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Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Have you ever had to make a big decision and just haven't had a really clear cut path to take? We have placed about 15 offers on homes, none of which have panned out in the last 6 months. A few have slipped right through our fingers, and 2 we lost out in bidding wars. One of the very first homes we looked at, and named "the dirty house" is getting close to completing the short sale process. We are in first position to buy the home. Today we went and looked at it for the 3rd time.  I'm saddened that people could let what was once a beautiful home become overcome with "stuff" and from neglect.  We looked at 3 other homes that are currently on the market as well to get a gauge for the value. After seeing them all, I'm still not sure as to what we should do.

House #1
Most expensive out of all we saw today. On and 1.17 acre, with a fenced pasture. Living room/kitchen were small. To get to the master bedroom you had to go through the master bath. SO, if I were in the master bedroom and someone decided to go to the bathroom, I would be stuck in my room until they were finished, then I would have to walk through their stink to get to the rest of the house. This was a no.

House #2
We saw this house a few months ago and I was really drawn to the cute porch and red door.  First time we saw it, the price was $40,000 higher, with the lower price it puts it back on the table. It is on an acre, smaller than all the others, and has an unfinished basement, and I'm not a huge fan of the floor plan. Like I said, this one is in the running.

House #3
We are in first position on this house. It is a pretty new large house. It is on a half acre, but for some reason it feels as if it is only about 1/4 acre. This house is at the top of our price range and I still haven't been able to see the inside of it, but have seen the pictures, therefore it is hard to make a decision on this one.

Then there is House #4 (the dirty house)
Michael and I have always been drawn to the street that his house sits on. I went for a drive out in this neighborhood a few weeks back and my heart ached to live in the neighborhood. It backs up to a little undeveloped hill and there is a ravine right behind the property. I pictured my kids with a stick and a little satchel exploring for hours. This house sits quite a ways back from the street making it so the backyard isn't very large for a 1 acre property and we would have to really utilize and be creative with the front yard. It is on an acre, it is one of the largest houses we have looked at, and the outside really has some cute features. It has a little rock turret on the right side, ivy growing on it, and a little courtyard as you walk up the front steps. The only problem is that it has about 15 people with ALL of their stuff in it. The carpets have been trashed, the walls are written on by children, doors have holes in them, walls have holes in them, and toilets are black.  Each time we have gone to see it, the owners plus about 5 other adults, and 4 kids in diapers are wandering around, it is hard to get a feel for what it would be like if it were my house. My heart says YES, save this house! But, my head sometimes screams RUN, THIS IS A DISASTER!

What do you do when you have a big life changing decision to make and you are torn between your heart and your head?



Karina said...

Wow, is that your picture at the bottom? You're gorgeous! Anyhoo, the last time I house shopped the spirit - yes, the spirit of the home - told me this was definitely my house. There was no question about it.

Then, when we almost moved to Utah, I felt so undecided, so unsure all the time. When we decided not to move, I felt great! Perhaps none of them are it?

Do you hate me now? We don't even know each other.

Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

Oh my! Hard decision! I'd say no to #1 and #3. The house with the red door - how many acres is it on? And what is the location like?

Let me give you one bit of advice from personal experience: location, Location, LOCATION! You can rip out carpet and even toilets, but you can not change a house's location. Unless the white house with the red door is a fabulous by on 2 acres or more, I'd go with the dirty house PROVIDED you have CASH to clean it up properly.

Can't wait to hear you're decision!

Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

Oh, one more thought. You like to homestead... which house will allow you to do all that you dream about - chickens, garden, etc? Have you considered soil, sunlight, ordinances, etc.?

marisa said...

Karina, yes it is a picture of me. I thought it would be nice for everyone reading the blog to put a face to the name. Thanks for the compliment, and no, I don't hate you, I'm glad to get everyone's words of wisdom.

Amy, The red door house is on an acre. It is a pretty good location, it backs up to an undeveloped hill as well, but I don't like the street as much as the dirty house. We will have enough cash to fix the upstairs, and then will have to save and slowly fix the basement.

marisa said...

Oh, and Amy. The dirty house would best suit my homesteading needs. I will be able to have a craft room to sew, make soap, and have plenty of storage room for everything I can.

Both the red door house and the dirty house will allow us to have chickens, goats, bees, and a very large garden-those are our requirements.

fullfreezer said...

Just over a year ago we bought a "dirty house" on 5 acres. It has been SO worth it. I'll confess, it has been hard work and we're still living in a construction zone and have a long way to go but we haven't regretted it (well, almost never). Carpet and toilets can be changed.. if you are prepared to do the work and live with the mess. Of course, we have been doing the work ourselves to save money so it takes longer. But the fun of building your dream is a great motivator.
Good luck. I don't envy your decision.

marisa said...


Thanks for the encouragement. I'm normally not afraid of a challenge or hard work, but I think I'm still remembering how difficult it was to get my house clean before we moved out, and my house was clean to begin with. I should be up to the challenge!

Leighanne Johnson said...

