Our house hunting experience in NoVa was harrowing to say the least. The amount the Air Force allots us per month for housing (if you don't live on base, you receive a Basic Allowance for Housing to cover the cost of a home off base) in this area is more than we ever thought we'd be spending on a house, and yet, in this area, for Colby's rank, it gets us just barely above crack den living.
We left the girls with my parents, and went to stay with my aunt and uncle in the area for a few days of hard core hunting and were beyond discouraged after the first couple of days. It very quickly became clear that we were going to have to make a decision between updated finishes and appliances and square footage with a, um, charming (??) vintage 70s or 80s design scheme. With two toddlers, two large dogs, a baby on the way and frequent visitors, we started trying to look beyond the immediate horror of many of the houses we were looking at to find the potential buried under layers of carpet, linoleum and wallpaper.
On our 3rd day, we decided to make an offer on a split level house in a great neighborhood. It had most of what we were looking for--enough space, though still on the smaller side, had been updated here and there by the young family selling it, and a decently sized backyard. We felt the price was a little high for the work that was still needed to bring the house up to date, so we offered lower than asking and received a counter that barely budged from the listing price. This was a little discouraging, but it was the end of the day and we decided to sleep on it. The next day, we continued looking at houses while we stewed over what our counter should be and found one bust after another. Then, at the very end of the day, we decided to drive by just one more that had gone on the market that day.
At first glance, we were ready to turn around and run back out the door. It had very clearly been a long, loooooong time since the house had seen any updating. After talking to the owner who was present doing some clearing out, and sleuthing through documents down the road, we discovered that the house still belonged to the original owners who bought it in 1971 for $43,000. Let's just all let that sink in. $43,000. Sigh. Anyway, the husband and wife had died in the last decade and it seems that the son had continued to live there until evidently deciding the time had come to sell.
I could continue to describe the house, or I could let the photos do the talking...
So, you can probably understand our reservations. Pink carpet. Blue carpet. Linoleum. Cheap parquet. Dated wallpaper and fixtures. Poorly utilized kitchen space. Tiny master bathroom. But then we looked out at the backyard.
Gorgeous well-maintained deck. Plenty of grassy space for kids and dogs to roam. A shed. Trees for privacy and shade. It was by far the nicest backyard we had seen. And then the realtor reminded us of the price. And the square footage. A huge two car garage. And the opportunity to increase it by a huge percent by finishing the basement. And we began mulling over the possibilities that were currently hidden beneath all of the wallpaper and carpet. And we decided to say goodbye to the split level and give this one a shot.
After an absolutely agonizing weekend during which we endured a back and forth bidding war, and waited on tenterhooks, terrified we were going to lose both houses and be back at square one when we moved. Finally, we got the call for our realtor--thanks to the escalation clause we had included in our offer, we had won the war and gotten the house... by a mere $1000. Had we set our escalation limit just $500 less, we would have lost it. It was hard not to feel like it was meant to be.
We flew over from Germany on March 15 and closed on March 16. Just a few days later, we had our painters in tearing down wallpaper, Colby was pulling up carpet, and my mom and I were coated in white paint giving the closets a makeover. We've come a long way in the last few weeks, but we still have a long road ahead of us. I'll save the progress shots for my next post, and for now leave you with this little glimpse into the "rustic" lifestyle we are currently living!