A second look.

On Monday I gave ya a tour of three homes we walked through last weekend. Some were better than others, but none of the Seattle homes we looked at tickled our fancy. I have a confession to make though, there was one home that did… I just didn’t want to tell you about it. How scandalous of me right?Β 

As you know, I work from home and Girl Ninja is a teacher. This affords us a little more flexibility in location that the average joe. But just because we could live anywhere, doesn’t mean we want to live everywhere. We have our eyes on very specific communities within Seattle, Edmonds, and Everett. After touring the Seattle homes, we walked through one in Edmonds that got us a little excited…

and for a little idea of where it is in relationship to the Puget Sound…

Here are the stats on the house.

  • 3 bedrooms
  • 1 bathroom
  • 1,428sqft, 0.4 acre (17,000 square feet)Β lot
  • $375,000 list price, For Sale By Owner

We spent about 20 minutes in the house on Saturday. A very awkward 20 minutes. Since it was a FSBO property the sellers met us at the house and showed us around. Normally Girl Ninja and I would speak freely about what we did and didn’t like about a house as we walked through. With the sellers standing 2 feet from us, we didn’t feel like we could. It just made the whole experience feel weird.

We looked at six more houses on Monday, but can’t seem to shake this Edmonds charmer. We don’t know if we want to buy it, but we do know we want to walk through it again, without the sellers being around. The other night I couldn’t sleep so I wrote down a bunch of pros and cons about the house. Here are a just a few of them…

I could write a million more things about the house, but until we’ve walked through it a second time it’s kind of pointless. We’ll be looking at it with a much more critical eye. Quite possibly the suckiest thing about liking this house is the timing. In a perfect world we would have come across this place a few months from now, when we were a little more cultured in the house hunting process.

Gah, I’m not cut out for this stuff. It’s too stressful. Maybe we should rent for a couple more decades πŸ˜‰

62 thoughts on “A second look.

  1. I used to work in kitchen renovations and constantly people were saying things like “we’ll have a white kitchen becasue we want to sell in 10 years and it’s good for resale” etcetc – so for 10 years they lived in a house suitable for someone else – and who’s to know what’s going to happen in 10 years time. You might not have all the children you thought you were originally going to have. You might love the neighbourhood so much you spend the rest of your life there. You might get a dream job in New York next year. I could go on and on, but in short – don’t second guess yourself about the future Mr Planny McPlanerson (hats off to whoever first called you that) I can’t tell you what my plans were for the next 10 years at any stage of my life, but I don’t think I would have predicted a lot of it. It’s kinda nice how life is a surpise like that.

    But 10 years aside (not an argument either for or against in my book) Do you love this house. Is it a fair price. (fair not cheap)Does it meet your needs for the near to medium future? Would you be gutted if you didn’t get the house? Is it struturally sound? most of the things you have on the cons list are so easily fixed – it would be no drama to put a door on the bedroom really.

    Go for the second inspection – what have you got to lose. and on the up and up – There is no way you would get that house for that price in any Australian capital city. $385K sounds so cheap to me, and it looks lovely. and after a couple of months of house hunting you’ll want to slit your wrists at the thought of house hunting, and will be ready to take anything. Take a second look.

  2. Ninja, I address this exact feeling your having in one of my previous posts (at the end) because we had the exact same feelings when buying our first house. The answer?

    “Even though you LOVE that house and you really want it… the next house you β€œwant” will be even BETTER.”

    Sounds weird… But I swear it’s true. If you want to read the full post it’s here:

    http://www.mutilatethemortgage.com/2012/10/29/fhb-tips-learn-to-negotiate/

  3. Wow, that’s an enormous yard. Agree with Claire – that’s CHEAP by Aus/NZ standards. Also, 1 bathroom is pretty standard down under πŸ™‚ It’s doable, really.

  4. Ninja, gorgeous house, and congrats on working on your first home purchase!

    When we were house hunting, one of the very best pieces of advice we ever got was to ask yourself one question:

    If I had to, could I live here forever?

    You never know what circumstances may arise that may prevent you from selling this house and moving into another, so, if you had to, could you make this house work forever?

    Could you expand to accommodate more kids?
    Could you live forever with the kitchen? Baths? House layout?

