Sunday, January 31, 2010

Playing in the street with sticks

"We need to get our kids back outside, playing with sticks in the street like I did when I was little," she said. "Expand your mind, go outside and get to see what this world is like."

- Caressa Cameron, Miss America 2010-2011 (formerly Miss Virginia)

I can't wait until next year when a Miss America contestant has to take up "Public Safety/Keeping Kids from Playing the Street" as her platform.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

U/C stands for...


We are excited to share that we're "under contract" on one of the homes I blogged about this month. The negotiation process was a little stressful and full of ups and downs, yet somehow we came out on top. Can you guess which house it is?

Click here and see if you guessed right.

So, needless to say, we're very excited... yet nervous about the inspection process. The house is being sold "as-is," so we're crossing our fingers for a good inspector. If all goes as planned, we'll close on February 25. This is good timing, as we'll have our apartment until February 28 and can move in little-by-little. We're trusting the fantastic folks over at The Peters Company to finish us through the buying process.

This house has great bones, a fantastic location, lots of space -- most everything we'd hoped for in our next place. As I told my parents, this isn't a "next five years" house, it could be a forever house.

So what to do first? See if we can refinish the hardwoods for a reasonable price? Put some (temporary) laminate over that bathroom carpet? Grill out on the screened-in porch (okay, maybe grilling inside a screened-in porch isn't such a great idea...?).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Public Service Announcement [to left-lane drivers]

The left lane is for passing. 

In a little more detail: The left lane is for passing, not for cruising. The left lane is for passing, not for people who think they might be the fastest car on the road. The left lane is for passing, not for getting a better view of traffic on the opposite side of the interstate. The left lane is for passing, not so you can have your random pick of lanes for the hell of it.

And if you are passing multiple slow cars all at once and see someone coming up behind you going much faster than you, get over to the right lane for a minute to let that person by, then finish your passing.

I thought we were all taught this by our parents and by drivers' ed — apparently not.

That is all.

(We just returned from a little road trip to Raleigh, with a combined 13 hours of driving over the weekend.)

(p.s., Dad, sometime I'll post something about people who think they're too good for turn signals...)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The House Hunt Continues: Northeast Decatur

This 4/3 (with a big bonus room!!!) split-level house was a late addition to our recent Sunday house hunting trip. 

Dan saw it pop up in our gateway (an e-mail service that alerts you when new houses within your criteria come on the market) and asked if we could work it into the schedule. What a great find! The house needs very few changes (changing some linoleum to tile, maybe fancy-ing up the bathrooms a bit, etc.) and we could easily see ourselves living here.

This house is probably my #3, Dan's #1 or #2.

Cute split level.

Nice hardwoods, interesting beams, beautiful fireplace.

Updated kitchen with colors that go with our style.

Another one of those formal living rooms (nice space though).

One of the guest bedrooms.

One of the full baths.

El gigante bonus room! Can you hear the Rock Band?

Sunroom with view of the backyard.

Backyard, complete with a little storage shed.

  • Priced within our budget
  • Reasonable taxes
  • T-O-N-S of space (2,500-ish square feet?) — four bedrooms plus a bonus room!!
  • Family-oriented neighborhood
  • Convenient to grocery shopping and my fave Goodwill (Northlake/Lavista Rd.)
  • Cosmetically updated (granite counter tops, nice kitchen, neutral paints, etc.)
  • Structurally well-maintained
  • Neat exposed beams in the living room — and a beautiful fireplace
  • Good-sized backyard
  • Two-car carport

  • Ever-so-slightly more northeast than I'd like (note: still a great area that I would be happy in)
  • Street is nice but property values aren't quite the same as the Toco Hill-ish neighborhood we also looked in
  • A few of the rooms need new flooring (totally understandable)
  • (Honestly, not a lot of cons here)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Four-sided Brick in Established Decatur Neighborhood

My blog title reads like a personal ad for a house, doesn't it? 

