A Fargo Lovestory that exemplifies hope in Generation-Next
It took almost exactly one year to find this home; it was the 3rd house we offered on. The first one overlooked Martin Luther King Park and had an Arcade Fire poster hanging in the kitchen, I took it as a sign. There was 10+ offers on that home, and it gave us a realistic expectation of what buying in S. Minneapolis (with a hot market) would be like – After that experience, we were hesitant to offer again, until we knew it was a home we wanted to fight for. The second home offered-on is near the home we ended up buying; Charlie took it as a sign when some fighter jets flew over the house when we arrived. There was less offers on this one than the last, but we were still outbid. When we visited the third and final home, we went to tour the house immediately after the listing was posted. We walked through the house, and I didn’t say anything or show any emotion. By now, Owen and Charlie knew that this meant that I was carefully weighing the pros and cons of the home. This house met all the standards we had determined over the last year and was boasting with early 1900’s character. I didn’t get the feeling that we were settling, which was a feeling I would often feel after touring homes. We had no reason not to offer on this one, it was exactly what we were looking for; we put in a strong offer and it paid off! Our offer was accepted against a competing bid within 24 hours of being listed.
WHY THIS HOME IS GREAT:
The Swans!! – Initially my feelings towards the stained glass window in the dining room was “oh cool, stained glass,” but I love this stained glass window more and more every day. During certain hours of the afternoon, the sun hits just right and it is beautiful. Plus, I think stained glass featuring a swan duo and a bridge was a badass decision by someone in the year 1916. People nowadays would make a more safe choice and never commit to having swans as the focal point of their dining room.
Woodwork – We’re thankful that we were able to find a home that still had the majority of its woodwork un-painted. The dining room is a white-washed tragedy, but we hope to bring it back to its glory days. I feel like we are doing God’s work whenever we spend time stripping white and tan paint off of old-growth wood. Plus, it’s fun to talk crap about people that painted the woodwork while stripping.
Backyard – The backyard is a bonus we were not anticipating. When looking for a home in the city, in our price range, you settle on the idea of having just an okay yard. Somehow we managed to get a dreamy home AND a fully fenced in yard that is filled with fun gardens, trees and a friendly/fat squirrel. We feel lucky.
Christmas Tree room – Most people would call the room off the living room a sun-room, but I’ve always been one to picture where the Christmas tree will go when touring homes. It’s perfect for a tree, and I validated my theory this past weekend when we put our tree up. The tree can be enjoyed from the streets or the living room/dining room, but it’s out of the way traffic and doesn’t require re-arranging the living room every year. Also, we painted this room 50’s-bathroom-green, and it is a hit!
Paint – We painted nearly every room in the home and realized that it takes 10x longer to paint rooms that have a lot of woodwork. The rooms that we have painted so far look much better, though. I don’t think many people realize that you need to consider the color of the woodwork when picking paint colors. Light colors accent dark woodwork best. We went for cool colors on the main floor because the woodwork in our home has a red-toned stain.
Refinish Hardwood Floors – Our initial thought was to refinish the floors to match the dark woodwork. Upon further contemplation, we determined this would make the main floor feel dark and claustrophobic. (Thanks for the insight, Steve!) Instead, we chose to have floors sanded to its light, natural state and finished them with a flat finish. We’re happy with this choice; it helped lighten the space.
The Never-ending Ceiling Project – Where to begin? One of the upstairs bedrooms featured a sagging, plaster ceiling. It wasn’t falling apart yet, but it wasn’t a ceiling someone would want to sleep under every night. We decided to have this be our bigger initial project that we would invest in, naively thinking that it would get done before we would need to move in – Update: we’ve been living in our home for a month and a half now and this project is still not complete. After hiring someone to tear down the old plaster, we uncovered sagging wood beams that were never built to support a room of its length and were told to have a carpenter come over to assess the situation. The carpenters advice was to replace the beams to ensure the ceiling would be done right this time around, but he also pointed out that none of the old electrical “knob and tube” had been replaced for the upstairs electric and suggested looking into updating the electric. While the ceiling was down and the attic was accessible, we felt that is would be the right thing to update the 1916 electrical that remained. Updating the electrical added the task of removing the old insulation, so the electrician could easily remove old wiring and add the new. It was truly a never-ending domino effect of projects. We have been living in a dusty construction zone for most of the past month, and it doesn’t make the purchasing of an old home look romantic – but at the same time, I sometimes feel like I’m on an HGTV show and that’s exhilarating in itself. Our clothes are still in garbage bags, and we haven’t had electricity in the bedrooms since we moved-in. We anticipate the electric to be completed within the next week, and we cannot wait. I say that in the most desperate way.
It’s worth spending the extra $30k – Everyone has a different budget when buying a home, but it seems to be human nature to start looking at homes on the low end of your budget. We were pretty adamant about staying under a specific threshold, and eventually outgrew that state of mind, once we saw what we could get for an increase outside our initial comfort zone. An increase in $30 to $50 grand is more likely to get you want, for a slight increase in mortgage payment. I’m not suggesting buying a home that’s outside one’s budget. But in our experience, we had some leverage, and I’m glad we started looking at homes outside of our initial price range.
Why I think it’s ok to buy a 2 bedroom home in the city – People at work always wanted to offer me advice on why I should buy a suburban home with room to grow and in a better school district and with a big yard and … and it was annoying. Young adults shouldn’t be hesitant to purchase a home just because it’s not going to fit your forever needs. We decided to buy a 2-bedroom home because we loved it, and that’s a lot better than a 3-bedroom home that we’re not enthused about. It offers us what we need for now. If we outgrow it in 5-10 years, we’ll sell it and move on to the next best thing, or maybe we will even keep it as a rental property. Our mortgage payment is similar to what a rental payment is in most areas of South Minneapolis, so it’s an added bonus to start building equity at a young age.
All the feelings - When you are offering on a home, you are going to feel uneasy whether it’s the right choice or wrong choice because it’s a big decision. I always felt like I was going to puke – how fun!! Have a list of key features that the home must meet, but be realistic – this list will likely adjust after walking through a handful of homes and realizing what you love/hate. As long as the homes you are offering on don’t stray from your musts/needs, the uneasiness will turn to excitement, if your offer is accepted.
Finding a home was fun. It’s weird not spending most weekends touring houses, but we’ve traded house tours in for house projects.
We miss Charlie and need to invite him over, so we can make him dinner and drinks. It’s really cool that we get to come out of the house purchasing process with a friend vs. a realtor that we will never talk to again. Charlie was patient and never made us feel like we had to offer on a home that we didn’t feel good about - There would be times when I would send him rambling texts about my feelings towards homes or the decisions I was making, and he would always be understanding; I would often refer to him as a therapist.