OK, so we don’t close for three more weeks, but I think by now I can finally share properly that Andrew and I bought our first house. We’ve owned two condos before, so first time home buyers we are not, but this is the first time we will own all four walls and a roof (that needs replacing, of course). And it’s in the burbs. Ok, it’s not like the BURBS burbs, it’s in Newton Center, a mere 10-12 minutes from downtown Boston, but it’s still not the South End, where I have lived and LOVED living for the past few years. While I did not want to leave the city yet, the rents are INSANE and there isn’t anything on the market we can afford that we can stay in long term. Cue housing conundrum. The real estate recession is no where to be found in these parts. It’s a total clusterfuck, to be honest. Rents are super high and inventory low and decent homes of sale under $1 million are being bought for over asking prices in desirable areas within days of being on the market. What is one to do?
Leave the city apparently, for some space, an actual driveway and garage and absence of noisy neighbors.
Well, we have been scouring open houses in close the the city towns for months and months. Open houses where 50 people would be waiting in the driveway 10 minutes before it was scheduled to start. Nothing to pressure you like a crowd of young moms staring you down like “Bitch please, I have a KID and another on the way, this house is MINE! I will cut you!” So a few months ago we saw our dream house. Like, Father of the Bride dream house. I nearly punched Andrew in a fit of joy in our car when we drove up to it. It felt right. And it was really expensive, but we put in a low ball offer…and after negotiations we actually GOT IT. It was amazing and terrifying, but I had already begun renovating in my head.
And then we had our inspection.
It. Went. Horribly.
Like, one of the worst our agent has ever seen. Mold. Water. Bad electric. Old water pipes. Poor construction. Foundation damage. Termites. Roof problems. Need I go on?
We backed out. It was 300 grand in damage to repair and I am not Beyonce. I can’t afford that. I felt pretty gutted and really hopeless that we’d find something I loved as much. Our wonderful agent told me about a place she wanted me to see, and after looking at the pics online I wasn’t sold at all. Charming, not so much. Not like the other house. But the location was amazing- a place that offers me a yard but the ability walk to Starbucks and shopping in 5 minutes. Since I was a bit freaked about leaving the city pre-children, I loved that feature. So I agreed to put in an offer. And we were outbid. OF COURSE. But something in the universe shifted and the deal fell through and we got it. For under asking, which is rare in Newton.
When it comes to real estate I always look to my dad for advice. He’s saved us from investment disasters and has had unbelievable luck (and skill) with investing in property his whole career. So when he gave it his blessing, and enthusiastically so, I was psyched. So we are working on it together- designing the renovation inside and out (in phases, of course) and I am uncharacteristically calm about it. Which I hope is a good sign. But just wait until we open walls and I figure out how much my new kitchen is actually going to cost… that calm will go right out the new front door.
The place has not been touched since 1941, I swear. Except for the systems, which is HUGE. Wallpaper from the 50’s EVERYWHERE. Original kitchen cabinets. ONE FULL BATHROOM (and one half, but STILL, this will be interesting!). But it does have pretty hardwood floors, dentil moulding all over, a sunroom and POTENTIAL. And a location to kill for. So join me in the coming months on a new blog series chronicling the in, outs, ups and downs of my home renovation from the closing day until the day we finish. I really am excited to have your opinion and support through this process and hope you find it interesting and funny and can keep me from walking in front of a soccer mom’s minivan.
Wow. Onto the next phase of life. In the burbs. And as the previous owner said with tears in her eyes, having spent her entire life in this house, ” I hope you make as many wonderful memories here as we did”.
We plan to.
Wish me luck,