Saturday, January 27, 2007

It feels good to know...

we really don't want to live anywhere else.

We had decided to begin a search for a home so we would have it ready to move into once my husband retires. We have always liked the western part of North Carolina so decided to start there.

After doing some extensive searching online for a home in eight counties, we finally found twelve out of a few hundred that we thought were worth seeing. We had two realtors going through listings with our specifications. We tried to analyze them for our needs online before asking them to make appointments to view them. It appeared from all of our searches that the houses were much less expensive than in Raleigh.

Were we ever in for a surprise! The first house was up a hillside with a view of junk trailers, some modular homes and lots of trash and junk. Dogpatch. The house was more than ten miles out in the country and that is fine with us. But after three or four miles, we were wondering how we could stand to drive past so much trash, delapidated buildings and trailers every time we left home. By the time we got to the gravel driveway at the end of the road that went to the top of the ridge, we were already wanting to turn around and leave. The house had about 1700 sq. ft. on the main level and an unfinished basement. As we drove up to the house, we could see a man hosing out the basement and filthy water was pouring down the hillside. Trash and junk were everywhere. The ad had mentioned the view, the view, the view. Only a couple of photos showed flowering shrubs and trees. None revealed that if one walked out the front door for twenty feet, you could easily fall down a cliff and land on top of trailers and old worn-out houses over 100 feet below. The house was in such bad condition, we would not even consider buying it for $50,000 much less $169,000! When we asked about garden space, the owner pointed to the top of the ridge and said there was a flat spot up there that would work for a garden. Rocks everywhere. This was a spot that I don't know how one would get a tiller up there. The only thing we could picture was growing some potatoes and putting them in a chute and letting them roll down into the kitchen window. By the time one climbed to the top to pick the veggies, there would have been no energy left to bring them down. Anyway, if that house and property is worth $169,000, ours right here in Raleigh is worth $500,000!

We told the realtor immediately that we did not want to see the inside and waste her time. I think she was relieved.

Next house was $179,900 and had almost four acres. We were following the realtor and it seemed to be a better area. Then we crossed 1-40 and drove down a road. 1-40 runs right behind the house and the house also sits within 50 feet of the frontage road. One of our criteria for a house is that it must be quiet---no road noise especially. It was like living in a drum that would not stop. Noise from 1-40 is deafening there. Worse than living two blocks off of Capital Blvd. in Raleigh. We told the realtors that we did not need to go inside. No wonder these people want to move.

Next house looked wonderful in the listing. We had seen a virtual tour and thought that it would not work for the interior for us, but it appeared from the photo to have curb appeal and the realtor had already picked up the key. This house was $185,000. As we drove up to the house, we could not even tell it was the house in the listing. The driveway was so steep that my husband could hardly get out of the car as he could not hold the door open. The house's siding was in poor shape. We did not even recognize the house from the photo in the listing---so this photographer earned his money. The view in the listing is of other houses across the street below. Take a look at this house . I did not even get out of the car. We did not go inside.

We went inside at the last house since no one was home and it had better curb appeal than the others. $179,500. We had thought that since it had a full unfurnished basement that we would have instant equity upon finishing it and we would turn the double car garage into a workshop. This house was not in the condition that one needs to be in for show--stuff in the yard, windows filthy, just not clean and basement full of "stuff" and even mildewed sheetrock had not been discarded. The basement had water problems and the ceiling with the duct work was too low to finish out as livable space. The bathrooms and kitchen would have to be completely remodeled. The garage had walls with two thicknesses of brick. The garage looked fine inside, but the echo was unbelievable. The basement steps from the garage and the concrete floor and the brick walls created an echo throughout the house. I told the realtor that even if the basement could be made into livable space, it would cost us $30,000+ to make it so we would enjoy living in it---of course we could not move it farther off of the road and that is a big negative for it. So this house would be over $210,000 and not even half as appealing to us as the one we live in.

We headed over to look at other houses in another town with another realtor. After checking a few exteriors and re-reading the print-outs with details, we decided to contact the realtor and tell her we would do drive-bys and only if we were interested, we would call and make appointments.

After looking all day at houses, we realize that we have what we need here in Raleigh. Even though the traffic is heavy, it is still nothing compared to living where we have to look at houses that are unkempt, unloved, uncared for. We are not overly obsessive about how other people live, but do like to live in a neighborhood that is reasonably neat and homes maintained. We do not do edge trimming on our lawn--a quick mowing is good enough for us. We do not plant lots of flowers. But we do not leave any trash around. We do not make our neighbors look at our "closets." Our neighborhood could use a few improvements, but except for the traffic on this side of town, it works fine for us.

So after much "soul searching" we have decided that we are already at home.

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At 1/28/2007 1:38 AM, Anonymous Pörrö said...

Dear friend,

I am glad that you are home. I know you both are bit gypsies on your soul, but it is not a bad thing for anyone to find a home - and it is always wonderful if it the house they already live in.

When I visited there I thought it is a place that has possibilities for both of you to have what you want under same roof. Enjoy that - the noice of the road was not that bad for a city. It was nicely muffled from all the houses and trees between you and road.

Congratulations dear friend!

At 1/28/2007 3:44 PM, Blogger Jeanne Rhea said...

Remember the poem that you gave me? It says a lot about home. I have it on my file cabinet next to the computer and read it often. Sometimes we have to bloom where we are planted--- as Mary Engelbreit says.


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