The house we aren’t getting

August 18, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The house we're not getting

The house we're not getting

I’ve been doing a lot of house hunting lately. Our apartment downtown is great, but it has some drawbacks: it’s very small (about 680 square feet), parking is sometimes frustrating (the Scion xB that parks next to us sometimes doesn’t leave enough room for our rental car between it and a big concrete column), we have to take an elevator up and down — which is slow (there doesn’t seem to be a way to take the stairs to the parking deck below the building), and we miss our stuff. I want to be able to print things out on my printer and store paperwork in my file cabinet and choose what to wear from more than the few articles of clothing we brought in our luggage.

So, as I said, I’m doing a lot of house hunting. In doing so, last week I found this beautiful house you see before you. I immediately fell in love with it from its photos, and when we went to check it out in person it did not disappoint. (It turns out I am nearly always disappointed when I actually go see a house in person.)

The kitchen we're not getting

The kitchen we're not getting

The kitchen was beautiful, the tile was beautiful, the yard was beautiful, the street was beautiful, the floorplan was great, the neighborhood was nice, and everything seemed well-made and well-kept. I was really excited. A few days later we went back out with Blake so he could see it too (and meet the realtor), and he too was very happy with it. We hadn’t looked at many houses yet, so we weren’t exactly ready to make an offer, but it was so great and we had found it after such a short amount of looking.

For days, I’d look at other houses’ listings online and immediately turn them down because this spiffy place was better for the same price. I imagined us walking down to the green area in the center of the neighborhood with Pico and Nano and having them poop on its beautiful landscaping. (Don’t worry, I pick up after my dogs!) There was only one hitch: it had a homeowner’s association (HOA). And not just any HOA — one with sizable monthly dues and an iron-fisted regime that had quite a lot of limitations.

The dining room we're getting. Just kidding, we're not getting this one either.

The dining room we're getting. Just kidding, we're not getting it.

Also, we’ve always wanted to live in the next house for a while and then, several years down the road, buy another house and rent the old one out for a steady income. This HOA, however, has restrictions: only a certain percentage of the houses in the neighborhood can be rented, and each renter would have to be approved by the HOA as well. So hypothetically we could get a renter for a while and then not be able to rent again for a few years, during which time we’d just be paying house payments and taking a loss. But even despite these drawbacks, we were considering it. We both loved the house, and the HOA dues did at least go to making the neighborhood look beautiful and all the landscaping for the front yard. We were torn, but there was no hurry: we’d just begun to really look around, so we could browse for a while and see if there was anything we liked more.

Well, then yesterday we got some bad news: someone had made an offer on the house. In retrospect we should have expected it — surely everybody else could see what we saw in this house. Our realtor had told the seller’s realtor that we had some interest, so the seller’s realtor had informed us in hopes of getting a bidding war going.

Not this either

Not this either

I was planning to see some houses in Lynnwood (a Seattle suburb) with the realtor today, Wednesday, and we thought that perhaps Lynnwood would have a multitude of houses of similar quality and price. So he bought us some time to look today and then re-evaluate our position once we had the new information.

Sadly, none of the homes we saw today had quite the same charm. Which brought us to a difficult decision: a house we loved at a high price with a bossy HOA and possible problems renting in the future? Or should we stay the course, keep looking, and hope something else appears that we like more?

In some ways, it was an easy decision. But at the same time, it’s also been haunting me since we made it this afternoon.

Of course, by now you know that we passed on it. It was a lot of extra money per month — if we were willing to pay the total amount as a house payment, we could actually get a house that costs $50,000 more! And we’re selfish individualists. We would chafe under their rules and restrictions about what you could and couldn’t do on your own property. And it even runs counter to our longer-term plans to rent the place. Good reasons, all. But gosh, it was great! The street was lined with beautiful little trees and the houses had gables and bay windows and old-fashioned alleys and cute porches. It was like something out of Pleasantville or Leave It to Beaver. I know, I know, I’m sure it was only able to achieve that look through some esthetically-minded Orwellian dictatorship, but just because I can’t have my cake and eat it too… well, it doesn’t mean I can’t want to both have it and eat it.

So we passed. We both feel it’s the right decision, but it still pains me to have made it.

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