Stalking the Wild House: First Attempt

Day’s Verse:
The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the King of Israel!”

John 12:12-13

Yesterday Ian and I met Linnea Jones for our first round of touring potential homes. We looked at 8 places, 7 town home condos and 1 single-family home. The first two we knew were just not right for us right off the bat.

The third one we walked into, a new construction on Slater Avenue in Kirkland, struck us as having the kind of layout we wanted. We walked through the model, which actually wasn’t for sale, and then checked out another one that was for sale. That one, though, is directly adjacent to the freeway wall. It had about 10′ of grass, and then there was the huge gray freeway wall, with road noise coming through. Not only that, but it wasn’t anywhere near walkable to a grocery store or library, and those are important to us.

House number 4, also on Slater Avenue, had a similar open floor plan that really appealed to us. It’s slightly farther from the freeway but still close enough that you’d constantly have freeway noise and, probably, filth coming in through open windows. Also, this was a middle unit, and I’m not wild about living squeezed in between people like that.

After sleeping on the prospect of those two, Ian and I agreed that although we really liked the feel and layout of the homes, we couldn’t envision living in either of them.

House number 5, which we looked at after lunch, was a definite no. The pictures made it look wonderful, but walking through, the kitchen was clearly isolated from where people would hang out, and it had very high home owners association fees because they kept the extremely nice landscaping up immaculately. It’d be a place to retire to, not to raise kids in.

House number 6 was actually two units, but we liked the model much more than the other one. It received a resounding yes, our only definite yes so far. It was walking distance from schools, 1.5 miles (a reasonable bike ride) from the grocery store and library, and 1.5 miles from Ian’s work. We liked the layout, the complex was small and new and each unit had its own reasonable-sized back yard, plus this unit backed onto a designated green space. The complex was built in a neighborhood of really nice single-family homes, and the unit we liked was situated so you looked into the neighborhood rather than at the other townhomes squeezed in really close to you. Our biggest concerns are with the condo fees and financial aspect of living in a condo vs. owning a residential home. We’ll go back to that one again for sure.

We visited two more places after that, one single-family home that I felt ambivalent about — it was situated on a pretty huge hill, which isn’t an exciting prospect for a cyclist — but that Ian really liked. It did have a gorgeous kitchen with lots of counter space and an attached, open living room. We kept that as a maybe.

Then home number 8, another condo with high fees, directly across from Blyth Park and right next to the Sammamish River Trail. We gave that a maybe, since it met most of our criteria, but for some reason I just couldn’t imagine living there permanently. It did have an awesome kitchen, huge garage, and neat loft with cathedral ceilings. We’ll go back again and see what we think a second time.

Besides finding 3 places yesterday that we want to re-visit, Ian and I have been learning a lot. We’re starting to get a sense of what we should look for in a neighborhood and in a home. I doubt I’ll ever look at a home the same after this experience. I’ll always be thinking, “That fancy roof line just means re-roofing will cost more in 10 years,” or “The master bedroom is awfully far from the kids’ rooms,” or “It’s a nice enough place, but they’re nowhere near a grocery store or bus line,” or… well, you get the idea.

We’re also starting to get a sense that most everybody we talk to has some really important, crucial advice on home buying that will keep us from making a horrible, life-ruining decision that they just have to share with us. And don’t get me wrong — I appreciate and value advice, especially when I don’t know anything about what I’m doing. My first reaction in an unknown situation is to do research and talk to people who’ve done it. But my gosh, people will talk forever about what features to look for, how to look at homes, what kind of home would be right for us, how to finance the purchase, and on and on. It’s amazing. I suppose this is really just giving us a pre-taste of what it’ll be like when we have kids.