    Or would you go crazy if you ended up being stuck there?

    Hope that helps with your decision. Good luck on your decision and on this adventure!

  5. It seems like you really like this place! Why not go around a second time and ask for some time at the end to walk about on your own so that you can discuss. Take additional photos too! This place looks awesome!!

  6. Looking at this house, its location on the lot and the lot size – in 10 years you could add on in a remodel, putting in that second, third bathroom and another bedroom should you need it. I would not say this is an outgrowable house. The lot and house allows for growth without messing with the footprint of the house too much

  7. It’s always a juggling act – you don’t want to lose out on something you like, yet you don’t want to jump too soon and lose something you’d like better. Adding a bathroom and replacing wallpaper with paint are both doable for not much money; lack of a garage would be a bother only if there’s a lot of precipitation. Oh yeah, it’s Seattle. For now it really seems good, but the more you look, the more you know.

    • It’s like miniature tennis. It’s really fun and doesn’t take as much skill since everything is at a slower place. We play in the summer with friends whenever we have the opportunity.

  8. It looks like a great house! I love that it’s so close to Puget Sound. My recommendation for the next walk through would be to ask them if they wouldn’t mind giving you guys some privacy as you walk through to discuss. They shouldn’t mind keeping themselves in another part of the house. They already gave you a tour. Also, the thing I didn’t consider my first house was storage. Not just stuff that needs to be stored for awhile (Christmas) but also your linens, cleaning supplies, coats, etc. That’s the kind of thing I didn’t pay close attention to in my first house and I had a few “oh I didn’t even realize it didn’t have X”

    Can’t wait to hear next steps.

    • Yeah I specifically told our agent we don’t want sellers there on next walk through. We are going to look at it on Monday and will spend probably an hour in it contemplating life. πŸ™‚

  9. Love the house and the lawn! Yes, it will mean yard work.. but just think of the possibilities of having your youth group over. What an awesome place to spend an afternoon.

  10. This is a gourgeous house! Going with your real estate agent (sans the owners) has the benefit of having someone with knowledge and experience in what to look for as far as posible problems but also that knows the potential of the house in the market (and lets you rant freely about things like ugly wall paper). I will be going through this process myself in a few months so I’m looking forward to learning a lot from your experience. πŸ˜€

  11. I think 99% of this house looks awesome, but the fridge being that close to the sink would drive me crazy! Also, being a corner lot, make sure you pay attention to how much traffic goes by. I thought I could deal with the traffic that goes by our house, but I hate it. It’s a major reason I want to move in the near future.

  12. That is a cute house. perfect size for you in Girl Ninja. You really don’t wan to go above 1500 sq. feet. Utilities will go up with more square footage.

    When you say the plumbing is there for the second bathroom, what do you mean? Does it mean all you have to do is a add a toilet, a shower, and bath sink?

    • Sellers just told us they had this small room upstairs plumbed for a second bathroom but when she found out she was pregnant they decided to move out and rent the house. They put carpet in the room but I am under impression they ran the plumbing to it. Just never for around to installing the appliances.

      • The plumbing is the hardest and more expensive part as far as I know. You can always check out Lowes specials on sinks, vanities, and toilets. That’s how my dad does it. Lowes gets a lot of returns, and sometimes they can’t stock them back, so they put em on clearance. My dad always manages to negotiate a bigger discount with the manager. As a kid I was always embarrassed because he would ask for the manager, and always ask for a better price. lol

  13. Having lived in Seattle for many years, I know what you’re going through. The areas you are looking are the same I was looking just 5 years ago and I have to say, if you were to have posted this 5 years ago, I might have stolen it out from under you ;).

    I would buy that house for the land alone. The big yard to maintain is not a Con by any means. Heck, if you subdivide, you can basically pay for your own home by building and renting one next door!

    Having 1 bathroom will be fine for you guys for a while. When you start to have kids, you can always add on… remember, you have the land. That’s the beauty of this house in the Seattle market, if you add on a $20,000 bathroom, you probably increase your property value by $40,000. If you add on another bedroom, you’re looking at another $75,000.

    All of your cons can be rectified pretty easily… again, you have the land to expand.

