The husband and I have bought a new house!
This process started over a year ago, as we had thought selling our old place wouldn't take terribly long. So we packed up half of our stuff in order to stage the house, and it stayed there until about three weeks ago. As our house was a starter home (1100 feet, one-car attached garage, slab house, no basement or second story), we figured it would be bought by someone buying their first home, or a retiree looking to downsize. But man, it was looooong time in finding a buyer; we had to switch real estate agents in the middle of the process to find someone with more experience. We eventually had to spring for a kitchen upgrade, as well as new carpet and paint in some rooms, just to get it to sell. And even then we sold it for several thousand less than we wanted, and were jerked around by potential buyers (well, one potential buyer who at the 11th hour of the process asked for something that was expensive & not necessary according to the house inspection; didn't sell to her).
In trying to find a house, we must have looked at 60+ homes, and ultimately put in offers on three. The first one took a long time to fall through (the sellers' real estate agent was a jerk; even our agent thought so), the second seller wouldn't negotiate, but the third house...
By that point in our hunting process both the husband and I were tired and frustrated. We weren't looking in a price bracket beyond our means (it took the husband a little while to realize that, but he got there eventually), and knew anything we would buy would probably require some projects. However, we had specific wants.
1. Bigger than our last place. While we both would have liked to entertain more people, and did entertain to our limits, there were definite restrictions as to how many people we could host and how. When you got more than a couple of guests, pretty much everyone had to come in and sit down immediately. Only one or two people could circulate at a time without bumping into each other, and hosting a large family meal (like Thanksgiving) would be impossible at any time. There just wasn't room for a big enough table. I also wanted to get a piano, something we hadn't had the room for our entire marriage.
2. More than one bathroom. With only one toilet, sometimes there were sharp words and near pants-filling incidents of one or the other of us kicking someone off the pot in order to use it themselves. The single time we had overnight guests for more than a few nights, there was also a lot of time trying to schedule who got a shower when, or when someone could brush their teeth.
3. Bigger kitchen - specifically more counter space. When I decide to bake, I tend to bake in large quantities. Around Christmastime, I will bake a dozen different kinds of cookies, and had to press every flat surface into service to hold cooling racks and cookie sheets: dining room table, top of microwave, buffet, coffee table, shelves in the garage... For once I wanted enough counter space to be able to roll out cookies or work with dough without having to place a game of kitchen-counter Tetris.
4. Storage, preferably basement, partially finished a big plus. Having only had a crawl-space attic for extra storage, we were looking forward to being able to get at our holiday decorations without it being a huge production of ladders, grunting, squeezing into small spaces and trying to wedge boxes in and out of small hatches in the ceiling. Having a finished basement would also give us a second living space to decorate in a more unconventional fashion. Specifically, we wanted a room or a corner of a room to do our role-playing games (Dungeons and Dragons, etc.). We have a lot of fantasy art that would look great grouped together, but it not quite appropriate for one's living room.
5. Space for guests. This went hand-in-hand with the storage. Our old house did technically have three bedrooms, but due to our excess of stuff, the second bedroom eventually became a hybrid workout/library/storage room. The third bedroom was my den, but we really couldn't squeeze a bed or even an air mattress in there.
Of the sixty houses we looked at, some were very run down, others had tiny kitchens or horrible parking situations, no second living space to speak of, or a basement (if it had one) straight out of a horror movie.
Our first house we put an offer in on checked off most of our boxes, and had a fantastic kitchen (though the bathrooms needed work), but because it took so long for our house to get sold, it was sold out from under us. The second house was more updated and had a bigger living room, but had a smaller basement. That one was sold out from under us as well, as the people buying our house at the time starting demanding things at the 11th hour, and both deals fell through.
We'd approached both of these first two offers very slowly and methodically, going back for second viewings with my parents, taking our time to be certain we could be happy in that house. By the time we'd reached what would become our third offer, we were getting fairly frantic. We'd accepted an offer on our house, one that was seeming to stick, and either had to make an offer of our own very soon or face being homeless.
Thusly came The Third House, a three-bedroom ranch with a half-bath off the master, a walk-in shower in the main bath, a big kitchen and living room, a connected dining room, and an addition that gave it a sunken family room with a fireplace. Plus it had a partially-finished basement. Unlike so many we had looked at, it had somehow avoided having all of the utilities (furnace, water heater, etc.) in the middle of the basement, giving the center room (the finished one) huge dimensions while still giving us gobs of storage all the way around it in the unfinished parts.
We had an offer submitted within the hour, no second viewing required. Good thing too, it had an open house the next day, and six other people showed up, but by then we'd come to a mutually agreeable offer from the seller and had the house locked up.
We've been in it nearly 7 weeks now, and even were able to empty our storage unit to get all of our stuff back under one roof. With the addition of some new furniture, we are, I would estimate, maybe a couple weeks away from having everything totally done. I think I have done more than my husband has, in terms of putting away things, but I have a very low tolerance for Not Being Able to Find My Shit. Besides, at least two of the rooms are mine, almost exclusively. Husband has his little media pod in the family room (duel-wielding a desktop and laptop in his big chair-and-a-half) and I have my office. I have painted furniture and hit months' worth of garage sales to help fill the games in our household, and the place is looking great.
We also now have an Ultimate Achievement as far as being role-players - our own dedicated gaming room. This is a nerd badge you can shine up really nice and display to the jealously of all other gaming nerds you encounter. I decorated it as a "Magic Tavern," pulling out all my gaming props and then raiding the local thrift stores for tankards and goblets, candles and wooden bowls, baskets and platters to give the place a semi-authentic feel.
I am a motherfucking ADULT with my OWN HOUSE that I decorated MYSELF!
Suck it, world!