House Hunters #1

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Ten houses, five hours.

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(I take helpful notes.)

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(Not a dog house.)

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Watching House Hunters from my couch is MUCH easier. 

 

We saw three good ones:

 

  • The Cute House:  Great price, completely renovated home with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.  Slightly quirky layout but open floor plan.  Huge fenced-in flat backyard.  Hardwoods throughout.  HUGE master suite with dreamy walk-in closet and huge bathroom with separate shower and bath.  On the edge of a good area; only an okay street.

 

  • The Mature House:  Priced at the top of the budget but suspect we can negotiate.  In the best neighborhood on a really nice street.  Huge and beautiful backyard that needs to be fenced-in.  Big sunroom and one-car garage!   Four bedrooms and two baths, but no master suite – major bummer.  Hardwoods throughout but covered with carpet. 

 

  • The Sweet Location House:  Priced in the middle and in a walkable neighborhood.  Four bedroom, three bathroom with finished basement.  The worst kitchen by far but updated appliances.  Dated finished basement with walk-out to big fenced-in yard.  Second best master suite.  Not a ton of closet space.  House needs a little TLC – hardwoods refinished, painted, new fixtures, new rugs, etc.

 

Which would you choose?

{ 156 comments }

 

  • Samantha @ Bikini Birthday May 6, 2011, 9:35 pm

    I’d pick the sweet location house. Location, location, location right? It’s always a better investment to pick a house in the best location. You can probably write renovations into your mortgage if they’re within your budget and you can make the house completely your own.
    Then you’ll have an awesome house you love in an amazing neighbourhood!

    • Cait May 7, 2011, 10:33 am

      Yep, it’s all about location. I bought a house I liked in a neighborhood I realized I didn’t like. Now that we’re divorced and trying to sell the house, the neighborhood is making that a problem as well. Learn from my mistake!

    • Allison @ Happy Tales May 7, 2011, 12:21 pm

      COMPLETELY AGREE! I know you’ve heard it 1000x, Caitlin, but location seriously is everything. If/when you do go and sell the house, it’ll help you *so* much. Plus, the fact that you need to renovate some means that you can make it completely yours! Go for the Sweet Location House!

  • Tamara May 6, 2011, 9:35 pm

    Sweeeeet Location! Everything else can be fixed and tweaked and renovated but you can move THE PERFECT house the perfect neighborhood.

  • Kacy May 6, 2011, 9:37 pm

    Definitely the first one. It sounds adorable. House hunting sounds fun, but exhausting!!

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) May 6, 2011, 9:38 pm

    Sweet location all the way. It’s what I did when I bought. If only you knew how ugly my bathroom is. If only…

    • Baking 'n' Books May 6, 2011, 9:41 pm

      Really Victoria? What makes it a “Sweet location”? Do you base it on a walk-able area, near shops, night-life and stuff? Or being near more “practical” stuff – like groceries, work, etc….?

      Did you consider size? The “sweeter” locations generally have places uber-small (uh, 600 sq. feet anyone?!).

      • Susan May 7, 2011, 12:18 am

        I think “sweet location” depends on the individual. I think I have a sweet location because I live 3 blocks from county & state parks, but someone who is not a hiker, runner or mountain biker might not think it’s a sweet location.

        Caitlin, if it’s a sweet location for you, I’d go for it. You can always change things about the house. You cannot change the location unless you move. I’d be worried about the cute house because you don’t know when your street will make the turn to not-so-good area. And this may sound bad, but in my case, the sweet location is a more expensive location, minimizing the chances that riff-raff will move into the neighborhood.

        • Baking 'n' Books May 7, 2011, 12:30 am

          Yes – great points. Susan – did you have to give up being nearer more ‘practical’ things such as your work(s), groceries, etc. for your preferred location.

          I agree too Caitlin about being wary of #1 – it sounds cute – but if it’s small and not a great location, it may not fit enough criteria.

      • Susan May 7, 2011, 11:41 pm

        The only thing I had to give up was being closer to work. Instead of being 3 miles away, I’m 5, so no biggie. I was a mile away from a grocery store and less than a mile from Starbucks, a park, a movie theater and restaurants. Now I’m about a mile from Whole and a little over a mile from the movie theater and those same restaurants.

        I think the walkable neighborhood is big for you, especially since you’re a one car family. I don’t know if you’ve already done this, but have you talked about where you want to be in 5-10 years? If you think you’ll still be in the same house, you might want to narrow your search to the areas with the best schools and not even look at other places. We gave our realtor 2 areas to look at and told him we didn’t want to look anywhere else because we didn’t want to fall in love with a house that wasn’t where we wanted to live.

        • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:07 pm

          That’s good advice and exactly why I refuse to look in South Carolina. I know I’ll love the houses there (BIG and cheap) but I don’t want to be out there!

