No place like home

We thought we had the train house.  We really did. Until the husband selling it decided that he couldn’t possibly let it go for the price we could afford.

We moved on and began looking at other houses.  I saw two I liked.  One is a big, old house at the very top of our price range.  It is a house with great bones on a quiet street that needs aesthetic updates.  Another is also on a quiet street, with a great downstairs but an upstairs that needs some rearranging.  That one also has good bones and is a walk to the school, but it has a pool, which we see as a liability.  We decided to offer on the first house.

Whereupon the train house people told us they were ready to sign our offer.

These folks backed out of a deal last summer, leaving buyers and sellers on both sides hanging.  But, we love their house, so we let the other house go and told the train house people to go on and sign.

Three days later, they still hadn’t signed.  The wife wanted to sell, the husband didn’t.  We were in the middle of a marital spat.

Frankly, if I wanted to fight with someone’s husband, I’d fight with my own.

So, we rushed back to the big, old house people, who already had two other offers in.  We came in with an offer above asking.  In this market.  The sellers negotiated a little with us but then sold it to someone else.  Of course.

Still unsure of the house with the dysfunctional upstairs and the pool, we went to see another house.  This one claims to be on a lake, but it’s really more of a puddle.  Again the top of our price range, and my husband – a mosquito magnet – fondly referred to the pond as a “breeding ground.”

“You know,” said our agent, “the train house people called and they said they really do want to sell you their house.  They are under contract to buy another house and have to sell theirs.”

“Do you trust them?” I asked her.

She wasn’t sure, but she said if we loved the house that much, we should give it a shot.  So we gave it a shot.

Two days later, the train house people told us they had decided to back out of both deals.  They were taking their house off the market.

I think Camus would have gotten a kick out of our house hunt.

There are two houses left now.  One is the one with the wonky upstairs.  While we don’t mind moving walls, we really don’t want the pool, as well. It has a nice, big kitchen that just needs an update eventually, but I could never just let the kids play in the yard, we’d have to keep up the pool, and ecologically I have issues with a personal pool, not to mention that we live in a lake community, so we have two public beaches right here.  That said, I love the downstairs on the house, it has a great yard, and the house is well cared for.

The other remaining house is across the street.  It is completely redone and beautiful.  It lacks a master bath, which may be a resale issue, but we don’t care about it, as there are two full baths.  It has a big family room and a study.


The kitchen is tiny.  I mean tiny.  Like the house is embarrassed to have a kitchen.  I spend about 3 hours a day cooking.  There is no place in this kitchen for my kids to help me, no space for them to run through while I’m working.

It goes without saying that the people with the pool decided to take the house of the market yesterday, right?  They’re tired of hearing people complain about the upstairs.  However, they are letting me in, given our situation, as long as we promise not to whine about the bedrooms.

So, I’ll see both houses again today.  They are across the street from one another and down the street from the elementary school, so location won’t be a factor.  I’m going to decide which problem I prefer: a pool and a big remodeling project or a tiny kitchen with no place to expand.

It’s possible that street will get hit with a plague of locusts tomorrow morning.

11 responses to “No place like home

  1. Take the pool out of the equation, so it’s just bedrooms vs. Kitchen.

    Are you planning on having any more kids? The mistake I see people making is basing their decisions on having small children, when in reality, that time will be the briefest in their lives. Or do you expect to move again in a couple of years?

    Well, good luck. Wish I could come along.

  2. Know what you mean – I had to pass on a DREAM house because of a pool. I recently saw an article (wish I could remember where – This Old House? Damn…) where the landscaper basically covered over the pool and turned it into a deck. It’s not a perfect solution by any means but…

  3. Couldn’t you just bulldoze the pool?

  4. I didn’t want a pool either, but stomaching a small kitchen … hmmm, tough one. If you knew you could expand, well that would be okay, so is an addition any possibility? Of course you’ve thought of all these things. Crossing my fingers SOMETHING finally works for you!

  5. Just to play devil’s advocate for a second, we have a pool and Badger plays outside with minimal supervision all the time. The key is a removable pool fence with self-locking gate. They’re very sturdy (can stand up to Badger hanging from a panel and the awful summer sun here) but not as expensive or permanent as wrought iron pool fencing. Just some food for thought.

    I hope you get a good house soon. I know how mcuh you wanted the train house. I’m sorry you’re going through this, my friend.

  6. House hunting sounds like so much fun and it just never, ever is!

  7. This is going to make a really funny story one day. Right now, though, you have my sympathy. What a nightmare!

  8. Oh, I hear your pain and I’m sorry. I hope for no plague of locusts OR roaches…

  9. Oh what a pain–I hope that something works out for you soon.

  10. I would take the house with the pool. When S. and I were house hunting, both our mothers warned us, when we were considering a house with a nearly unusable kitchen, that it would be a grave, grave mistake – really make or break re: happiness. A wonky upstairs can be redone and the pool, well, it will only be an issue X months out of the year, and it’s not like you were looking for a house with the pool – and maybe your kids could burn off some of their energy in it…exercise…I don’t know. But regardless, annoying pool beats bad kitchen, hands down.

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