Adventures in House Hunting update

For more on this topic please see the past few week’s posts on: adventures in house hunting

So I know it has been awhile since I gave you an update. The past two weeks have been pretty crazy and overwhelming. Let me see if I can fill you in.

After my last post “the final trip” we took some time to think through our options and decided we were ready to make an offer on a house. We chose a home near the top of our price range up on a hill in South Dansville that has several acres. We had the paperwork taken care of and made an offer; they came back very quickly saying we were too low. We offered higher but our higher offer wasn’t anywhere close to what they wanted.

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We took some time to reconsider then decided to move on to another home: a nice farmhouse with an acre that needed an updated kitchen. We were all set to do the paperwork when our realtor got back to us and said the place was under contract. We were frustrated and disappointed.  So we went back to our first choice and raised our offer again to what we had been told they would accept; they didn’t respond.

So we felt stuck. We decided it was time to revisit our home list with a new angle: look at some homes with less bedrooms or bathrooms, try further distances to work etc. We set up with our realtor to do an unexpected round four of house-hunting this past Monday. On Sunday we drove up to the Dansville for an open house and did some looking around; we found one of the houses on our list was under contract already and the location of some of the others were not very good. We made a few adjustments after our Sunday drive and got ready for another round of house hunting the next day.

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This past Monday we got up there early but our first showing had not been scheduled by their realtor. So we had to move on to the next house. These options were no better then our round three if not worse; if they had land, there were issues with the house. If the house was in great condition property was on a main highway with possible flooding issues. If the layout of the house was good and the yard was nice the house reeked of cigarette smoke. None of our round four options stayed possibilities in our mind past the drive back home.

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We thought about reconsidering our first option again; raising our price one last time then yesterday we found out it had gone under contract.

So now we are taken a very short house-hunting hiatus; trying to decide what our next move is: round 5 of house hunting? wait it out for something new to be listed? Or are we done with the house-hunting process for awhile; should we rent an apartment and try again 6 month from now?

I will update you when we make our next move.

Adventures in House Hunting: our final trip

For more on this (so far) three part blog series on our adventures in relocating and house hunting see: relocation, and adventures in house-hunting round one and two.

If you have been following so far we looked at 20 homes in three days and walked away with two strong contenders after seriously considering a half dozen others. If you have been wondering through this process how we could so easily turn down some of these options (beyond the issues I described in week one) it might help for you to know a little bit more of mine and my husband’s background.

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I grew up in a spanish colonial home in SoCal built in the 1920’s. My parents have lived there for more than 26 years. My dad is  has taught woodworking and, drafting as well as he has experience doing custom cabinet jobs, furniture pieces, renovating/repurposing antique furniture, and loves spending time outside re-doing the front and backyard. My mom is a excellent interior decorator (although most her practice has been on her own home) and she has taken up upholstering furniture in the past few years.

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So both of my parents are well experienced in home ownership, renovation, home layouts, curb appeal, and redecorating. Also, my father-in-law has his own construction business and has been a contractor for years as well as home owner and renovator. My in-laws have lived in their current home for more than seventeen years and have previously owned/renovated other homes.

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So Luke and I both have the eye for not only the surface level issues but the costs for repairs/changes, resale value, and problems common to older homes.

On Tuesday the 8th of July we did our last round of looking at new homes. Our list only included four new homes, two of which were taken off the market.

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Of the two homes left, we started with one on our original list which was a high contender from the very beginning. For several reasons we were unable to view the home until now. This modern 1980’s home is up on a hill nearby the south end of town and the freeway. It has 6 acres of land, huge separate workhouses/shop, a open updated kitchen, and good sized rooms and bathrooms. The house would require the least amount of immediate changes and is for the most part move-in ready. The current owners are not physcially capable of the exterior upkeep of the backwork houses, the yard, and the plants around the house so the house currently feels darker and less appealing from the curb.

