Shhh….We’re Hunting Houses – Updated

Sorry I’ve been a blogging deadbeat for a few days. Interest rates are rising, house prices show no sign of stopping their insane rise in the Seattle area and we’re feeling an itch to move from our condo to a single-family home before the price gap get’s too wide to ever cross. Having learned from Jeana, the intercontinental traveler, to “mind the gap” last week, I decided to take her advice.

It’s been enlightening so far and yes, mostly in a depressing sort of way. There are thousands of Microsoft employees, and young retired millionaire former employees, who are helping drive up house prices. Our condo has shot up 50% in value in the last 2 years and other houses in the area are doing the same.

The problem is – everyone who likes their spouse wants to live close to the city to avoid a long commute so houses in decent school districts, close to the office are too rich for our blood. We’re talking $500k for a 2000sqft, 30-year-old home with very little yard.

Before we started looking, I told myself 3 things:
1. In order to move up, we have to move down.
2. I am spoiled in our luxury condo and should be prepared to move into a “fixer-upper” that I won’t be able to fix up for the next 10 years due to the staggering new mortgage payment.
3. I am totally fine with this.

Now, number three is where I start to come unhinged. I am in fact not okay paying $450K for a small dark split-level with almost no back yard that needs a ton of renovation. I will say that the home I’m referring to had a lovely patio with a great view of the potbellied neighbor guy sitting in an old lawn chair, wearing a wife-beater and smoking while the thousands of dogs across the street yapped their heads off.

Dan said that half of you are probably potbellied middle-aged sweaty male smokers, wearing wife-beaters and posing as mommy bloggers so I should be careful what I say. Sorry if I offended anyone.

The most disturbing thing about the house was actually the hearse parked on the street two houses down because they had too many beat-up cars in the driveway.

In many of the neighborhoods we visited, people didn’t park their old cars or hearses on the street. The lawn was just fine. What is the deal with parking multiple old junkers on you front lawn? Why, I ask you, WHY?

Saturday started with all 4 of us suffering from a yucky cold, getting a cavity filled and being told by a friend that the schools in the areas we were planning on looking were “scary.” We then looked at the homes with the “scary” schools and hearse-driving, yappy-dog-owning, hoopty-collecting neighbors, started getting used to it and thinking it might be okay, but decided just to take a peek at a neighborhood WAY out, so far out that I would likely never see Dan again, so far out that we actually fell in love with a couple of homes in our price range and realized that we were not at all satisfied with the things we’d seen closer in. Then by the time we drove all the way back to our condo, we realized that we were not okay with a commute that long.

So, we’re back where we started.

AARRRG! But it’s fun…right?

FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT — Several of us are meeting together for dinner this coming SATURDAY night in Boise, ID. If you plan on attending, please email me and I will send you the information. The deadline for getting our final numbers to the restaurant is Wednesday so if you’re bringing someone, please let me know that too. I’m really excited. There will be some wonderful bloggers there. I hope you’ll be one of them.

Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day.

Oh, and I am so TICKED that the West Wing is over. The 10 other remaining viewers and I should get together for a bawl fest sometime.

Oh, and does anyone want to buy a really sweet 2-year-old condo across the street from a Bambi forest and backing onto a duck pond with actual bulrushes? Moses could be in there! …or a frog or something.

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25 Responses to Shhh….We’re Hunting Houses – Updated

  1. Nantie Meg says:

    Kathryn, I would buy your condo! That is I would if I lived in the Seattle area, and could afford such a fine place to live. I love you though and hope you find a good place. I love you and if you need help fixer-upper-ing, I would love to comeout and help you!!!

    PS-Please not that I called you Kathryn, so as to not cofuse your readers.

  2. Tanya says:

    I’ve been a lurker here for a couple of months now. I didn’t realize we were “neighbors”-hahaha. I live a little north of Seattle and I agree with you about the house prices. They are crazy around here! We bought our home about 3 years ago and because of the prices then we had to move to the boondocks so that we had a 45min-1hour commute every day to work. I no longer have that commute since I’m now a SAHM – but it’s hard since Mike still has the drive, which cuts down on the time he gets to spend with Logan.
    I hope, hope, hope you guys find something you love. Just remember it’s out there somewhere!! Happy Mother’s Day! (oops, 6 min. late)

  3. ABC Momma says:

    You’re back! I was afraid the mafia from the “Wood” got to you.

    The housing prices are up over here too. A home we sold six years ago has now doubled in value.