  • Baking 'n' Books May 6, 2011, 9:39 pm

    Oh.My.God. – I so feel your pain. It’s so difficult to make these decisions isn’t it?? Gosh…it’s hard because they are all a mix of location and the type of house you want. Sounds like you want a good walkable area/location and you want a nice kitchen/master suite…

    Bummer. I always think then “Hold out – something else will come along” – but that isn’t always true (only in the movies right?) πŸ˜‰

    I currently have a similar dilemma – but not for a house – I wish! Hah. Nah, just an apartment. But there’s the sauve, modern place in great trendy location – but further from “practical” stuff – and smallllll. And then there’s the place that’s twice the size that’s a little closer to stuff like groceries and near a decent area – but (like you said of one) “on the cusp”.

    So – I need advice too! Hah – there should be professional people to do this stuff for you, like Wedding Planners or something…

    • Michelle... May 6, 2011, 10:28 pm

      That’s a tough one! I personally went with a smaller place in a location that I loved (but I also love the apartment), but it’s close to both “trendy” places, and practical amenities. If it’s not too far from the other places you want to get to, though, I’d go with the “practical” place in your case…or keep looking for the location that has both!

      • Baking 'n' Books May 6, 2011, 10:34 pm

        It’s soooo hard to know! There is one other place that’s right in the middle of both of them – that could satisfy – but it’s an older house with narrow halls, small bedroom, and a (really cold) basement below! Kind of cute with the potential to be cozy…or scary!

  • becky May 6, 2011, 9:39 pm

    defff #3! booyah sister!!

  • Rebecca May 6, 2011, 9:39 pm

    You can change a lot about a house, but not it’s location. So number 3 for sure.

  • Amy May 6, 2011, 9:42 pm

    #3. Sweet location trumps all! Don’t be swayed by cute updates – you can do all of that later on your own. Go for location and good bones.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 6, 2011, 9:42 pm

    Ahh such a tough call! But I think #1 sounds the best! A big master suite is always a huge plus. And the backyard would be great for BBQs. πŸ˜€

  • Lynne May 6, 2011, 9:42 pm

    #3!! The one thing you are stuck with until you sell is the house’s location!

    • Kari @ Human, MD May 6, 2011, 10:34 pm

      And you’re stuck with it WHEN you’re selling! Unless you plan on staying in a place forever and ever, location will make or break resale! You can update the house to make it perfect for you (as long as it’s structurally sound!), but you can’t change location πŸ˜‰

      • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:07 pm

        Good point, Kari!

  • Baking 'n' Books May 6, 2011, 9:43 pm

    Oh – and also – I noticed your second one said “in the best neighborhood” – but the 3rd one is the “Sweet location”…

    What is the difference between both locations then?

  • Katheryn May 6, 2011, 9:45 pm

    Sweet location would be my top choice with cute house coming in at a close second.

  • Kristin @ FoodFash May 6, 2011, 9:47 pm

    The sweet location house! You have the power to revamp your house, but revamping a neighborhood is probably a bit on the impossible side!

  • Zoe LaPier May 6, 2011, 9:47 pm

    Location! You can give the house TLC, but you can’t change the other houses’ locations. Also, it sounds like it has almost everything that you want…minus the kitchen. I’d mentally add how much it would cost to redo the kitchen to your final price

  • Jillian@ Reshape Your Life May 6, 2011, 9:54 pm

    Oh lordy… that is a tough decision. I would say wait it out and see what else is out there. If you HAVE to choose I would say go with the best neighborhood with the best schools (if you are planning on staying in the house when ya’ll have kids). Because that could be enough to make you want to move later down the line. The house can be changed, the neighborhood can’t. πŸ™‚

    • Amy May 7, 2011, 8:31 am

      That’s a great point.

      • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:08 pm

        They are all in the same (good) school district. I’ve done some research and determined that location and school district are the most important parts of resale. Good to know!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) May 6, 2011, 9:56 pm

    I love house hunting! I think the mature house…or the sweet location. UGH that’s the hardest part of house hunting!

  • Krissy @ Make It Naked May 6, 2011, 9:59 pm

    I’d go with sweet location. It’s just about the only thing you can’t change about a house.

  • Mary @ stylefyles May 6, 2011, 10:00 pm

    sweet location house OR the cute house…but would need to see in person. With the sweet location…..kitchen renovations are FUN! so the fact that the kitchen needs work might even be a plus??? And you could have a lot of fun giving your new home some TLC, but that totally depends on how handy you are! They all sound like scores!

    Seeing in person though, I might pick the cute house. It sounds awesome. Is the area that bad? Sometimes the “worse” areas are really the up and coming areas….so perchance that neighborhood could have some trendy restaurants and boutiques installed in the near future?

    Oh, but if you’re thinking of a family soon, you should also consider school zones. just sayin!

    • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:08 pm

      It’s so hard to know if it’s up and coming or down and going in this economy! LOL

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) May 6, 2011, 10:00 pm

    #2 or #3… but I think #3! πŸ˜€

  • Lindsay May 6, 2011, 10:01 pm

    i woul def go with the mature house. i just moved from greensboro to charleston…married four years, no kids as of yet. we just purchased our second home and to me, knowing we would have kids sooner than later…the neighborhood is what i am all about. its not always about location. make sure it is a house you can raise a family in and a neighborhood that you love and a street that you aren’t scared of your kids playing in (too much traffic). hope this helps a little!

    and you can do upgrades as you go. on the 3rd house, a kitchen renovation can be uber expensive!

