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Catching up on the weekend?



Good morning!



Where did the weekend go? It was here, and now it’s gone in a blink.


Oatmeal time!


On the stovetop:


  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 banana
  • Chia seeds


So, ever since yesterday afternoon, when we put together our mortgage application, I have been going house-hunting crazy online.  Have you checked out Zillow?  It makes searching for homes so easy.


Now that we’re actively looking, I’ve been forced to nail down exactly what my “wants” and “non-negotiables” are – it’s hard to make up lists without being too picky!


Here are my non-negotiables:


  • A good price that doesn’t make us house poor
  • Good location near stuff with already like to do in Charlotte
  • Backyard with wooden fence OR a deck – willing to install one but not both
  • Separate dining room
  • Three bedrooms and two baths


Here are my wants:


  • If updated, a white kitchen – I really do not like dark cabinetry and would be disappointed if the house was updated and I didn’t like the cabinets.  Guess we could always sand and paint!
  • The master on the main floor
  • Renovated bathrooms
  • A front porch


Do you own your home?  What were your non-negotiables?  Do they seem as important now that you live there?



  • Amanda May 2, 2011, 9:32 am

    I can’t wait to hear more about your house hunt! Do you plan to stay in an urban area or head to the suburbs?

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:50 am

      URBAN. I do not want to live in the burbs. We won’t be able to stay in the super cool part of Charlotte but maybe just two miles south.

  • Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) May 2, 2011, 9:35 am

    House hunting is SO exciting!! I’m jealous 🙂

    Our house in Charlotte is in Chantilly and we still have friends that live in the neighborhood. It’s a great young neighborhood with an awesome location. Just thought I’d give it a shout out.
    I love the lake, but living there was a lot of fun, too 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear where you decide!

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin May 2, 2011, 9:37 am

    I rent and have since I graduated from school, which feels kind of wasteful but I love that if something breaks I just call my landlord. I’m excited to watch you go through this buying process so I can learn a thing or five! =)

  • Janie May 2, 2011, 9:40 am

    congratulations! can’t wait to hear about your house hunting journey (just like the tv show!!) xo

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:50 am

      hahah we can do House Hunter posts like the TV show!

  • Lucy@The Sweet Touch May 2, 2011, 9:41 am

    I have been all over zillow lately! I like to click on the $3 million dollar homes just for fun:D I really want a kitchen island and a nice backyard. I think you will just know it when you find the right place and even if all of the non-negotiables aren’t there, you will love it because it’s yours!! Good luck!

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy May 2, 2011, 9:46 am

    We bought our house right before our wedding. We were on a tight budget. We bought somewhat of a fixer-upper because it had all of our non-negotiables. After living there for two years we feel like we spent a lot of money fixing up a house that is depreciating in value (thanks, economy) and actually doesn’t have what we want. We thought we wanted two living rooms. Why? I don’t know. Now I wish we had a dining room. My husband kind of wishes we had a one-story. We really wanted a two-story. We didn’t even look at single stories. Stupid. AND we will eventually have major closet space issues if we have two children and I have to give up my clothing room. It will be a sad day. Good thing is, if you really like a house, you can do upgrades, etc. down the road and make it picture-perfect. We COULD turn our second living room into a dining room by having an entry way cut into the wall between the kitchen and living room. And we COULD make our closet bigger in our room. That’s the fun thing about houses. We went crazy on Zillow! The house buying experience IS an experience. It’s fun, scary, exciting. I know you will pick out an AWESOME house. 🙂

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:52 am

      You have a CLOTHING ROOM???? LOL!

      • Sara @ OurDogBuffy May 2, 2011, 10:13 am

        Our master bedroom closet is SO tiny that I use the closet in one of our extra rooms (it is much bigger–or longer at least) and I have a dresser in there too. And then I fold our laundry in the floor of that room. Hence, a clothing room 😉 Sounds fancier than it is.

  • Melanie @ Trial By Trail May 2, 2011, 9:46 am

    House hunting is so much fun! I’m excited to hear all about the process. I thought I preferred cherry cabinets in a kitchen but the house we bought came with white cabinets and I love them! Makes the kitchen so much brighter.

  • M May 2, 2011, 9:47 am

    Fun stuff!

    Wonder why you like the master on the main floor?
    I prefer mine upstairs (feel safer opening windows at night
    and like having my bedroom not near kitchen etc- for me more peaceful on 2nd floor)

    How do you feel re open windows on main floor while sleeping ?

    I would rather have aguest room on main floor…

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:53 am

      Well, I guess what I really should’ve said is I want the master on the same floor as the kids’ rooms.

