Viv and I have been consumed, eaten alive, devoured by househunting. On Saturday, before enjoying some sprawling dinner and drinks with Greg and Stacey, we saw no less than fifteen houses in an all-day marathon. Some were good, some were bad, none were it.

I particularly liked a 1947 house in near-ish southwest Seattle near a golf course, to my surprise. It was quite suburban, and even on a cul-de-sac-ish loop street, much like places I grew up and basically loathed for their isolation. It’s amazing what a few years of break-ins and bum feces will do to a man. The house is vetoed, however, as it’s under the approach for one of the primary runways at Sea-Tac, and while the constant thrum of jets is essentially music to my ears, Viv has a different opinion. We counted ten 500-foot overflights in one fifteen minute period this weekend, against the suburban quietude of the hushed neighborhood.

We have looked at any number of homes advertised or described as 1000 square feet that strike me as smaller, all in the 250-300k range. Some have not struck me as particularly habitable, no matter what the size. Most common among these have been homes where a prior steward felt the need for self-expression, and consequently created a sort of architectural maze via successive unrelated remodels, mistaking confusion and entrapment for comfort and security.

We have been particularly struck by four of the houses, and I believe we are passing on two of the four for various reasons. Two are under continued consideration. One requires a massive unremodeling. I would move the house off of its’ full basement foundation onto a new full basement. The new location would be at a 45-degree angle to and several dozen feet away from the old location. Oh, and in addition, we’d need to ungraft and move a staircase from it’s prewar remodeled location to the original location within the house. Among other things.

Viv pointed out that these plans were pretty persuasive evidence that I did not really want to live in the house, not as it stands. She’s right.

I toss and turn and grind my teeth about this now, losing sleep, obsessively clicking the various regional sites that provide mapped views into the various MLS databases. They all suck, too.

The ones with the most base data do not share details, often stinting such crucial considerations as street address. My favorite, Redfin, clearly sometimes posts listings that are totally wrong. Today, for example, we wanted to see a home listed for sale in upper west Seattle. Our agent found the listing – but the Redfin listing was an inaccurate reactivation of an old listing that sold in April. This is troubling, and while I love Redfin’s data transparency, inaccurate data transparency only makes it harder for me to apply heat to the soles of my agent (who appears to be doing a pretty good job, but alternative information sources equal greater leverage).

I have realized that some of my tossing and turning at night is my verbally-oriented mind, yammering away at top speed, analyzing this and discussing that about our househunt. I’ve decided to blog the hunt, to an extent. It will help me to burn off that chattering analyst in my head and at the same time provide a record that I can review to develop and sharpen our goals and strategies. It will be a bit tricky, though, I think. I’m uncomfortable posting pictures of most of these houses, for example, and equally uncomfortable mentioning specifics such as addresses or monetary amounts, so I’m afraid the blog may come out as impenetrable as the Regency memoirs of any given Madame X (as penetrable as she may have been).

Oh well, at least Ken is coming out here soon.

One thought on “What is it that makes a house a home?

  1. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t mention that a few of my clients are Realtors. They always ask me to pass their names along. So there. It’s more for my benefit, since it sounds like you already have an agent.

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