We held out hope that this was just a test of patience. We kept looking at other houses, all the while hoping and even expecting that the house we really wanted would eventually come back on the market if only we were patient and our attitude was good enough.
We looked at so many houses they all started to blend together in my mind. I could no longer keep them straight or remember which ones had potential and which ones had already been ruled out. I couldn’t sort the favorites in my head, or remember which living room went with the big backyard and covered deck.
I suspected Perry and a few other people would laugh at me, but I knew what I had to do. I created a spreadsheet. Each house was ranked and scored according to 10 different factors, with a total score on the far right. Now I might not remember the features of each individual house, but I could see at a glance which ones presented the strongest possibilities for us.
I’m sure everyone’s criteria would be different, but ours were: house size in square feet (1 point for every 100 sq. ft. beginning at 2,000), lot size (1 point for every 2,000 sq. ft.), price (based on where it fell relative to our target price range), proximity to work/church and other places we frequent (1-10), neighborhood safety (1-10), curb/photo appeal (1-10), open floorplan (1-10), cul-de-sac (an extra 5 points), fix factor (how much paint/work did it need, if any? 1-10), and storage (5 points for a garage, 3 for lots of built-ins, 2 for each shed). We also learned along the way that we were very partial to vaulted ceilings and hard floors in living/wet areas. A neighborhood with a community pool was a definite plus.
Yes, I could have made it simpler, but I like math and I had fun with this. I also found it very useful in sorting the possibilities. It saved us a lot of time in driving by homes for sale if we could look at the overall score and decide that while a home might have one or two very appealing factors it just wasn’t what we were looking for.
Perry admitted that it was somewhat helpful, but that didn’t stop him from laughing at my expense. “Well, now I know what it takes to get you to listen. I’m going to change my name to Spreadsheet,” he told me. “I think it will change our marriage.”
We continued to check home listings. We were both quietly checking daily for our first love, but we went on with the search. Maybe God was only testing us. Maybe it would come back once we turned our attention away from it.
Eventually we narrowed the search to one enormous house. Again, it wasn’t perfect, but it had the “wow!” factor, if you know what I mean. It was just a couple of blocks from the first home we had fallen in love with, and it well was over 4,000 square feet! This time the price was definitely higher than we had hoped for, but it was still technically within our range and the owners were very eager to sell. We knew they would negotiate. I had some reservations about the utilities for a house this size, the kitchen was very small, and the roof would need to be replaced soon, but it had plenty of amazing features to offset the downsides. Perry was in love. The kids had seen it and were in love. I was outnumbered and within a few days my resolve had weakened; I was willing to be carried along. If God wanted me in a 4,000 square foot house, who was I to argue?
We decided to make an offer the following day after another round of showings.
Like a bad dream repeating itself, the realtor met us at our first stop with the same news as before: the house we now wanted, which had been on the market for 18 months, was under contract.
I went back to my spreadsheet and added the very first home we had looked at, the one that I thought felt small and choppy. It scored surprisingly well, and I told Perry I was ready to reconsider it. Part of my initial reaction against it was just that I had nothing to compare it to, and didn’t want to be hasty. Another part was that 2,400 square feet just wasn’t as big as I thought. Our vaulted ceiling and open floor plan really does make our small home feel spacious in a way that I never appreciated until I looked closely at other homes. The house on E** Drive wasn’t so bad, and the price and location were right. I was wrong to rule it out so quickly.
We asked for another showing and learned that E** Drive was under contract.
cont’d here: Househunting: a difficult choice (part 4)