House Offer Number 1

If you follow me on Instagram you already know that Jarrod and I found a house! We made offers on five different houses and our fifth offer did the trick. We close on Friday.

When we started our house hunt (nearly a year ago), our home-owning friend Michael told us: “Making an offer isn’t like asking someone to marry you, where you probably already know they’ll say yes. Making an offer is like asking someone on a first date: you have no idea what the response will be.” This has definitely been true for us. So, ahead of our closing date, I’m going to recap each of the properties we made an offer on, and on Friday I’ll share some photos of our new home.

Offer Number 1: Vegas Ranch*


* Our agent, Seth Captain, encourages his clients to give nicknames to the homes they tour to help keep them straight, and because it’s fun. This one was dubbed Vegas Ranch because the owners had moved to Vegas and it was fitting given the showy-but-shoddy 90s upgrades they had done to the property.


(Forgive the arrows on the photos – they’re listing photographs.)


Location: Bowmanville – right between Lincoln Square and Andersonville. The location was unbeatable and the house was totally devoid of charm. I said that it would be like buying a trailer in the Gold Coast (a fancypants Chicago neighborhood).


Why We Made an Offer: Location, location, location. Homes in this area simply aren’t available in our price range. This one was priced relatively low because most buyers don’t like raised ranches (more on that below), but I do. In one our first emails to Seth I said “An ugly but solid post-1950 ranch is likely our sweet spot.” He replied “Those are some of the ugliest examples of architecture in Chicago but at the same time they are enormously solid, with massive foundations, incredible bones and very under-appreciated utilitarian value. And if somebody is creative enough, there are a couple of design ideas that can completely change the feel of these homes…” We could have done a lot with this house.



Listing Price: Originally listed at $445k, fell to $425k, then fell again to $399k.

Our Offer: Because the house had been on the market for several months, we offered $370k. In response to that, the seller raised their asking price to $405k. WTF?! Game over. They were certain the house was worth more and were willing to wait it out. It eventually sold for $392k. (Trulia link to listing) 


This was one of the many situations in which our agent proved he had our interests in mind, not his commission. At that point we were so eager to buy something, and so excited about the location and the potential of the house, it would have been easy for him to counsel us to bid outside of our range. I’m glad we didn’t. I still love the house, but the mortgage payments wouldn’t have left us with much money to spend on renovation — and fixing up a house is what I’m looking forward to.


One final note: raised ranches aren’t appealing to most buyers because they’re small compared to other single-family homes. This house was listed as a tear-down, not because it was irreparable (far from it), but because the value was in the land given how desirable the neighborhood is. Raised ranches often sell to developers who pay cash, tear them down, and build a house that will go for significantly more.

This very thing happened to the home next door:


It sold for $230k and was replaced with a generic mansion that sold for $630k.


If you’re looking to buy a home in Chicago, keep an eye out for raised ranches! We didn’t end up buying one, but they’re great homes that can be had for significantly less money than bungalows and wood frame houses.

See you tomorrow for House Offer Number 2.

Chicago House Hunting: The One I Loved the Most

Of all the houses we’ve seen, this was the house I had the most immediate emotional response to. Originally listed at $525k, sold for $400k, in a lovely Chicago neighborhood called Peterson Woods. It caught me by surprise because I’m rarely sentimental. I’m also wary of kitsch – I like mid-century design because it’s practical and clean-lined – not because I want to live in a time capsule. This house, however, felt truly special.


It was owned by an elderly woman who had finally reached the point where she could no longer live alone. She bought the house from the architect when it was first built (in 1954) and had lived there ever since. The seller’s agent clearly loved her, and exclaimed “She’s 80-years-old and still drives at night!” Her home was beautiful. Alas, we decided it was too far from the CTA for it to be a serious contender.


I’m a sucker for cove ceilings and corner windows.


Such a kitchen!


Both of the bathrooms had amazing metallic wallpaper.


We called this one “Kimberly’s bathroom,” after our friend who most definitely has this decor in outfit form.


And the basement bar was the ultimate Golden Girls party room.



What got me the most, though, was when I opened the master bedroom closet and saw these shoeboxes:


This was exactly how my grandmother organized her shoes. I took some photos of her ranch house — which she lived in until the day she died in 2002, with her Keds on her feet and her head on her pillow. Even the multi-color plastic hangers are the same:

Polaroid Exif JPEG

No good way to end this post, so I’ll link to this Courtney Barnett song that is the perfect soundtrack for emotional house-hunting: Depreston.

California via Des Moines Dreaming

An Open Letter to Matt & Jen Warship:

Do you think your realtor could get us a first-time homeowner two-fer-one deal?  If so, we’ll take this California ranch: 4607 Southwest 16th Street.California Ranch House Exterior

California Ranch House Fireplace

The real estate pictures are hilariously crummy (three of the shed and none of a bedroom or bathroom?) but I was sold on this one:

California Ranch House Basement

AN ALL-WHITE PROJECT ROOM. It will be my Dreamatorium.


P.S. Lest you think I’m self-centered, I picked out a house for you as well: 2801 Fleur Drive.

Tudor House Exterior

Tudor House Interior

Tudor House Interior