      • Mary May 2, 2011, 9:25 pm

        Not necessary – the kids will find you no matter what floor you are on. We have a 1st floor master and the other 3 bedrooms are upstairs. It was never a problem. As an aside I wanted a 4 bedroom house as a non-negotiable when we bought this house so my boys could all have their own rooms. They ended up sleeping in bunk beds with my youngest sleeping in a sleeping bag under the bunk beds when he got his “big boy bed.” They still camp out in each others’ rooms on a regular basis!

  • M May 2, 2011, 9:48 am

    Fun stuff!

    Wonder why you like the master on the main floor?
    I prefer mine upstairs (feel safer opening windows at night
    and like having my bedroom not near kitchen etc- for me more peaceful on 2nd floor)

    How do you feel re open windows on main floor while sleeping ?

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good May 2, 2011, 9:49 am

    How exciting to be house hunting! Yes, we do own our own home, or we will after about a million more payments… Our non-negotiables were three bedrooms, two bathrooms, at least 1500 square feet, at least .5 acre yard, on a quiet street in a low-crime community. We met all the non-negotiables.

    Now that we’ve lived in our first home for several years, I feel like there are some things I’d do differently if we ever buy a different home. We have huge bedrooms but not many/not large common-area rooms. I think if I did it over, I’d gladly sacrifice bedroom size to have a few more separate spaces or a larger living room/dining area. Our kitchen is not updated, but it is relatively spacious, and I’m okay with it. And our yard is huge for town, which is awesome for our kids (who incidentally did not exist when we bought the house). In retrospect, there are a few things I’d do differently, but it’s home.

    I’m so happy for you that you ran a mile without trouble. That’s a good sign!

  • M May 2, 2011, 9:49 am

    Sorry re duplicates-oops!

  • Aundra | Fit for Life May 2, 2011, 9:51 am

    Yay for house hunting! We own, and it has certainly been quite the adventure! We’ve done a lot of the renovation work ourselves. My advice? If there’s anything you need/want to fix around the house, save extra money so you can do it in the first year. After that, it no longer becomes a priority.

    Best of luck!!

  • Julia May 2, 2011, 9:55 am

    Must haves:
    Large yard/privacy from neighbors
    central AC
    open concept floorplan
    large closets
    large master bath
    updated kitchen

    must haves are still must haves. We live in KS and the uber humid summers make AC a must. I grew up in the same neighborhood that we live in now, and its not a traditional suburban subdivision, no HOA or anything like that, all the houses were built in the 70’s and are just a teeny bit off the beaten path (but still 2 min from a grocery store and have EXCELLENT highway access) A BIG part of the reason we have the house we do is for the lot size and the fact our house has only have 1 neighbor and an empty lot (that due to the large slope and grade of the land is prohibitivly expensive to build on and will likely stay an empty lot)on the sides and a heavy tree line to the back so you can’t see anyone living there either.
    I love our open concept living area, it makes entertaining so much more fun etc.

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:47 pm

      I would love a large lot, too. It’s so nice to have the privacy and room to expand if you want in the future.

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers May 2, 2011, 9:58 am

    Now that I’ve lived in my house for a couple years, I’ve learned what I REALLY want in my next house. For this house, the only musts were an open kitchen/living room floor plan (or one that could be easily done by knocking down a wall) for me, and a garage for the husband.

    Next time around I’m going to be more picky, such as the layout of the kitchen (my oven is in the smallest part and it makes it hard to cook) and where the windows are– I LOVE sunlight and I want it to be in my house! All the windows in my house now are on the dark side of the house 🙁

  • Anne @thefitbridesmaid May 2, 2011, 9:59 am

    I am with you on the fenced in yard. Our dog would love being able to run around untethered. Other must-haves:

    My fiance and I went over this while walking our dog one day. Of course we are a few years away from purchasing a home.

  • cathy May 2, 2011, 10:00 am

    good luck with the house hunting, caitlin! like someone else mentioned, you can provide us with your very own version of House Hunters! 🙂
    my non-negotiables for the condo: lots of light/big windows, wooden floors, and in the heart of the city. got all three and have no regrets, at all. esp love living where i can walk EVERYWHERE for errands and social activities!
    hope your search goes well!!! keep us posted! 🙂

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit May 2, 2011, 10:01 am

    Good luck with the house hunting! You’re smart to clearly identify your non-negotiables for a house.

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) May 2, 2011, 10:02 am

    I’m looking for apartments right now (renting, not buying) and finding even that a struggle between needs and wants. It’s only a year commitment wit an apartment but I still don’t want to “throw away” a couple thousand dollars every month on a place that I feel just so-so about.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday May 2, 2011, 10:03 am

    I bought a house 2 years ago. My non-negotiables were that it had to be in my budget and it tad to have a large kitchen (new or old)
    That’s it.
    There were a few locations in Windsor that we were looking specifically, but we weren’t too picky.

    …honestly though, I hated my house when I first bought it. After we started to renovate and redecorate I realized how much I love it and what a great investment it was.

    When you look for a house, look past what’s actually there and imagine what it has the potential to be.

