Tuesday, September 18, 2007

2/2 urbanite seeks 5/2.1 suburbanite with strong foundation...

In July we decided we'd like to buy a house together, rather than continually pouring money into our (rather nice) landlord's pockets. When we decided to move in together, we picked out a 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment on the north side of the city and it's a great place. Granite countertops, a gas fireplace, hardwood floors, a cozy back deck, a huge basement, etc. But the neighbor upstairs is incredibly loud at times, and while it's "homey" it's never truly felt like home.

Thankfully we both make very comfortable salaries and both of us have been working diligently to pay off debt, so the fact that I still own a house with my ex didn't hamper us from qualifying for another mortgage. I took the Illinois bar in July, and we decided that when we got back from vacation afterward that we would start looking in earnest for a house as we have an assignment clause in our lease which would let us get out of it at any time during the term provided that an alternate tenant can be found.

We both knew we wanted an older home with character (think creaking floorboards, well worn stairs, etc.) and it needed to be at least three bedrooms. Both avid gardeners, it also had to have a substantial size lot. As he was looking for a new job downtown, both of us also made the requirement that the city had to have metra or el (train) service direct to downtown.

We went on a drive to go look at a rambling three story victorian about 40 miles south/southwest of the city and stumbled upon another house a few blocks down the street that we fell absolutely in love with. The house is an arts & crafts style home built in 1919 with dual living rooms, five bedrooms, two studies off the master bedroom, a full partially-finished basement, a screened porch off the main front porch, fireplace, formal dining room, glassed in breakfast room, a library, and a detached two car garage. And the house is on about half an acre of professionally landscaped gardens complete with arbors. Remarkably, it's about the smallest house on the street.

Now, this sounds very "crunchy granola" but when we walked into that house - we fell absolutely and terribly in love with it. We felt instantly at home. The owners had lived in the house for more than thirty years and now empty nesters were looking to downsize.

Sometime in the week after we saw the house, I fell pregnant. We looked at a few other houses with our agent, but that house just felt right. So, a day before I found out I was pregnant, we put an offer in on the house.

The couple who owns the house refused our request for concession of payment of a portion of the closing costs out of the proceeds of the sale (a very minor request that is pretty much de rigeur in today's market) and then asked for sixty days post close possession in order to get their things moved out. That simply wasn't possible. We weren't going to spend thousands and thousands of dollars for the original owners to continue living in the house after closing. The owners were leaving out of town for a month, and the deal fell through.

In the meantime, we started looking at other neighborhoods, and luckily interest rates on the 15-year mortgage we were looking for dropped about 1/4 to 1/2 a percentage point. I got a call from our real estate agent yesterday that the owners were back in town and that their agent had contacted our agent and wanted to revive negotiations.

To say that we're nervously excited would be an understatement. This house is well within our comfort zone of affordability - and it's huge. Sure, there are things that I'd love to change (such as ripping down every bit of godforsaken wallpaper in the house, tearing out some overgrown shrubs, replacing the amazingly shallow tub, and ripping up some ceramic tile in the kitchen and breakfast room that looks strikingly like 1970s linoleum) but the house is definitely move-in ready.

And, we'd be able to start preparing a nursery and actually settling down. With 45 days from offer acceptance to close mandated by the lender, theoretically we could be nicely settling in by Thanksgiving. We haven't heard any firm details from the sellers yet, but we're keeping our fingers crossed. Here's some pictures of the exterior of the house. Note that I didn't take these shots, as if I had, I would've spared you from my rapidly expanding caboose!


Cricket said...

What a beautiful bungalow! Probably in a neighborhood like my old four square. I love old houses, too. Looks like you'll have lots of room.

MsPrufrock said...

Colour me extremely jealous. I LOVE Arts and Crafts style. I hope that once you move in you can send me some interior photos so I can drool over them and wish for a life I don't have.


daysgoby said...


What a lovely house to start a life in...

Dee said...

It's lovely! Wishing you all the best as the renegotiating gets underway; I hope you get it :-)

I am a big fan of older homes; they have such 'character' and I love the mystery of "who were the people who lived here before me?" "what has this house seen?" etc. So, um, yeah, what the heck am I doing living down here where no neighborhood is essentially more than 30 or so years old, with a few rare exceptions? Ah, yes, it's home, that's why. Dangit all.

We have some friends who bought a lovely old home in Park Ridge, not too far from your whereabouts I imagine, and it is simply beautiful. There's just something about those old neighborhoods, where mailmen still deliver mail on foot, freestanding garages, you name it. Just so very charming, all of it.

orodemniades said...

Let us know when you're ready to have visitors! Cuz, y'know how we infertiles love cocktails and garden parties...I'm just sayin'.