    I thought the Boise dinner was Saturday? I can go either night.

  4. Rachelle says:

    Ah the fun of Seattle prices. My brother is going to med school there and pays more in rent than I do for all our bills combined. I feel bad for the poor kid. House prices are going crazy everywhere! We bought a condo in our small Utah town and because of an oil field boom, the prices has doubled in two years. It’s crazy everywhere. Good luck with the house search. And how did Dan know I was really a hairy man wearing wife beaters? I’ve been trying to hide that fact for months!

  5. You made me LAUGH today…I live in Arkansas, and the scene you described in “the big city” is not unlike what you would find in rural Arkansas…did you steal my rednecks?

    I will have to tell you sometime about my “tongue-in-cheek dreamhouse”. I will have to e-mail it to you as it REALLY might offend someone, but it is my dream…and it cracks me up.

    Good luck on the house hunt…and if you need a little design help…I can do A LOT of free advising with some digi pics and measurements.
    Take care, M

    P.S. I will be in Seattle next week for business…I will be scanning the crowds to hope I can spot you. (Wow, I REALLY hope you don’t think that is creepy…I just like to think that I MIGHT know someone in a strange town)

  6. Lauren says:

    Oh, man, Seattle housing is laaaaame. As is New York housing. When Josiah Bartlett becomes the president for real, houses will be cheap. And everyone will get candy.
    Maybe I shouldn’t comment on blogs first thing in the morning.

  7. Grammy says:

    I’m sorry for the depressing house search. We have gone through a similar situation every time we have been looking for a new home. It ALWAYS starts out depressing.

    We see tons of stuff we love, but could never afford. We see a bunch of stuff we could afford, but why would we want to? We see some that are close, but just don’t “feel right”. Then we walk into one that just feels like home. That’s how we know we’ve found the right one. Remember how it was when you bought the condo? It will happen again. Just keep trying. Your home is out there somewhere… let the search continue. Good luck!

  8. Angela says:

    Whoa! Is your husband psychic? I thought my indentity was so safe behind this monitor…That was HILARIOUS.
    It is a sign of wealth among potbellied, wife-beater wearing crowds to have a collection of cars on your yard. The smaller the yard, and the greater the number of cars, the higher the prestige.

  9. As one of the remaining 10 West Wing viewers, yes, I’m bawling with you. But don’t tell me about it because I Tivoed it and haven’t watched yet.

    As for the home prices…it TOTALLY blows my mind how anyone lives on the west coast with real estate prices like that, not to mention commute times. I have one word for you: OKLAHOMA. Seriously, I dare you to go to and look at house prices here–they’re giving them away. And my husband works four minutes from our house. FOUR.

    And Nantie’s Meg comment makes me wonder if your real name isn’t Kathryn. So maybe YOU’re the middle-aged bald guy in the wife-beater??…

  10. Queen Beth says:

    We are actually meeting Saturday night Kathryn….at least, that’s what Karli told me last night…

  11. #3 is my hang-up, too. We can’t even get into a 900 sq. ft. condo for less than $400K. But I really believe in Grammy’s advice. At just the right time, at just the right place, you’ll walk into some place and it will be “home.”

    Sad to leave the Bambi forest, though. But of course, you do know not to move to the Hundred Acre Wood, right? It looks all homey with those quaint mis-spelled signs, but don’t let it fool you.

  12. Melessa says:

    As another Okie, I can only relate to this post because my Uncle and Aunt are selling their house in Redmond. (It’s a three bed, two bath, two living area with a nice yard if you’re interested, but they hated the Seattle commute from there too.) I won’t tell you what I paid for our new house last year. I’m way too fond of reading your blog and would hate to be banned.

  13. I feel for you, having once house shopped in the bullet hole district. I agree with Grammy. Keep looking and, with a bit of prayer, He will help you find the one that’s just right for you!

  14. Susan says:

    Yeah, house-hunting is a very frustrating, humbling experience. We just bought our home last summer (we are in CT and the prices seem similar; just plain ridiculous!) after an exhausting search. Can I just say I was practically bald by the time we closed? I’m not joking.

    The silver lining is that it truly forces you to figure out your priorities; you will learn a ton about yourself and your husband in the process.

    With a little patience (actually, more patience then we knew we had) we were finally able to find our “perfect” home. It’s not the perfect house, but it is the perfect house for our family.

    Sending perfect for your family house finding vibes your way–best of luck.

