Within a year and a half, I moved my place of residence to another continent, I got married, had a baby and bought a house. (Looking back I am surprised to see how many life changing events happened in such a small time frame.)
Me and my husband lived in an one bedroom apartment which – given the fact I was cleaning it – was all we (I) wanted. However, as soon as our daughter was born, the need to buy a house became imperative and urgent.
What is the first thing you look for when buying a house? Layout or location? For me, it was high ceilings. Yep! If I can touch the ceiling when stretching (I stretch often), it’s not good. If I risk being decapitated by a ceiling fan, it is not good. If it looks like it’s built for snow white and the seven dwarfs, it-is-not-good. I don’t care how large it is otherwise or how luxurious; if it has low ceilings, it’s not good.
The problem was, we live in New England where the harsh winters dictate lower ceilings to keep heat low so most places we saw, had ceilings at eight feet (or worse). The other problem was our budget. For the same money one can buy a McMansion in other states, but merely a shack in Massachusetts. We could find soaring ceilings but not within our budget.
I thought had modest desires: a couple bedrooms, a bath, a kitchen, a living room. Ideally an extra room to act as an office. (Wait, these aren’t exactly modest requests now that I think about it) I also wanted lots of natural light and high ceilings. I can’t believe how hard it was to find the latter. So, we looked and looked, for six months. From two and three story houses to ranches. From impeccable renovations to dreadful, mold infested fixer uppers. Nothing within our budget had the high ceilings I needed.
Then one day we found it! That day we went to see yet another round of open houses and my expectations were at rock bottom. We parked outside a nondescript white ranch that looked rather small and indifferent. I shrugged and walked to the front door, opened it and *BOOM*! A glorious cathedral ceiling extended over the whole living room, spanning across the open floor plan with no obstructions to the beautiful view of the back yard. Took me a single glance to fall in love.
And as we all know, love is blind. (Or at least very lenient.)
I didn’t care for the fact we would have to change every single door and window because none was actually closing properly, that most of the other rooms had only eight foot ceilings, that both bathrooms immediately needed new vanities and renovation or that the kitchen had to be demolished ASAP. Let’s not even mention the basement for now.
It wasn’t all bad to be fair. It turned out the house was way bigger than it appeared, with 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths, attics, basement, extra family room (for a library ofc!), it had plenty of yard, was well constructed with super insulation and had “good bones”. Finally, it faced south, providing sun and warmth for several hours every day during the winter, while in the summertime the surrounding trees are somehow luckily placed at the right spots to shade effectively.
This house that for me, was the best thing I saw in the area, had no other offers. The fact baffled and worried me: what had the other buyers seen that made this house un-buyable to them? Had I missed something crucial? I guess when you need to replace a whole kitchen and all the windows, which translates to tens of thousands of dollars, it just might deter you. However, I had seen far worse houses that sold immediately. Strange (maybe this cute guy was one the reasons).
Perhaps, they noticed the obvious repairs that had to be done?
A year later I am still baffled but happy nobody else gave an offer. Very, very happy.
Buying our first house is a very emotional endeavor. It is dictated by a need or desire (same thing really). The house we end up buying, teaches us about ourselves: what we really want, what are our priorities and what truly matters to us.
What were your “must haves” when you bought your home? Or, if you haven’t bought one yet, what do you think is going to be the most important feature you will look for?