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The second option on our list was a new listing that came up after our first day of searching. On the main road out of town, this 1920’s farmhouse sits 1.6 acres of land. The home has an open floor plan, hardwood floors in most rooms, a wrap around porch, great large windows and plenty of natural light. It also has a large amount of storage space both in a attic and basement. The only problem is that although the kitchen is a good size/shape there is little to no counter space and even with renovations little can be done because of 5 doorways in the kitchen.

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Both houses we looked at we walked away confident in. They both had their positives and negatives but we felt after this last trip that we had a good solid 3-4 options to consider without any further looking. We took time this past week thinking, praying, and waiting to get answers to questions and disclosures on the homes we visited. Now it’s time to weight the pros and cons and decided on which home we are ready to start the bidding process. More on this to come!

 

Adventures in House-Hunting round 2

For more on this transition see: relocation, and adventures in house-hunting round 1

So after our long and somewhat disappointing first day of house-hunting we came home and processed what went right and  wrong. We had two that we liked from our first day of looking: one in town and one 10 minutes outside of town but we were not settled on either one just yet. So started looking at homes in a different price bracket and got to work really analyzing not only the photos but also the information/descriptions provided by each realty page. Before long we had a whole new list set up of more than 10 new homes to look at.

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We were anxious to look at some other possibilities so Tuesday July 1rst we were once again headed up to Dansville to look at homes. Of the ten on our list some were no longer on the market. This is something that happened with our first list as well; when our realtor tried to set up an appointment he would discover that the house was under-contract or taken off the market total.  So Tuesday night we ended up seeing seven homes; five new ones, two re-visits, and one that got canceled because we were late into town due to a traffic problem.

Most of these homes had better layouts, less confusing bathrooms, and bedrooms of normal/average size. So we took it to the next level and looked over the disclosure information provided to us and asked more specific questions about the foundation, carpeting vs hardwood floors, insurance costs, the functionality of the fireplace, the heating system, the roof, the pipes etc.

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If the realtor didn’t know the information, we asked for it to be provided after we looked. Three homes of the five new ones were discounted pretty quickly based on similar issues to what we saw in our first round.  One of these homes was out of town and beautiful on paper: 6 acres, a brick and shingle exterior, and an open layout. But when we got there we discovered there was only one formal bedroom, the acreage was all down a very steep decline off the back porch (which was sinking) and heavily wooded. Another home was a split-level which reeked of cigarette smoke and had a kitchen that was condensed into such a small space I would get closer phobic working in it.

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That left two new ones to consider. One option was huge  it had a full vaulted attic with more storage space then we could consider what to do with, a formal living room, dining room, open updated floor plan for a kitchen, hardwood floors, and a study with fireplace. The house was built with a craftsman style and had beautiful interior woodwork. Still the backyard was a little small and narrow even though it was well maintained and gardened. The house had so much character but it was more space than we need which means it would cost more to heat then it’d be worth for us right now and the roof was old enough it would have to be redone while we lived there. In-spite of all this and other issues it is the most difficult home we’ve let go of so far.

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The other option had a beautiful large backyard with a natural border, new hardwood flooring in the whole house, and good sized bedrooms. But it was hard to overlook that the half bath was only a toilet in a broom closet off of the kitchen. It was the only bathroom downstairs so any guests would use that toilet then wash their hands in the kitchen sink? Um . . . .no. Plus the kitchen was a 70’s kitchen with a indoor grill and bright red-orange cabinets; talk about a need to re-do.

That night we went to applebees and had a very late dinner. We talked about the homes we had seen and especially about the ones we revisited; what new issues or positive attributes we saw during our second round with a more critical eye. After which we decided we were still pretty confident in two options we had kept from our day of house-hunting; which I promise I will talk about next.

 

Adventures in House Hunting

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (see post named :Relocation) I got a new job in Rochester.  I am excited, and a little anxious, to get back into teaching in the ESL world. But accepting this position means big transitions this summer.