    I’m pumped for you guys, if you get this house you will be sitting pretty for years to come.

    Good luck!

  14. Totally agree with tom. Looks like you can build a garage with a condo on top. I prefer corner lots because it usually allows for more parking. Nice find!

  15. I love that house!! So clean and remodeled-looking, plus the big back yard & water views are always a plus πŸ™‚

    I actually think it’s good to see a home with the owner present because you can ask more detailed questions about the house that the realtor may not know off-hand, like how much your total monthly bills will be, boiler maintenance, and more personal / fun stuff like what the neighbors are like.

    Sure you’ve already done research already on Q’s to ask when home searching, but here are some tips from a carpenter that I’ve found useful: http://ashtreedesign.blogspot.com/2012/03/ram-construction-10-questions-to-ask.html

    Hope this helps, good luck with your next round!

  16. @Ryo Vie

    I don’t know how to play pickleball, but I’ve heard of it before. My friend who is originally from Oregon has a father who still plays multiple games of pickleball a week. He turned one of the barns on their property into his pickleball court. Must be a Pacific Northwest thing?

  17. After looking more carefully at this house, I see two major cons. Looks like your would be on a main road and those power lines suck. However, if you can get over that, your location next to Puget Sound is pretty awesome. In fact, that part alone means everything.

    I know how fun and frustrating home shopping can be, been doing it all my life and I’m not even a Realtor…

    • Yeah the road noise is definitely a concern. I don’t recall hearing it during our first walk through but I also didn’t really listen for it. This next visit I plan to sit in the living room for five minutes in absolute silence. Haha. It has some cons and redeeming qualities. Just gotta figure out what fair market value is.

      • “I don’t recall hearing it during our first walk through”

        That’s key. The fact that you didn’t hear it and it didn’t distract you when you were all over that house for 20 minutes is a good thing.

        As for fair market value… check out Zillow. Look at the recent sales prices for homes around that house and the “Zestimates” of like properties, and properties with a little bit extra sqft and more bathrooms/bedrooms to get a feel for adding on in the future.

        • To determine if there will be major traffic, you need to assess the commercial properties nearby. If it is mainly a residential area, traffic should be a non-issue. The more I look at all that land, the tastier that property becomes πŸ˜›

          With all that land, I wonder how high the property taxes might be on it. Also, you should find out the specifics of what you can do with that land, you might not be able to subdivide. For some reason, I find the price of $375k low…

          • To check out the impact of the sound of traffic set up your next walk through when its busy like 5pm on a Friday night.

  18. You will love that yard when you have children. There doesn’t seem to be any issues with the house, either. Hire a real inspector and look for structual problems. You are never going to find a perfect house for all your wants/needs, but some houses have huge potential to come pretty close. This looks like one of them, so don’t overthink the problem.

  19. This looks like a lovely house, but for the sake of being critical (this is still a LOT of money and a big decision!) I want to share some thoughts:

    – Is it actually adjacent to a busy road, or just near one? Traffic and road noise could be a concern. That could be part of why this is the cheapest house in the neighborhood.

    – That kitchen. Not a great design and not sure what’s behind the camera, but there’s minimal counter space. Would drive a cook mad.

    – The one bathroom. Eep. Small and no storage. You could add a medicine cabinet, under-sink storage and shelves, but will it be enough?

    What season of life is the seller’s family in? Why did they leave? I don’t know if they’ve staged it after these photos were taken, but it will feel smaller with furniture.

    Can you add an outdoor storage barn to the property? That could really help, but I don’t know how much it costs.

    To me, this house has some appeal but I think it’s worth it to keep looking.

    • Appreciate the critical eye. We share many of the same concerns.

      The house is definitely adjacent to a double yellow line road. How busy that road is, and how much road noise gets through to house is unknown. This is my number one reason for wanting to go back to the house. To really get a feel for the main road. That said, the house directly next door (also on main road) sold this summer for $720,000 so that is a positive sign. All of the other houses on that same road have a higher zillow value (probably also because most of them are larger homes).

      Kitchen- It is definitely not a dream kitchen, but we were actually surprised by the size when we saw it in person. The one picture gives a bad impression, but it is actually bigger than you’d think. In the “pros” list I included “room for upgrades”. I had the kitchen specifically in mind for this since that is typically where an owner gets the best return on investment.

