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Friday, May 22, 2009


House Hunters

Have you seen the show “House Hunters” on HGTV? I love that show and its sister show House Hunters International. I get to see various parts of our country and other countries and compare the neighborhoods, building techniques, styles and tastes of other people.

Take for instance the other day-my husband and I were watching HHInternational. The couple live in a nice life in a 3 bedroom, 2-1/2 bath home in Minnesota. They loved the creek out back of their home, enjoyed the forest atmosphere, etc. What they didn’t love was the cold, snowy winter weather.

Having visited the Dominican Republic a couple of times, they decided to buy a vacation home they could live in during those months. Their budget was between $200-300,000. Being of meager means, I always want to know-how does one have enough money to keep up 2 homes?

But I digress. Anyway, the 3 homes shown (that’s all the show ever lets us see, the top 3 contenders) were of varying degrees of modern design. #1 had a beautiful pool, no A/C, bare bones kitchen (read that shelves and counter tops only), furniture was included, but it looked like stuff that wasn’t even something most of us would buy at a garage sale, except for the patio set, no tub and everything was made of cement. Per the agent-“it’s a DR thing”. And it was literally steps from the beach. It was 2 bedrooms, 1 bath and the smallest. There was NO curb appeal. $240,000

House #2, was new, whirlpool tub, community pool gourmet kitchen, “peek a boo” ocean view with a 5 minute walk to the beach. It was also 2 bedrooms, but 2 baths and was almost double the size. It included a caretaker-since it was a vacation complex. The drawback-little privacy. $260,000.

#3 was 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, somewhat modernized, the most expensive, and size was in-between the other two homes.

Steve and I was rooting for #2-it was the biggest bang for your buck, close to town and since you didn’t need to do anything except bring your close (furniture and utensils were included in the price as well), we thought this is a no brainer.

We were wrong-the couple chose #1-basically the fixer upper. Why? Because it was closest to the beach!


I’m so off my subject it isn’t funny. What I started to write about was that we’ve been having our own version of House Hunters here. Our son and future daughter-in-law have been really pushing ahead in their search for a place to call their own. We’ve been called in for opinions. As homeowners with home buying experience, my plumbing knowledge and Steve’s building and bank knowledge.

Our own version of the top contenders which happen to be all bank-owned foreclosures:
#1-about 1,100 sq ft condo that has been re-done in parts, but the owners didn’t finish the master bath. The second bedroom had no closet-so it was actually a den. Nice patio area in desperate need of repair.

#2-about 1,220 sq ft-3 bedrooms, 2-1/2 baths-but, except for a pristine kitchen, was in need of some major overhaul re-dos, even though it was only 8 years old.

#3-a 2,000 sq ft 3 bedroom and a den, 2-1/2 bath townhouse. It was a flip gone belly up. While the kitchen has new cabinets and countertops, there were no appliances. The bathrooms were partially done, so were all the floors. All the windows were new, but the installer broke some of the framing. The carpeting and painting had to be completely redone. New hot water heater and it had an A/C unit.

The outcome? They are presently listed as back up on house #2-pending a thorough inspection and viewing. We didn’t see this one at all, and the kids could only see the outside and peek through the windows.

They’re waiting for the answer on #3-that one needed the most work, but most of it was cosmetic and one of the same floor plan that had been finished was being sold for $100,000 more. They’re figuring they can take their time and finish the job without too much pain. Just a lot of sweat equity-since the major things are done. This is the “favored” home.

On TV, the choices and happy outcome are decided in a mere 30 minutes-in real life, it’s taking a whole lot longer-but hopefully the ending choice and the homeowner joy will be the same.

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