So people might be wondering why we choose another house. It all started when we got our close date. We were completely disheartened. It was a month and a half away and we would close the weekend before Christmas. Talk about making a happy event suck. Julie really, really wanted to decorate and have the house nice for Christmas and they completely squashed that goal. And since we could could close on a built house quicker than we could our new house we decided to check the MLS again.
Oh, who are we fooling. We always look in the MLS. It’s our hobby.
On Saturday we were just tooling around looking at some houses in various neighborhoods. Stella had fallen asleep in the car after the play we took her to so it seemed like a good way to let her get a nap in. We ended up over by Agave and decided to tool around. Coming up one of the hills we noticed an open house. After circling 3 times like the creepy, creepy people we are we went in and checked it out. The materials were beautiful. The windows were beautiful. The floorplan often left you shaking your head. But we liked that first house, so we decided to go to the office and see what else they had. We checked out a few more houses. Some we really liked. But none of them had garages (which doesn’t really matter when you’re a one car family, but does matter when you’re a one theater company family). The one we really liked had amazing views of downtown along the entire second story. But you also had to walk past all those windows in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Because the master bedroom was down the hall from the closest bathroom. The designs were bizarre.
And all of the houses would be impossible to store theater stuff. And the schools sucked. And there were no trees (which seemed like it might be a problem with all those windows). But the views. The views were amazing. And the houses were modern. And that’s what we really, really want.
On the way home we decided to check on the house we were building and we asked to go in the models that were just being built. We went in and were just stunned. We really didn’t like it. Being in the modern houses I think we realized it just wasn’t our aesthetic at all. It was so big. Ridiculously big. There was wasted space everywhere. And it was so bland. The outside was cute, but the inside was completely generic. Boring. Nothing modern about it. So we went home and I was a bit upset because I wanted to make the Agave houses work even though I knew it was hopelessly impractical, and we both didn’t really like the house we were building anymore.
Then I guess it was Tuesday that Julie was searching the MLS and found 4 houses in the 78741 zip code that looked promising. An awesome split-level house with a basement (!), two fixer-uper ranches that were cheap, and a house with a ton of windows. 78741 was actually where we originally wanted to live back in 2001. Our budget back then was in the low-100s and the only houses you could get in our price range were those really dicey sub-1000 square foot houses on Montopolis. We wanted to live in that cute pocket neighborhood right next to AMD, but it was ridiculously expensive (or so we thought at the time, now we kick ourselves and wonder why we didn’t sell our kidneys).
We tried to get the realtor who sold our house on the horn, but quickly remembered why we didn’t really like working with him. He apparently was in Vegas and we couldn’t get a hold of him. We managed to get a friend of Julie’s who worked on murder mysteries with her to show us the houses. Which was a great decision. He’s been a great realtor.
So the first house we checked out was awesome. But it was overpriced by about 80-100k. It was a split level built in the sixties. It had a balcony that ran the entire length of the back of the house and that probably had a view of the lake if you cut down the bamboo that had taken over the backyard. Before we went in Jamie (our realtor) mentioned that it was a bit weird. The people were at home and we had just woken them up. We went in and there were two half-dressed 20 year old guys cooking breakfast. One was in the shower. The house had about 4 steps up from the main level that went to all the bedrooms. It appeared that they had covered up the hardwoods with industrial carpet. Industrial carpet with a really nice carpet pad. Really bad remodeling choice. The bathrooms were both perfectly preserved sixties pink bathrooms. Really lovely and with tons of cabinets and counter space. The kitchen and dining room were small, but they opened onto a huge living room with a wall of windows.
We descended into the basement. Julie not coming from somewhere with basements I think was a little freaked out. I don’t think she realizes that the reason I was scared of basements as a kid is that they’re scary. Like caves. The basement had a set of glass doors that opened into the backyard, but mostly was just a big open basement. Then you went up to stairs and there was a laundry room (with chute!) and some storage.