This casa is a 3 bedroom/2 bath with a lot more space than we expected. In addition to a good-sized formal living room (sidenote: what does one do with a formal living room?), the house has a HUGE second living room that flows into a nice sunroom. This will make more sense when you see the photos. The house is located in the same nice neighborhood as this cute 3/2 we looked at last weekend.

This place is currently sitting in second or third place on my list.

View from spacious formal living room into dining room.

Main living room/sunroom. It's H-U-G-E.

The kitchen has a similar layout to our last house — but the footprint is 
a little bigger. We would want to update this.

"Vintage" (euphemism for "ugly") pink tile in one of the full baths.

View of her backside. Can't you just see a basketball goal back there?

Part of the (unfinished) basement. This basement has potential for growth.

Cozy backyard, complete with birdhouse.

  • Convenient location to Toco Hills, downtown Decatur, the Virginia Highlands
  • Established neighboorhood
  • Lots of space
  • Priced within our boundaries
  • Our investments in the home would be supported by the neighborhood — and we could cash-flow the improvements over time
  • Room to finish part of the basement (one large room, a bedroom and small family room or some kind of in-law suite)
  • Deep and wide two-car garage
  • Optional swim/tennis club membership
  • Bathrooms, kitchen need updating
  • Screened in porch downstairs is accessed via the unfinished basement (awkward for now — but will be nice if we finished part of the basement)
  • High taxes (more of this $6,000/year-ish stuff. ugh!)
  • House sits slightly below street level
  • Front porch slopes downward slightly (though this may be by design so it doesn't collect water)
  • Curb appeal is better than the photos show — but it's not the "looker" from the street that this one is 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Another potential house

This 4/3 house is one of our favorites, though we know from experience with selling our own house that we shouldn't get prematurely too excited about anything as it relates to real estate. We stopped by this house last weekend and again today.

This estate sale house is in a prime location and has lots of potential. See below for my pros and cons.

I think that's one groovy couch! Dan disagrees.

Galley kitchen (not great but not bad).

One of the guest bedrooms.

Full bath, complete with canary yellow tile. Ow ow!

Large sunroom on back of house.

In-law suite/apartment.

The "Happy 90th birthday, Grandma" quilt was kind of sad... :(

  • Killer location (biking/walking location to downtown Decatur)
  • Good footprint with lots of square footage
  • Finished in-law suite/apartment in basement
  • Additional basement area to finish if we wanted to
  • Good school district
  • Did I mention fantastic location?
  • Two-car carport
  • Well-maintained exterior
  • High-end neighborhood would support whatever renovations we wanted to do
  • Top of our price range and still requires some work (though we think Dan could do some of the work little-by-little, and we could cash-flow it)
  • Higher taxes (I'm talking like $6,200/year high — yikes!)
  • Carpet needs replacing (including the carpet in the bathroom — WTF? — needing to be replaced by tile)
  • Kitchen could use some updates (though it seems livable) — and it's a galley kitchen (not ideal but definitely do-able)
  • Dated bathrooms
  • Seems to have some water damage in the kitchen (in the ceiling)
  • A little bit seems too good to be true

Sunday, January 17, 2010

House Reviews: Continued

We threw this one on our house visits list kind of last minute. While we aren't drafting-the-papers-right-now "in love," we do feel this place has potential. This four-sided brick ranch with good curb appeal is in Decatur near Toco Hills and Clairmont Road — and it's a quick drive to downtown Decatur. 

Just like many of the houses we've seen, it needs some work — but improvements are also how you get a good deal and build equity in a home. (See below for my pros and cons)

The exterior.

Nice painted brick wall in the living room.

Dated looking cabinets in the kitchen that could possibly be salvaged since 
they're nice quality wood. Vast majority of kitchen needs renovating. 
Look that linoleum!

One of the guest bedrooms.


Comfy back patio/slab that could be removed for a back-of-the-house expansion.


