House Hunting

Since my first and only blog post on March 20th (I can’t believe that was only a week ago!), I have been to three different banks to discuss mortgage rates, and spent a good part of this afternoon out looking at houses. I’ll spare you the details on what was discussed at the banks, as it’s incredibly boring information. But I will tell you that my personal lexicon now includes such words and phrases as principal, fixed vs. variable and the dreaded amortization. I don’t even think I came away with a better understanding of what it all means, so I can’t begin to relate it here. What I can tell you about are my house hunting adventures from this afternoon! My real estate agent booked five houses for us to see today. All of them were around the Dufferin and St. Clair area. The first house we saw was okay. A little small and cramped, but it had potential. I could see myself living there comfortably. Though I might have to knock out a wall to make the living room bigger. The second house was AWFUL. You could toboggan down the floor in the back half of the house, it sloped so much (and the seal around the backdoor wasn’t very well done, so I imagine there would be a nice lot of snow in there in the winter). The rooms were ever so slightly bigger than the first place, but the overall flow of the house just felt wrong. The backyard looked more like a junkyard, and though there is potential for housing a tenant in the basement and making some extra income, I wouldn’t wish for even my worst enemy to live down there. Needless to say, we moved on to the third house quickly. The third house looked like the children’s department at IKEA. Every piece of furniture was a different colour. The stairs leading to the second level were painted lime green. The kitchen was so small, I’m not sure the oven door could open fully without banging into the wall opposite. The bedrooms upstairs were decent. The living room area was really nice, with new hardwood floors installed. The basement would have been okay, except that the ceilings weren’t high enough – my sunglasses that were sitting on top of my head were just skimming the ceiling in most areas, and I had to duck to pass under the bulkheads. The fourth house I saw was amazing. We’ll come back to this. The last house, just across the street from the fourth house, was not good. Stucco walls hiding knob and tube wiring that the selling agent said had been replaced, but wasn’t. The kitchen turned out to look better in reality than in the picture, but it was not a room you would want to cook in, but rather use for plating take-out. Both Mathew and I love to cook, so obviously this kitchen is a thumbs-down.

Now to go back to the amazing fourth house. OMG. Beautiful, dark hardwood floors on the main level, throughout the living room and kitchen, which is all open concept. The kitchen is huge and there is room for kitchenette table and chairs. Stacked washer/dryer at the back just beyond the kitchen, right before you walk through sliding glass doors that lead you to the backyard and garage. There are three bedrooms and a bathroom on the upper level. The master bedroom is a fair size, but the other two bedrooms are really small. They currently serve as children’s rooms, but I’m not confident that a double bed for guests would fit comfortably. They are, however, positioned right next to each other at the end of the hall, so there’s potential for knocking down the dividing wall and creating a larger bedroom (what is it with me and knocking down walls? I must watch too many home reno shows). But do I really need a large second bedroom? It might be better for one room to serve as an office, and the other as a library, and if a guest stays over for the night (which is rare at best), they can sleep on the blow-up mattress (I’m sure at least that would fit in one of the rooms; failing that, they can sleep on the couch). This house has a basement which is currently being rented out to tenants, so there is guaranteed extra income. And if I choose not to be a landlord, I can always give the tenants 60 days notice to leave, since they are not on a lease. One of the downsides to this place is its location: Oakwood and Vaughan. For those unfamiliar with the area, it’s just south of Eglinton, west of Dufferin. It’s really close to the up-and-coming St. Clair west neighbourhood, but feels really far from the downtown core that I’m accustomed to. After my real estate agent dropped me off, I immediately hopped on my bike and rode back to the house to see if I could handle the uphill ride. My thighs were burning, but I did it in only 15 minutes! Not bad. And that’s uphill. Getting to work going downhill will be so much easier. While I was in the area, I biked around to see what the neighbourhood has to offer. I was hoping for some independent markets, maybe a few cafes and restaurants, and the odd boutique here and there. But I was disheartened to find that the only establishments available (in fact, the only industry) are barbershops. How do they all stay in business? I swear, I saw five barbershops on one block alone! Anyway, despite the location, this place is really amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I’m going to look at it again later this evening, and I’m taking Mathew with me this time. Who knew I would find such an amazing place on my first day??? I’d still like to look around more, to get a better idea of what’s out there, and I don’t want to get my hopes up on this place, because even if I put in an offer, it might not be accepted (I will for sure be putting conditions on this!). But as of now, if I don’t end up living there, I’m okay with that. Maybe that’s a sign, telling me to keep looking. We’ll see how I feel after my second look around this place.

Not just the nicest place I saw today, but a nice place in general.