  • kelli May 6, 2011, 10:03 pm

    numbaaaa one sounds amazing!

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin May 6, 2011, 10:08 pm

    I’d do #3. I think that you’ll regret spending at the top of your budget because no matter what, you’re going to want to make some changes/buy additional things to customize it!

  • Katie Oakley May 6, 2011, 10:08 pm

    I would try to pull the price on the third one down and then use the extra money to refinish as much of the house as I could!

  • rebecca lustig May 6, 2011, 10:11 pm

    I cant even offer my opinion after reading all of these experts’ advice!!! lol– i feel like you’ll ‘know’ what ‘feels right’. good luck

  • April May 6, 2011, 10:14 pm

    I would keep looking, unless one of the houses felt like home to both you and your husband. My list of non-negotiables has changed over time too.

  • MaryBe May 6, 2011, 10:14 pm

    It’s better to buy the worst house in the best location, than the best house in a not so good location. You can change every thing about a house except it’s location!
    Have fun looking!

  • Leslie May 6, 2011, 10:18 pm

    Sweet location all the way. If there is room for improvements, then that means you can add value and put your own spin on it. Walking neighborhoods is where it is at. Do it!!!

  • Kristina @ spabettie May 6, 2011, 10:18 pm

    GEEZ, these are hard!! I think I’d choose #1, cute one!

    we’re looking at houses right now too – it’s such a roller coaster, isn’t it?

  • Courtney Leigh May 6, 2011, 10:19 pm

    I would likely choose number 3. It would be the walkability that would sell me. I hate our tiny kitchen in our current house, but I hate having to drive absolutely everywhere even more. What makes the kitchen the worst? Is it size or just godawful ugliness?

    • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:09 pm

      Size and location in the house – its like a small galley style kitchen. Ugh.

  • Diana May 6, 2011, 10:20 pm

    For me, I’d go with the house with the location/yard. Lot size, location, etc is something that can never be changed. If I can’t be happy outside in my yard, then I wouldn’t be happy with my house.

    Physical features (tile, carpet, etc.) can be changed over time as your budget allows.

  • Margaret May 6, 2011, 10:23 pm

    Either the mature house or the sweet location. Location is the one thing you will never ever be able to change about your house.

    You don’t mention anything about electrical, roof, foundation, windows, furnaces or plumbing so I am assuming that there aren’t any problems on any of the houses but those and location are the things that I put the most weight on. Building a fence or refinishing hardwood floors isn’t a big deal in the long run. Fixing structural problems will be expensive, time consuming, necessary. Trust me I just looked at bank owned home that was probably awesome two years ago before the roof caved in and now there is model growing all over the house. The bank’s neglect has turned it into a tear down which make me so so sad and it had the best 1950s details, totally original. It was just like the Brady Bunch. I would have loved restoring that house. But the point is you fix structural problems before they become more expensive and even when they are small they cost a blosdy fortune and they aren’t things that you “see” so it always feels less fun. A new roof is never as sexy as a remodeled kitchen but an ugly kitchen is still functional; and old roof isn’t.

    I look at windows, heating systems, insulation and such for the cost of heating/cooling the home which to me is also a big factor to consider. If the house is owner-occupied you should ask for a monthly total of their bills so you can figure if the house upkeep is in your budget. They don’t have to disclose that info but most will if you ask. The bigger the house the more the utilities will be.

    All of the things that I have mentioned are fixes that I don’t really want to do on my own. And a lot of it like party lines or bring a gas line into the house I can’t do. I am looking at older homes for a bunch of reasons not least of which pretty much everything built in the 70s is crap. Seriously, if you are looking at home built in the 70s-early 80s really do your due diligence. Because of the high oil costs and inflation it was extremely hard to make a profit on building new homes so lots of developers cut corners in the quality of the work. I also just think anything after the early 60s is butt ugly.

    If you are working with an agent I hope that they are making sure to discuss things like this with you. Often there are realtor only notes in the MLS listings. Really its information that they should put in the buyer listings but they frequently don’t because its deemed too dry. If you don’t do this already, you can check electrical panels which should have a date of when they were installed and furnaces should also have this info on it. When you find a house that you are interested in take the time to pull the permits. So much better to get all the information before you commit yourself. Also if there is unpermitted work or additions it may make the loan harder to get.

    Personally, I am not that bother by there be no master suite but you know your lifestyle best and it really is important to think about how you will live in the house. A huge beautiful formal dining room that you won’t use doesn’t make any sense. I actually bet you would use the dining room but it more a theoretical point than a concrete example. I actually prefer a large eat in kitchen because its where I spend my time and when I have people over I would rather have them hang out in the kitchen with me. Don’t worry about how the house looks, paint, your choices and time will change the esthetic but do think about how you will live in the house.

    Hi my name is Margaret and I am a real estate junkie.

    • Margaret May 6, 2011, 10:35 pm

      I meant mold instead of model in the second paragraph. I hate finals brain.