If you follow my blog then you know that we have been living in Corning NY and as much as we enjoy this town of glass it’s a  long commute to Rochester (about and hour and half without weather issues). So we are moving North to Dansville; about 45 minutes north of Corning and 45 minutes south of Rochester. Dansville is a great mid-way place between Luke’s work in Bath (a half hour south) and Rochester.

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At the beginning of June we contacted local banks to talk pre-approval for mortgages and their loan rates; after that round of meetings we were prepared with the financial information to start looking at homes.

We met with the relator who helped us find the rental we have lived in since moving to New York and shared with him our thoughts, preferences, and budget. After this we created a list of homes in the Dansville area we were interested in and set up to do our first day of house-hunting Sunday June 29th. It was a long humid day of going from house to house and although we had 10 on our list (which we thought was ambitious) we ended up looking at 14! 14 homes in one day!

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As overwhelming as that may sound you have to remember we are on a specific timeline, hoping to be in a new home before I start teaching  in September. Plus some homes we went through pretty quickly or didn’t go in at all. As much as photos on realty sites can be helpful they can also be deceiving. The owners or whomever takes the photos is obviously wanting to make the best impression of their home as possible. So when you arrive and find the neighborhood is not up-kept well, the roof is falling apart, or the neighbor’s homes are inches from the one your are considering; its easy to move on.

Also  home owners will not take pictures of the worst qualities of the place and some will try to get away with sneaky habits. For example, we visited several homes where they listed 3 bedrooms but one of the bedrooms was in the basement and had no closet or windows.  Another place we looked at had a full bathroom upstairs but the layout was impossible for any average sized adult to maneuver.

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Other than this we found many places were the “bedrooms” were little more than puzzle pieces of an attic space with a slanted roof coming down past midway on one wall leaving only enough space for a small bed and a dresser on the other wall. Now I grew up in a small house and I currently live in a small place so to say that these rooms were small; you know I am not exaggerating

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Of course we also ran into: odd colored/old carpeting, ancient peeling wallpaper, startling wall color combinations, outdated  kitchens, odd themed homes/figurines (aka: country-cute, bunnies (yes bunnies), hunting/camo, roosters etc.), and cats many homes with multiple cats and unclean litter boxes.

I say most of this for humor sake. Still after that Sunday we left a little disappointed, there were several places we were excited and anxious to explore. Most of those homes we felt confident going in and frustrated leaving. We did leave with three possibilities in mind and only two that really stuck after our day-long search; but more on that to come.

Our First Camping Trip: Part Three

This is the las piece of our First Camping trip: for more see our First Camping Trip: part one and two.

Monday was our last full-day of camping so we wanted to savor it and take it slow. We started the morning with a super still and quiet campsite, coffee, and a big breakfast of eggs, potatoes and bacon. We planned to make this a water day; so we packed up our swimsuits and covered ourselves in sunscreen and headed to the state park marina.

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The Tauhannock Falls Marnia is right across the stress from the falls gorge trail. The water from the gorge river/creek flow directly into the lake through walkable inlets. Luke grabbed a book and I took a journal and we found a perfect resting place along the Cayuga lake waterfront at the Marina to peacefully read on the picnic quilt.

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After an hour or so we checked out their rental kayaks and found only one tandem. We decided instead of heading out into the large lake’s open waters alongside the many larger fishing and power boats to drive into Ithaca. We drove back into town and found Puddledockers; a kayak and paddleboard rental and retailer found close to the farmers market. For under 40 bucks Luke and I were able to rent a tandem kayak for two hours. After discovering we had our own lifejackets and had obviously been kayaking before they gave us our paddles and a laminated map of the inlets and waterways around Ithaca and out towards the lake.

