iím looking for a house
|| by jeff | sunday, september 18, 2005 9:03pm | comments(0) | permalink | post comment ||
iíve decided to stop ďthrowing my money awayĒ on rent and start looking for houses. usually when i tell people this, they immediately start sending me links to all kinds of homes that are either a) out of my price range, b) out of my area, or c) just plain not what iím looking for.
so, in an effort to communicate exactly what it is that iím looking for all in one shot, iíve put together this little guide for people that want to help me.
q: whatís your price range?
a: $400,000 (give or take about $25,000). based on what i know i spend on a monthly basis and how much money i have to put down, 400k is really the optimal number. i would be willing to stretch it - if i find a place thatís really the home i want - but not otherwise.
q: where are you looking?
a: all over the seattle area Ė including seattle, kirkland, bellevue, and redmond. ideally i would be able to find a place in seattle. and not just any part of seattle, but a very specific area. the chances of me finding a home that i want, in my price range, in that area are probably only slightly better than winning the lottery though, so the other areas are basically my second choices.
itís not easy though to simply provide cities or zip codes that match the areas iím looking for; because all of these include areas i would live along with areas i would prefer not to. seattle has a pretty terrible traffic system, which means i only want to deal with very particular areas. so in order to help illustrate where iím considering, i made this map. the green area would be my ideal location Ė close to highways, walking distance to shops/bars/restaurants/etc, close to friends, a relatively short commute, and just a plain cool area. yellow areas would be my second choice. these are less than optimal, but probably more realistic. if i can find a house that suits my needs within my price range in these areas, then that will probably suffice. orange areas are really starting to push it. in order for me to buy a place in these areas, it better be pretty much exactly what i want, no compromises. if the area is not colored, then thereís pretty much zero chance of me wanting to live there. i want to take the time to specifically call out a few areas that i will not consider. i get sent a lot of links to houses in these areas, usually because you can get a lot more house for the money in these places. but thatís because they are far away from everything, and thatís not where i want to live. so, if you find a place in sammamish, issaquah, renton, duvall, west seattle, newcastle, bothell, or shoreline that you think i might like ... well, you may be right ... i might like the house, but iím not gonna live there.
q: but wait a second, i find tons of things in your areas in your price range, why donít you get those?
a: well, thereís a lot of very particular things that iím looking for. letís do this in a list.
1) a media room which is not the living room. i want to build a theatre, but i donít want it to be the first thing people see when they come over. i donít want to have company always confronted with the desire to play video games/watch movies/watch tv/etc. a good media room has the following: one very large wall to hold the screen. this wall should not have any doors, windows, fireplaces, shelves, or anything else, just one big blank wall. in order to project on to the screen, iím going to be hanging a projector from the ceiling, so there shouldnít be anything obstructing the projection. the room itself should be large, mostly rectangular, and with fairly high ceilings (bare minimum of 8í) in order to have the right acoustics. iíd like to do two rows of seating, so there would have to be ample room for seats approximately 10í from the screen (a lot of places iíve seen had good rooms, but then you look at where to place the seats and youíre blocking a door or closet or something). there should also be some open room for a few feet behind the seats for the rear speakers. nice to have but no necessarily required would be a small room behind the screen to do some wiring and an open area near by for a wet bar.
2) a nice master suite with walk in closet and attached bathroom. this is where i spend a good percentage of my time in my home on a daily basis, and i want to have space and nice clean surfaces to start my day off right.
3) 2 bedrooms that are not the master suite (mostly for investment reasons).
4) i like open floor plans where the kitchen/dining/living room are all open and connected.
5) vaulted ceilings in the living room and/or master bedroom are huge pluses.
6) iím going to need some space designated for storage and/or a workroom. iím a bit of a packrat, but i want to keep the rest of the house clutter free. plus, i need room to hold all my star wars figures that need to find residency outside of my motherís basement.
7) an attached garage is quite important. 2 cars would be ideal, but i can live with 1 if the rest of the house is what iím looking for.
8) as for yard, this is not something that greatly concerns me. i prefer a lack of shrubbery (less space for creepy crawly things), and flat land (easier to maintain). a fence would be good for future dog potential, but doesnít need to be there day one. a spot to do a small japanese style garden pond would be cool, but again, not necessary. size doesnít really concern me. in general, enough room for a keg and a bbq would put me at ďgoodĒ.
9) i should be able to open my bedroom window at night and not hear cars whizzing by every few seconds.
10) iím rather anal about clean spaces and well cared for stuff. anything that isnít either new or very well maintained is going to turn me off, and iíll want to rip it out/knock it down/re-model it before i would feel comfortable in my home. some things that are very likely to illicit a ďyuckĒ reaction from me Ė wood paneled walls, old sinks, tubs, toilets, and floor tiling, built in shelving, etc
11) things that will get a ďyes!Ē reaction from me Ė nice hardwood floors for the living/dining/kitchen areas, new carpet in the bedrooms/media room, tiled slate bathrooms and entry ways, single piece marble counter tops, stainless steel appliances, high speed cabling for home networking.
q: i know this realtor/mortgage broker/search engine that you should really take a look at...
a: thanks, but i'm already overwhelmed with recommendations for these sorts of things. i have rss feeds of daily searches being pumped directly in to my frontal lobe. if on the other hand, you happen to find a house that fits all the things i'm looking for that i probably did not come across through more obvious channels, then please let me know immediately.
so, given all these sorts of things, iíve found that the floor plans that best suit me are generally split-entry, split-level, and tri-level homes, where i can put the media room in the basement. townhomes are also very acceptable, assuming they have a room that could work as a media room (and there are some floor plans like this). ramblers with daylight basements sometimes fit the bill from a floor plan perspective, but for whatever reason i havenít found any ramblers that really spoke to me.
below are some houses that come close but donít fit for whatever reason, just to give you a general idea.