      That said I view mold as the single worst thing to happen to a house. Its basically impossible to get rid of in my experience.

    • Amy May 7, 2011, 8:34 am

      YES. THIS. Don’t forget alllllll of those details when you’re house hunting – it’s easy to get stuck on appearances but structure and upkeep is more important.

    • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:10 pm

      You are so awesome, Margaret! SO much good info. Thanks!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey May 6, 2011, 10:26 pm

    I would choose #3. I wish I lived in a walkable area with cute restaurants and shops around!

  • Michelle... May 6, 2011, 10:30 pm

    #3…walkability is SO important to me.

  • Penny May 6, 2011, 10:32 pm

    I would sacrifice location for the cute house simply because the idea of fixing things up sounds terrible. Especially when u can get a house that has everything done already. The 1st house sounds pretty awesome.
    And…. If I were to judge your descriptions….. It seems like u may be leaning towards that one anyway. But……I could just be making things up. I tend to do that. πŸ™‚

  • Tricia K May 6, 2011, 10:33 pm

    You watch House Hunters so I KNOW you ready know the answer: the sweet location. You can change other things, but you can’t change where your land is!

  • Michelle May 6, 2011, 10:41 pm

    “Buy the smallest house on the best street.” That’s the advice that was given to me. While, my house isn’t the smallest, I do think it’s sage advice. Reselling value is REALLY REALLY important. Even if you don’t ever plan to move — you still have to factor in things like refinancing and the neighborhood going downhill.

    That said, I would also go with your gut. You seem like you’re a very intuitive person — so what’s your conscious telling you?

  • Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out May 6, 2011, 10:44 pm

    So exciting! I looked for the most low maintenance house… B/c I was a single mom and didn’t know how to fix anything. If I had it to do over, with my wonderful hubby, I would buy a fixer-upper.

  • Marty May 6, 2011, 10:49 pm

    As long as all the houses are affordable, I’d go with the one that excites me the most.

    That said, from the information you gave, it sounds like a toss-up between the cute house and the mature house, with the mature house just a tiny bit in the lead.

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg May 6, 2011, 10:50 pm

    I’d go with location — you can always make changes to the house. But honestly I’d rather keep looking and find a great house in a great neighborhood (within budget of course!)

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) May 6, 2011, 10:57 pm

    I would choose the mature house or the one that you posted the picture of with the great kitchen (the one with the 3 stools and the red lights).

    But you need to choose what is best for you! I am excited for you!

  • Melissa May 6, 2011, 11:01 pm

    You can change aesthetics later but you can’t change location! So either mature house or sweet location.

  • Nancy May 6, 2011, 11:04 pm

    LOCATION!!!!!
    (that’s all I have to say)

    I’m running my 3rd Half Marathon tomorrow! So excited!!!

    • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:10 pm

      How did it go??

      • Nancy May 9, 2011, 2:44 pm

        I finished it – running! 5min slower than last year, but I’ve been fighting a tight IT band that’s causing knee pain. Had a lot of fun running with my sister and now it’s time to get stronger and ready for the Victoria Marathon in October – it’ll be my first full!

  • Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet May 6, 2011, 11:09 pm

    Definitely sweet location! I’d chose walkability over looks, since you can change that anytime.

  • Mindy May 6, 2011, 11:10 pm

    I’d say #1 – not having to do renovations is HUGE and the backyard will be excellent for the pups.

  • Amber May 6, 2011, 11:11 pm

    Location, location, location πŸ™‚

    They all sound great! Good luck deciding!

  • Ellie @ The Mommyist May 6, 2011, 11:12 pm

    I would choose the good location. You can change a lot of things about a house. Location is not one of them.

  • Jenna H May 6, 2011, 11:16 pm

    The cute house!!! All the way. The description of the master suite makes me want to die (in a totally good way). And plus if it’s on the edge of a good neighborhood maybe the street will turn from “okay” to “awesome”. That’s what’s going on on my street right now. Our block is awesome but the next block down is kind of eh. A bunch of houses are getting new owners and remodeled/landscaped and now look super cute though. WAY different than a year ago!

  • caitie May 6, 2011, 11:20 pm

    Sweet location!! Thats clearly you something you cant change. Considering youre buying it, you can make any superficial changes yourself (even if its a few years down the road) but living in a good location is HUGE. Good master suite and good backyard! Huge parts!

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table May 6, 2011, 11:22 pm

    I’d go location all the way – you can renovate all day long but you’ll never be able to MOVE the house (double-wides excluded). πŸ™‚

  • christine May 6, 2011, 11:23 pm

    Location is most important. It’s the one thing you can’t change – all the other changes can be done eventually, when you have the time and resources. And don’t rush – its the biggest investment you’ll probably ever make. Good luck!

  • Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) May 6, 2011, 11:24 pm

    Are you looking to rent or buy?

  • Jen May 6, 2011, 11:38 pm

    Ok I’m laughing because I read your description of house #1 and I knew exactly which house you were talking about – it’s right down the street from me. It is a slightly quirky layout and the yard is so big you could plant crops! Don’t worry about the neighborhood/street. We’ve been here 4 years and love it!

