were ready to start shopping. A close family friend and her husband are
realtors so we decided to go with them. I have known her since childhood and
babysat for her children when I was younger. I remember they completely remodeled
their small house, so I hoped she could lend her
renovation experience to the house hunt. Realtors are there
to help the buyer, but they’re also there to earn a living. You have to trust
them to guide you, but in the end it’s you who’s making the decision. You’ll
still have to do research and be comfortable with your decisions. For example,
a department store employee will usually tell you that a shirt looks
good on you – they can advise on fit and trends, but they’re there to
sell a product and make commission. You have to decide if you like it on you
and if you’d actually wear it.
We started off thinking we would like to live in South Seattle in the Beacon
Hill neighborhood. The majority of my friends live in Seattle and I
thought purchasing a house in an upcoming neighborhood would be a good
investment opportunity. We looked at five or six houses there – they were not
in the best neighborhoods, were small, needed major updating and were
expensive. Since Billy works late into the night, feeling safe was a big thing
for me. We decided to broaden our search to the Tacoma area where I currently
live. It’s not as hip as Seattle, but it offers it’s own urban scene, has
really nice neighborhoods and is a shorter commute to my current job. Bottom
line is that Tacoma is pretty darn cool, affordable and still a great
A realtor doesn’t automatically know what you’re looking for, so you
have to give them parameters. Billy and I each made lists of what we wanted. I
was more concerned about location and Billy more about size. I agreed we
wouldn’t live in a condo, he agreed we wouldn’t live in the country or sprawl.
One of my favorite professors in college spent a few years remodeling her house
with her husband. She said it was always a good idea to buy the worst house in
the best neighborhood, and I’ve always held on to that notion. I come from
a handy family and with time and energy we can do a lot. Buying a house isn’t
just about the house, but the neighbors, the traffic, the noise and what’s
around it. Below are a few of our wishlist items. O”hell no”
list is just the opposite of our wishlist. We did make a “things we can
live with” list.
cabinets and paint but it’s another thing to move your house. I’d love to be
able to walk somewhere if I wanted, have great neighbors, and feel
Single Family Home with Two Bedrooms: For a while I really wanted
to live in a trendy condo in Seattle. Part of me still does, but right now it
is impractical. We want a dog, Billy likes to play his guitar loud and parking
can be really difficult in the city, plus it doesn’t provide much room to grow.
A Man Cave: or den, or something.
Lots of Closet Space: In my eyes the bedroom is for two things – your bed
and your clothes, and equal attention should be paid to both. All of my dresses
and shoes need a home too.
Hardwood Floors: Growing up I was always stuck with odd colored carpet
in my room, (think peach or navy blue), a real design handicap. Wood floors
provide a neutral base for any design imagination. Hardwood floors are classic
and perfect – beautiful foundation for a pretty room.
Curb Appeal: Like location, curb appeal can be difficult to change.
Yes, we can paint and plant to our heart’s content – but a rambler will always
be a rambler, a split-level, always a split-level. No offense to those types of
houses, some people love them – I just don’t. Craftsman or cottage style would
hit the mark.
The Right Amount of Space: We’re two people, we (and our relationship)
couldn’t survive a studio, neither could we use a mansion and hate the idea of
amassing all that stuff to go in it. We think something
between 1,000 and 1,800 square feet would be just about right.
Energy Efficiency: My parents live in an old home and every
month they pay on huge energy bills. I’d like to have gas energy and new
windows installed so we sink go into poverty.
frankly, I look forward to designing and putting in my dream kitchen, bathroom
etc. (might want to check back in a few months to see if this is still true!)
I’d rather buy a house with an outdated kitchen that I don’t feel bad ripping
out than a house with an updated cookie cutter kitchen I’d feel forced to live.
On the other hand, if the whole house is a gut job, you’ll want to make sure
you have enough money,skill, time and patience.
Lack of Garage: We’d love one, but right now our cars aren’t that nice
and we don’t need the extra storage space so – bottom of the list. Billy would
love to have a garage with a practice space for the band, but with-in the city
limits that’s not realistic.
Small Yard: We want a dog and we want some outdoor space, but we live in
Western Washington and would only use the space for about a third the year. I’m
no gardener, and truth is I’ve never mowed a lawn. When we have children my
tune will change, but for right now it’s low priority.
More on How to Buy House:
- How to Buy a House: Our Story
- How to Buy a House: Step One: Show me the Money
- How to Buy a House Part: The Hunt
- Next: Making an Offer