first experience with house hunting

As I mentioned yesterday, my husband and I and our younger daughter left on Sunday afternoon to drive the two hours to the Sacramento area to begin our search for a new house.  We (especially I) went with high hopes and expectations, and we returned home with adjusted hopes and expectations after having a good dose of reality.  Houses look different on the internet then they do in real life!

Getting to the Sacramento area was a bit of a comedy of errors, although it all worked out fine in the end.  We left two hours later than we had anticipated.  I thought I had asked JJ to pack toys and books and movies for Jujubee, but he says I only asked him to pack movies.  Not long after we started off, JJ put on a movie, and then proceeded to plug his laptop computer into one of our car outlets.  The fuse immediately blew, causing the DVD player and the radio to short out.  Whoops.  When we tried to find toys for Jujubee to play with instead, we realized that none – and I mean NONE – had been packed.  All I had grabbed was a MagnaDoodle slate, and she wasn’t interested in that.  To top it all off, I had chosen to drive the route that took us over the Bay Bridge, and getting through San Francisco and over the bridge added almost an extra half an hour of drive time due to heavy traffic.  But, despite a lack of toys, Jujubee did quite well.  She and I talked a lot and observed all the things we could see, we sang a few songs, she ate food (at least we remembered to bring snacks!) and when we did stop at a Wendy’s for a late supper, we bought her a kid’s meal that came with some toy thingie, and she was very pleased with that.

Before arriving at our final destination of the senior pastor’s home, we stopped at the other pastor’s house.  He and his wife have kids around the age of our girls, and we wanted Jujubee to meet their children.  She quickly made friends with them and was sad to leave.  We told her she’d get to come back tomorrow (since they’d offered to babysit Jujubee while we were house hunting), and so she was content to leave.

We stayed both nights at the senior pastor’s home, which was very nice.  They were gracious hosts, and we enjoyed getting to know each other better.  Sweet Jujubee thoroughly charmed them.  “She’s such a joy!  Is she always like this?” asked Mrs. Pastor.  I sheepishly nodded my head and said, “Yes, she is.”  Mrs. Pastor amazedly said, “You are certainly blessed!”

We were at our realtor’s office bright and early at 9am to start looking at houses.  We finally got to meet our realtor in person; C, is a short, petite, red-haired, fashionably dressed lady in her early 60s (at least that’s what I would estimate, since she is a grandmother).  She is wonderful, and JJ and I liked her right away.  By the end of our time together, C and I were finishing sentences simultaneously with the same words.  It was fun. 🙂

I was delighted to learn that the first house we were going to see was The One that I’d been in love with via the internet for quite some time.  But, alas, what we saw was not quite what we had expected.  The house was in worse shape than we’d thought, and it needed a lot of repair work.  Plus, the rooms were smaller, and the outside was not as landscaped as the pictures had made it seem.  It was a disappointment.

The next house was also a disappointment.  It was in a less-than-kept-up neighborhood, and the house really was not what we were looking for.

The third house was a little better.  It had some of the features we were looking for.  Jujubee, who had been very patient through the first two houses, was getting antsy by this time, so she was delighted to find a child’s bedroom with toys in it.  I don’t suppose it’s a good idea to let your child play with toys that aren’t theirs in a strange house, but she was so delighted to see those toys that I told her she could play with one thing at a time.  We left her alone in the bedroom while we walked around the house and took notes.  (And, I was so pleased that Jujubee DID play with just one thing at a time, and she put each thing back when she was done!  She amazed me!)

That third house was located near where the other pastor and his wife lived.  Since Jujubee already knew that there were TOYS at the other pastor’s house, she was very willing to go back there.  So, we decided to make a slight detour to drop off Jujubee, and she barely noticed as we left her there.  We got a little wave from her, but that was it; she was busy playing.  It turned out that she had a marvelous day, was not a behavior problem, and, again, charmed everyone.

So, now footloose and child-free, we quickly saw more houses but met with more disappointment.  Each house had some major things wrong with it: bad layout, no yard, not enough room, too far from church/school, too close to a major road, or too much repair work that needed to be done.  It was frustrating.

C took JJ and I out for lunch at The Olive Garden.  (They have a gluten-free menu there, did you know that?  JJ’s lost over 25 pounds in 3 months just by eating wheat-free!)   We chatted pleasantly over our food, got to know each other a little better, and then went off to see more houses.

After lunch, we found the two houses that are currently at the top of our list.  Both of them still have things that we don’t like, but they also have really good things that we DO like.

We ended up the day with our brains feeling pretty fried, and our bodies feeling exhausted.  We had seen 12 houses – whew!  We also, for various reasons, passed up about 8 houses without even going in, most because they were in bad locations or had absolutely no yard whatsoever.

That evening, as a thank-you for babysitting Jujubee all day, we took the other pastor and his family out to supper at Fresh Choice.  It was fun, although JJ and I were pretty tired, and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and deflated.  Still it worked out well.  Afterwards, we drove over to our new church and met the senior pastor just as a meeting was letting out.  He took us around the church again; I’d been there before, but I had forgotten some things, so it was nice to see it again.  Then we went back to the senior pastor’s house, put Jujubee to bed, and then we all stayed up and talked for a while.

The next morning, Jujubee came with us for our morning of house hunting, although she was bummed that she couldn’t go over to the other pastor’s house and play again.  We saw five more houses, with all except the first one being further away from church.  They were very well-maintained homes (C said they had “good bones”) and had good layouts, but they were all like walking into a 1970’s time warp.  Grandpa and Grandma had insisted on keeping the big heavy draperies and plush carpets looking nice, but avocado green and harvest gold and rustic brown just aren’t as popular these days!  😉  And all of them had at least one pink bathroom!  What was up with that?  So, even though they were nice homes, had nice lawns, and even had citrus trees with great fruit (C and I ate two oranges off of one of the trees, and they were delicious!) they were too far away and needed too much updating for us to really consider them.

We finished up our search before lunchtime, feeling a bit down.  But C reassured us that we didn’t need to worry.  She said that spring is the busiest time of year for buying and selling homes, and that a lot of houses will come on the market in the next few months.  Futhermore, now she REALLY knows what we’re looking in a house, and she’s willing to spend a lot of time on us.

In fact she emailed us with a great house today that just came on the market.  It’s five houses down from the very first house we looked at.  JJ has to drive up to that area for a principals’ meeting this Friday morning, so he and C will go out and look at the house together on Friday afternoon.  Who knows?  Perhaps by that time another good house or two will also have come on the market for us and he and C can check those out, too.

It’s exciting and scary to have finally begun this process.  It would be wonderful to find the “perfect” house, but we’re trying to relax our expectations and are now in search of a “good enough” house.  However, we’d still like something closer to church, with a bit of a yard, and I need to have a decent-sized kitchen to work in.  Hopefully the right house for us will come on the market soon.

When we told our accountant that we were going to be moving, he told us to pray.  I can definitely say that I’ve been doing that!  I don’t know if we’ll find the perfect house or not over the next two months, but I know that the right house will come up at the right time.  And, with all of the houses for sale as well as apartment complexes in the area, we won’t be homeless.  🙂