Adventures in House Hunting

In case you haven't heard, we're totally moving. We put our house on the market last week and began our adventures in house hunting.

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In case you aren’t up-to-date with the chaos that is currently my life, I’ll give you the short story.  Basically, Greg quit his mortuary job in June to try a career in sales.  He hated it and decided that a career in the mortuary business wasn’t so bad after all.  Fortunately, he was quickly offered a new job at the mortuary where he did his internship 7 years ago.  Unfortunately, we have to move.

A lot of people have asked why we have to move since Greg’s new job is only 30 minutes away.  Since funeral directors are on call part of the time, they generally need to live within 20 minutes of the funeral home.  This is because people die at all kinds of crazy hours, and when they do, Greg has to put a suit on and pick them up from the hospital, nursing home, or their home.  No one wants to wait an hour for him to show up, and it isn’t fair to ask people to wait that long.  Furthermore, I don’t want my husband commuting 30 minutes in the middle of the night when someone dies at an odd hour.  Living close to the mortuary is just part of the deal when you’re a mortician and it’s the exact reason why people used to actually live in their respective funeral home back in the olden days.

As I mentioned last week, there are a lot of things I hate about my current home.  So, although I’m not thrilled about moving at this very moment, I’m not that upset either.  Once we made the decision, I made my peace with it and we put our current home on the market for $163,500.  Even though it’s been on the market for less than a week, we’ve already had three showings.  So, I really hope that someone buys this thing soon.  I’m over it!

The Search for Our New House

For our new home, we’re looking in Noblesville, Carmel, or Fishers, Indiana.  Since we’re looking for houses in a wide range of prices($150-$250K), there are a ton to look at.  And, over the past week, we’ve seen about twenty homes.

I’m sure you’re wondering why we’re looking in such a wide price range!  We are hoping to find a house for 150-175K but are willing to pay more if we found our absolute dream home.  And, by selling our current home and tapping some of our savings, we can put down up to 100K without stretching ourselves.  (If we don’t sell our home before we buy, we’ll put down 20 percent to avoid PMI then transfer our equity to the new home after we sell).  Of course, what I would really like to do is find a house for 175K and end up with a 75K mortgage!  We shall see…..

Here are some of the highlights from our house hunting adventures:

deerberryHouse #1- We absolutely fell in love with this home listed at $179,000.  Sure, the landscaping needs work, but the floor plan was awesome and the entire inside had been remodeled.  The back yard was nice too, except for the huge dog that was howling at us through the fence.  We noticed a neighbor outside working on his car and asked whether the dog always barked like that.  And unfortunately, the answer was yes.  In fact, the helpful neighbor informed us that the dog was always outdoors and that it barked all day and night.  Since I work from home and don’t enjoy being pissed off all the time, we passed on this house.  And, we are kinda sad about it.

crazydecorHouse #2- I really liked this house except for the crazy color scheme and insane amount of wallpaper.  Especially in the kitchen.  I mean, really?  Granite countertops, black and white backsplash, stripes, borders, and flowers?  I can deal with a little bit of crazy, but this house had way too much going on.  We also thought that it was overpriced for the neighborhood, so we passed.

The biggest bedroom I have ever seen.....
The biggest bedroom I have ever seen…..

House #3- This house had everything that I could ever hope for.  However, it was way too freaking huge!  Including the basement, it was over 4,200 square feet.  The master bedroom itself was 24 feet by 22 feet, and that didn’t include the walk in-closet, bathroom as big as my great room, or private office.  I really liked the home but thought that it was way too big for our needs.

I felt seriously claustrophobic in this house....
I felt seriously claustrophobic in this house….

House #4- Some of the newer houses we looked at were just way too close together.  I mean, who wants to live that close to their neighbors?  Not me!




House #5– For $249,00, I have high expectations.  This house was so nasty that I was in and out the door in less than a minute.  It reeked like mold and sewage.  Yuck.  The only redeeming quality about the home was the neighborhood it was in.


We looked at a ton of houses.  And while many of them were nice, they just weren’t exactly what we are looking for.  And surprisingly, the houses we have liked the most have all been in the $160K-$180K range.  Finding something on the low end of our price range would make me the happiest girl on earth.  We’ll see what happens!

From what you’ve seen, how does the price of real estate in my area compare with yours?  Also, what is the craziest thing you’ve seen while house hunting?

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  1. Where I live is on the lower end of the house-price spectrum, so $175k will but a LOT of house around here. Sound like you guys are doing your homework though, great job!