    • Allison @ Happy Tales May 4, 2011, 5:50 pm

      *Such* wise words to speak by…”When you look for a house, look past what’s actually there and imagine what it has the potential to be.” My mom is big into real estate and has flipped a few homes in her time, and it’s aaamazing what she’s been able to do.

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg May 2, 2011, 10:05 am

    House hunting can be so much fun but stressful too! Jason already had a house when we got married, so I really didn’t get to have any say in that matter! We hope to sell and move one day, but it is not a good time for us to sell right now.

    Non negotiables — we need at least 2 bathrooms, a large master, lots of storage, double garage, space for a garden.

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) May 2, 2011, 10:05 am

    I own my place, and the search was pretty limited because there was literally a circle with a radius of about 1.5 miles that I was willing to look at – but I was also willing to hold out as necessary. My non-negotiables were:
    -Within a 10 minute walk of a subway station. No way am I dealing with the DC bus system on a regular basis.
    -Monthly carrying costs under an amount that I calculated as reasonable (you’re VERY smart to have this on your list)
    -A useable kitchen. No need to be state-of-the art, but reasonable cabinet space/full-size appliances are a must.
    -CENTRAL COOLING. I know what DC is like in August. Window units don’t cut it. And it is not acceptable for my chocolate collection to be exposed to less-than-perfect conditions.

    My advice is to hold out for what you want. There’s no rush.

    • Orla May 2, 2011, 10:51 am

      I completely agree with taking time. I almost put in offers in 2 places that I liked. Then I found the place I loved and ended up buying. Wait a while before making an offer. Don’t settle.

  • Heather May 2, 2011, 10:05 am

    we are on our second home, and I had a LOT of non negotiables for our second home after having lived in our first for 4 years.
    some of mine were:
    double sinks in master
    big porch
    island in kitchen
    white cabinets
    bonus room upstairs

  • Lindsey May 2, 2011, 10:06 am

    We have owned two houses – the first was bought when we moved out of our parents to go to University – we had very little non-negotiables with that house being our first house and we were students the main factor was affordability and location – close to the University. Our second house was bought when we finished school and moved back to start our first real jobs – we had more non-negotiables this time around. We wanted to make sure it was a house we could grow into (with kids) if needed so we needed the square footage as well as a open layout. I also wanted a larger kitchen (which I kinda got) and good sized bedrooms – which we got. Location was also a factor. We have been in house 2 for 4 years now and though we love it there is always new non-negotiables that come up for house number 3!

  • Lisa Fine May 2, 2011, 10:07 am

    So exciting!

    I’ve never owned a home, but would like to one day, especially if I could have a yard where I could keep gardening.

  • Michelle from The Cooking Life May 2, 2011, 10:08 am

    Hi Caitlin! Congrats on running that mile without any paind 🙂
    We JUST bought our house in October and it was a speedy and pretty painless process (well, other than the paperwork, haha). We definitely had non-negotiables, such as a 2 car garage (TX storms are not good) and 3 bedrooms/2 baths. We knew we couldn’t afford 4 bedrooms so we were fine with a smaller, simpler house. Besides, smaller means less stuff to clean and less to furnish – both a win in my book 🙂 Also, we wanted an “older” house with character. So many houses in the DFW metroplex are so “suburban-y” and they’re all cookie-cutter. We wanted something different. The house we bought is from 1985 and of course, it has its issues but overall, a great purchase. Looking back, I’m glad we stuck to our guns with our house. PS – since it is an older house, I had to do some slight remodeling (like removing wallpaper – ick!) and planning to paint my kitchen white this summer 🙂 I already painted my fireplace white, hehe. There are pictures on my blog somewhere.

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:46 pm

      I love all the smiley faces LOL

      Removing wallpaper sounds terrible but I think its silly stuff like that that drives down the price of a house and makes it a steal!

  • Michelle from The Cooking Life May 2, 2011, 10:09 am

    I realized, I JUST used 3 smiley faces. Sorry! Hehehe.

  • Krystina (Organically Me) May 2, 2011, 10:10 am

    The first flower picture makes me happy 🙂

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) May 2, 2011, 10:11 am

    House hunting online is really easy now! We actually just put our house on the market to move to TN. I hope it sells quickly and we don’t lose too much in selling it now. Tony grew up in TN, his parents and sister are there and we want more land. We also want to be more self sufficient. Good luck on the house hunting! It’s always fun to do that.

  • faith @ lovelyascharged May 2, 2011, 10:14 am

    I don’t have a house, but when I was apartment shopping, a large kitchen, a good source of natural lighting, a walk-in closet and a downtown location were my non-negotiables. Luckily, I found a place with all of those qualities, plus several more of my “wants” – lots of bathroom counter space, a balcony and an on-facility gym/laundry room!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat May 2, 2011, 10:14 am

    Yes, I think having a front porch is a big want for me too! Right now I’m living with my roommates in a condo/townhouse, but I want my first (real) home to have a porch. Like Kath said a while ago, it will be just like all those home shows where the presenters say “Isn’t this just the perfect porch for enjoying your morning cup of coffee on?”… only it’d be oats!

