We ended up finding the house in July, and we closed at the end of August. Let me tell ya, buying my condo 8 years ago was MUCH easier than buying a house today. We had so many hoops to jump through, but it all came together and we closed on time, on our original closing date. Hallelujah!
The housing market here in Tampa is tricky. There was some inventory in our price range but it fell into one of three categories: 1.) Total dump in a prime neighborhood; 2.) Good house that was move-in ready in a less-than-desirable neighborhood; 3.) Good house in a desirable neighborhood with work to do. And by 'work to do', I mean that it's so bad that it would be considered a fixer-upper by many peoples' standards, but there are cosmetic changes and projects that many people would want to do to make it their own or a more current style. We chose option 3, the great house in a desirable neighborhood with projects to be done. And OH MY, have there been projects!
This house checked all of our must-haves:
- Newer (built in the last 15 years)
- In a specified part of town
- Open floor plan with master bedroom separated from additional bedrooms
- At least 3 Bedroom/2 Bath with an additional space for an office/2nd tv space
- Large pantry
- Screened in lanai
- Nice landscaping in a medium sized yard
- 2 car garage
- Master suite with large walk-in closet
- Lots of natural light and big windows
- Ceiling fans/wiring for ceiling fans
Even though the house has these things, it still needs cosmetic work and TLC to make it our long-term home.
Want to see the house? We're going to start with some 'before' photos, then create a separate post for the post-renovation photos. Here are some photos of our house, during the inspection, before the previous owners moved out...
|Looks normal enough, right?|
Just keep going...
WOW, a fluorescent yellow laundry room! Not my dream come true, but I did like that it was in the house and not in the garage.
Brown doors, brown trim, and faux-finished brown walls. At least I didn't hate the cabinets or tile.
More brown, ugly light fixture, and PEACH VERTICAL BLINDS. Barf.
|Dining Room (believe it or not)|
Brown walls, gold trim, gold upper walls above plant ledge and another ugly light fixture. And don't even get me started on how many speakers this guy needed for his entertainment center.
The previous owners used the living room as their workspace for their internet business. She made gorgeous but expensive decorations and toys for children. As you can see, it had work lighting, faux-finished brown walls, and more peach vertical blinds. They also hung curtains to block the workspace from the dining room/their living room area.
The previous owners had a huge bed with tall rails, so they had a very tiny little ceiling fan that barely churned any air. The room was painted medium greenish-brown from top to bottom. Those curtains on the left block off an addition they put on the master bedroom that contained an office, and they were gold. There was different carpet in the addition than in the bedroom, even though the abutted one another and it looked tacky. At least the ceiling fan in the addition wasn't bad.
More dark brown walls, a gold door, gold trim and an outdated light fixture. Good God.
The two other bedrooms were also quite colorful.
|Guest bedroom 1|
This one was painted a medium aqua color and had gray vertical blinds flecked with pink and blue. The trim was brown, and the ceiling, main door and closet doors were aqua to match the walls. The ceiling fan in this room was great, so we ended up keeping that.
This house had decent tile and yucky off-white grid-patterned carpet throughout. The carpet wasn't going to last with our dog, who has proven to be completely irresponsible with carpet. Only hard surface floors for us in the future.
The second guest bedroom, not pictured, was painted DARK PURPLE from top to bottom (walls and ceilings), with brown trim and the closet doors were missing when we initially saw the house. It was garish, so we required that they painted the room a neutral color when we placed our bid. The next time we saw the house, at the inspection, the owner had re-installed the closet doors, and -- surprise! -- they were also brown. Great, I thought. More brown. At least they painted the room white!
As far as the yard goes, this house had a decent yard. The previous owner fancied himself a botanist, so where were some crazy plants and fruit bushes and trees that we'd have to contend with. At least it was not in bad shape and had been reasonably maintained, unlike many houses we saw.
When I tell my friends about the house we bought and what we started from, they ask how we ever saw past the owners' mountain of stuff and the issues to think we could live there. The answer is pretty simple. We saw a lot of crappy houses, so when we saw one with good bones, we snapped it up! We put in a competitive bid to (hopefully) beat out the other bidders right away and avoid a bidding war, which is exactly what happened. We were happy that we didn't overpay, but we didn't get some amazing deal either. We quickly learned that there really are no great deals out there right now in the parts of town where we wanted to live. We were happy to find out current house and we know it will be a good long term home for us, especially after the work gets done.
So there you have it. The 'before' pictures of our new casa. I will be sharing the 'after' photos with you shortly!
What do you think of the 'before' pictures? Could you have seen past the wall colors, light fixtures and mountains of junk to see the bones of the house?