    1. Thanks! On top of these homes, we loved a home that was $184,900. The only thing that was wrong with it was that the back yard dropped off 20 feet into a ravine. That wouldn’t work with our two kids!

  2. I think real estate is comparable in my area. I live in Ohio so I’m not too far away from you. In my specific very rural area you can get a very nice house for 200k. Although it looked like the houses you were looking at are very nice in my book. Sounds exciting!

    1. That’s awesome that you’re in Ohio! We’re neighbors!

  3. The price of real estate in your area almost puts me in tears. Okay that’s an exaggeration, I’m still in the Midwest and not looking in an area like San Francisco where the prices have become absolutely ridiculous. We live fairly close to both MPLS and ST. Paul so we definitely paid a premium for location and money did not go as far. If you move into one of the further flung suburbs you can get a lot more for your money.

    1. Yep!
      Where we’re moving is slightly more expensive than where we live now. The house we’re selling would probably cost an additional 10K in our new neighborhood.

  4. Prices there seem to be much lower than what we have here. I would imagine your current house would, in our area, go for $225-250k. Too bad about the house with the barking neighbor dog. :-(. Huge blessing that you caught the neighbor outside to ask about it and that he was honest with you. Can you imagine? That constant barking just might lead me to the looney bin.

    1. I know. That just isn’t something that I want to deal with. And, it was an outside dog so we would never get a break from it.

      I hate how people take their neighborhood hostage like that. If you want outside dogs, live in the country!

  5. In our neck of the woods, you can pay just about any price you want depending on what neighborhood you want to live in and how far from the beach you’re willing to be. There are beach front homes for $10M+ or homes way out in the boonies for < $100K.

    1. Same here, kind’ve. In Hamilton county, where we’re moving, there are 10 million dollar mansions. There are also foreclosures for 80K. It’s crazy!

  6. I think it’s about the same. I’m in Nebraska so it’s a pretty similar price point. Good luck with the house search, it can definitely be stressful!

  7. I feel like I’m on house hunters. I like number 2 the best. A kitchen really makes a big difference.

    1. I did like that kitchen…..without the crazy wallpaper! I would like to get into the mind of the person who picked all of that out.

  8. We’re in Omaha, so the prices are very comparable. Just looking at the space issue…I’d LOVE house #3, but that’s because my office is the dining room table. 😉 However, the problem that can arise from a big house is more room to fill it up with more crap. We saw quite a few doozies when we were house shopping. It amazed me the number of people who mad it look like they hadn’t cleaned or picked up their house is weeks.

    1. It was priced nicely but way too big. I wouldn’t want to clean it. Plus, we only have two kids. We just don’t need that much space!

  9. Wow, I always thought St. Louis was cheap, but where you live it’s even cheaper!

    I hope you find your dream house soon 🙂

  10. I live near a mid sized city in Eastern Canada, and prices here are about comparable to what you’re looking at. If I was in the market to buy, that would be my price range as well. Three cheers for a 75k mortgage! That would be pretty sweet!

  11. The prices on these homes seem very reasonable. At least you are not searching for homes in some areas of California where $250k will not buy more than a large shack.

  12. Funny about house #4, I live in NYC and that seems like a lot of space to me! haha. Good luck on the house hunting, it seems promising so far.

  13. I always wonder why people put their house up for sale when it stinks and all their crap is everywhere. It is really hard for me to see around clutter and all the work we might have to do. It’s OK for a rental, but I guess that’s why we ultimately built a house.

    1. I know! And, one of the expensive houses was so full of mold that I barely got in the front door! I think they should warn people about that. I wouldn’t have wasted my time.

  14. The prices in your neck of the woods are about the same as mine. I haven’t necessarily went house hunting yet because I don’t have the money to buy a house yet, but I do look at the different real estate listings to keep my goal alive! I thought house #1 looked great by the way!

  15. the places you are looking at would be easily over 500k here in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Townhouses go for close to 400k. I am jealous of your mortgage!

  16. I was crying in my bowl of oatmeal reading those prices! If you put those houses in LA they would be about 700k-millions depending on the location. Same. House. That one bedroom is bigger than my entire apartment!! Wow! I look forward to seeing how this search goes.

    1. Since you’re a freelancer, do you have to live in L.A.?

  17. How much is #3? Looks really nice! Can’t you make a separate unit out of it to rent out and keep the nice part?

    1. No. It was a single family home. And, since I have kids, I wouldn’t rent out a bedroom in my home.

  18. The prices in my area are a little lower than yours, but that is because I’m not in Fishers/Noblesville/Carmel.

    The craziest thing I saw was a townhome (which we LOVED around 18th and Delaware) that was going for $160K but they could only sell it to someone making under 32K (or under 40K if a family) or they would have to pay back a grant the state had given them because it was a low income development property. Maybe I am bad at math, but someone making 32K really has no business spending that much on a home (unless of course they have a giant down payment).

