Open Houses – Week number 4

It was a really rainy day to be going to open houses but we decided to give it a whirl.

For some reason many of the open houses we would’ve seen were running at odd times – like Saturday from 1-3 or Sunday from 12 – 2:30. I mean, it is their right, but we really like to go from the 2-4 that they have them every week. And we prefer Sunday as it tends to be a nothing day. Now that James has no soccer, it seems fitting that we’ve filled our time with dreaming and debating the merits of the house. So this weekend we had two options that were of remote interest in our price range.

The first house I directed James to was not even in our original neighbourhood choices when we started thinking about moving. As mentioned previously, we wanted to head into Preston or Hespeler. I’ve kept my eyes on this one particular neighbourhood in Galt and I knew that eventually something had to come up in our price range that wasn’t a complete craphole.

Last year we found a great apartment on Main Street in an old house. There was hardwood throughout, wraparound staircase, gorgeous woodworking and crown molding. It was awesome. Unfortunately our dream of living there until we bought a house was shattered when the landlord decided to sell the house. We were getting married and had to move and it was a very difficult time. We both agreed we liked older homes such as that one, but knew that the house itself needed a lot of work to get it up to par. We loved the neighbourhood though, and wished that we could’ve stayed longer.

So when this house came up a few weeks ago on Realtor.ca I had suggested going to see it on the first weekend open house. My mom was with us and she initially said Okay but when James said it wasn’t the neighbourhood we’d be looking in, she took his side and said no. He said he’d still be willing to go, but as we had groceries in the car, we didn’t want to push it. There was something about the house though from the pictures and I wanted to go check it out.

Today when I noticed the open house listing I decided that we should go and at least look at it. It’s not often houses with the perfect kitchen come up in our price range. There was something about the house that looked almost too good to be true and I think we figured out a few of the reasons.

The house itself has only been in the possession of the current owner for two years. We believe that he’s a house flipper, because he’s put money into making the house look the way it does and the new furnace and water heater that would desperately be needed by a house this old. The house itself was decorated very well. The walls were as good, if not better than teh colours we would’ve chosen. It has a nice fireplace in the living room, a big dining room and a kitchen to die for. I loved that the bedrooms all had closets and were a great size. I know from experience that you dont’ really find older houses with closets. The master bedroom was pretty big and took up the back part of the house, minus a cheater ensuite that served as the main bathroom. The backyard was pretty big and had a great covered porch that I could see us sitting out there enjoying a nice meal with friends.

And yes – I even saw the Beer Olympics.

The house wasn’t perfect however, and James spent some time pointing out the flaws that he saw after we left. He never really says anything we are there and leaves me to talk to the agents and oh and awe over everything. He brought up some good points about the house and some that I just laughed and thought were a bit much.

The main floor has no tv currently – which makes the basement rec room all that more important for your television viewing. The rec room itself was small and had an odd shape, but you could fit a sectional couch down there no problem. The floor for the recroom was dug out so it is about a foot lower than the rest of the basement – which is pretty much the main reason this house probably hasn’t sold and is priced as it is.

The ceiling is exact same height as James.

Let me explain, you come down the stairs to an open area with lots of closets and storage and a very large laundry area with counter and cupboards. But the floors are either too high, or the ceiling too low as James needed to hunch just that tiny little bit to get to the next room. It will make it very uncomfortable for him to help with the laundry. Me, who is vertically challenged was liking the space and was moving around with ease. (Go short girl go!)

After walking through a very short hallway that leads to the laundry you step down two steps into a rec room that as I mentioned is an odd shape, but could be worked into something awesome. Down the hall across from the laundry is another sunken area that has been used a as a workshop, and was currently being used by the cats as a kitty litter. This room has all the utilities as well and you can see the new water heater and furnace. It could be livable, but James was pointing out all the awesome things he’d like to do, like set up this small alcove where the current owner had a desk and turn it into a complete entertainment centre with his video games and everything.

On the main floor, the high ceilings were awesome, the colours were great and the kitchen had lots of storage and an awesome island which added to the counter space. The island had two stools and I could see is sitting there talking while cooking and eating there together. The cabinets were a nice design too. I really liked it.

