With Escrow Closed, And Keys In Hand, This House Is Mine

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Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while know that I’ve been on a sometimes excruciating eight month journey to find and buy a house. I’m happy–no, make that overjoyed–to report that my quest has come to a happy conclusion. Today I got the keys, and took a walk through what I hope will be my home for many years to come. And looking back to the want list which I initially gave my realtor, I’m pleased to say that this house ticks every box. It’s a vintage 1930 Spanish revival in a neighborhood of similar houses. At 1200 square feet, it’s a modest house indeed, but the perfect size for me. And at just over 100K, the price was nearly perfect as well. The back yard, large enough to be useful and small enough to be intimate, is already charming.

Of course, when you buy an 8o-year-old house, you’d better be prepared to have a long to-do list. And I am, but nothing about it seems overwhelming or likely to be very costly (I hope). It is clean and freshly painted and would be ready to move into if you really loved the institutional beige every room is painted. I really don’t, so add painting to the list. The experience of owning a home and making it my own is new to me, and thrilling, and I’m brimming over with ideas. Consider the photos in this post to be the “before” shots.  In six months or so I’ll post “after” photos to let you in on the transformation. Wish me well, and note that there are more photos after the jump.

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Photos: Top–the facade is a bit stark, but I have ideas for warming it up. My thought is to replace the lawn and box hedge with drought-tolerant Mediterranean plants.  The house next door is nearly identical and likely built by the same contractor. Above: the living room as viewed from the foyer.

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

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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.

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