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:46 pm

      Hahah I love that quote from Kath.

  • Amy May 2, 2011, 10:15 am

    We don’t own a home, yet! My husband and I are in a nice rental house, but I can’t wait to get our own home.
    My non-negotiable items are currently a LARGE kitchen with lots of cabinet and counter spaces! My kitchen is so teeny tiny, it makes it impossible to enjoy cooking. I also really want a screened back porch and a downstairs master bedroom…living in the southern heat and having my bedroom upstairs has been frustrating…even with air conditioning, the upstairs is never comfortable.

  • VeggieGirl May 2, 2011, 10:15 am

    Good luck with the home search!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) May 2, 2011, 10:16 am

    I still live at home, but if I ever buy a house, I would love a porch! I don’t think they exist in California, though 🙁

  • Marci May 2, 2011, 10:17 am

    We bought our home at the ripe age of 24 (!) What an experience at a young age. Non-negotiables were that we didn’t want to do any work, so everything was new. Our house ended up being new construction. I also wanted separate closets and sinks, a great kitchen, an open floor plan with lots of light. Don’t settle!
    Now we’re making a wish list for house #2 in the next year maybe.

  • erin May 2, 2011, 10:21 am

    i LOVE house hunting!! the only real needs for us were: LOCATION (in the district, walking distance to metro and food/shops/something), 3 bedrooms, some kind of yard. that’s pretty much all we got with a 1980’s kitchen and two bathrooms in desperate need of updating. but in dc, the real estate market is unreal, so i’ll take it.

    i’m so looking forward to following along on your home search. good luck!

  • Sarah May 2, 2011, 10:25 am

    Buying a home here in Switzerland is not as easy and “cheap” as in the US, but some of my non-negociables apply to renting as well:
    Quiet area
    Good public transportation
    Lots of light
    I also rather live in a smallish flat in a great area than in a bigger one on a really loud street in the middle of the city where there’s no trail to go running!
    I love our current place: 10 minutes by foot to the woods, 10 minutes by foot to the lake, 20 minutes by bike to downtown!

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:45 pm

      Your place is close to everything ideal 🙂 Jeals!

  • McKella May 2, 2011, 10:26 am

    We rent an apartment, and I have no desire to own a home anytime soon! I made a list of non-negotiables for our recent apartment-hunting ventures though. I wanted lots of light because our last place was a cave and it aggravated my winter blues. A kitchen I can actually walk around in, a walkable neightborhood, and two bedrooms so I can have an art studio. And washer/dryer hookups, which we never had before but I’m loving!

  • Natasha Hurst May 2, 2011, 10:29 am

    We have owned 2 homes. My non-negotiables where: no bathroom off of the kitchen(I dispise this!) big fenced yard for the dogs, ensuite,attached garage, and price of course. Our list of wants: windows in the bathrooms, fireplace. I’m not in my dream home, and we’ve done a lot of renovating but we were able to get our list of musts and wants. We compromised with some details and not with others. Good luck finding your new home!!! P.S. If you get a home without a front deck you can always build one. We did 🙂

  • Khushboo May 2, 2011, 10:29 am

    I still live at home but I would love it if my building had a gym! Location is key too. Even if i have to pay slightly more for a place that’s near to places I frequent, I sure will- some things are worth it!

  • Jes May 2, 2011, 10:32 am

    We really only had 2 non-negotiable when we moved in… Location (on the water) and HAD to have a basement… Granted, everything is in its original 70’s style, the kitchen and bathrooms are ugly, and the yard/river bank are a disaster, but we can fix all those things in time! =)

  • Michelle@crazyrunninglegs May 2, 2011, 10:34 am

    Congrats on making the leap!

    We built in 2005 and my non-negotiables were a BIG kitchen with a pantry and lots of cabinets – our huge island is a plus (so important because I spend a lot of time in there) and an open floor plan (our kitchen leads into our family room). I didn’t need a huge master bedroom, but I did need a walk-in closet(and good closet space in general) and at least 4 bed/2 baths (which is what we have).

    Can’t wait to read about your search. I hope you are able to find exactly what you are looking for!! Oh – and when it IS your home I swear you will just know.

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:44 pm

      I would LOVE an island – gah!

  • Natalia - a side of simple May 2, 2011, 10:37 am

    Good luck with your house hunting! I imagine it’s a scary process to really commit to something like that, but I bet there are a number of negotiables/non-negotiables that can be interchanged if you find the “right fit.” Happy hunting!

