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Sunday, March 22, 2009

House Hunting

We've started the process of house hunting. We're not in any kind of a hurry to get into a house, but if we could find a nice place sooner rather then later that would be a good thing.

Going to visit houses is such an interesting experience. Some of the houses are very nice and very well staged. Some are ... not so much. A handful of the ones we've gone to visit are down-right embarrassing. This market isn't great for sellers already, but some of these sellers are really not doing themselves any favors with the way they try to sell their houses.

We went to visit one house today that was particularly bad. From the outside it was a quaint little rancher. Needed a little landscaping work and the vinyl needed some washing, but my initial impression was a positive one. We walk into the house and immediately notice several things:
  1. The whole house smelled, very strongly, of curry. While not entirely unpleasant, it's not a smell that would go away quickly.
  2. An older woman, who I assumed must be the current owner, was sitting in the living room the entire time. I'm not sure how other people feel about it, but I get a little bit uncomfortable really examining the house while the current owner is staring at me. I definitely found myself rushing more then I would otherwise to avoid the awkwardness of that lady's presence.
  3. There was unflushed urine in the toilet. Nothing says "this house needs a thorough cleaning" like an unflushed toilet.
We visited another house that was decent enough, except it smelled strongly of smoke and was filled with all the accouterments of disabled elderly residents.

Another house we visited in the same neighborhood was well out of our price range, but it was much cleaner and better staged. Plus, the cluttered little office-basement was filled with all sorts of UNIVAC-related memorabilia, which I found to be particularly thrilling. It's a disappointing day in realty when prospective home buyers are more interested in the owner's possessions then they are in the house itself.

We visited a house last week that was particularly embarrassing. The current owner, who was a home-builder by trade apparently, followed us around the properly through the entire visit. The house was in lousy condition, and for everything we saw to be particularly poor there was an explanation ready: "I'm going to fix that", he would say. Or, "I'm going to finish that". Judging by the work that had been completed in the house already, we didn't even want to see what the finished product would be.

House prices are probably not going down much lower then they are already. I have some hopes that mortgage rates haven't hit bottom yet, but I doubt they will drop too much lower too soon. We're not in a huge hurry but then again there's no real reason for us to wait too long either. What we need now is to just find good quality houses in our desired area in our desired price range.

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