Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thirty Days of Thankful - Day 13 - House Hunting

Note: Today is day 13 in my series "30 Days of Thankful."

Today's post is about one of those things I'm not really all that thankful for. House hunting. Considering that I DVR'd House Hunters on HGTV for years, there's some irony in the fact that I dread house hunting. (I can't even stand to watch the show right now) But I am thankful for this experience anyway.

I bought my first home in 2003. In Euclid. I'd been living in the Marsol apartments in Mayfield Heights and absolutely hated it there, so with some encouragement from my mother, I started house hunting. I can't exactly tell you why I decided to look for houses in Euclid. Probably because it was the only place where I could afford anything decent at the time. Also, I'd lived with my mom in Willowick for years and years and wanted to live closer to her. (although the joke was on me when shortly after I moved into my house she moved about 30 minutes away)

I bought a 2 bedroom/1 bath colonial on a quiet street near the Euclid/Wickliffe border. I wasn't in love with it, but it was fine. I'd liked a smaller house in a different part of Euclid a lot more, but it needed more work than the one I bought and my mom pushed me to put an offer in on the house I ended up with. To this day, I don't know if that was the right decision, but...the house worked for me. It was small but perfect for a single girl on her own.

I lived there for about 5 years until I moved in with my ex boyfriend in his house in Lyndhurst. I'd helped him house hunt early on in our relationship. Boy, that was a process. He was always a lot pickier than me, and we looked at house after house with no luck. Eventually we found what I considered to be my dream home - a 3 bedroom/ 1 1/2 bath brick colonial in Lyndhurst. We'd only been dating 6 months or so at the time, but I hoped that I would someday have the opportunity to call this place home. And obviously I did. (although after this experience, I might never live in someone else's house again without a ring or a written agreement)

It took me awhile for me to accept the house as "ours" versus "his" when I moved in but I eventually got over that.  Especially as we put more work into it. We spent one long week after Christmas one year redoing kitchen cabinets, painting them multiple times because we just couldn't find a shade of white that we liked. We repainted the living room a color that seemed like it would look ok but ended up looking like a baby's nursery, but we were too tired after the project to fix it. We agonized over paint samples at Pottery Barn looking for just the right shade to go with a new dining room set. Argued extensively over what tile to put in the main bathroom. Debated over lighting choices in the family room. Spent more time than any person should picking out a frame for artwork to go in the bathroom. You get my point. It was a process, but as of the day I moved out, I thought the house was just about perfect. And it took about 7 years to get it that way. And that's something I need to keep in mind as I'm house hunting.

I'm currently living in a tiny rental in Lyndhurst. I really love this area and hope to stay here. At least until I have kids. (let me work on getting a boyfriend before I even start thinking about that) I've looked at nearly every house that meets my criteria here in the 'hurst. I'm trying to have an open mind and remember that no matter what house I end up purchasing, it's going to need some work. But...I have seen some doozies. I expect to see outdated. And run down. But I swear a couple of the basements I've seen might have had dead bodies in there somewhere. Holy cow. And to think that I'm surrounded by these cruddy houses here in my neighborhood...

It's been kind of a discouraging process. I'm older now. I do need to think about resale value. And school districts. And so many other things I was oblivious to the last time I bought a house. Ironically, the last time I bought a house, I had no money and had to basically just settle on something that was good enough. Now, I actually have more than enough money saved to put a good down payment on a house and I can't find a darn thing. Add this to the list of things that have happened in recent months that I'm going to laugh about someday.

I looked at a big old English Tudor last week that was perfect in so many ways...but I just couldn't pull the trigger and make an offer. I'm hoping that my gut tells me when I find the right house. That when I know, I KNOW which one is right for me. My gut rarely leads me astray. And until then, I'm just going to be one of the most difficult clients my poor realtor has ever seen.

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