There were tons of cracks, and the place resembled a drug den so I think Julie had a hard time with it. They also wanted 275,000 for it. Which considering we were going to look at 3 more places, none of which were over 225,000, it seemed like a lot of money for a house that needed a lot of work and possibly foundation repair.
But it was a sixties split level.
The second house was a home improvement nuts house. It was baffling. They had walled in their front porch (about a 2’x4′ area), so they could put a reclaimed stain glass door on the outside. So you walked in the stained glass door. Then you walked in the front door, one step later. Really bizarre. The colors inside the house were heinous (ketchup and mustard), but the kitchen was huge. It had two sinks, and two cooktops. There was an apartment with a door to the outside and tacked on bathroom. The living room had beautiful original hardwoods, but they had interjected some ugly tile right next to the doors (like you would with carpet). We went outside and there were still posts for where a back awning had been. The window seat in the kitchen that had beautiful reclaimed stained glass was being held up by 3 4×4 posts that were not attached to the ground or to the seat. But there were also tons of built up brick flowerbeds. And a huge brick grill. We went back in and the master had a fireplace, and a HUGE bathroom with (fugly green and yellow) jacuzzi tub and separate shower. It had french doors that opened into the back yard. Oh, and one of the bedrooms was lineoleum. It was cheap, but it was a lot of work. And it looked like there might be a lot of structural problems. So really it wasn’t that great of a price.
The third house looked great. It had that wonderful sixties slate on the front. It had a metal roof (which we love). The inside was uninspired, however. The kitchen had been remodeled at some point, and you couldn’t have your fridge in the kitchen. You had to keep it in the laundry room. Plus there were monster burglar bars. But that backyard had a wood burning fireplace and tons of storage and the lot next to it (which we could buy for 20k) had a creek running through it. So it was charming as long as you didn’t have to go in the house.
The fourth house I didn’t like the front of.
Still don’t. But we walked inside and it was perfect. Absolutely perfect. The floors are a beautiful walnut. They’re in all the bedrooms, halls, and living room.
The dining room and kitchen are tile.
There’s a breakfast nook for Julie’s wonderful 50s yellow table. The house was owned by an artist so there are contact paper designs on the kitchen cabinets and a mural in one of the bedrooms.
The bathrooms are a great mixture of 60s original tile, and modern upgrades. There is a walk in closet that runs the entire width of the master bedroom. I’ve never seen a sixties house with anything like it. It’s HUGE. Julie almost cried when she walked in. The entire back of the house is windows. Including the back wall of the master bedroom.
There is a dog door in the kitchen that leads out onto the grounds. It’s the backyard, but you’d definitely call it “the garden” or “the grounds’. It’s that beautiful. There is a big porch that runs the length of the house.
Then there are built up flowerbeds bordering that. Then the grass is behind that. There’s a beautiful modern fence that had to have cost 10 grand to put in. There are double-wide gates on both sides of the house. The one of the East side is on wheels so you just slide it open. And there’s a stage!
There’s a storage shed with windows (can anyone say playhouse?) that is hidden behind rows of box hedges. The box hedges are awesome. Basically this is the best place to play tag. I want to be a kid again.
We’d always built houses because we thought there was no way we could get a house like this. It’s so amazing. After a tense night Wednesday with the seller’s realtor out of town we got a call Thursday morning that we were in a multiple offer situation. We went for broke. Put in a ton over asking. I think our realtor was looking for us to pony up a thousand or two over asking so he had to talk me down a little bit. But we really wanted the house. I was sick all day. Afraid that the little bit I’d come off the max we could spend would mean the difference between us getting the house. We got the call last night right before we had to go to Julie’s show that we’d got the house. And our realtor is trying to get our money back from Newmark. Which would rock.
In any case. We’re really excited. And we should be in a house by Christmas. And it’s everything we wanted a house to be. Except the kitchen. I have to figure out something to do with that tiny, tiny kitchen.