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat May 2, 2011, 10:40 am

    We are in the process of buying our first home and it has definitely made me consider what I can and cannot live without. One thing we would not budge on is a basement. We live in an area that gets a lot of storms and tornado warnings in the spring/summer so we figured that would come in handy. Good luck to you! 🙂

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 2, 2011, 10:41 am

    That’s so exciting that you’re starting to look for a house! 😀

    I’m a student so I just rent an apartment, but when I buy my own place I would love for it to be in a safe neighbourhood, have a front porch, be within walking distance of a grocery store/gym/etc, and have a big front and backyard!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman May 2, 2011, 10:51 am

    I live in an apartment but if I were to buy a house I’d first focus on a price that, like you said, won’t make us house poor. As for wants: A big backyard, updated kitchen, hardwood floors throughout, and lots of windows.

  • Billie May 2, 2011, 10:52 am

    mine is a tiny stone cottage on the beach. I love it where I live on the outskirts of Liverpool.

  • Erin @ The Grass Skirt May 2, 2011, 10:54 am

    My husband and I bought our house in Fort Mill last year. The non-negotiable items were: an open floor plan, large closets in the master bedroom, 4 bedrooms, and lots of counter space in the kitchen. Good luck with everything. It certainly is a process!

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair May 2, 2011, 11:03 am

    My fiance and I house-hunted for… about 5ish months before finding our townhouse. Our non-negotiables were backyard for dog, 3 bedrooms, good/safe location (our price range had us looking in some crappy locations). We actually *almost* bought a townhouse that fit all of our criteria but was quite a ways out of town and would double both of our commutes but the inspection fell through.

    In hindsight I’m SO GLAD we didn’t get that townhouse because the one we got is SO MUCH BETTER – it has a 2nd bathroom and a dishwasher (on my WANT but not non-negotiable list) and is in 100X better location.

    My biggest tip would be get a great realtor! We tried a few different realtors and none of them really “fit” then we finally found a realtor who was really proactive at sending us properties. OUR townhouse actually came through her office so we got to see it before it was even officially listed and snap it up for a great price!

    Good luck, I’m excited to follow you guys through this next fun/exciting journey!

  • Sarah for Real May 2, 2011, 11:04 am

    We do own our home, for just over 4 years now! Our budget was so small at the time that we were just looking for a house without any “what the eff” things.

    As we searched, every house had something totally weird (like a closet sized kitchen or giant garage taking up the whole yard) that had us going “what the eff?!”

    We finally found one house (that was priced to sell fast and so happened to be in our price range) that had no WTF things. Basically the layout was perfect and it immediately felt like home. I knew it right away but had to inform my husband that this would be our new home. We’ve loved it ever since!

  • Charlotte May 2, 2011, 11:11 am

    We bought a house in the last year and had some non-negotiables, but were willing to do the work to make it what we wanted. We wanted a big yard, nice kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 bath and an open floor plan. We ended up working on the house 2 months before we moved in painting and taking out the bright blue carpet! We also knocked down a wall to open up the house. We love it, but are already planning for our next house 5 years down the road, since it will be tight once we have kids!

  • Kristin @ FoodFash May 2, 2011, 11:17 am

    I think your lists are VERY reasonable!! Hopefully having realistic wants will help you find your new home super quickly! I own my home (condo), but I wasn’t searching. You could say it found me. The things that attracted me most (viking kitchen in my price range and location) are still the things I love about it. Best of luck!!!

  • Amanda- The Nutritionist Reviews May 2, 2011, 11:25 am

    I’m so excited to hear more about your house hunt! How fun. With this economy, I bet you will find something awesome for a great price.

  • Amy May 2, 2011, 11:38 am

    I bought my house when I was single so my must have list was a price I could afford on one salary, a location close to downtown Charlotte, a running friendly area and 2 full bathrooms so I could have a roommate. Those turned out to also be great features when we stayed in the house after I met my husband (who was renting the house next door), got married and had a baby. The neighborhood we ended up in is called Colonial Village and we’ve just loved living there!

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:42 pm

      That is so cute that you met your husband because he was your neighbor!

  • Kimberly @ Healthy Strides May 2, 2011, 11:39 am

    Good luck on the house hunt! We just bought a house, and it was definitely an adventure. Our must-haves were neighborhood (to shorten the husband’s commute), three bedrooms, a dishwasher or space for one and to not have to buy all new appliances. Our wants were a fenced backyard and at least 1.5 baths. We ended up getting most of what we wanted and all of what we needed.

  • Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me May 2, 2011, 11:41 am

    House hunting can be a ton of fun. My fiance and I bought our first home over a year ago and it’s funny because you really start to nail down what you want after living in a home together. We were wooed by the move-in readiness of our house but now we’re aware of things we’d like to be different or things we want to change. The best part is that we can! We own it! muhahaha! You learn a lot about your needs and wants and what you’ll need to sacrifice to get into a certain location etc etc.

  • Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) May 2, 2011, 11:42 am

    My non-negotiables were: an open concept home with lots of windows, a nice backyard, an attached garage, a safe neighbourhood

    I’m very happy we were picky because I absolutely adore our house we live in now.

  • Amber K May 2, 2011, 11:42 am

    Currently looking for my own house and I definitely need a three-bedroom, two-bath, and I really need counter space! In the price range my husband and I can afford there are some super tiny kitchens. I need space to work!

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife May 2, 2011, 11:47 am

    How fun. I would love 4 bedrooms, a pool, and a nice kitchen 🙂 WOrking for that currently-yah!!

  • Jenny May 2, 2011, 11:49 am

    When I moved into my new apartment, my Number 1 non-negotiable was light!! It sounds so simple but when you’re original apartment had a fake wall that blocked any natural sunlight from the living room you realize how much you grave that bright lighted goodness 🙂

  • Melissa May 2, 2011, 11:55 am

    Congrats on the run and the house hunting!

    We will be celebrating 5 years in our house this month…I can’t believe it’s already been that long!
    Non-negotiables at the time…
    –LOCATION (we were targeting a couple of suburbs due to location to work, things we liked to do and school district–don’t underestimate the power of the school district when looking to re-sell!)
    –4 bedrooms (wanted a dedicated office, guest room and future still-unborn child’s room) and at least 2 baths
    –Large, fenced backyard
    –Decent amount of space between lots/houses (did not want houses on top of each other or right on the road)
    –Mature neighborhood, willing to tackle major renovations if necessary (we did and are still doing the latter)

    We got all of those things within our price range but (since we were buying near the top of the market in 2006) only b/c we were willing to wait (we searched from Oct-May and actually walked away from our current house once b/c the seller wouldn’t negotiate to our liking) and because we were willing to renovate. While doing the renovations was time consuming (we did prob 85% ourselves, including laying hardwood floors in the entire house and refinishing all of our cabinets white), it was nice to pick what we wanted and to know we weren’t paying the price for someone else’s renovations that we didn’t even like that much.

    If we were house hunting today, I would add “screened in room/porch” to our non-negotiables and Matt would say he would “like” a more defined front porch and a circular driveway/turnaround but we are really happy otherwise. We also wouldn’t take on that level of renovations ourselves but would consider a house that needed some tweaking. Paint and flooring can be changed…but the layout is something that can’t!

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:40 pm

      I really want a screened in porch. I feel ya!

  • Blair May 2, 2011, 11:56 am

    I didn’t realize how important natural light was until after I purchased my first place. It is truly depressing on a daily basis, especially in the summer. That will be my number 1 in my next hunt.

  • Sonia (the Mexigarian) May 2, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Ooooh I love House Hunters!!!

    Living in the Bay Area will definitely limit where we can live. Hubby and I will be looking for homes towards the end of the year. I just took a gander at Zillow and there are homes around my apartment going well over $500K. 🙁

    A non negotiable for me is that I will NOT live on the east side (San Jose/Milpitas) Nope. Not going to go there.

    House wise I need a nice spacious kitchen with counter space, natural light, and at least three bedrooms and a backyard big enough for gardening and fruit trees.

    10 year plan would be to eventually be able to move to Santa Cruz area.

  • Clare @ Fitting It All In May 2, 2011, 12:18 pm

    I will be spending the rest of the day on Zillow. So much for work!

  • Mary @ stylefyles May 2, 2011, 12:25 pm

    I love zillow! It’s good for renters too! I don’t really have any non negotiables (I suppose it’s different for renting) but I definitely would love to be able to find a place with a washer and dryer in unit (rather than in the complex). It’s just so much more convenient!

  • Nacho Lindsay May 2, 2011, 12:26 pm

    Nacho Jonny’s & my home is pretty close to the way I want it to be now. It is open and has tons of natural light. Oh and a megatouch machine in the basement bar.

  • Kathryn May 2, 2011, 12:28 pm

    congrats on looking for houses! I loved zillow and when we looked. I didnt have time to read all the comments but one thing to think about with the master on the first floor is how you’ll feel if you have kids and they are on a different floor. We actually JUST bought a house (closing in a few days) and the master is on the main floor. We are planning on using one of hte upstairs bedrooms for the master once we have kids b/c I think it would be awful when the child is an infant having to go up and down stairs all the time/middle of the night. just my 2 cents 🙂

    good luck looking!

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:39 pm

      Ugh good point… going up and down would be annoying.

  • Cait @ Beyond Bananas May 2, 2011, 12:35 pm

    We own! Our biggest non-negotiable was LOCATION. Needed to be safe, more specifically. We didn’t mind updating, but the price had to allow us to do so. We had a strict budget and stuck to it!