      One bathroom. Definitely tiny. Unfortunately so are all the houses we’ve looked at πŸ™ I’ll have to do some more inspecting on the 2nd floor space that is plumbed for another bathroom.

      Seller bought the house in 2001. They lived in it until 2010. They’ve had it rented for $1,800/month to an old couple since this time. They are selling as they own another house just down the street that’s priced a little higher. They want to sell both properties and move up in house.

      Obviously the lot is big enough to build like three more houses on. Haha. My thought if we buy the property is to subdivide the lot, sell the raw land from the split. And use that cash to build an addition and/or garage. It definitely wont be cheap so the money for it has to come from somewhere.

      • Glad to hear you’re thinking of these things! I think you’re approaching this all really well.

        I guess if you’re interested in splitting the property at some point, it might be worth calling the local authority who’d be involved with that split to find out costs and procedures, and if it would even be allowed.

        Is there an HOA? Would that be allowed under HOA covenants?

        Etc.

        I wonder how much a parcel of land would go for. It could be a great opportunity. Of course, you’d have to put up with construction and a much-closer neighbor….but hey, money!

  20. I love this one! Looking at houses for other people is fun! It has great curb appeal, and it looks like you could possibly build a detached garage in the back corner of the lot. The backyard looks nice and well maintained. I hate wallpaper, but I don’t even think the kitchen wallpaper is that hideous–I’ve seen much worse! I’d say this one has lots of potential but looks entirely livable as is, which is important because making updates to a house requires the perfect combination of time/money/ambition that sometimes takes awhile to come by. As an added bonus, you could rent out the backyard tent to help pay the mortgage! Haha.

  21. My two cents… if you love it, don’t wait. We just moved to a house of similar size just for a lot similar to this one. I am quite content with smaller living space if there is good outdoor space for kiddos to play in. I don’t know about Seattle, but in most big cities, it’s hard to come by a generous yard. The inside is also lovely and it sounds like it has potential to make it workable for your family. Take another look, be critical of course, but I’ve found that at the end of the day, there are too many variables to be completely “logical” about a house purchase, once the basics are checked off the list, a lot of it comes down to your heart/gut, as in, do you get a good vibe, do you feel like you could live there, do you see yourself raising kids there, etc., things that don’t fit on a pros/cons list or spreadsheet. Believe me, we had to buy our first house on a weekend (long story) and we looked at two dozen houses that weekend and chose the best from the crop. I tried to take photos, notes, and make up a chart to track everything, but in the end, we just went with our gut feeling. We were very happy with the choice for 6 years (we’ve lived there for 6.5 years-as someone other wise commenter noted, even if you try to plan 10 years ahead, life changes in ways you can’t imagine. I thought this would be our forever house, but here we are, moving in two months). Think about the idea of someone else buying that house today while you’re mulling-how would you feel? Good luck with the decision!

  22. I love the curb appeal of this house…..but the location on a busy road would be a huge red flag to me. The road will not get LESS busy, it will only get MORE busy and loud. Try and look at the neighborhood as a whole and think where it will be in 5 years – will there be more industrial? A bigger, wider road? Is this road a connector road or mostly used for local traffic?

    Sorry to harp on this one subject, but I know so many people who bought houses on nice roads that turned into monster traffic roads in 5 years and their homes lost a ton of value and they hated the increased noise. My sister can’t even open her front door because of the traffic noise…. Bathrooms can be added, kitchens can be remodeled, but the location is permanent.

    There are many many other house out there – take your time and don’t compromise!

    My two cents!

    • I don’t really know how to predict what a road could be like in 5 years. I mean the house was built in 1916 and the entire city is pretty developed so I don’t imagine there will be any major industry or commercial business put in by the house. It’s definitely not an up and coming neighborhood. It’s an already established cute ferry town.

      I don’t think they can really expand that road as there are properties on both sides of it but I will definitely do some research on property lines to make sure they can’t encroach on house and get any closer.

      I’ll find out on Monday just how busy that road is.