    Have you considered looking in Pendleton or Fortville? Or is that too far away from Greg’s new job? From what I hear there are some really lovely older homes up there.

    1. Pendleton would be too far to commute and I DO NOT want to live in Fortville. Mount Vernon schools have had all kinds of financial troubles the past few years and they almost had to file bankruptcy. I don’t want to get involved in that mess. Plus, we want to be in the best school system possible so it wouldn’t make sense to live in Pendleton or Fortville. Plus, Fortville sucks. I hate Fortville. Ha!

      1. So how do you really feel about Fortville?

        1. If Fortville started sinking into the Earth, I would pop a bag of popcorn and watch it all unfold on TV. Good riddance!

  19. Interesting houses, especially the one with the huge bedroom. Maybe it was the home of a huge basketball player who needed more space that us, regular height people :)) Too bad about house #5, in your photo it looks like a charming house. But the hunt goes on and I am sure you will find your dream home soon!

    1. I don’t know. That bedroom was ridiculous! I can’t imagine what they were thinking when they built the house!

  20. We just finished selling our house, and building our dream home with my wife’s parents who are builders. We are so glad we were blessed enough to be able to do that because with the newer homes you just don’t have to worry about as many small things going wrong. We looked at a ton of existing homes and there is almost always something that doesn’t feel right, especially if you’re a little picky like we are.

    Since my in-laws built the home they cut us an amazing deal that gives us instant equity in the home. Just glad we have a builder in the family!

    1. Sweet! That sounds like a great deal for your family!

  21. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says:

    That’s unfortunate about the house with the dog. In my opinion, that’s a family that shouldn’t have a dog in the first place. There’s a reason he barks incessantly like that–he’s not happy!

    Good luck with the house hunting, I’m sure things will turn out great.

    1. I know, right?

      They had a really tall privacy fence so the dog was probably frustrated that he couldn’t see anything!

  22. That’s sad because house #5 looks really pretty from the outside.

    Great job on asking the neighbor about the dog. In his classic book Swim With the Sharks, Harvey Mackay lists this as one of the key tasks to do before buying any home. Who knows….you might find that you dislike a neighbor, and whether you love a house or not, that’s a huge minus.

    1. I agree. And we had a dog issue when we bought this house, so I’m sensitive about it in the first place. We didn’t know before we moved in, but the next door neighbor here had five large dogs! They barked all the time until I finally called and complained. After that, they were careful to let the dogs in when they started barking.

      It just pisses me off. If you want a big, outdoor dog, live in the country. Don’t live right in the middle of town on a city lot.

  23. Wow – house #3 has the biggest bedroom I’ve seen too. I didn’t even notice the bed, which I assume is at least a queen. I was curious as to why you had to move too but it makes a lot of sense. It looks like you’ve been doing some serious house-hunting and found a few misses (that kitchen, #2, was nice but a little schizophrenic design-wize) and hopefully a few hits. And a $75,000 mortgage would be sweet. Who am I kidding a $250,000 mortgage would be great to this LA girl!

    1. If he just drove to and from work each day, commuting 30 minutes wouldn’t be a big deal. But, that isn’t the way it is. When he’s on call, he often goes back and forth several times in a day, sometimes in the middle of the night. It’s hard enough to get out of bed at 1:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. Now imagine commuting 30 minutes back and forth on top of that.

  24. LeRainDrop says:

    That’s too bad about house #1. Thanks for bringing us along on your house-hunting journey! I’m sure you’ll find the right place soon enough 🙂 If you haven’t already, you should check out Mr. Money Mustache’s very recent post about how to buy a home: I don’t know if you’d be up for as much DIY as he is, but his post still offers good perspective to take into account.

    1. I know. It was the perfect house at the perfect price. Unfortunately, the dog was a deal breaker. We want a back yard that we can play in with the kids…and we don’t want a barking dog to spoil it for us!

      I’d be willing to do some DIY, but not much. We’ve remodeled the last two homes we’ve lived in and I’m kind’ve over it. Since we have small kids, I would prefer to find a house that is mostly move-in ready.