  • Nichole ( eat & be pretty ) May 6, 2011, 11:45 pm

    definitely the “cute” house. doesn’t sound like there are too much drawbacks to that one. no master suite is just not okay, and you have a food blog so a cute kitchen is a must!

  • Elena @ GagaForGrapefruit May 6, 2011, 11:51 pm

    i would probably pick house number one! but it’s hard to tell without corresponding pics πŸ˜‰

  • SarahC May 6, 2011, 11:58 pm

    Hmmmm … I would probably pick the cute house because it sounds adorable, would be easy(ier?) on the budget, and sounds like a great starter house. But, I can definitely see the draw of the mature house (especially the sunroom!), and think that is the one you picked! πŸ™‚

  • Lauren @ Sweet and Twisted May 7, 2011, 12:09 am

    I know that location is everything but also think about your lifestyle and whether you want to spend your “weekends” doing those fixes to the house! (And whether you have the skills, haha!) Are you looking at more or definitely choosing from these? Also be prepared – not sure how the market it is in your area but we put offers in on houses we didn’t get!

  • Kelley May 7, 2011, 12:14 am

    The Cute one for sure! Neighborhoods ebb and flow. πŸ™‚

  • Christy May 7, 2011, 12:18 am

    The Cute House! But I always pick the wrong house. Even if I think it’s a no brainer, I pick the wrong one. But your’s is a tough choice!

  • Christine May 7, 2011, 12:37 am

    Keep looking. It depends on what you feel you can do as far as “being handy,” desire as location, and size. Personally, I’d take the “Cute House” and get an alarm, because I’d want something updated.

    I’m sure you know, but it’s so important to not get attached to anything until you at least go into escrow…

    Goof luck πŸ™‚

  • sarah May 7, 2011, 1:04 am

    id pick the cute one beacause it has master suit , good price and dreamy world sounds perfect to me

  • Khushboo May 7, 2011, 1:23 am

    I like the sound of the sweet location! Although the rennovations don’t sound too appealing!

  • Jenn May 7, 2011, 1:28 am

    Ooh that’s tough but #1 sounds like my fave! Nothing beats a fenced in backyard for the pups!

  • Jess May 7, 2011, 1:42 am

    Cute house! I’m all for quirky!

  • E May 7, 2011, 2:09 am

    I don’t own a house, but Sweet Location for sure, since you can’t change that part!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) May 7, 2011, 2:23 am

    The third one for sure… as long as you don’t mind renovations! My idea of handiwork is assembling Ikea furniture, but you can’t beat location πŸ™‚

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com May 7, 2011, 2:25 am

    Sweet location coz y’all can put some TLC and make it your own πŸ™‚

  • Lindsey May 7, 2011, 2:41 am

    Hmmm…from the sound of them all, I’d probably pick The Cute House. πŸ™‚

  • amy the aussie May 7, 2011, 3:20 am

    sweet location house for sure.. you will be able to change it slowly as you go..location is the only thing you cant change!!

  • Jumanah (Healthy Living in the Middle East) May 7, 2011, 4:07 am

    I would definately pick the Cute House!

  • Morgan May 7, 2011, 4:23 am

    Personally, I would go with the sweet location house. As long as you have the “starters” (# of rooms/restrooms/size etc…) you can move in and start working along as you go. If you had everything you wanted with the cute house, I would go that route but adding onto a house is much more work than changing up some stuff inside!
    Happy Hunting!

  • Emily May 7, 2011, 5:07 am

    I’d probably look for something that needs some work. That way you can add value to it. I always feel like its nice to put your own mark on a home and do things to your own taste, and if everything is already finished then doing that is a bit of a waste of money. Plus, the satisfaction when its all done would be immense!

    I’d also want something in a walk-able neighbourhood for sure. I couldn’t cope with having to rely on a car.

  • Angela May 7, 2011, 5:39 am

    Location every time. I love my house but sometimes I do wish I could pick it up and move it somewhere else! Once you are in you can do whatever you want to the house but not the location.

  • Angela May 7, 2011, 5:39 am

    Location every time. I love my house but sometimes I do wish I could pick it up and move it somewhere else! Once you are in you can do whatever you want to the house but not the location.

  • cathy May 7, 2011, 5:53 am

    #3!
    you can always renovate, redecorate, update…but you can’t move the house itself!!
    best wishes with your decision!

  • Rachel May 7, 2011, 6:15 am

    Sweet location for sure. That’s one thing you cannot change about a house!

  • Annika May 7, 2011, 6:50 am

    Location! You can always cute the house up over time!

  • Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope May 7, 2011, 6:52 am

    I’d take the cute house. I don’t know that I’d be up for too much renovation, and if there seems to be a lot of that needed, you never know how expensive it might get or what other kinds of hidden problems might crop up. I love a big backyard too, so the cute house would probably be my choice!

