Starting a series when you don't know how many parts there will be is a little odd. I'm not quite sure how blogging about our search will pan out, so I hope you can bear with me as I stumble along through this story.
I guess I need to start at the beginning, which happened in February, or maybe even before that. I've been watching the MLS for years. Charlottesville's association of realtors has a simple, quick to update site that enables this called MyCAAR.com. I love getting a peek at homes through real estate listings and if you have been reading for a while, you know I like to poke fun at listings that are odd or lacking in detail.
There was a point in January that I came across a really interesting house listing. The house was symmetrical on the outside with a cute cottage in the back. I'm not going to show the front of the house, but here's the little cottage:
The inside was nice, but it had a lot of potential, too. For example, the kitchen was bright and cheerful, but it seemed like it could benefit from a few layout tweaks.
I noticed that the asking price had dropped on a certain day of the month for a few months. So I watched and waited. The listing disappeared the day before I thought the price would drop in February. Remember that we weren't even in the market. I just found the house interesting. A few days later, curiosity got the best of me and I sent local realtor Jim Duncan a direct message on Twitter asking if the house was taken off the market or if it was under contract. Jim replied that it was sold, but that he needed to talk to us.
That Sunday, Jim sat at our dining table and told us that if we were going to sell, it was time to list the condo. He told us about things he was seeing in the market that made it the right time. I knew that Match Day was around the corner (living near a medical school, you get to know their schedule) and it was important to get the place on the market before then. Match Day is when medical students find out where they will do their residencies. Between the end of March and July 1st, many will have to find homes and move to a new city.
That's why there was a lot of activity on the blog centered around taking pretty photos of every space in the condo in late February.
Suddenly, our visits to the MLS website weren't just for fun. I figured we had a few months to figure out our next step. As we looked at the options, I was open to dated homes or blank slates. I figured I would really enjoy both of those. The dated home would need to be brought into present day and the blank slate would need character. Marc was really interested in a fixer. Some of the homes he picked out seemed to have projects that were a bit too big for us, but the prices were sometimes very tempting.
As far as location, we were both pretty open minded. In fact, we were probably too open minded. I think we had three specific neighborhoods where we didn't want to live.
Neighborhood #1: While in a nice location, this neighborhood has some very strict rules. Some people probably like the homogenous look of these sorts of neighborhoods, but I was nervous about not being able to make our own decisions about our yard or the color of our home.
Neighborhood #2: The homes in this neighborhood are really cute, but it's just a bit far from anyone we know. I know we'll meet new people where ever we go, but it's a little intimidating to think about moving to a place where you literally don't know anyone. We also didn't love how far outside of town this neighborhood was.
Neighborhood #3: For a few years, I was convinced we would live in this neighborhood. It's near Marc's family and I had visions of beating a path between homes as we visited each other. Over time, the neighborhood has grown and grown. It's still growing right now. It will continue to grow for a while.What's more, Marc didn't like the small size of the lots in much of this neighborhood. If Baxter was going to have a yard (something he has never had), it would be one where he could do some serious running and playing.
Every other neighborhood was on the table. It probably would have been easier if we had three "target" neighborhoods instead of three that didn't interest us. It meant that when we finally went to see some houses, we were driving all over the city and county to see them!
In Part 2, I'll cover some of the houses we considered. It'll be interesting to see what you all think of them!