  15. Anita says:

    We often dream of living somewhere else where houses are cheap. The small midwest town where I went to high school has a house for sale – same size as ours – 59k. Man! But then… where would we work? We don’t have a large enough retirement to buy a 59k house and never work again. I think we looked at more than 50 houses before we bought ours. Good luck in the search.

  16. mimi says:

    Oh, oh oh how I feel your pain. We live in So. California and the 1300 sq. foot house (built in 1940’s)across the street from us just sold for $730,000!!!!!!!! We rent our house for that reason. You have to have a household income of 130,000 to buy here. If hubby was making that much money I’d be really #$%%^& that I was buying the house across the street. Here’s the irony: We are actually looking at a job in another state, taking a HUGE paycut so we can AFFORD to buy a house. How horrible is that?

  17. Ha! Love the wife-beater bit. I didn’t realize that people outside the south wore those things!

  18. Peter says:

    Sounds like Massachusettes. If you want to move in this neck of the woods you need to either rob a bank or win the lottery.

  19. Aunt Murry says:

    Ok, you have to be patient when looking for your house. When I bought my first house I drug my real estate agent all over before I found the perfect one. The funny part was I took two steps in the house and knew before I even looked at it that it was the one. I have recently learned a great lesson again…let go and let God.

    Do lots of research and buy as much house as you can.

  20. Goslyn says:

    Oh man, I feel your pain. Here in PA we have the same problem. I love our current house, but we are just one more child away from outgrowing our home. Even though housing values have gone WAYY up since we bought our home, we cannot afford to buy anything bigger unless A) Mike gets a HUGE payraise, or B) I go back to work full time.

    Pah. Stay in your sweet condo by the bambi forest. If you have to do home renovations, you’ll never have time to blog!

    Seriously, though, good luck with your search. I’ll keep praying for a house for the Darings.

  21. emlouisa says:

    You need to move to Idaho. House prices are just STARTING to get outrageous, so they are not that bad. We moved here from California for that very reason. If we would have stayed there there is no WAY we would have been able to afford more than our 2-bedroom-no-yard fixer upper.

    The best part of buying a fixer upper though is that you will appreciate it all the more. We fixed up our fixer upper before we sold it and I cried when we moved.

  22. Tess says:

    It took us a long time to find something in our price range too, our area of Kentucky is so prosperous apparently (except someone forgot to tell our bosses) that what we could afford to pay = run down tiny little house or condo way far away from our church & work. So we sucked it up for 3 years and owned an ancient condo 30 minutes from work & church, and about went bankrupt b/c we couldn’t afford to pay the utility bills b/c the windows were so old, what little heat the furnace put out (that we couldn’t afford to replace) went straight out the windows… it was a vicious cycle. We got lucky and sold it to an investor and got out of dodge. We’re saving now for maybe a tiny little run down house close to work & church.

  23. Sarah says:

    Before coming to the good ol’ Heart Of America, my hubby and I lived in Tacoma (hey – don’t knock it. Seattle’s ugly step-sister is not so bad if you give her a chance.) Sometimes reading your blog makes me a little homesick, (usually in that laughing-so-hard-my-tummy-hurts kind of way) but today your post kind of got me like a sucker-punch.
    First, I was giddy remembering the nice profit we made by selling our house in Tacoma. But then I go to thinkin’ about the fact that we may NEVER be able to afford to move back to the Puget Sound. Gah! I miss me some fresh salmon, and the ocean, and hiking. Oh – to look out my window to see if the mountain is out today.
    So, I’ll be rooting for you – Stay steady in the hunt!

    and thanks for leaving me a little note. I was honored to have my wee little blog graced by your presence. I’m still working on not reading your blog forever in the middle of the night – it’s 2am here now, so I guess I still need to work on it!

  24. Heather O. says:

    My question is-what are our kids going to be able to afford? 25% interest rates on million dollar 750 sq ft condos? It’s scary. Hang in there.

  25. SkiTheStars says:

    If China continues to buy up our steel with the dollars we spend at Walmart, junker cars will soon disappear from everywhere. We have one wrecker in town (Nevada City, CA) who is doing free tows for nearby cars. A drum full of scrap copper, the wires from the cars with the connectors cut off, now goes for $200. It takes unskiled labor about 4 hours to fill such a drum…..

    Just wait until they start buying our real estate, then you can really panic. I personally would do all I could to NOT move in next to a smoker, and yes my wife commutes over an hour each way as a teacher, stays overnight in a motel from time to time, but the nearest house is over 400 feet away, which suits us and our three dogs & cats just fine.

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