  23. I didn’t like any of the houses in your last entry, they just didn’t do it for me. This house however, wow!

    We’re expecting to start house hunting in about a year so I’m happy to read about your experience now. I already get stressed out thinking about it though even just casually browsing local listings, it’s a good exercise though because over the past 6 months I’ve already made huge adjustments to my expectations.

  24. Hey… I am enjoying the house search posts. My wife and I lived in Edmonds until last November and are now out of state. Anyways, I have lived in the Edmonds/Lynnwood area for 30 years and know the area very well.

    First off, that is the top zip code in a large area and you shouldn’t have much a problem with resale or even renting it out down the road.

    Unfortunately, that is a very, very, very busy street. The amount of traffic that comes down 196th into Edmonds is very high. You will have traffic on that road 24/7. Another consideration, if you ever need to go down to Edmonds (i.e., take a left out of that street) at certain times during the day, good luck – it is going to be hard. People tend to fly down that street.

    Another consideration is the access to I-5. It takes quite a while to get on the freeway from there, whether you go down into Edmonds and up to 205th or back up 196th and then to 220th.

    Either way, good luck!

    • Love the perspective. That’s the only drawback to Edmonds as a whole. It’s soooooo far from the freeway. We live in mukilteo now which is also far, but the Boeing freeway makes getting to I-5 super easy. Not so much in edmonds.

      The speed limit on Puget drive is 30 there but in sure most people are going 40 as they come down the hill. Will definitely be listening for road noise. I wish the house was built on the other corner of the property. Haha.

      I’ve also been reading about what landscaping is best sound blocker and wouldn’t ya know it, evergreen trees are the answer. Haha. Have plenty of those up here.

      • Yeah the freeway access isn’t too great. When we were there, we were further up the hill on a side street off of 76th, right on the Edmonds/Lynnwood border. It was a bit closer, but not much. The drive from 220th to our house everyday seemed to last forever.

        As far as a sound blocker, you should look into the English Laurel bush. Some say it is is a terrible plant because it grows like crazy, but you know what? It creates one heck of a thick/lush hedge.

        • Gotcha. We have just doomed ourselves to living far from the freeway since we want to be within walking distance of downtown edmonds if we buy there. We are trying to stay as far from 99 as possible. Haha.

  25. I don’t know anything about the area but I’d love to have a yard that big so that wouldn’t be on my negative list at all. I have a double garage now so no garage would be a no-go for us as well as bathrooms. We have 2 but can build another in the basement but we need at least 2 so that would be a con. I guess we all have that wants and nice to have list.

  26. We’d totally go up to Edmonds if I didn’t work in Belltown and my husband didn’t work in Bellevue. The houses up there are beautiful and the area is great! That house looks awesome. Plus I hear the school district is good too. That’s our biggest concern!

  27. I love it! It’s like, “Buy the house, get the land for free!” or maybe vice versa. I can totally imagine baby ninjas, you and GN all old and wrinkly drinking hot tea watching the grandchil’rens play.

    Lots and lots of space. You can buy one of those Forrest Gump lawnmowers and drive it around the lot on weekends.

    I wish they had built the house in the center of the lot rather then the edge like that, maybe you can build a nice looking wall/barrier for just in case.

  28. Is the kitchen big enough for an island? You could build one and have the sink there, instead of right next to the fridge. The lack of door on the master bedroom is what’s weirding me out- is it built to not have a door, or is that missing?

    I would arrange to visit next right in the middle of rush hour. See for yourself what the traffic is like. Tour another house in the neighborhood with a realtor, and see what info you can glean. Also, you need to figure out why this house is the cheapest in the neighborhood.

    • I’m gonna take video when we go back through it on Monday so readers can get a better idea of layout/space.

      The master can’t easily have a door as it is built off a half wall stair case (kind of like a loft). There are other room upstairs that do have doors but the master isn’t one of them πŸ™

      Fortunately our next appt is 4:30 on Monday so that should give us a good idea of road noise when people are commuting home.

      • You could probably still frame it in, maybe a pocket door or a bifold type would work, or an accordian door also.

        Any anyways once you have children, it will be a very long time before you and GN have a chance to do anything in that room unless the kids are sleeping!

        Trust me , our bedroom is off the main living area and our kids are 8, 7 and 4.5 yrs old. We have a “curtain” for privacy, Ha!

