In a fit of Real Estate Enthusiasm, Nick and I have started driving around looking for open houses on Sunday afternoons. Which, given that we won't actually be able to buy anything until probably the fall, is pretty much torture when we see something we like. On the other hand, it's definitely been enlightening...
LESSON #1: Probably we won't be moving to West Hartford.
The first Sunday we went, we looked exclusively at West Hartford. The first house we looked at pretty much needed to be gutted before I would consent to live there. I'm talking gross vinyl floors, 18 layers of peeling paint, and omfg outdated EVERYTHING. And did I mention that it was 3 floors? And that the 3rd floor was only accessible via one of the 2nd floor bedrooms? Wtf is that, people? I think the highlight came when I grabbed the info sheet and realized that the house was listed for well over FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. $440K and I'd be embarassed to live there. And did I mention that the taxes were $8400?
Pretty much right then we should've realized that West Hartford probably wasn't in the cards, barring a sudden lottery win. But Nick grew up there, and it's where I had my first apartment, and we both love it, so on with the torture! Bring it on, Dub H!
Oh, Dub H brought it. Every house we looked at was out of our price range. The taxes were astronomical, and pretty much every house we saw needed major work. We had an Inappropriate Laughing Fit in the basement of an elderly lady's ranch ("Omg, check out the orange shag!") and even THAT house was way expensive. Basically, living in West Hartford is like buying silver jewelry from Tiffany... you're pretty much paying for the brand.
Since I'm a total brand whore, this is not such a deterrent as it probably should be.
But then we went to one (one!) open house in Farmington on the way home, and people, that house was FREAKING BEAUTIFUL, AND cheaper than any of the West Hartford houses, AND had cheaper taxes. It also featured 3 fireplaces (one in the kitchen! cozy!), a master suite with Jacuzzi tub, and beautiful hardwood floors. I pretty much had to be dragged out of there.
LESSON #2: Looking at houses before you can actually put an offer on one is HARD.
Especially when the house you fell in love with is significantly reduced the very next day! Torture! But I mean... it's good to see as many houses as possible, right? Get an idea of what we want, and all that? Check out different towns and neighborhoods and try to get a sense of what we will need to spend? Also... just try to make us stop now that we've started. Turns out house hunting is super addictive. Shocking, I know. I'm looking online pretty much 24/7 now. Mostly in Farmington.