  • Crystal May 7, 2011, 6:52 am

    Sweet Location! No matter what house to pick- even one that is β€œalready renovated” Your going to want things to be different once you live there. Take it from me- once you live in a house for 6 months you will notice things that you didn’t during a walk-thru. Plus a house isn’t a home until you make your mark on it- sometimes you have to be a bit more patient to get the better outcome.. Bottom line is you can never move where the house is- so best to love where your located! Good luck!!

  • Sarah@The Flying ONION May 7, 2011, 6:55 am

    The Mature House!

    It’s in a good neighborhood. There will be less headaches related to fixing things up. And it may be cheaper in the long run if you feel there is a lot of updating needed on the other houses.

    I wouldn’t go with any houses that you’re not crazy about the road or neighborhood, since you’re so active. That might make it difficult to head out straight from your house which is HUGE.

    That being said, I think you’ll make any of those houses a home. I’m glad it’s finally narrowing down for you! You’ll be a home owner very SOON. πŸ˜€

    • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:13 pm

      yay! so exciting πŸ˜‰

  • Christine @ Burning It Off May 7, 2011, 7:17 am

    Pick the one with the best location/neighborhood. You can always renovate a house but you can’t do anything about the area it’s in.

  • Jaclyn May 7, 2011, 7:18 am

    I’d go with the sweet location house. It sounds like being in a walkable neighborhood is very important to you. You can change just about anything about a house, EXCEPT for its location. Plus it doesn’t seem like you have to do THAT much to it, and you can have some fun with updating it, Young House Love style.

  • Running Mama May 7, 2011, 7:26 am

    I love house hunting!!! We are moving again and it’s all because I love to move and try new places…it’s getting out of hand i think. πŸ™‚ Good luck in your search.

    runningtobeskinny.com

  • Laura I. May 7, 2011, 7:41 am

    “Best” location is all relative, to be honest. I bought my first house in the best neighborhood I could afford, and while I liked the house, there were things I really disliked about it in the 4 years I lived there–not enough windows, too far from work, didn’t have hardwood floors, only one bathroom. The location helped when I sold it, but I had problems even there because the real estate market had crashed (really hard to predict what market conditions will be like when you have to sell). When I bought, I thought I would be able to remodel most of the things I didn’t like, but those things cost more money or TIME and effort. Depending on your base of family and friends, rennovation might not be a time or budget killer for you. When I bought a house in my new city, I took a different approach. I bought a sweet, cute little house with fabulous bones that had been recently (and smartly) updated by the homeowners, but wasn’t in the toniest neighborhood, or even the coolest, but it’s a practical neighborhood, close to anything I need, and most importantly for me, close to work. Better for me than living in a house I sort of liked, at the top of my range so I couldn’t afford to make changes, that was too far from work. Maybe I’ll regret it when/if I eventually go to sell, but I’ve loved living there every minute, and definitely wouldn’t trade it for the worst house in the best neighborhood.

    But that’s just me:-)

  • Carol May 7, 2011, 7:48 am

    Sweet location! Totally love the open floor plan. You can always get a security system if you are worried about the location.
    Shopping is always very stressful, but once you find “the one” things will go quickly and you will be moved in in no time!
    Best of luck!

  • Michele May 7, 2011, 7:54 am

    GO for sweet location! In my opinion! You can always doll up the house.. but you cant change the location. where in charlotte are you guys looking? there are soo many adorable neighborhoods and small suburbs around CTL i love it! πŸ™‚

  • Adrienne May 7, 2011, 7:57 am

    If you don’t mind doing a little reno I would totally pick the location! If it’s near restaurants and a grocery store I’m going to be so jealous!

  • Laura @FoodSnobSTL May 7, 2011, 8:00 am

    When we were house shopping, my husband said that we should focus on the things we can’t change – neighborhood, location, taxes, etc. – and not on those things we can change – paint, redoing bathrooms, updating things. I think it’s good advice. You can add so much value to a home doing your own updates. I say the good location!

  • Karlee @olivewineandfood May 7, 2011, 8:30 am

    i would pick sweet location house : ) if you’re up for putting a little sweat and money into the house.

  • Effie May 7, 2011, 8:46 am

    the cute one because of the master suite and as someone mentioned before neighborhoods always change. Plus with the constant growth and expansion of Charlotte, your neighborhood could become a walkable one.

  • Lee May 7, 2011, 8:59 am

    Either the sweet location or the mature house. If the cute one is in a so-so neighborhood, I’d sort of be wary of that.

  • Kelly May 7, 2011, 9:29 am

    Did I miss something?? I thought you said you and the hubs didn’t qualify to buy a house this year because your business hasn’t been establishe for 2 years and the hubs was still in med school??

    • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:14 pm

      We found someone who can work with us to get a mortgage! yay!

  • Amanda @ Cakes and Ale May 7, 2011, 9:32 am

    The best advice someone gave me when we were house-hunting was to prioritize the things you can’t change. So, in my opinion, LOCATION trumps everything else, because things like kitchens and even layouts may not be perfect now, but could be changed over time.
    My choice would be #3. You obviously would love the walkability, and I’ve found that a good location is the best investment.
    Good luck!

  • Paige @Running Around Normal May 7, 2011, 9:40 am

    You must be EXHAUSTED!
    I think by your description I’d choose house #1. The cute house with hardwood and a big back yard.

