House hunting was a lot of fun and became my number one hobby, but the experience was a true struggle in finding the perfect house. We weren't looking for anything grand; we didn't want a water slide, in fact, a pool is a major turn-off.
We wanted an old house with room for improvements and the potential to be everything we wanted. Certain things can't be changed, so we sought out historic charm, natural light, good bones, and a great neighborhood. I am definitely not one of the people on House Hunters that walks into a room and says they don't like the house because of the wall color. Ugly paint colors, funky window treatments, and weeds for lawns were all a-okay in my book.
We toured nearly 100 houses in person, but I looked at thousands online – so many that Redfin.com said I exceeded their server capacity. Oops.
I was checking the Redfin app on the hour because the daily alerts weren't on-demand enough for me. When I was browsing one evening, up popped a house that I NEEDED to see. To tour a house through Redfin, you submit an online request and wait until an agent can schedule the tour. It often takes a few days, but I couldn't wait, I needed to see it that very night. I texted Charles, the touring agent that had entertained my wild ideas in the past. He wasn't available. So, I texted two other agents that put me in my place and said I can't request an 8pm tour at 7:54pm. The nerve! I promptly made an appointment to tour it the next night, a Thursday, with my buddy Charles.
That Thursday evening, I fell in love.
Yep, that clown portrait sold me.
The photos don't demonstrate how hard it was to breathe inside. To give you an idea, the owner was a member of the San Diego cigar club, owned two elderly dogs that used the dining room as a bathroom, and the place hadn't been dusted in at least a decade.
But I was in love. I was worried about what else had been neglected other than the dusting, and I was petrified it would smell bad forever. Somehow, I knew in my heart of hearts that we could turn it around.
Despite how poorly the house showed, it hit nearly every one of our checkmarks. It was in our ideal neighborhood, had a great flow, maintained original charm, and needed lots of work to keep me busy for years to come. Ross and I had been looking for a house just like this for over a year - the bummer was he was out of town on business.
Anxious for Ross to see the house upon return from work, I tried to set up a viewing for him to see the house on Saturday. But we were denied. Over the course of two days, there were enough people traipsing through the house that the seller decided he didn't need to show it anymore. So, with these horrible photos and my strong convincing skills, Ross was on board. We decided to take a risk on a house that 1. didn't show well, 2. Ross never set foot in, and 3. was in a terribly competitive market.
Looking back after two years of renovations, I'm still amazed how much more challenging the home buying process was than all the stresses of our renovations combined. In summary, we were one of a dozen offers, we ended up waiving contingencies left and right, and I had severe anxieties that we would never get the urine/smoke/filth smell out of the house. But, we got through it, we got the smell out, and the house has become a labor of love that I can't wait to share with you all.
If you can't wait to travel through time to the current day, check out the House Tour page to see what each room looks like now.