  • Priced well
  • Located in one of our “dream” neighborhoods (amongst really nice houses, established trees, swim/tennis club)
  • Located in great school district (Lakeside)
  • Good curb appeal (even better than photos show)
  • Lot is situated where an addition should be pretty straightforward
  • Good looking hardwoods


  • 3/2 with one living area (we would like a little more space)
  • Construction loans are more difficult and high-interest to get these days — and cash-flowing an expensive addition would be challenging
  • Low pricing in great neighborhood makes us wonder what may be wrong with the house
  • Kitchen needs updating
  • One-car carport

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

House Hunt 2.0: House 2

This home is located in northwest Decatur in an established neighborhood. Most of the houses in this area are partially or all brick, and split levels and ranches are popular.

I should share something that I haven't mentioned before re: house hunting. I'm comfortable in these kinds of houses. I grew up in ranches and split levels. From Michigan to Georgia to Alabama and back, my family somehow always ended up in one of these modest, traditional homes. That being said, I am not narrowly focused on these types of homes; I would love to live in an even older craftsman — and I wouldn't turn down a brand new cape cod if we found one in an area I liked.

What kinds of houses did you guys grow up in? If you're not a homeowner yet, what kind of house do you visualize yourself in? One like your parents'? Or something totally different?

On to the pictures, pros and cons of this past weekend's "house 2." It's a 4/2 split level with partial siding, partial brick. Seems like it has good bones.


One of two main floor living areas. The left wall separates the living room 
from the kitchen and the other living area. Wouldn't it be better if it were one, 
big open layout?

The kitchen. Check out that stove. Yeah, this would need a wee bit of updating.

Upstairs bathroom. Not bad but not much wow factor either.

 View of backyard and two-car carport.


  • Great family neighborhood
  • Four bedrooms
  • Two-car carport at back of house
  • Priced where we could make some improvements
  • Nice sized, flat yard


  • Needs a totally renovated kitchen to be made modern
  • We would probably want to knock down a load-bearing wall to make a nice, big living area (versus two, small awkward ones)
  • Needs some big, some small cosmetic updates (e.g., wood paneling rooms that need painting, etc.) and some landscaping
  • Landscaping in front yard required
  • Bedrooms are small-to-moderately sized

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

House Hunting 2.1

Since we visited 11 houses on Saturday, I'm going to mostly post about houses we found potential in. For entertainment's sake, I may post about a few that were, well, a little underwhelming (or require too much work for our budget) or looked like the set of Saw IV.

So, here we go with our second house hunting trip's "house #1." This 4 BR/2.5 bath house is in the Brookhaven/Dresden area. It's convenient to the interstate, Buckhead, Toco Hills, etc. As you'll see in my pros and cons below, we have to have mixed feelings about this place.


Nice kitchen with updated appliances and fresh colors.

BIG bonus room/fourth bedroom (or as I call it, "the Rock Band" room)

Ginormous backyard (even bigger than it looks), with a nice, big deck.

One of the two full baths.

  • Convenient neighborhood 
  • HUGE, fenced-in, flat yard (nearly an acre)
  • Fantastic bonus room/bedroom above carport
  • Well-maintained throughout
  • Semi-open kitchen 
  • Lots of living space
  • Two-car carport
  • Dry basement for storage
  • Extra building on lot (maybe a shed or mini-apartment? We didn’t have a key to get in so we didn’t see)


  • A-frame/barn look may not be attractive for re-sale (I didn’t mind it)
  • School district looks pretty bad – which would be bad for resale
  • Backs up to some apartment complexes
  • No attached bathroom to master bedroom
  • Listing price is at the top of our price range
  • Small closets 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Content (House Hunting) Coming Right Up

Just when I was getting sad about not having much to write about lately, my mind hit a bright spot.

We're going house hunting again on Saturday! We'll see eight to nine houses all in one area (we'll do Decatur-ish this weekend then focus on other areas, like Smyrna/Marietta, another Saturday). Because Dan and I each have some favorites, our plan is to individually create lists of nine houses, compare notes and see where we have overlap. The overlapping houses will be definite "yeses" for our house hunting excursion — and we'll each to pick a few favorites to round out our final list. 

I look forward to posting about what we find!