  • Emily May 7, 2011, 9:46 am

    cute house!! for sure!!!

  • Babbler May 7, 2011, 9:54 am

    Location- definitely. You will reap the benefits if you ever need to move. And think of the fun it will be to get to design your own kitchen!

  • Bec May 7, 2011, 9:57 am

    We bought our first house because we fell in love with it, but didn’t put enough thought into how the horrible location would affect us (on a VERY busy street, not the nicest neighborhood, etc.). We still love the house, but the ‘hood drives us completely crazy. So, I would definitely say that you want to find a neighborhood and area that you love and will feel comfortable in. Trust me, it’s important.

    • Baking 'n' Books May 7, 2011, 10:36 am

      Hmm…that’s interesting then…what would you say if your on the “cusp” of a good area? Kind of central, but off of a busy street, more older area – but a few streets over it is nicer??

      I often wonder what people’s definitions of “sweet location” is or if being on the “Edge” isn’t too bad…

    • Kristen May 7, 2011, 11:18 am

      Bec, I’m with ya! I LOVED our first house, but the neighborhood was “in transition.” Five years later, that transition was not a good one, and we had a tough time selling. Our house was fantastic on the inside, but you can’t control the neighborhood, and that’s the first thing that people see. When you’re considering new houses, location should only add to the value; it should never take away from it! Good luck. πŸ™‚

      • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:14 pm

        transitional neighborhoods make me nervous!

  • sarah (sarah learns) May 7, 2011, 10:37 am

    i’d pick the sweet location house! you can always change so much about your house, but you can’t change where it’s located!

  • sirenjess May 7, 2011, 11:40 am

    Go with the sweet location. You could probably negotiate the price and you could update it as you choose to.

  • Kim @ Kim Lives Healthy May 7, 2011, 11:46 am

    Sweet location house! Walk-out basements are PRICELESS!

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence May 7, 2011, 11:56 am

    I’d go with sweet location or mature house (just bc master suite isn’t that necessary to me) πŸ™‚

  • Amber K May 7, 2011, 12:02 pm

    Wow, I thought one thing and after reading the comments I’m extra confused. It’s going to be so hard when my husband and I are actually looking at houses. So far we’ve just been looking online, but we haven’t been inside any. Our budget is so low though we have maybe two or three total options.

  • Ashley May 7, 2011, 12:09 pm

    I vote for the cute one! If it’s on the edge of a great location, it’s likely that the “greatness” will expand. And that house just sounds perfect. Your description makes me want to live there.

  • Shannon May 7, 2011, 12:24 pm

    The cute house!

  • Lori May 7, 2011, 12:28 pm

    Why rush it? This was your first day looking. Start making lists of what you like and don’t like and really want to have. A house you love could become available in a perfect location within a few months. It would be a shame if you settled for one and then missed out on one you really wanted.

    • Susan May 7, 2011, 11:20 pm

      I agree. We started looking last January and the first time we looked at houses, we thought we found the one and debated making an offer. Unfortunately, it went to auction the next week. In March we found a nice home in a great location and I’m so glad we didn’t jump at the first one.

    • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:15 pm

      We’re not rushing it at all πŸ™‚ Those were just the top 3 of day 1!

  • Marissa C May 7, 2011, 12:33 pm

    I know you don’t like dark cabinets, but I’m loving the kitchen with the granite and the stainless steel!

  • meagan May 7, 2011, 12:40 pm

    Keep looking and keep making lists of things you like and don’t like (also to keep in mind for your own future renovations). I agree with the comments that location is most important, followed by how well the house was kept up. Seriously, you don’t want to have to do foundation repair, window installment, etc.

    Also, keep in mind the life changes that you might go through that will effect your idea of what a ‘good’ location is. Right now it might be walkability to bars and restaurants, after a kid a quick drive to the store, parks and school zone will be much more important.

  • Kelsey May 7, 2011, 1:10 pm

    a house can be changed but the location can’t! important to think about schools and resale-ability also.

  • Jessie May 7, 2011, 1:31 pm

    I just moved so I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot.

    Location, location, location!

    Living in a safe, fun, walkable neighborhood ended up my #1 priority. It feels so good to love the area where you live. My new apartment is nice, but not as nice as some of the places I saw in less desirable neighborhoods, but I’m 100% sure I made the right decision. Especially since we’re going to just 1 car and plan to walk/bike a lot more.

    I realize it’s probably different when you’re buying versus renting, though.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) May 7, 2011, 2:41 pm

    I’d go with the first one. It sounds like it has all you want. But take into consideration the taxes and other things that go with all houses.

    I’d love a great location but great locations in our area equal huge taxes.

  • Lacey @ Lake Life May 7, 2011, 3:06 pm

    The Cute House for sure πŸ™‚

    P.S. Have you ever tried applying to be on House Hunters? You give them a lot of free advertising, I think they should hook you up!

    • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:15 pm

      haha i will look into this!

  • Alex @ Healing Beauty May 7, 2011, 7:15 pm

    Cute house! Good luck!

