January 17, 2011: A New House Perhaps?

Liesl did not let me sleep in this morning so I was up at eight and took a little bit of time to listen to “Pirate Hunter”, a biography on the legendary Captain Kidd.  It is decently interesting.  There is a lot of stuff from the era of which I was not aware at all.  The book really helps to paint a picture of the colonies in the late seventeenth century which, as Americans, I feel that we learn very little about and is, in many ways, a very foreign world to us even though so much of the history took place right here beneath our feet.

I was looking at Zillow today and discovered that the house next to ours has dropped considerably in price.  I talked to Dominica about it and we seriously need to consider if that house would make a good investment or not.  Owning the house directly next to our own would be a very big deal.  There is value in that house that exists for us but does not exist for someone else – such as having the ability to control our own neighbours, make sure that the frontage is consistent between the houses, etc.  The ground on the east side of that house is owned by us and it is our responsibility to protect the foundation of that house by watering the foundation which is a weird circumstance in Texas.

So we decided that it would make sense for us to look seriously into possibly buying the neighbouring house.  It is extremely utilitarian to have another house right next door.  We could use that space for all kinds of different things.  Our hope is to rent it, obviously, in the short term.  In the long term it could remain a rental property or it could be an “in law” home in case my dad decides to move down to Texas (we know that Dominica’s parents, when they move to Texas, are not going to move next door to any of us and especially not next to those of us up in Dallas with the fewest grandkids) down the road.

So we called our real estate agent and set up a showing of the house.  Can’t hurt to look.  We have had our doubts as to whether or not the house is any good as we can’t really get very close to it due to it being all locked up and fenced off – there are literally just two windows exposed to the street and the entire rest of the house is fenced off so it is extremely private.

It was late afternoon by the time that we managed to get over to see the house for ourselves.  Once we did get there, the whole fifteen feet of walking that it required, we discovered that inside of the privacy fence was a very attractive patio area that would be absolutely perfect for a little cafe table and chairs.  It would be an awesome place to go for breakfast.  The living areas of the house are enclosed in an amazing amount of glass – the house that we always thought of as being so immensely private is actually enclosed in the fence because it is so dramatically exposed to the outside!

Inside the house seemed very spacious.  The house is built from the same components as our house but assembled in a completely different manner.  Instead of being a long channel of a house in a U shape with an atrium in the middle this house is very open without the atrium.  The house feels extremely open and quite a bit more modern than our much more 70s styled home.  Not so much our style as we really like our quirky house but this one is far, far nicer than we had imagined and it will be an amazing home for someone.  I can’t believe that it has been unable to sell for so long.  We have concerns about the foundation but there is nothing obvious at this point.

Overall, from what we could see, the house needs very little work.  It appears to be in overall great shape.  It has its issues, as all houses, especially foreclosures, do, but they are generally pretty minor from what we can see.  There is a wall that we would like to change, the kitchen cabinetry is a disaster and needs to be completely replaced, the kitchen floor is serviceable but could seriously use some updating and, of course, lots of paint needs to be applied liberally everywhere.  But no super large expenses or show-stopping items from what we could see.  We are surprisingly impressed and can’t figure out why this house has not sold already.

The yard is far nicer than we had anticipated too.  It is well maintained and far, far better than our own yard.  Now we can see what a yard in our area should look like.  What is really interesting is that this house has two independent back yards.  The main one that wraps around the kitchen and living rooms and then a tiny one that goes only behind the master bedroom suite.  Very strange but pretty neat.

So we are seriously considering the house.  It seems like potentially a really good idea.

This evening Brian and Nicki came up to look at the house too.  Nicki is really interested in renting the house from us so we wanted her to get a good look at it to see what she thought before we really considered moving forward on it at all.  She really liked it, though, so it is very possible that we will be able to get it.  The plan is to talk to the bank tomorrow and see what can be done.

Before heading off to bed we discovered that someone had stepped in dog poo and that there was a huge mess on the floor.  I spent over an hour down on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor trying to get it clean.  By the time that I was done the floor was probably cleaner than before it was made such a mess.  It kept me from going to bed as early as I had hoped, though.

Tomorrow is going to be a big day as we look into our finances and see what can be done.  We are hopeful that we might even be able to make an offer on the house tomorrow but that is moving very quickly.  It is going to be an exciting week for us for sure.  And a tough one.  Big financial decisions are both exciting and exhausting.

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