        And one bathroom is a pain, but very do able, even with 3 littles and our house is only 1200ft.

  29. It is only stressful because it is your money on the line and you want to make a good decision. You are doing the right thing by lookig at a lot of homes and keeping it logical vs. emotional.

  30. As for the traffic issue, I have a friend who lives on the corner of a busy street with 24/7 traffic. The speed limit is 25, but most people drive 40, so it seems similar to your situation. Her house is older and the traffic noise was very noticeable. But her windows also weren’t sealed well. She had new windows put in this summer, and now you can’t hear it one bit. In fact, the neighbor’s dog is much less annoying, too.

  31. I understand how you feel. My husband and I have been doing some househunting for several months now but we cannot find “the one” that would fit the family’s needs and the design/layout that we want.

    I understand that a big yard is dificult to maintain. But because I love gardening, we are actually looking for a property with spacious yard. Second, the kids do not need to play in the streets. They can even invite their friends to come over and play in our yard.

  32. I can’t wait to hear more!! No door on the master bedroom and only 1 bathroom would be red flags for me, but, what doesn’t work for one person may not be a big deal to another. Gotta say, the house is adorable!! Hope it all works out for you and GN!!

  33. I think they say the average buyer only looks at something like 11 houses, so you wouldn’t be that far off. I’m a firm believer in “you’ll know it when you see it.” I saw our listing online for a week before I asked our realtor to add it to the list of houses we were going to go see, it wasn’t in the area that we were concentrating on. After walking in to the house we liked it pretty well, but some other lookers came in and we went and looked at several other houses and swung back to this house after. After about 15-20 minutes of looking around the house and the lot I told the agent that this was the house. We put in an offer and got it. I think if they’re meant to be they work out. We had already been through a terrible inspection on another house and backed out of that sale. The house we did buy had 2 other deals fall through before we found it.

  34. We purchased our current home as FSBO with neither of us having agents. We did everything on our own. Saved a TON of $$ but it was headache doing everything on our own & seller got difficult toward the end.

    My advice is to drive-by & walk-by it at all times of the day & night. This is due to my first experience in renting. I only went during the day and everything looked great …. but apparently that is when all of the hookers and drug lords are asleep too.

    Going to google pickleball now

  35. What is the role of your agent in a private sale? Is her commision still the same?
    Are the sellers using a lawyer to do the work of the agent in regards to the offers and counter offers?

    I was involved in one private selling transaction. A buyer approached me with an offer left in my mail box. It was a disaster at every turn because the buyer and his lawyer were not honest people. I am sure your transaction will go much smoother.

  36. The first thing that pops out to me is nobody mentioned flood insurance. Secondly, you mention having children even though the kids themselves don’t take up much space their things certainly do especially in the first few years. Imagine trying to walk around your dining table and you first hit the baby swing and then kick/step on an annoying toy that does not turn off unless you take the batteries out (unfortunately they do exist). Lastly, again with the kids situation. The parking situation looks like it is only in front of the home where you could not see the car from the front windows. Say you got the toddler all buckled in and you forgot the diaper bag or something equally important. You have to run back in the house to grab it and you are leaving your child alone in the car on an easily accessible road. I have a home that was flood during Katrina, and two toddlers.

  37. As mentioned by previous posters the kitchen sink located next to the fridge and no counter space would bother me and only one bathroom would be an issue but if their is space for a second bath that is good. I wanted to mention that if you re looking at this home to remodel, add additions or build a garage you should check with the town inspectors to make sure you can get permits to build or remodel the items you were thinking about. I am not familiar with your area but many locations don’t always allow additions or garages to be built and require your neighbor’s permission. If the neighbor disputed your addition, garage etc you might not be allowed to build on. Elevations, property lines, building codes may be a factor. I suggest you check that out. Also check the windows for seal breaks or condensation etc. Is their a basement? i don’t recall you mentioning it. The house is adorable but where will the kids play? I didn’t see an eating area? I am looking forward to seeing more pics. Time is of the essence but in the same sense you need to look at as many homes as you can to know you are making the right decision. Good Luck! It’s a cute home but you may out grow it quickly. πŸ™‚

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