Fingers Crossed, But Apparently I’m Buying This House!


It hasn’t entirely sunk in yet, but it seems I’m about to become a home owner. Judy, my realtor, called yesterday to tell me my offer on this 1045-square foot house built in 1932 has been accepted. After loosing out on two others, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever find my house.  It seems that the houses I’m drawn to, a lot of other people like as well (there were six offers on this house). Still, at just over $100,000, and with interest rates as low as they are, it will be much less costly to buy than to continue to rent. So, knock on wood, if everything goes well, we are scheduled to close escrow on February 17th.

Like most things in life, this house has its upside and its down. The exterior could use sprucing up; the house needs a new roof, and the garage, roofless, is possibly a tear down. On the other hand, the interior is  freshly-painted and move-in ready. There are great hard word floors throughout, and the home’s original character is very much intact. Also, there’s a new foundation, and unusual for California, a walk-out basement. The kitchen, did I mention the kitchen?  It’s more than I need, but I’ll take it–beautifully remodeled with spacious granite-topped counters, prodigious Ikea storage, and sunny windows facing east and south. Interesting isn’t it, that the house which has by far the best kitchen of all the houses I’ve seen is the one I’m able to buy? Best of all is the location, location and location.  While it doesn’t have water views, it is on a hill near the marina and waterfront.  From my street, there are views of Mare Island, San Pablo Bay and the hills of Marin. With a little help from my friends, this could be the cosy-est and cutest house in all Vallejo!

What am I feeling?  Amazement and gratitude mostly, and once in a while a little bit of dread at the responsibilities of home ownership. With housing as expensive as it is in the Bay Area, I never thought I could be a home owner. Well into my sixties, this property virgin is about to be a virgin no more. And truthfully, I recognize that I’m not alone in this. To family members who stepped forward to help with the down payment, and to friends who offered advice, encouragement, who said prayers and lite candles, I say a sincere “thank you.” And because my kitchen is also my MacroChef laboratory, I hope to share with all of you what we create there for many years to come. Again I say, “thanks.”

Click here to see more photos of what will be, if all goes well, my new home. I previously posted about my home buying journey here.

Update: I’ve posted more photos that I took during the home inspection, after the jump.

The kitchen, all new and pristine with it's marble tile floor and granite counters, is a bit over the top for a house this modest. However, with tons of counter space and storage, I'm not complaining (need to change the hardware on those cupboards, though). Update: More photos, after the jump.


Home inspector, John Marshall, in the living room.

View from the living room, through the dining room and into the kitchen. Posing is my realtor, Judy Schilling.

Nice hood, but I'll need to buy a kitchen range. Any suggestions?

View of the front yard, through the front bedroom window.

View of the tear-down garage through the back bedroom window. The yards, both front and rear are a blank slate, meaning there's a lot of work to do.

Even a nice, clean walk-out basement. The stairs lead up to the kitchen.


19 responses

  1. Wow! This looks to be a beautiful house! It just has a feel bout it that speaks contentment! Congrats on finding the perfect house! Good things come to those who wait! And here’s to the chef who has a beautiful kitchen to create his wonderful magic in!
    Thanks for all you do!

  2. Gary – Your house is very cute and the kitchen is soooooooooooo fabulous. I think you’re quite lucky to find something affordable in SF! I can already see the beautiful gardens and flower beds in your backyard. I hope all falls into place just right for you.

  3. Nice Gary,
    I love it, those floors and kitchen, but where’s the stove? Oh well, you don’t need on. Get a dehydrator, and become a raw foodie……..or not. Congratulations you deserve this place,

  4. Great little house! And the kitchen is fabulous. How are your neighbors? I see you’re very close to them, at least on one side of the house. I hope they’re nice people who are planning to stick around. Our house is very close to the neighbors on one side, and we are constantly being assailed by noise at all hours and cigarette smoke floating over into our patio. Yuck! I hope you have better neighbors.

  5. Congratulations!! on your new home, I love this one as much as I love the others. I think you have made the right pick and on your way to becoming a affluent owner with lots of money to share and spend. I guest it time we talk about marriage and settling down with each other. When are you going to ask me for my hand in marriage? I will not move in right away, not until you fix the house up to HGTV standards with exception to the kitchen. I’m so happy for you in the new ownership.

  6. Congratulations, Gary! How fabulous! Your own piece of California, and you have a basement just like our midwest! You can store lots of fruits, veggies, and canned goods. I love the kitchen with all of the nice light; and I love the white tile and the white kitchen; so clean and fresh; perfect for a perfectly perfect person and our favorite chef! And how fabulous the blogs will be coming out of your own kitchen creating space. I look forward to sharing the many miracles that will be taking place as you make this home your own. AND you are walking distance to a poetry cafe! I must come and visit! All the best, Sky ANN

  7. Thanks for all your comments and good wishes. We had the home inspection yesterday, and that didn’t reveal anything to cause concern, mostly things with simple fixes. I will have a new roof put on this summer. But my fingers are still crossed that everything goes well from now until closing. Look after the jump, I’ve posted a few more photos which I took yesterday.

  8. Gary, wonderful-looking place. It looks bright and simple and warm.

    Look into a 203k loan. It will let you roll in renovations into the mortgage, so you can put the cost of your roof, a new range, demolishing the garage, and whatever else into the low-interest 30-year rate. It usually only raises the monthly payment a few dollars per $1000 of renovation.

    I’m buying a new house too and am going that route. Similar deal: 1930 home, 1200 sq ft, except on the right coast. ;-D

    I recommend to look into an energy audit too. They can reveal small fixes such as insulation that could reduce your utility bills by more than you’d be spending on the fix, especially if you roll it into a 203k. And you’d be putting out less carbon into the air as well.

  9. Ooh, nice walk-out basement! What are you going to do with that space?

    Thanks for the extra pictures; now I’m really jealous. It’s not a bad thing to have a blank slate in the yard. You have complete freedom to design whatever you want. Don’t forget some fruit trees, and save a nice sunny spot for your garden.

    • Yes, One of the reasons I really wanted a house rather than a condo was the possibility of having a garden. I can see myself pottering around in a garden for many years to come!

  10. Congratulations! It’s very cute and the yard is a perfect size for a garden. As for ranges, we remodeled last year and now have a KitchenAid oven with a thermador cooktop. Can’t say enough good things about the Thermador with sealed burners!

  11. Hi Gary,

    My place that I bought in 1996 needed a new roof and a new range, just like yours!

    I chose a General Electric slide-in gas range, and it has worked well all these years. I appreciate the different-size burners and timer features.

    As for the roof, I’ve been happy with my choice of Gerard steel tiles, similar to Cal-Pac but without the pushy salesmen. It’s great for longevity but maybe not so good for cell phone reception since signals are already weak in my neighborhood.

    If your place needs more light, now is the time to think about skylights! I wish I’d thought about putting a radiant barrier under the roof and/or attic fans, since that would have been the easy time to do it and the attic gets very hot in summer.

    Congrats and good luck with the purchase!


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