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First House Hunting Trip

A little while back I mentioned I was going to begin my search for a house and on Sunday (yesterday), I visited three prospective homes. I learned something very very quickly, something I didn’t fully realize beforehand — townhouses are freaking expensive. The cheapest of the three homes we saw was $280k (the other three were basically $320k). The other thing I realized was I didn’t know anything about what to look for in a home, so I brought a discriminating eye (very very important), my girlfriend…

They say that you need to look at at least six houses before you can really begin contemplating what kind of home you want. I don’t know who they are but I saw three today and I believe it — I’ll need at least six to really nail down what’s important for me.

So far each of the three places had one great positive for me but a whole host of negatives. The place that was really big (.09 acres, 3,920 sq. ft) and really nice inside basically sat right next to I-95 and wasn’t really in a neighborhood. It was like a side street off the main street; like 8 homes stuck in an alley basically. That’s the one thing you can’t see from the virtual tour and probably would make it hard to sell. The place that was in a great neighborhood had two miniature bedrooms (beside the master) which would make it difficult to rent out, critically important to me. It also had basically no backyard but did have a nice little area outside the fences. Finally, the one place that had the greatest price ($280k) was on the periphery of a bad looking neighborhood but itself was in a nice little community. The place had a great basement and a decent backyard (two decks) and my girlfriend was a fan of the place except for the backyard.

So far three places, what did I learn? These are some things that are important to me:

  1. A nice spacious kitchen with decently new appliances. A crappy microwave doesn’t matter (they cost like $20 new) but a new fridge, oven and range are important.
  2. Decent neighborhood – I want the feel that I own a house and have some quality neighbors. The one huge place didn’t have much of a neighborhood feel to it. I’d have like 8 neighbors and we’d all sit around and check out the view of I-95.
  3. Spacious backyard – My girlfriend and I want to get a pet so a nice backyard is key. It’s also a good place to sit out in the spring and read or just hang out. A lot of places around here have sheisty backyards penned in by old nasty wood fences.
  4. Classy Facade – The whole townhouse face of a building just gives me a better feeling, maybe it’s just conditioning. Basically what I mean is if the outside looks like crap, I won’t like it even if the inside is fantastic. I mean the design, not necessarily the specifics (which are changeable, like crappy shutters)
  5. Finished basement – With a townhouse, an unfinished basement probably looks like crap. I don’t mind it though if it’s not finished because it would give me a little project to do.

I think I’ll check out a site someone at work recommended: HomesDatabase.com for some more good leads. Anyway, those are my first impressions on my house hunting trip. If you have any tips or things to look out for (or good resources online to read), I’d love to hear them.