James had one complaint though. The island was too country kitchen for him. The base had spindles on it – and he felt that made it country. He would want it refinished. Personally, I thought that was a silly issue but I will add it to my list. Can’t believe he’d finally get a kitchen with the right size and everything and he complains about the base of the island. Simple enough to cover with mdf or something, we can fix it, but it is not neccessary right away.

Another negative to James was the dining area. The current owner has made this a major part of the house and placed the table in the largest part of the great room on the first floor. (Did I mention that you walked into a room that is open to the living room and dining room???) James felt the dining room was so big and the living room area seemed small. I mentioned ways that we can make it work and that by simply removing one of the large oversized chairs the current owner has, we could even include a tv. He agreed that could work. I also mentioned that we could put the living room area where the dining room is and move the dining room to the front of the house. Easy peasey if you ask me – James’ parents have even done that in their house so the larger room is used for a living room.

We both never use our dining room now, and he fears that we won’t use it when we get our house. But – we both agree that we want to have our kids sit at the table (when we have them in TWO YEARS – not any time soon) and that we want to be able to have a dining room to host our family and friends for dinner. I felt that this space would more than be ample for us to do just that – and as we’d probably just eat in the kitchen anyhow at the island, it wouldn’t matter too much right?

Heading upstairs, we noticed the stairs creaked a little. But it’s an old house, you can expect that. The bedrooms were a good size, had closets and the master bedroom was a true master. Didn’t have a walk in closet, but had a long closet – and a cheater to the bathroom. The windows faced the private backyard and that was really nice.

The only other negative inside the house was the lack of bathrooms. There is one bathroom which has a bathtub including shower, and has a cheater door to the master bedroom. I grew up with one bathroom, but would’ve loved a second one as our family got larger. My mother said that she’d be sad because when they get old they won’t be able to come over because we don’t have a main floor bathroom. Personally, I will take her concern into consideration, but will also not make it a deal breaker for me. People have survived with one bathroom before. And hell – we had 40 people here for the beer olympics and they used one bathroom and survived right?

The outside of the house would normally lead me to not even look inside. The house is a big old concrete block house with siding on the front of the house and not around the sides. The front windows have shutters, which is nice, but the colour isn’t really what I’d look for. The house also appears to be just a big two storey box. I can live with that, but if it were my dream house, I’d have a bay window out front. (I can dream right?) The porch could also be a bit bigger out front, but it seemed in good condition. There was two points on the house that weren’t perfect. The one the realtor pointed out, was the water spout outside was facing the wrong way and needed to be fixed and the second included a broken superficial brick near a window at the side of the house. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was still something. The driveway was really long, we could probably fit four cars in it end to end. The backyard had two different sheds, and it was fully fenced in. That was a really nice bonus.

To recap:

Negative point number one – basement height barely clears James’ head
Negative point number two – James doesn’t like the base of the island in the kitchen
Negative point number three – only one bathroom
Negative point number four – stairs creak a little (but it’s old house – you expect that)
Negative point number five – siding on the front of the house and concrete blocks on the side – not as pretty as it could be
Negative point number six – brick on side of house cracked off, water spout in wrong direction
Negative point number seven – not as close to work as originally planned

Positive point one – clean bright and cheery
Positive point two – great colours throughout the house
Positive point three – good sized backyard
Positive point four – Big kitchen with island
Positive point five – high ceilings throughout the house
Positive point six – new furnace and water heater, roof in 2002
Positive point seven – all bedrooms are big and with closets
Positive point eight – fully fenced yard
Positive point nine – Move in ready
Positive point ten – long driveway with lots of parking
Positive point eleven – close to all amenities
Positive point twelve – located between friends in Paris and family in Clyde
Positive point thirteen – nicely landscaped
Positive point fourteen – single family home for the same price as a semi in Hespeler or Preston

All in all the house had a lot of great points and some negatives. The other house we were going to see had the open house cancelled. Oh well. Guess we live to go on for another weekend.

Good news though – found out that the market has officially turned into a buyers market due to the large amount of “inventory” out there right now. Good for us. If only we were officially looking!

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