so they (the evil banks) were still offering 100% financing to people with just ok credit; that was us, the ok credit people. This is indicative of how David and I used to make decisions. We decided we needed something and we had it within a week. So we got a realtor and started house hunting.
We were looking in the $125K – $150K range with $150K being our absolute max. Right. The list included important things such as: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a finished or partially finished basement, a nice entertaining space, etc. David and I both loved older homes, you know the ones with the gorgeous crown molding and hardwood floors. Dumb. Old houses come with lots of old house problems.
We were on Day 3 of the house hunt and hadn’t found anything that screamed, “Buy Me!” We had an appointment to look at a home in the charming “South of Grand” area in the city of Des Moines. ”South of Grand” included a myriad of home styles. You had your gigantic million dollar mansions, your middle of the road houses and then your starter homes. All of these homes had 2 things in common: they were all almost or over 100 years old and they all had huge beautiful oak trees on the property. Boy, did we think those oaks were gorgeous, that is until autumn.
When the acorns fell in droves leaving lovely little dents on the hoods of our cars. When we had over one hundred bags of leaves to gather. Or in the spring, when the lovely woodland creatures, that hid in the lustrous beauty of those oak trees, decided to feast on our beautiful hostas leaving little stubs in their wake.
We loved this area and arrived 20 minutes early to drive around. Much to our surprise in our wanderings, we found another home for sale just a street over from where our appointment was. We got a flyer and were disappointed to see that the asking price was $165,000, a good chunk over our max.
We went to the appointment, and although the house was nice, we knew it wasn’t “The One.” We mentioned to our realtor the home the next street over and we decided to drive by it. Thankfully, it was empty so we were able to pop right on in.
Oh. Em. Gee.
As soon as we walked in, we knew. This was it.
Who cares that it only had 2 teeny tiny bedrooms and an equally tiny bathroom? Who cares that the basement laundry area was creepy? Who cares if it had wood parquee flooring in the entryway? Who cares if the track lighting was ugly? Who cares if the carpet was horrendous…there were HARDWOOD floors underneath! Who cares if the cabinets needed to be refinished? We could do it! The archectiture was amazing. It had a huge picture window over the front door, beautiful moulding and beautiful windows.
By the way, we only ended up replacing the track lighting and the entryway floors. The carpet stayed for the 3 years we were in residence. Whatever.
After much negotiating, we got the price down to $155,500, which was doable. We also thought that the mortgage of $1475 for a $155,000 house was reasonable. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. But when you finance 100% and have ok credit, that’s what happens. Dumb.
So every thing goes swimmingly well. Imagine my surprise, when I walked into our brand new house after closing and looked around my new kitchen and realized I didn’t have an effing dishwasher. Hahahaha! The next little surprise later that day came when we tried to open the windows and realized that they had been painted shut and had no screens. Joy.
I could not believe it. I was so dazzled by the rest of the house that I missed the fact that it had no dishwasher.
TIP #1: Make sure your home has a dishwasher. Because, let me tell you, when you finally do decide to procreate, the last thing you want to do is handwash all your dirty dishes in addition to all the bottles and other baby paraphernalia. Because you never know, you might have twins, which means double the bottles. Ugh.
Our next little surprise came a month later, when we got a notice from the water department. Apparently, there was a small sinkhole in our front yard which we barely noticed but caught the attention of the city. They did some testing and determined that there was a leak in the water line from the house to the street. A $2000 problem, we were required to fix.
TIP #2: Do not let the home inspector gloss over potential problem areas like WATER PRESSURE. This tip is not really related to future parents at all. It was just a ridiculous headache that I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to deal with after only being your new home for a month. Our home inspector mentioned that the water pressures seemed a little low, however, he said it was a common issue in homes as old as ours. Any issues that arise, no matter how common they may seem, need to be addressed completely. In retrospect, we should have had a plumber come out to determine the exact reason for the low water pressure.
As I mentioned previously, the architecture of the home was stunning. It was a bi-level house which means when you entered through the front door, there was a landing (wood parquee floors) measuring 4′ by 6′. There were five stairs going up and five stairs going down. The entryway was 2 stories and there was only a half wall in the family room which overlooked the entry and the wood parquee floors in all their glory.
TIP #3: Half walls might look great, but keep in mind they do not provide much of a barrier for little monkeys who might like to climb. Shudder. Thankfully we moved before the turkeys were walking. Those half walls alone would have been a nightmare during their climbing stage and even now, in their let’s push the boundaries stage. We would have had to install spindles or some kind of vertical bars to keep them from taking a header over that pesky half wall. As you are perusing potential homes to purchase, keep an eye out for hidden dangers, that may look great now, pre-kids, but could cause some serious harm to a couple of rugrats in the not too distant future.
When you make your must have list for your potential new home…STICK WITH IT. You made this list for a reason. One of our many requirements was 2 bathrooms. As I mentioned previously, this house DAZZLED us and we decided we didn’t need two bathrooms.
TIP #4: Everybody needs a two bathroom home. Sure you might start off as newlyweds being a-ok with sharing a bathroom with your spouse. That is until the stork comes to visit and you have family flying in to stay for week. Let me tell how much fun can be had when 4 adults have to share one bathroom. Let’s say you make the decision to purchase a one bathroom home. CRAZY, but whatever. For the love of all that is holy, check to make sure you have enough working space next to the tub to bathe your future offspring in comfort. This bathroom of ours was so tiny that when you sat on the pot, your knees were maybe 2 inches away from the tub. A little cozy would be the understatement of the century.
TIP #5: When considering how many bedrooms you will need, consider the fact that you might, just might have twins or triplets. Let’s face it God works in mysterious ways. Twins do not run in either of our families; we had no reason to think for even a second that we might get pregnant with twins. Thankfully, the other teeny tiny bedroom in our home was large enough to accommodate 2 cribs, 2 dressers, and a rocker. It was definitely snug. The biggest beef I had with this room was the itty bitty closet in which there was no room for the storage of all their baby shit. Not fun. However, as they grew, there would have been absolutely no way I could have fit 2 twin size beds in this space. No way. They would have been in their toddler beds until whatever age I deemed appropriate for the introduction of bunk beds.
Moral of the story friends: Don’t let a house dazzle you, make sure it truly fits your needs, has no major problems and will be a good fit for you future little family. That.is.all.