Thursday, June 05, 2008

The decisions are killing me!

I still haven't made the offer on a house yet, because of what my agent calls "a good kind of problem to have." Imagine you needed to choose between two houses: same neighborhood, same price, same above-grade square footage, same number of rooms/bedrooms/bathrooms, comparable lot sizes, and both have a fireplace.

House 1:
  • Has a full, partially finished basement with lots of usable space (washer/dryer are there), interior and exterior access and a fireplace with a wood stove.

  • The interior is in great condition with hardwood floors throughout and tile in kitchen and bathroom.

  • The kitchen is recently updated, lovely and well-arranged.

  • The bathroom is cute

  • Seems like it would be a really awesome house to live in and I would not have to do any work (barring unforseen maintenance) right away.

However:
  • It's roughly a quarter-mile from I-85, and although there are trees, a couple of streets and houses in between, if you look hard enough between the leaves you can see the highway and hear its noise.

  • It's the second house down from a traffic circle where cars maybe sometimes go a little too fast. Although it's not an incredibly busy street, it still gets enough traffic that backing out of the driveway might be fraught with a little anxiety.

  • Has no garage or carport

  • Doesn't have a front porch or a rear deck


House 2:
  • Is in the middle of a fairly quiet block.

  • Is a half-mile from I-85, and the noise isn't a big deal.

  • Has a garage of sorts ... really sort of like a shed at the end of the driveway that's just big enough to park a car in.

  • has a front porch and a big rear deck.

  • Is very close to a few taquerías

  • Seems like it could become a cute place to live with a little work (and a bit of money ... see below)


But:
  • The kitchen, while usable, cries out for a total remodel. It's badly arranged and looks like it would be inconvenient to use even for someone who doesn't cook a lot, so it's the kind of thing that needs to be done sooner rather than later.

  • The bathroom looks perfectly usable, but that's the best thing that can be said about it.

  • There is a small basement, but it's not really usable space and has exterior access only.


So my dilemma is, I love house #1 and want to live in it, but from a real-estate-marketing perspective it's got location issues, and we all know that location, location, location is supposed to be all that matters. I like House 2 well enough and it's in a great location, but the prospect of saving up enough to make the kitchen and bathroom decent (and then spending however many months in a construction zone) doesn't thrill me at all.

Ack.

11 comments:

wordnerdy said...

I say get the house you /want/ to live in. Cuteness goes a long way, as does not having to worry about immediate remodels. But I'm impractical, so maybe don't go by what I say.

spacegrrl said...

house #1. it's more important that you like it and want to live there. and i'm very practical! well, kind of.

Ross Grady said...

Can you see/hear I-85 from *inside* the house? I personally am not bothered by highway noise -- it's white, it's like surf noise, and if you don't hear it you're just going to be listening to your refrigerator & air conditioner running anyway.

But then I just moved into an apartment next to the elevator, which I can hear every time someone takes a ride (it's not loud, but it's audible) and it doesn't bug me. Oh yeah, and the train station is like 300 yards from my apartment. Man those train whistles/horns are loud. I love that too.

All other things being equal, I'd rather be 2 houses down from a traffic-calming device such as a traffic circle, than to be in the middle of a block/straightaway. People gotta slow down at least a little to get through the intersection.

Can you arrange to park in the driveway during commute hours for you, to see how heavy any traffic might be?

Here in the South, we don't need garages or carports, because it never gets below freezing. Right??? ;-) . . . I dunno, I've lived in the Triangle for 16 years and I've never had either a garage or a carport. My future condo will have a garage but I'm mostly excited about having a place to store crap. But that just enables me to store more crap . . .

And in any case you'll have a basement for crap.

Window scraping is good for you, gets the blood flowing on a cold winter morning.

I'd be willing to bet that a porch or deck could be added for less than the cost of remodeling the kitchen in the other house. Just guessing, though.

Dunno how I got so biased in favor of the first house, other than that it seems like its cons are far less heavy than its pros, and far less than the cons of the other house.

Lisa B. said...

I think I'm thinking like both of you. ;-) Thanks!

And you're right, Ross--I don't need a garage or carport, but it's considered a "selling point"by many people, so it goes to potential resale value. besides, the basement of this house is way better than a garage.

Anonymous said...

It's funny in Chicago where Pants moved from, everyone wants to live close to the noisy train lines and pay more to do so. How different things are here. In all facets of life there was always so much more noise there.

Lisa B. said...

The interstate noise isn't a huge issue for me directly, it's just a consideration because whatever you buy you may have to re-sell later. So really I'm thinking "What would someone else think about the noise?"Of course, who knows, maybe crazy gas prices will reduce the I-85 traffic to a trickle one day ...

As for the train: If there were a noisy train line here I would be happy to live near it, but not necessarily right next to it. A friend of mine in Chicago had an apartment right next to the El tracks--you could look right into the trains and make faces at the people if you wanted--and it was rather unpleasant when a train went by. I think I'd rather live a block away from it ;-)

Megrnc said...

i had a house that was a stones throw from 85. well, maybe a little farther, but probably only about 5-6 houses (small houses). We did have a barrier, but we could still hear the highway. I sold it not too long ago, right when the majority of the construction was taking place. It sold in 2 days and I had 2 competing offers on it. So it seems 85 didn't factor into their decision. That being said, we now have a house on the eno, not near traffic and I don't miss the highway traffic one bit.

Glad you have finally found some options, though!

Lisa B. said...

I'm glad, too ;-)

About noise vs. quiet: For a couple of years in Chicago we lived on a busy thoroughfare (Ashland Ave.). I never really got bothered by the constant noise, but when we moved to a quiet street I couldn't sleep for the first few days because the silence was just to weird ;-) I got used to it, though.

Valerie said...

A friend of mine lives in a gorgeous house near the highway, buffered by some trees, and she says the white noise sounds like the ocean.

Would you actually do the upgrades? Or would you move into #2 and get distracted by other things to do? I would get distracted by other things, is why I ask. :)

Anonymous said...

Re house #1. I'm feeling like the devil's advocate here, but I think a woodstove is an albatross if you're not someone who wants one. And hardwood floors aren't an asset when worn down by doggie toenails.

--Lisa S.

Lisa B. said...

Valerie--I would have to save a lot of money for the upgrades ... that's the problem. A new kitchen isn't cheap. But the kitchen in house #2 is just very badly arranged--I couldn't see myself putting up with it for very long.

Lisa--House #2 has hardwoods throughout (except the kitchen and bathroom). Doggie nails aren't so bad on oak--it's pine (as in my current house) that gets shredded by them. Maple's the best--very durable. We had that in our chicago house.

Also, the woodstove is just in the basement fireplace. I'd be perfectly happy in a house with no fireplace, but House 2 has one, too.