In my opinion, I like the red door house the best. I watch a lot of renovation shows and people who buy fixer uppers don't really know how bad it is until they get there. But your case could be different. But I can see you guys living in the red door house the most.

Jennifer said...

One thing you have going for you is that you and Michael share the same dream. I bet that means you guys work really well together too! (We ... don't.) And, like others have said, hard work can change a home that's already in a good location.

When you make your lists of pros and cons, I'd say to make a list about each home of what things you CANNOT change -- no matter the time and money. If nothing stands out as a deal breaker, then you're on your way to a winner.

One thing to think about is your time frame to do work before you move in. Would you have time/money to make changes while still in your apartment, or would you have to move in on top of yucky carpets and walls the day your apartment lease ends? If you have the time before you move in, that might ease some of the anxiety of the dirty house.

I think it's great you've been able to be so methodical about choosing your dream home. Us, we were in a time crunch to just find a place. Things felt right and lined up in wondrous ways, but I've often wondered if we'd be somewhere else if the search process hadn't been so accelerated. Good luck! I'm so excited for you.

And I agree you look gorgeous ... but I knew that already. :)


Use your HEAD in this decision. Your heart will follow to make the house a home.

Giovanna said...

Pray about it and let God show you the way.
He may put it on your heart that none of these is the right one. Our time schedule is not His.

brookie said...

First - that is a great picture. Your so pretty :)

Second - just by the way you talk it sounds like you are in falling for the dirty house. I know it is hard to fight that "I must save you" instinct that house must bring out in you. Maybe you shouldn't fight it. If it is the right piece of property than you have to go with it. Plus I am super excited for you to show its development into the perfect homestead.

This blog has walked me through raising chickens, and we have just started getting eggs and it is so exciting.

katiegirl said...

Hmm...after seeing all the options I'd choose the red door house. I love it. Number three is just the exact opposite of what I picture when I see a homestead!

The unfinished basement can be a plus...storage for canned goods, root veggies, etc. You can send the kids down to play and "be wild" if the weather is bad, etc.

The "dirty" house just seems like a hassle to me. Fixing up the house will take money away from your homesteading projects (like buildilng chicken coops, goat fencing, etc). Plus, if you're anything like we were, you'll want to just jump right in and get your homestead set up instead of spending money and time on the inside of the house. We bought an acre a little over a year ago, and it had a very nicely renovated house on it. We contemplated buying a "very dirty" house on 8 acres. It would have needed a TON of work and we wouldn't have had time or money to do the "fun" stuff like chickens and goats, etc. I'm SO glad we chose the smaller lot, because you can do a heck of a lot more on an acre than you think!!

JesR said...

Dear friend. Because this blog is such an encouragement to me every day, I'm going to tell you something it has taken me quite some time to learn: WAIT!
God is good. He gives great gifts. Wait for His gift, it will be better than anything you imagined. (And don't hesitate to tell Him to make sure it screams at you when you come across it!)
We are praying for you!

Kristina Seleshanko said...

I tend to think you should follow your heart...within reason. New carpets and paint are superficial and easy to change if you have the money to do so. Bad floor plans are really costly to change. Yard size is really important, but there's nothing wrong with getting creative about your plantings. I would find out who own that undeveloped hill behind that last house. If it become developed, how will you feel?

Holly said...

I've done the house thing a few different ways and I agree with everyone that said location is the most important element. Houses can be fixed up, so if you plan to stay there at least ten years it is probably worth it (if the price is right). But as someone who spent four years cleaning up a semi-dirty house (it did not appear too bad at first glance but we kept finding surprises) I have to say that this can get discouraging. You may find yourself with no time for gardening for a while because you have to re-tile three bathrooms and save up for new carpet to replace the flea infested stuff you ripped out because it was making you and everyone else break out in a rash (true story).

At least you know if you buy the dirty house, the neighbors will throw you a big welcome party.

-Sydney- said...

I would hire a home inspector to go through the dirty house from top to bottom before I committed to anything. If it is superficial it may be an easy fix but someone in the know would be able to tell you what's going on under the surface.

daisy said...

Always, always, always, trust your heart.

Bethany said...

I love to fix up houses, but my husband isn't too sold on the idea. We recently bought a house that needs a lot more work than I thought it would. Okay, I knew it needed some work, but the work seems to take forever and a day to get done (mostly because my husband moves pretty slowly on decisions).

In any case, my advice to you would be to get it done BEFORE you move in. Of course you won't really get it all done before you move in, but if you can plan on renting your place just a little longer to give you time to go through and make changes, it'll be so much easier to make the final move.

And maybe, if the dirty house has been on the market long, the state it's in can drive down the price a little making it a better investment for the future.

Hedgetoad said...

The three cardinal rules of real estate are location, location, location. If you love the location and it fits your lifestyle (or the one you want to havel), then cosmetic items should not be a deal breaker. Dirty is just dirty... a good inspection will reveal the real deal breakers.

You didn't mention - is the "dirty house" on septic system or municiple sewer system. 15 people in one house might be a taxing.