Well, the waiting process for a new house continues, but there are hopes on the horizon. After looking at a diverse range of about 30 homes over the last several months, we were slowly growing doubtful as to whether we'd find one and were on the verge of checking out rentals (although the $8,000 first time homeowner's tax credit was shouting otherwise). And while our realistic expectations were dropping, we were also accumulating a list of what our "ideal" home would contain.
JooYeon's ideal home:
Korean floor heating system (radiant floor heating)
Wood floors (fake or real)
Open kitchen/living room
No basement (half of Athens is in a flood zone and we had seen some mildewy, rotting basements which probably supported several ecosystems of grody life)
2 or 3 bedrooms (less wouldn't allow for guests and more would be too much to heat/cool)
Within our target price range
Walking distance to downtown (Joo's still not overly fond of driving and certainly not biking)
Quiet and safe location
Enough lawn for a small garden
My ideal home:
Walking distance to OU
Low enough price to combine my parents' loan with our savings and not have to go through a bank
Good quality structure with an open layout
One that Joo really liked (although I agreed with everything she wanted)
No major foundation, roofing, or other severe problems
Obviously we weren't apt to find anything that met all, or even most, of these qualifications, but we did finally stumble across one that was 6/12 for Joo and 3/6 for me (in terms of how many of our ideal qualities it met)... a "halfway house," you could say. That was more suitable than what we had found elsewhere so we put our slightly conservative bid on the same day that it hit the market, but got outbid by $15,000 by two separate people on the same day (a story which has previously been lamented on this blog). Then, a few weeks ago, our realtor Brooks found one on Craigslist and sent us some pictures - we weren't that interested so we just told him that maybe we would take a look at it on our next trip down if we had time (as opposed to previous potential houses where we had rushed down that same day or soon after). We unknowingly came across the same house in our own searches, and were mildly interested but not motivated enough to send an email of inquiry. Then, in our most recent trip to Athens to look at two potential houses, Brooks brought this same house up again. We didn't really want to, but the owner of the second house wasn't answering her phone so we decided to check the house out just to kill some time.
To our amazement, it met one after another of the things we were looking for! By the time we had checked everything out, it had scored a 9/12 for Joo and a 4/6 for me. A few days later, Brooks informed us that, by some crazy coincidence, the home had Korean floor heating - something we had not seen in any of the other 30 homes we had checked out. That raised Joo to a 10/12 and me to a 5/6. But also in a non-list appraisal, it just felt like a great home for both of us :) The only things it DOESN'T have are wooden floors (which we could always install, at least faux wooden) and a brick exterior (not much we can do about that one) for Joo and I'm awaiting our inspection to see if it clears my final standard (no roofing/foundation/major issues).
We went ahead and put in a bid at what would have been an ideal price for us. The seller refused this bid but compromised some by dropping the price by $5,000. It was at our upper limits for the house, but at the same time we had seen how much work the seller had invested into the house and his logic behind the price seemed reasonable, so Joo and I discussed the matter awhile and then signed the conditional contract. Now, the final hurdles to leap are the inspections and title searches and we should be ready to sign! However, having seen many similar contracts go awry in the past, we're trying to keep our excitement down until we have the keys in hand :)
That said, we have finally started unloading years of my memories from the attic and have been packing them up. That kind of thing is always quite philosophical for me. How do I know what to save, what to throw away, what to give away??? Boxes of letters from friends dating back to elementary school days for instance...(I was always a big fan of pen pals) chances are that I'll never read any except a select few again, but what if my whole perspective on life changes in the next 20 years and it turns out those letters carry a lot of sentimental fragments of my childhood?? On the other hand, there's something beautiful and freeing about simplicity and minimalism... so here are the final results, minus some clothing and books:
The legos incidentally were an easy choice to keep since they will probably be our cheapest form of furniture in our new home! After a rousing round of miniature golf, Heather said her goodbyes at the airport...