    I LOVE zillow.. it is amazing. Once you get a realtor..they can hook you up with access to a site that is better then zillow.. LISTINGBOOK!

  • Sarah @ The Pajama Chef May 2, 2011, 12:43 pm

    can’t wait to see your process…we’ll be doing the same thing in the next yr-2 after i graduate from grad schooL! woohoo!

  • Katherine: Unemployed May 2, 2011, 1:05 pm

    Non-negotiable in the condo/apartment search: gym/fitness center (is that bad?)

    whoot whoot moving in with the parents next week. sad.

  • Lacey @ Lake Life May 2, 2011, 1:36 pm

    Yay for upcoming House Hunters Post! Open floor plan (kitchen/family room) would be a non-negotiable for me.

  • Sarah T. (Team Trader Mom) May 2, 2011, 1:54 pm

    We’re actually in the process of house hunting right now! We’ve lived in our current house for 5 years and are busting at the seams. We always knew it would be a starter home. One thing I learned the first time around, we jumped at something too hastily, b/c we were running out of time (had to be out of our other dwelling by a certain date), so we settled. It’s been a decent house but there’s a lot I don’t like.

    Must have’s for the next one: big open kitchen, fenced yard, laundry on main level (not basement), good condition so we don’t have to do a lot of work, and lots of storage. We started out with a really narrow scope of house type (ranch only) and location (only certain neighborhoods) but quickly discovered we were being too short sited. Now we’ve opened it up and found a lot of great ones. We’ll probably be making an offer soon!

    Bummer that you will be waiting until next year but it’ll be worth the wait.

  • Kacy May 2, 2011, 2:17 pm

    It will be a long time before I’m ready to buy anything but I already have a long list of non-negotiables. It’s very important for the search!

  • Mia May 2, 2011, 2:46 pm

    I do own a house, we bought about 1.5 years ago and the whole process was SO much fun! I have two non-negotiables: 1. location, 2. a house that wouldn’t require any updating…I know where you live that may not be an issue, but we were searching for houses in downtown Philadelphia and came across many many dumps (read: houses that nobody has lived in for a very long time). I guess I sort of had a third non-negotiable which was an open layout between the living room and kitchen…I hate walls.

    Since we bought at the right time we actually got the $8000 new first-time home buyer’s credit which we used to rennovate our kitch (put in white cabinets 🙂 ).

    Anyway, enjoy the process, house hunting is SO much fun…my husband and I continue to watch house hunters every night and reminsce about how much fun it was.

  • Emma (Namaste Everyday) May 2, 2011, 3:29 pm

    I dream of some day owning my own home! But for now, I’m happy to be moving into an apartment with a full kitchen, laundry, a yard with garden, and parking!

  • Tanya @ Vegan Faith May 2, 2011, 3:32 pm

    Everyone tells you to buy a house with good bones…and I totally agree, but what was left out when we purchased our home was “good roots” AKA…grass and landscaping. I never thought about grass before owning my own home and now I am always comparing ours to others. If you don’t have a green thumb, or even if you do, buying a home with already established plants and grass is so important. You don’t realize the cost of those things!

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:38 pm

      Haha I want good grass, too!! Some of our neighbors have good grass and its so nice.

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table May 2, 2011, 4:02 pm

    Making a non-negotiable list is the best thing I did. I bought a condo, so my list was a bit different – covered parking, pool, gym, etc – but all of the items on there continue to be key. I know I wouldn’t be happy without them still today.

  • Baking 'n' Books May 2, 2011, 4:17 pm

    I need to do a list like this – just to find a location! The tricky part for me is the nicer locations have more expensive places and aren’t as near the practical stuff like groceries, etc. But the places that are closer to that stuff aren’t usually near the heart of the city stuff or markets.

    What do you live in now? An apartment? Rented house?

  • LadyLara May 2, 2011, 4:31 pm

    I just closed on my own place a month ago. Looking was so fun! I just took my time and let myself be picky. The number one rule is don’t fall in love with a place, or you will end up paying too much for it. Always be willing to walk away.

    My non-negotiables were open concept, walkable to the train, 2 bed/2 bath, outdoor space.

    Happily the place I finally landed had everything on my list, even my nice-to-haves (big windows, modern aesthetic, quiet)! The only real sacrifice is that my actual corner is pretty industrial. But one street over are pretty tree-lined streets. =)

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:38 pm

      Congrats on your own place!

      • LadyLara May 2, 2011, 10:10 pm

        Thank you!!

  • Megan @ On the Road Again May 2, 2011, 4:46 pm

    We’ve lived in our own home for 3 years now. Many of our “must-haves” were and are still important (2-car garage, full basement, 2 bathrooms) especially as we plan on having children relatively soon.