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We took off around 2:30pm; a time that is after the most sun and wind but still early enough to not get dark or cold. We explored the marinas around Ithaca and paddled past the Farmer’s Market at Steamboat Landing. We enjoyed touring the many sail and power boats on our way out toward the State Park Marina. We enjoyed sharing the waterways with many goslings of geese as well.

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Although it was a Monday we were not alone on the waterways; other kayakers who had rented from the same location also toured the area as well as several groups from both Ithaca College and Cornell’s rowing crew; we passed both of their rowing centers along the marina.  We turned back around before we hit the more open waters of the lake then backtracked down along the canals that go under roadway bridges that parallel downtown Ithaca.

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We came back to the dock at Puddledockers at 4:10 after a relaxing paddle around. We had enjoyed some beautiful views of the cities parks, Marinas, as well as some great views of Cornell and Ithaca College up on the hills.  Before heading back up to our campsite we stopped for an afternoon treat at Yogurtland.

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Then we went back to our spot along the Cayuga river at the State Park Marina for another hour or two of journaling, reading, and relaxing; this time we were joined by Geese and some shore side fishermen. As we got closer to dinner time the BBQ summer dinner crowd came in and we headed back to our campsite for our own dinner: tacos. That night we enjoyed the last of our firewood and our last quiet night of camping.

The next morning we were happy to see that although it had rained during the night our tent was dry. We got up and moving with coffee and a quick breakfast and took down camp. We were on the road and back to reality (after a stop for some extra coffee) and got home before 1pm ready to unpack and regroup for the rest of the busy week.

Our First Camping Trip: Part two

For the first part of our camping trip please see: our first camping trip: part one

Sunday was had set aside to be my birthday outing day. The campsite became quiet as the local campers packed up for check out at 11am. We both took the morning slowly and took quiet showers. I had the bathroom all to myself, which on top of the fact that the shower was decently clean and had hot running water is a luxury in the camping world.

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We prepped for a day in-town then drove back into Ithaca. Starting our outdoors in-town visit we parked at the Mulholland Wildflower preserve aka Six Mile Creek gorge then walked across the street and down a small hill to the base of a beautiful waterfall known as Businessman’s Lunch. Here many people had already set up blankets on the large smooth rocks in the middle of the creek for sunbathing, picnic lunches, or for reading.

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College students and local couples alike enjoyed dipping their feet in the water and taking in the sun. Luke and I picked a large rock to share and joined them laying back and taking a mini nap in the sun to the sound of the waterfall. By lunch time the spot was getting busy with college students bringing their lunches and books so we decided it was time to move on.

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We walked back to the car where we had a snack lunch then took off on the Mulholland/Six Mile Creek trail along the water way that flows down the falls down the street. It was a beautiful walk through wooded trees and along rolling waters, we passed many people exercising, walking their dogs, and more college students hiking up from the bottom of the trail towards the waterfall with coolers in hand.

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After this we drove up to the Cornell campus. All this time we have lived an hour away from an Ivy-leauge school and have not even by car toured the campus. When I discovered they had Cornell Plantations: a botanical garden, and arboretum open to the public I decided we had a good excuse to check out the campus.

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We arrived at their botanical garden welcome center and were surprised to discover that the Cornell campus actually was placed right in-between two gorges/river that ran through campus. These gorges parallel each other; one Fall Creek Gorge flows through the top of campus to a Tripplehammer falls before flowing into Bebe Lake at North Campus to past the Arboretum and Garden. The other Cascadilla Gorge runs on the South end of Campus closest to the City of Ithaca and was closed for reconstruction being done this summer by Cornell students.

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The botanical gardens were beautiful; although not as expansive as I am used to in SoCal they had well-labled areas for herbs, ground coverings, winter plants, etc. After wandering the gardens at the hottest and most humid part of  the day we decided to climb up the hill past their vegetable garden to their food sciences center. Why did we go to a science building? It is well know for Cornell’s Dairy Bar. A modern sculpture of a glass milk jar marks the entrance to the campsus’ dairy/creamery.

