Posted by: Kristie | January 10, 2010

Who Thinks House Hunting is Fun?

“Have a great time house hunting,” “I hope you have fun looking at houses,” “Are you having fun looking for a house?”

These are the typical responses received when I mention we have begun the house search.  Not to fault anyone who has said this, I would say the same thing, but does anyone really have fun house hunting? After viewing about seven houses (albeit only seven and in the dead of winter), I would describe it as more depressing than fun.

It was so different the first time we bought our house. We knew exactly what neighborhood we wanted to live in and we knew we wouldn’t be there forever. We looked at five, liked two and knew immediately upon entering our house that this was the one. We lucked out because it had a lot of updates but still had character, was affordable, and besides some painting, it was move-in ready.

So far, this experience has been very different. Part of that is because the houses, in general, are newer and yet still affordable in Texas. We like older houses, but we also like them to be somewhat updated.

Here’s some highlights from our recent trip.

1. The Foreclosure

We were interested in this property because it was an older house (1933) with lots of character and located in a popular, walkable community with a good school district. Houses in this neighborhood tend to fetch a good price, so if we could get a deal, it would be a good investment.

The property definitely was a foreclosure. The porch railing sported peeling and crackling paint and looked as if it would collapse the second you leaned on it; the kitchen sink looked so dirty/rusty/stained, I wouldn’t even want dirty dishes in it; the basement was creepy ; and the whole place was winterized which means it was not only freezing but the toilets had plastic wrap over them. How inviting. The bedrooms were pretty small, to the point where I don’t even know if our bed would fit, and the bedroom closets were practically non-existent. It would definitely need a lot of work before we moved in.

That said, the house had character, gorgeous hardwood floors underneath the crappy carpet, big windows in the dining room and living room, and a nice deck with a small fenced-in yard (seemingly hard to find in this neighborhood).  If the price was right, we would definitely consider moving forward, turning a shabby home into something amazing. But, at this point, we probably wouldn’t be able to get it for the price we would be comfortable with, knowing how much money would need to put into it. It’s not off the list, we’ll see how desperate the bank gets.

Sadly, this was our favorite house of the trip.

Exterior needs a little clean up, but we could see the potential.

Kitchen definitely needs a little reworking.

Hmmm..wonder if that's mold on the walls?

Creepy, McCreepy, especially considering it's only lit because of the flash.

2. The No Driveway, No Garage House

I will start by saying that Brett really did like this house. It was spacious, had an open kitchen, four bedrooms and two-tier deck complete with hot tub.

But ladies and gentlemen, it had no garage and no driveway. WTF? It doesn’t even look like there was ever a garage which they converted, and there’s no land to build one. Plus, it was on a narrow street so even on-street parking was a tight squeeze. Not that I even need to go further, but it also gave me the creeps a bit – I think it was the high-gloss, swirly ceilings and the weird, newly walled dining room with small wooden columns.

But the price was right, of course. This one was definitely a no.

I'm not exactly sure what the columns add.

Nice hardwoods but that painting "technique" looked like snot was rubbed all over the walls.

3. The Bachelorette Pad

This property was a little out of our price range, but the photos intrigued me because it seemed like a really great deal for the money.

This was one of the few houses that was actually still occupied and boy did we get to learn a little about the owner. First of all, she made some major architectural renovations. This was actually a similar style to the previous house I mentioned, but she added a whole entryway that changed the entire façade. Inside, it was a mix between contemporary and very girly, complete with a stuffed, high-heel chair, not one but two wooden male torso sculptures, fur comforters, a separate princess play house attached to the house and, the scariest, a photo of a baby with makeup. Here’s hoping it was photoshopped.

Beautiful? Yes. But as Brett put it, this is one of those houses that was so individualized that it would never be our house.

The kitchen was really nice, just a little modern for our tastes.

I wonder if she would throw in the torsos

Holy Crapola!

And to round out the bunch was a charming house conveniently backed up to Allegheny Memorial Park, otherwise known as a cemetery. And the house that was so cluttered I felt claustrophobic, complete with dirty litter boxes and the owners sitting in the sunroom. Good lord.

To be fair, I wasn’t really excited to see any of these houses, so I shouldn’t be too surprised that none of them was the house for us.  But I guess that’s what it’s all about – managing expectations and having patience.

On a positive note, and I do try and stay positive, our realtor keeps reminding us that inventory is very low in the winter and new houses are coming on the market every day, ones that look like they have a lot of potential. So here’s to new houses in the New Year and finding one we love — or at least like.



  1. Kristie and Brett: I remember more than one depressing house hunt. Your post was so true and entertaining! I wish I had a record of some of the places I saw in years past. Maybe it will get better in the spring? Good luck!

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