This is my house. It is situated on a 1/3 acre lot in the Oak Tree sub-division of Sterling Park, Virginia. The vitals are: There bedrooms, Den, Dining Room, 2 bath, 2car garage, Loft, eat-in Kitchen, cathederal ceilings, and vinyl siding. When I initially drove past this house when my relator told me of its listing, I didn't like it. The garage is right out front, and the bushes hide the front door and windows. But, I figured that since I was going to be in the area looking at another couple of houses, I might as well see this one too.
I had gotten tired of the whole game of making appointments, seeing a house, only to be informed by the owner that they had accepted another bid, etc. So when I came to visit this house, I wasn't really prepared. I drove up on my motorcycle, wearing torn jeans and filthy boots. I met my relator there, and she and I walked in. The homeowner was a widow who was selling the house so that she could move to Florida to be with her daughter. I can only imagine what she thought of me, as I entered her home.
When I walked through the front door, I was immediately impressed. The double front doors open to the living room, a room which measures aproximately 12' by 18' with a cathederal ceiling. It has a large bay window, and stairs leading to the loft above the garage. (We'll get to both later). Immediately in front of you is a small hallway/opening that leads to the kitchen and the den. Behind the living room is the dining room, which shares the back half of the cathederal ceiling and adjoins the kitchen. To your left, are the stairs as mentioned previously, and a hallway that leads to the bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry room and garage.
After touring the house and walking the property, this was the first house I had visited that I could honestly see myself living in. I feel that my requirements for a home that I live in are small, but it was very difficult to actually find a home with all these features. First and foremost, I wouldn't comprimise on the garage. I was actually purchasing a garage, and if a house happened to be attached to it, even better. (ok.. this is a joke, see.. but it *does* emphasize the importance of a garage to me!) What I also needed was to have a place where I could 'hang out' after a day of work or on a weekend. Finally, I needed to have a place where I could walk through the main door and be able to have a closet readily accessible for me to hang my coat. Now.. I know what you're saying: "Gee, Jeff, that doesn't sound all that difficult." Yeah, I agree with you. However, finding all three things proved to be VERY difficult. Many places didn't have a den. They only had a small, formal, living room and a dining room of the same size. Nowhere to hang out. Some had finished basements. This does me no good. I do not want to hang out in a cave; it is bad enough that I work in the IT industry where all the engineers like to have the lights off! I do not want this trend to continue when I am at my HOME. Many places didn't have a closet within sight of the front or garage doors. Many had no hall/coat closets at all. This truly astonished me, but proved to be the norm, rather than the exception. Finally the garage. Most homes that I went to did not have a two car garage. And, even with having one car garage, it was unusable, as there would be a beam through the center preventing me from parking my truck inside. I have far too many wheeled vehicles to entertain the thought of a house with only one garage bay. Lucky for me, this house had it all!
My relator and I left this property and had gone to two other properties in the Oak Tree area, but I couldn't get my mind off of THIS house. We went to the second house, and I felt really bad for the owner. The house was in HORRIBLE shape and they were asking a price that I just didn't think that they would be able to get (I was proved wrong, however, as the house did sell for the asking price. The house was just on the market for an eternity, though --> about two weeks.) We then went to the second house. It was about the same. I didn't like it at all. We then went out to the car, and I asked my relator if it would be too much trouble to go back to the first house. She said "no, it wouldn't" and made a phone call. We went back there and I combed the house, just looking for reasons as to why this house couldn't be mine. I couldn't find any. We thanked the home owner and left. I asked my relator how I should go about making a bid. We then drove to Wendy's and spent the next two hours filling out paperwork. Then came the painful part: She asked me for my "show of good faith" deposit. (My what?!) I wasn't prepared for this. None of my money was 'liquid' and it would take a couple of days for it go get to me. I didn't even have my check-book with me. I drove back to my apartment, got my checkbook, wrote a check, then begged my relator not to cash it for a couple of days. Fortunately for me, she agreed.
Anyway.. the home-owner's lawyer recommended my bid over the other that was for the same amount submitted on the same day because my bid was backed with a pre-approval and was a conventional mortgage, rather than the opposing bid which was pre-qualified and a FHA loan. The lawyer's recommendation was based on the fact that the home-owner was looking for a quick turn-around so that she could move down to Florida before the summer and purchase a home down there in the prime house-buying season. On the day that the lawyer recommended my bid, three more bids came in for the house, one which was over $8,000 more than the asking price. This is just proof of the nature of the market in Northern Virginia. After waiting a month, I finally closed on the house on March 27th.
As with any home, this one has had its fill of difficulties already. First, the plumbing in this house is best described as "half-assed". My first indication of this was when I was installing the washer/dryer and dishwasher. After taking two days to install these appliances, I thought that my plumbing headaches were over. WRONG! I awoke one morning to no hot water. I immediately troubleshot the waterheater and everything looked good. So I reset the breaker and waited to see if it heated up. No. After replacing all the components of the heater, I finally replaced the whole damn thing. Still no hot water. At this point, it was starting to get warm outside, and the heater was running less and less. I was taking my contacts out one night when I heard the faint sound of running water. As it turns out, a hot water pipe in the concrete slab had burst and water was flowing through the water heater too fast for it to heat up. (Uh, oh!) I was able to bypass the burst pipe and fix the problem, but the financial woes had just begun. The problem had spanned two months and I received two electric bills each exceeding $350. (not good!) Then I got that water/sewer bill in excess of $275. (ouch!)
In all, the house has been good. There's a lot of little niggling things that I want to do with it, but nothing that can't be done w/o money and/or time.All House Pictures