    One piece of advice that I got from my mom re: home buying was this: think not just about the things you want right now, but those you may want in 5, 10, maybe even 15+ years. You never know what may happen in the future, and you may end up staying longer than anticipated. Of course, we can’t get everything single thing we may want or need, but it’s worth it to think about the big picture, too.

    I hope you guys find something you like and can get settled soon!

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:37 pm

      Your mom gives great advice 🙂

  • Christie May 2, 2011, 5:37 pm

    Ugh we were SO young when we bought our house (I was 19) that we didn’t consider things that we’d want like parking for 2 cars, a big kitchen, a fenced yard, 2 full bathrooms. It’s really tough to sell our current house now because of all the depreciation in my neighborhood so we’ll be here for a while longer but I definitely have my list going for our next house.

  • Kristen May 2, 2011, 8:22 pm

    We bought our first house almost 5 years ago (I can’t believe we’ve had it that long). My non-negotiables were 3 bedroom, 2 bath, and a 2 car garage. We looked for almost 3 months before we found something perfect – and then our offer fell through. A week later, we found the house we live in now. And while it’s not perfect by any means (basement that floods, very cracked driveway, just an OK neighborhood), we love our house and it is OURS! Good luck with getting approved and finding the HOME of your dreams!

  • delia May 2, 2011, 8:49 pm

    I’m buying my first house right now! If all goes well, I’ll close in June. I’ll be the only one in the house, so I was pretty flexible. The only big things for me were proximity to my workplace, low maintenance, and a garage because I’m moving to the Midwest where it snows a lot. Remodeling was highly preferred, which I ended up getting, but it was fun looking at the historic touches in some of the other houses.

    Sorry you didn’t get the mortgage, but on the upside, you can put off the hassle of homebuying one more year!

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:37 pm

      Good luck with your house hunt!

  • Jenifer May 2, 2011, 9:14 pm

    Congrats on the house hunting… sorry about the possibility of it not going through. A quick word of advice from your friendly finance geek bloggy friend… check with some of the smaller local banks. They dont always have the same strict guidelines that some of the bigger boys do, and the ones that they do have they are a little more flexible on working with you.
    Anyhoo, the non-negotiables…
    We had to not be in a subdivision, had to have a 2+ acre lot, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a seperate utility room, and a large kitchen. I am happy to report we found them all without having to build.

    • Caitlin May 2, 2011, 9:36 pm

      I will def check out smaller banks! Thank you!

      • Charise May 3, 2011, 10:11 am

        And look into credit unions! We switched from big name crappy banks to a credit union last year for checking, savings, and credit cards, husband uses them for his auto loan, and we’ll be using them for our next mortgage. SO much more accomodating than a big bank.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey May 2, 2011, 9:34 pm

    I do own my own house – when looking for our first home, we stuck to the basics. We know we’r enot going to be here forever, and there will be more houses along the way!

  • Katie May 2, 2011, 10:35 pm

    Be sure to pay attention to the fluctuation in interest rates. My boyfriend and I bought a house recently and we had set a max price based on our pre-approval interest rate. Since we took a while looking (~6 months) because we weren’t in a hurry (I highly recommend) interest rates dropped and we were able to raise our price point. We love love love the house we ended up buying and we never would have looked at it if we hadn’t re-done the math!

    • Caitlin May 3, 2011, 8:26 am

      What a good tip.. Thanks Katie!

  • Jolene ( May 3, 2011, 12:33 am

    I love a white kitchen too. We have all white cabinets, but in my next house I want the counters to be white as well.

    We own our home, and my non-negotiables were:

    – Unfinished basement (we didn’t want to buy a house that was covering up any basement problems … we wanted to see the foundation, and then finish the basement ourselves)
    – At least 2 bedrooms up (we added another down)
    – Separate dining area/room with enough space for my dining table, which I am in love with
    – BIG kitchen
    – Close the the big park in the city/downtown/ all the cool areas
    – Open concept

    In our next home, we are looking for something similar, but bigger, with a GINORMOUS kitchen, main floor laundry, and a couple more bedrooms.

  • Charise May 3, 2011, 10:06 am

    We are in the process of selling our condo and looking for a house. We’re looking for 4 bedrooms (or 3 + an office space in the house somewhere), basement, big kitchen with a functional layout open to some living space, 2 car garage, in a few specific neighborhoods in the suburb we live in right now (for husband’s commute, this is the best place for us to live), and we actually WANT a house that needs updates to the kitchen and baths so we can get a better deal and make it our style. A nice-to-have would be a more tree-filled, private lot, but that’s hard to come by in our price range in our town, and we’d also love to stay near the parks and exercise trails we have proximity to now.
    We’ve had to lower our max price point a bit as we realize how much equity we’ll be losing in our condo with the market the way it is, which we planned on using as part of down payment, and we only want a mortgage for a certain amount. BUT we are willing to sell for that lower price because the interest rates and home prices are so low right now – to us, it is worth it to get into a house this year.

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