  25. This post does remind me of watching House Hunters (only saw it once at a hotel since I don’t have cable TV). The rooms in the houses look they the size of my entire apartment! And the prices! I’m so jealous =)

  26. There are very few places where I live that have homes with the same relative quality and price that you are showing here. The purchase price on our new home was $271,000, and it isn’t too close to the main job hubs in my area either. That is awesome that you will be able to put so much money down on your new house!

  27. That kitchen…I just can’t… I mean, how can someone cook in there with all that craziness going on?? 🙂

  28. Here in California a $150,000 home will get you a roof and a toilet. Your post actually makes me want to move so we can get more bang for our buck!

    Best of luck house hunting. Too bad about the dog, the house sounds great otherwise. Surely there is a noise ordinance that would make the dog owners do something about the barking??

  29. Ah, central Indiana, where Jen and I grew up! Very cool! Good luck… there are plenty of very nice homes in that area! Maybe next time we’re home to see family, we can take Club Thrifty out for dinner!

  30. I’ve walked in and out of many houses quickly as we have searched foreclosures to buy for our rental business. In the worst one you could see the mold coming through the drywall on the walls and ceilings. The mold stains were so bad you could see the outline of the studs and ceiling rafters on which the mold was growing. Looked like zebra stripes. We didn’t buy that one. Also, I wouldn’t be too deterred by wallpaper. It can be taken off fairly easily. It’s a messy job and time consuming but not too difficult.

    1. A few rooms of wallpaper? Maybe. A whole house full? No.

      We replaced some wallpaper in one of our rental homes and found that the drywall behind it was in terrible shape. So, we ended up having to pay someone to redrywall the entire room.

  31. That price range will still buy you a nice home in Tempe or South Scottsdale, and even more in some parts of Phoenix. I remember being surprised by some very creative spaces being called “bedrooms” on our last hunt, but seeing how we wanted to find a diamond in the rough that was just part of the process.

    1. Yeah, I know what you mean. One of the houses we looked at counted a workshop in the garage toward the square footage. Weird.

  32. Hey Hollie. Thanks for sharing your house hunting with us all. It’s kind of like watching a real live version of House Hunters 🙂

    Too bad about the white house in your last image. I loved the look of it and the property looks great. Is it a no go, or would it have potential? Also, with the smell, couldn’t you get a dramatic discount from the price?

    Take care and all the best to you both in this crazy time!


    1. I don’t want to deal with mold. I couldn’t tell where the smell was coming from but it almost knocked me on my ass. I’m willing to make cosmetic changes but not willing to jump into something that I know nothing about. Mold freaks me out…especially since I have young kids.

  33. Starter homes in southern California can start at $500K! Many people buy condos because they are slightly lower in price. I have one more move in my life to a single story condo or home. I dread the move never mind the rest of it. I think I will stay as long as I can in this 3 story townhouse.

  34. When you buy your new house you should consider getting a 7 Year adjustable rate mortgage. It will save you more than 1% a year, make your payments to have the mortgage paid off in 7 years. Depending on the house value that will save you thousands and the risk is minimal as you plan to pay your house off early.

  35. Back to the drawing board huh? With our car buying experience I found that it took a little bit of time to really get an understanding of the market. Houses are a whole different ballgame since each one is different. I do like the idea of having price flexibility. It gives you a goal but allows you to be flexible in case you find something perfect. Hope it’s not too long before find “the one”.

  36. HOLY EFFF! 4,200 sq. ft. and less than $200k!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????

    Ours is 1,500 sq. ft. and was like almost twice that. Ugh! (Darn Seattle!)

    Either way, congrats on the house hunt, it’s always fun looking for a new place to plop your life in. (is plop a bad verb to use here….?)

  37. I live here in a small city and the house prices here are very much lower compared to your City. So if your range of prices is ($150-$250K) then surely you will find lots of houses to choose here. Anyway good luck in your house hunting!

  38. House 2 and 3 look lovely from the photos!

    I live in Auckland, which is right up there for crazy real estate. Think $500k for a starter house in the burbs. :/

  39. Oh man, the price of real estate in your area is soo much cheaper! I’d love to be able to get a house for that low. I’d buy them up like it was going out of style. I like your photo of the first one – it’s really too bad about the dog!

  40. Wow! You can get quite a house for the money where you live. In my town, you get less than a shack for $250,000. Seriously, I don’t think you could purchase an apartment or town home here for that. I choose to live a certain lifestyle and a huge home is my sacrifice. But, I’m really happy in my beach cottage. Good luck on your house hunting!!

    Karla Twomey
    Karla’s latest blog post – Teaching Your Kids about Money: BONUS 5 Awesome resources for you and your kids:

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