Saturday, February 23, 2013

House Hunting

Our landlords are returning to their home this spring/summer.  It's unexpected and disappointing, but there it is.  We need to move again.  They've been nice to be flexible with our move-out date, and can vacate anytime from May 31st - July 31st.  Since receiving the news, I obsessively check Craigslist postings for houses 50 times a day.  It's insane.  I know we'll find a place, but it's unsettling NOT to have a place and a plan.  

Do you want to come on a house hunt with me, friends?  It's one of the most discouraging and frustrating processes with living here, so be warned!  We live in a college town, so there is a lot of turnover.  The place is bustling from August - May, but from June to August, the place is a ghost town!  Everyone clears out for summer vacation.  It's wonderful!  This time of year, houses are popping up for sale all over, with families who are moving on to other opportunities.  If you can afford to buy a house, there are plenty to choose from.  However, if you are like us, and a home purchase isn't a reality right now, the pickings are a little slim, as far as rentals go.

Homeowners WANT to rent to students.  Granted, students can a little irresponsible.  They clog toilets and throw loud parties, and they could care less about mowing/watering the lawn.  But, they happily shell out $600/month for a bedroom and a place to park their car, and going in with four the math, it's insane!  They make a killing on them, and they only live here nine months out of the year!
But, I have to say, they take advantage of the poor kids.  The property management places here are terrible.  It's best to rent privately like we have.  Heres a google review of a company in town:

A Google User reviewed 11 months ago
Overall Poor to fair
One of my best memories of college was the final walkthrough at the DRA slum I lived in. The lady comes in, rips the blinds off the window on purpose and then says "whoops, you won't be charged for that." ...We were charged for that. The really good part was that the place we moved into had no smoke alarms, cat poop on the floor, garbage in the closets, exposed wiring, and a carpet so nasty that I'd wake up every morning and cough up brown goo until they finally removed it. I'm stunned that these clowns are still in business.

 Families like ours might be a little harder on walls or carpets, but definitely care more about the yard, and not disturbing the neighbors.  There's a pack of us who are all DESPERATELY searching for a home to place their families in the Spring!   The pickings are slim.

The home in which we are currently living popped up on Craigslist last Spring, and Josh immediately called on it.  We were the fourth family to call!  Josh managed to arrange our time slot first, so we could come view it and write out a deposit check on the spot to hold our place!  Reasonable places get snapped up in seconds, and what's left are not-so-reasonable houses.  Here are a few gems, and are really the only options out there for a 4-bedroom, single-family home with a yard:

1.)  Isn't it a darling house?  I was so excited about it.  Really unlivable use of space inside, though.  Two bedrooms right across from the kitchen, and just inside the doorway!  Mom and Dad's room way, way upstairs.  The house was drafty, and had no A/C.  I can just imagine how hot it would be in the summer.  A cavernous basement was dark and scary.  I can't imagine the kids EVER going down there without a "buddy".  It was one of the few we've seen with garages, though.  Bummer.  

2.) I had high hopes for this place.  It's right up the street from school, was one level, and had 5 bedrooms!  Again, no A/C,  and no garage, but they had an unusable fireplace that had a built-in grill in the living room!  Bonus?  The yard was an overgrown MESS.  Last year's leaves were still littering the driveway.  The property manager guy showing the house said a family had viewed it right before me, and were heading over to sign papers.  No pressure!  "If you start renting immediately, the rent is $1300.  If you want to start renting starting June 1st (that's us), then rent gets bumped up to $1800/month." Good luck with that.  But, someone WILL pay it, so I guess the joke's on us.  

3.)  Then there are really great places that look beautiful inside and out.  2300 s.f. for $1800/month!  Who can afford 1800 in RENT!?

4.)  Sometimes there are places we can afford, but they are on a busy street, or across town, or would cost a fortune to heat/cool, or I just can't picture moving my children in there.  Does that sound snobbish?  I'm sorry.  :(

5.)  Then there are some that post hilarious photos of the inside.  They are obviously geared to students, but whomever was doing the staging for these photos needs to take a few lesssons!  

1-D 4-EV-R!

"the yard"

"Dude, could you just roll outta bed!  I gotta take a picture of your room!"

"BYOB" to this kitchen!

Just remembering Yaks' wise words, "It doesn't matter where we live, as long as we have a home and a family."  

The search continues!  


Tim Hale said...

I'm sorry to hear you have to search - yet again! - for a new place, Amy. That must be exhausting. Good luck with it all and please let us know if we can help in any way. Even if that means coming up to WA for the big move.

Trish and Matt said...

Having just been through this, I know how frustrating it can be ... and we had a lot of help! I know the right thing will pop up and (just like last time) you guys will be able to snag it. But it's so not fun waiting for that to happen! We'll keep you in our prayers.

Armandina Skerl said...

Do you have any plan of buying a house instead of renting forever? There's nothing wrong with renting, but it is wiser to buy than to keep on renting. Buying a house is a good investment which offers great profit if the market is in good condition.
Armandina Skerl @ Churchill Mortgage