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House Hunting – The First 10 Days

Except for the period from 2001 to 2005 when we owned a home in Rock Island, Illinois (thanks to our parents), our family has always been renting. The house that we have rented the longest is our current house in Fountain Valley…nearly five years. Just this month, thanks to the encouragement of a couple other people, we thought that maybe we should explore the possibility of buying a house.

Here’s a picture from Google Maps of our former Rock Island home.

1809 42nd St Rock Island IL 61201. Click photo for full size.
1809 42nd St Rock Island IL 61201. Click photo for full size.

The first thing that we did was contact a friend in San Jose who works in the mortgage business. We filled out an application and sent him a bunch of paperwork. He assured us that Tim’s good job and our excellent credit would get us financing.

The second thing that we did was attend a RedFin home-buying class in Irvine. So on Thursday, Nov. 13th, 2014, Jeri stopped by Tim’s office and picked him up after work. After eating at Native Foods (their favorite vegan restaurant), they went to the class in Irvine. They were encouraged by the RedFin philosophy and standards. Thanks to the Internet, the house hunt began.

RedFin

Because Tim works in Irvine (as a senior software engineer for a large company), we wanted to stay close to Irvine. In addition Jason is working full-time as a graphic designer in Huntington Beach and Nicole is working part-time in Fountain Valley. So staying in Fountain Valley would be ideal.

However because there were very few homes currently on the market that are large enough for our family (five+ bedrooms and at least 3,000 square feet), we expanded our search area to include areas such as Tustin and Orange. Our hunt for the right house didn’t seem promising–each house that we saw had some major reason that made it unworkable for us. Those areas would have lengthened Tim’s commute by a little and Jason’s and Nicole’s commutes by a lot.

The day following the RedFin class, we contacted our realtor (Marc) and asked to see three houses. Turns out that we could see two of them Sunday afternoon. After seeing them in person, neither home seemed to be workable for our family.

We saw this one in Orange and it had some nice features (like a pool and nice downstairs bedrooms). But we wouldn’t really fit.

853 South Newhaven, Orange, CA 92869. Click photo for full size.
853 South Newhaven, Orange, CA 92869. Click photo for full size.

We were hopeful about this one in Santa Ana…the price was attractive. But our dining room table would have extended into the already small living room. Plus the pool had been removed.

2601 S Glenarbor St Santa Ana CA 92704. Click photo for full size.
2601 S Glenarbor St Santa Ana CA 92704. Click photo for full size.

Here’s Jeri looking over the area where the pool formerly was.

Jeri Looking at Backyard. Click photo for full size.
Jeri Looking at Backyard. Click photo for full size.

During the next week, we kept searching for a house on the Internet. Although prices were more affordable in Corona or farther south in Orange County, we didn’t want to sacrifice quality of life for a bigger house.

We saw that four large homes were having open houses on the next Saturday (11/22). The ones that were 3,000 square feet or smaller just didn’t have enough room for our entire family. In a lot of cases, the dining room was too small for our 10-foot dining room table.

This one in Huntington Beach was definitely too small…about 2,750 square feet and only four bedrooms.

8192 Falmouth Dr Huntington Beach CA 92646. Click photo for full size.
8192 Falmouth Dr Huntington Beach CA 92646. Click photo for full size.

We thought that maybe this one in North Tustin could work. Although it was only four bedrooms and 2,800 square feet, we thought that all five girls into the huge master bedroom upstairs. The house looked very nice plus it had a pool. But after we thought it through, we realized that there really wasn’t enough space.

13532 Loretta Dr North Tustin CA 92780. Click photo for full size.
13532 Loretta Dr North Tustin CA 92780. Click photo for full size.

Next we looked at another home in North Tustin. It was HUGE (3,700 sq. ft. when counting the basement) and would be great for entertaining. However it had only “four” bedrooms…which was really only three because the “Jack and Jill” bedrooms were open together.

13001 Loretta Dr North Tustin CA 92780. Click photo for full size.
13001 Loretta Dr North Tustin CA 92780. Click photo for full size.

We finished the day looking at this one in Orange. Great yard and pool but the location and size (under 3,000 square feet) wouldn’t work.

398 S Wrightwood St Orange CA 92869. Click photo for full size.
398 S Wrightwood St Orange CA 92869. Click photo for full size.

So through the first 10 days, we saw six houses with none looking promising. There was one more open house scheduled for the next day (Sunday). The house hunting concludes.