home hunt, vol. 1: must-haves and would-likes...

Since last week I mentioned that we are starting to look for a larger home, I thought I'd share a bit more of our experience in the process and document the journey as we move forward.  I have been calling it a house hunt, depersonalizing the process but it's so much more than that.  Looking through online listings, a little voice is always asking, "Could we call this place home?" or "Would this be a comfortable place to begin traditions, have family meals, raise our child(ren)?"  It's a HOME hunt.

Disclaimer: I have never shopped for real estate in the past.  Mr. Boom purchased our current home the year before we met and I moved in after we were engaged. While I have some idea of how the process works after asking many questions and seeing family and friends take the plunge over the years, the reality is eye-opening and I clearly still have so much to learn. My task is to not be overly idealistic in this search.
One of the on-going conversations in our house has been around what we actually require of a home and what would be nice to have.  These are two very different things and more so due to the limitations of our search area (the need to have a reasonable commute to New York City) and budget (largely due to the inflated taxes in this region). Out of many talks, what we really need are these key things:
  1. 3 bedrooms, minimum
  2. 2 full baths
  3. garage (attached or detached)
  4. good storage space
  5. basement - finished or able to be finished
  6. a usable yard
  7. a kitchen that is in decent shape, a good size and with ample cupboard space
If we could have it all, I would like:
  1. 4 bedrooms
  2. 2 car garage
  3. an updated kitchen
  4. pantry
  5. laundry room
  6. easy access to main roads and highways
  7. neighborhood with sidewalks, ability to walk to shops and services
  8. or, at least, the ability to safely take walks around the neighborhood
The kitchen is a big sticking point.  Many of the listings we are seeing have kitchens that appear to be original to the house and look something along the line of this (*shudder*):
The stuff of nightmares that could only be helped with a complete gut.  We cannot will not buy a home that will require an immediate investment of that magnitude.  Cosmetic changes?  Yes. Replacement appliances? Okay.  Change of countertop? Sure. 

We are not looking for a 100k showpiece kitchen, not by a long shot, but it needs to have be a good size, have good bones and a decent layout.  I like to cook, I love to bake and I spend a large amount of time in our kitchen.  I hope to spend even more time in the next and further expand my skills. So the kitchen has a separate and detailed list of needs:
  1. good cabinet space - enough to store all of the basics, our everyday dishes and wedding china and all of my pots and pans.  No more storing pans inside the oven (dinner will become much more iontereasting with a readily available oven!).  Basic wood is fine and color/finish isn't a dealbreaker. Cabinets that are in good condition and plentiful can be transformed with a paint job and new hardware.  HGTV tells me so ;-)
  2. counterspace and lots of it.  The type of counter isn't so much of an issue.  A solid surface would be great but, we can put in what we really want.
  3. a good layout for cooking
  4. an island or the space to add one.  I really like the look of a "furniture" type piece as an island with a differend color and finish than the rest fo the cabinets so just the space to add this would be fine with me.
  5. pantry space with easy kitchen access (*wish list item)
Later this week, I'll be writing about our first Open House experience. The good, the bad and the kitchen that was, well, not what we had in mind.


Jules said...

goodluck with your home hunt Jen :) It's definitely an adventure owning a house. Make sure your home inspector is amazing and truthful! That's my #1 lesson from our home buying experience: According to our inspector, the "original roof" was still on our house, and it was good for another 20 yrs. fast forward to last fall, we had 4 roofs on top of our home (illegal) and had to replace it (and it was asbestos!). ugh.

Laura said...

Are you guys going to look in your current are or going further north? We've looked at a few places (online) in CT and I shudder to think of ending up with some of those places.

Aurie said...

I'm alternatly wishing that we were in a posistion to try to purchase a home, and thankful that we aren't!! Between E's handyman skills and your organization I can't wait to see what you discover!

Karen, Tim & Jack said...

not sure the sites you are using to look. but we LOVED trulia.com also with a realtor they can give you access to ListingBook which sends you updates ever morning with price reductions, open house info, etc. It also gives better past sale info and more info Hope that helps! GOOD LUCK!!

Mom said...

It is truly an adventure...trying at times, but an adventure nether the less! Keep your goal in mind...and you'll find the right one for you!!!

Mrs. Boom said...

Laura - we are looking primarily in our county but, are considering moving a bit north. CT was on the table for awhile but, we really don't want a commute down 95.

Karen - thanks, our agent gave us access to listinglook several month ago and DH gets daily updates for our criteria. I'll have to check out trulia.

Mrs. Boom said...

Jules - we are lucky that E has done home inspections before so he knows a lot of what to look for but, we will absolutely get an independent inspection as well from a reputable firm/individual. I had no idea you had that roof issue, what a nightmare!

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