The wifey and I spent our Sunday at church with some friends, followed it up with a nice little lunch at a local sandwich joint, and then spent the next three-ish hours losing our open house virginity to the city of Seattle.
Thought I’d share with you today a little bit of my experience, but first you need a few background details about our search parameters. Our price range that we put in on Redfin was $300-$425K (the upper end being out of our range for sure, but still fun to look at). We only looked at houses in the northern Seattle area (Greenlake and around UW for those familiar). We didn’t care about sqft, bedrooms, or bathrooms.
It’s a 1bd/1bth home listed at $385k. While GN and I have no desire to buy a one bedroom house, we saw in the pictures there was an unfinished basement and a finished attic. The potential for a second and maybe even third bedroom was there. That was, until we walked in the house. The realtor said it best, “the pictures oversell the house and leave most potential buyers disappointed”. Reality was, the attic was about 5 feet tall and could only be used for storage, and the basement was about 7 feet tall and had a crappy layout. The main floor was great, and ya can’t beat the location (two blocks from the coolest lake in the city), but there is no way we are paying that much for only three livable rooms.
It’s a 3bd/2bth 1,600 sqft house in a northern seattle neighborhood listed at $400k. It had the best paper stats of any of the houses we’d seen (2 baths in Seattle is not easy to find in our price point). I was sad when we pulled up because the first thing I noticed was how small the windows were on the front of the house. This meant natural light would be limited. Unfortunately, that wasn’t where the awkward ended.
The kitchen was completely renovated and really nice, but it was no joke, the longest kitchen I’ve ever seen in my life. Just look at some of the pictures, it’s insane. While a big kitchen is great, this one just took up too much precious space. Did you see the size of that living room? It’s the size of a freakin’ closet! The best part of the house (the kitchen) ended up being the worst part.
It’s a 2bd/1bth 1,060 sqft house with an unfinished basement that would add another 900 sqft of living space if finished, listed at $375k. The curb appeal was pretty good. The driveway was epic, could park like 6 cars in tandem. The main floor’s layout was a nice open concept and had been recently renovated. We went down to the basement, and although it was intimidating, it was pretty easy to see the potential. The ceilings were tall enough it could be rented out as a MIL unit and bring in $1,000/month in rental income.
The attic, however, was a nightmare. It was completely unfinished. In fact, it looked like the previous owners brought bags of dirt from outside and tried to insulate the attic floor with it. What’s more, the ceilings were too low for the space to be livable. If we bought the place, we’d have to finish the attic, and it didn’t make much sense pouring thousands of dollars in to an unlivable storage space. GN started dry heaving at the site of the attic, it was that bad. It was also the only house we looked at with no back yard.
We looked at two more houses that were well outside of our price range ($550K and $650K) and loved both. No surprise right? The most important thing we learned during our open house extravaganza is that you HAVE to go in every single house. The curb appeal, although important, is totally irrelevant. Some cute houses were disasters inside, and some ugly houses had potential. When you are looking at houses that are 60-100 years old, layouts are often funky and unpredictable. Drive by house hunting is pretty much worthless for these types of homes.
We still aren’t ready to buy a house, but it was fun getting out there and seeing what Seattle had to offer. I’m sure we will be frequent open house visitors over the next few months so we can figure out exactly what it is we are looking for. But for now, we like renting just fine . 🙂