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We entered the lowest level and turned the corner to find the dairy bar, here locals and students alike can by pudding, yogurt, cheese and ice cream made by Cornell students as part of their food sciences and creamery. I got a scoop of Bavarian Raspberry: Bavarian cream ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and raspberry swirl. Luke got a waffle cone with mint chip and kahlua. We sat enjoying our sweet (early b-day) treat in a air conditioned room decorated in red, black, and white with cow spots.

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We then got back to our car and drove up to the Arboretum. From the car we enjoyed a tour of the grounds including their crabtrees, wildflower garden, past their ponds with lily pads and geese and back out onto the main road. We drove back down past campus and got a car view of  Triphamer Falls on our way back into town.

Ready for an early dinner, we drove to a  Thai restaurant called Tamarind.  For my early bday dinner we enjoyed red curry with chicken and spicy beef with crispy noodles. To top off the best Thai food we’ve had here in New York we got amazing (non-powerederd) Thai teas! The perfect end to my second in a row b-day outing in Ithaca.

 

Our First Camping Trip: part one

Although Luke and I have been together for more than 3 years we have never been camping just the two of us. So this summer we are staying local and enjoying some of the amazing sites here in upstate New York.

Luke took off work June 20th-June 24th and we reserved a camping spot at Tauhannock Falls State Park outside of Ithaca. After several trips to Walmart for supplies, we packed up and left after Luke got off work on June 19th. We found our site, ate dinner and set up camp just before it got dark then enjoyed some hot cocoa and looking at the stars.

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Saturday we enjoyed coffee from the percolator and decided what our day of  exploring would look like. With more coffee in to-go cups, we started the morning with a drive up the West side of Cayuga lake, it was a beautiful day as we passed by small towns wineries, cideries, and farms. We picked up some free firewood along the roadside then made a plan to head back down towards Ithaca to explore Alan Tremen State Park.

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By having a campsite at one of the state parks entrance into the other parks for the duration of camping was free. I’d looked into the local waterfalls and gorges we had yet to explore in the area and found Alan Tremen State Park. When we arrived we parked the car and explored the welcome center and historic Old Mill.  Because of the waterways in the 1800’s a large Mill was made here using the water to power to mill’s grinders for production of flour and buckwheat. Luke and I enjoyed exploring the three story workings of this old mill with a back porch view to a beautiful waterfall. We set up a snack lunch along the water in prep for our hike along the gorge trail.

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We got a small way down the gorge trail path before realizing that it was going to dead-end because of repairs and construction. We decided instead to take the North rim trail to where we could see an outlook over Lucifer Falls; although it was not a clear shot it gave us a better ideas of the gorge trail. We walked back to the car deciding this was definitely a place to return to once repairs were done.

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our glimpse of Lucifer Falls

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We then drove back up to Tauhannock State Park and up the hill to a outlook for the Tauhannock Falls. This gave us a almost bird-eye view of the tremendous thundering falls. It is here the the north rim trail of the fall gorge area ends.

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Afterwards we drove back to our campsite to regroup then walked down to the trail for the Tauhannock Falls gorge. Unlike most of the gorge trails in the area this one stays open year round; the pathway is wide and flat so people were bringing strollers and wheelchairs down the path easily. Many people wore swimsuits stopped somewhere along the trail to dip their feet (or more) into the river as we headed upstream towards the falls.

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At the end of the path you turn a corner and there is Tauhannock Falls; crossing a bridge over the roaring river you come to a picture/spot and standing area. The falls are so large that you don’t have to get too close to the edge of the viewing area to get covered in a rain like mist. Fortunately we came near the end of the day so taking picture without mass amounts of people was easy.

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After the walk back to the campsite we were ready to settle in for the night. We finished off our first full day of camping with some pre-made shrimp pasta, games of cribbage, and a campfire with s’mores for dessert.

Stayed tuned for Part Two of our Camping trip