  • Sarah Rigs May 7, 2011, 7:55 pm

    The best advice I received when I was debating houses. “You can always change the house. You cannot change the location.”

  • Jamie May 7, 2011, 7:59 pm

    Location, location, location. Pick WHERE you want to live and you can fix anything you don’t like about the house. But you can’t change where a perfect house is located.

  • Carin May 8, 2011, 1:16 am

    Caitlin, you KNOW which one you want. It’s not so much a case of weighing up the options – just looking at the house and thinking “will this work for me?”, “will we be happy here?” and “can I imagine myself living here with kids?” (as that’s in your plans).

    Location’s important. It governs what your life will be like. We bought our house over and above quieter roads, “nicer” locations etc because it’s close to what will be our daughter’s primary schol next year, in walking distance to the park (where our 2 and 4 year old go to kids’ running every week – so cute!) and a great stroll up to the high street, where there’s a bakery, fruit & veg shop, newsagent, supermarket and loads of great cafes (plus the library and doctor’s surgery etc.). It’s important to us that the kids learn to walk to places rather than use the car and trips to the park, shops or beach (15 minutes) give us great family time.

    Our house was pretty ugly when I first visited but I could see that we could make it lovely and that it had potential. We had to put in an en-suite for our bedroom, re-do the family bathroom, makeover the kitchen, build a deck, demolish outbuildings and fencing in the garden, and completely build guest accomodation (2 beds, living room, laundry and shower room) downstairs. We did most of this whilst I was pregnant and my husband was still painting while I was in hospital after having the baby! But it all worked really well and although it’s not perfect and not my “dream” house, it gives us a great family lifestyle.

    It’s not about impressing people or gasping at a beautiful bathroom. It’s not all about the fittings or size of garden. It’s about how you want your life to be, what’s important to you and how your home influences how you feel and what you do. Pick the houe that will make you and Kristien happy!

    • CaitlinHTP May 8, 2011, 3:15 pm

      thank you so much for this comment! it was really helpful!

  • Sarah (appifanie) May 8, 2011, 7:02 pm

    it’s hard to rectify not enough closet space :/

  • Lisa May 8, 2011, 9:12 pm

    What neighborhoods in Charlotte are you guys looking at? We just moved to Charlotte this year and were house hunting the past few monhs, actually we just had an offer accepted on a house this weekend! I was trying to see if I recognize any of the pictures of the houses since we’ve seen so many haha!

  • Kristen May 8, 2011, 10:21 pm

    yea house hunting!! I just bought a house myself 1 week ago! It was stressful but defiantly worth the wait and time to find the “perfect” one! Good luck!

  • Kate @ Walking in the Rain May 9, 2011, 12:49 am

    I would go for the cute house.

    But

    In the last year of house hunting my husband and I liked a lot of the houses but we never loved any of them. Until we walking into the house we bought in October. It was an instant “Wow!” We immediately loved it and didn’t feel like we had to convince ourselves to buy a house. (We had a bad experience with the first condo we bought.)

  • JenRD May 9, 2011, 8:44 am

    Definitely go with the cute house! Unless you are a fixer-upper couple. It seems like that has the most of what you are looking for, and you seemed realy excited writing about it. Good luck!

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy May 9, 2011, 9:43 am

    The cute house of the last house. Or keep looking πŸ˜‰

  • Charise May 9, 2011, 9:44 am

    I know how important being in a great and walkable-to-fun-things location is to you guys, and midgrade updates to things like kitchens and basements are easy enough to do on your own eventually as you have the money for it. It sounds like the most expensive house would still need work, so that might not be the best choice for you financially, although if you plan on staying for, say, 10+ years, the bigger house in the best neighborhood might be the best option after all. But I think I’d pick the last house, because I don’t mind some bigger DIY projects!

  • Reenie May 9, 2011, 10:35 am

    Def the location. Try to look past all the cosmetic fixes…..a can of paint and a few new accessories ~ can make a HUGE difference.

    πŸ™‚

  • Kristyn May 9, 2011, 11:06 am

    I think my choices would be cute, sweet location, then mature. Mature last because of the fix ups it needs. Sweet location second (although I’m all about good location with schools and what not because I’m a teacher…so I’m thinking in the future there for you), and cute first because you say it’s an ok street and edge of a good area. Is it safe? It seems that you really are digging the master suite and walk in closet (I’m a shoe lover so walk in closet is a lovely clincher for me).

    But if you like fix it up projects…then maybe the sweet location house. Are there kids in the cute house and sweet location house area…and good schools? See it’s always coming back to the schools for me! haha

    Good call on submitting to House Hunters…..I love it. You’re hilarious! They better freakin pick you. =)

  • Kim T May 9, 2011, 2:30 pm

    Definitely sweet location. Everything else can be changed. Location cannot.

  • Natalia@ The Health Script May 9, 2011, 8:01 pm

    Definitely the cute house- you had me at dreamy walk-in closet. And I think the one I would pick last would be the sweet location house, a food blogger who doesn’t love their kitchen will probably not be a very pleasant person to be around πŸ˜›

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