A Tale of Two Houses

We were only looking last week, honest. And, I know things around here have turned more in the direction of settling down versus becoming nomads. But . . .

Our agent arranged for us to see three houses last Thursday (instead of a condo) in our preferred neighborhood and within our price range.

Why only three? Because that’s all that are currently available! There really are very few houses around in our price range in the area of the island we want to buy. And, houses here in our price range are snapped up fairly quickly, and although we’re not in a hurry we still wanted to get an idea of what we could expect to find in our price range.

Our first stop was to see two 2-bedroom houses that sit on the same lot. It’s a common set-up in Hawai’i, called a CPR, where a lot is not suitable for a subdivision for some reason but is still large enough to hold two homes. Both of the houses on the huge lot we visited are currently for sale and were within our price range.

We were informed upon arrival by the listing agent though that the VA would not approve the first house because the previous owners had done an un-permitted conversion of the carport into an extra room. We were crushed when we heard this because not only had the house been recently updated, but it also had a beautiful ocean view from the living room and both bedrooms. Do you know the odds of finding an affordable house with an ocean view? At the same time though we didn’t really care for the conversion, and would prefer to have a house with a carport and/or garage.

We were prepared then to be underwhelmed when we went to look at the second house on the lot, but found ourselves pleasantly surprised instead. There was no ocean view, but because it was set back further from the road it was quieter. The bathroom had been remodeled, and the kitchen had also been updated. There was a carport, lots of storage, and an avocado tree on the side of the house that was loaded with fruit. The yard was a nice size and in decent condition too. It wasn’t perfect, but there was nothing about it that screamed “run away!”

Then it was on to House #3, located just about a half mile up the road from the other two houses. It’s new construction, had a lovely, open floor plan that would work well for us and beautiful finishes, and . . . an unbelievably stunning ocean view from the bedrooms upstairs – positively breathtaking. We were practically prepared to make an offer on the spot just to get those views.

Brett and I came home and talked about the houses we had seen, and thinking we should probably make an offer on the new construction. But, as we started listing pros and cons, we realized that for both of us there were some things that just weren’t right about the house, and information we received after our agent talked with the listing agent confirmed our suspicions. We could see that the house wasn’t painted properly and would require a repaint in order to pass a VA inspection, but the builder wouldn’t do this or offer a credit. There was zero landscaping on the lot, just a lot of dirt, weeds and mud, and they again said they wouldn’t be providing any updates or any sort of credit for landscaping either. No appliances came with the house. There was also lots of road noise at the location. And, we finally asked ourselves, how much time would we be spending up in the bedrooms to make the view worth all the other hassles?

During the process of discussing the new construction we were comparing it to the second house on the lot we had looked at, the one without a view, and to our surprise that house was clearly coming out a winner. Although it was smaller than the new construction, the space was adequate and provided a lot of storage. We liked the yard and its potential, and loved the thought of having a prolific avocado tree. We preferred the location too: it was quieter and just a short walk down the hill into town or to the beach or bike path, and a five-minute walk away from the girls’ school. And, we reminded ourselves, the ocean view would be there every single time we went to the end of the driveway, either on foot or in the car.

Suddenly it seemed like a no-brainer, and we decided to go ahead and make an offer before the house slipped away. It had everything we wanted and needed, was in move-in ready condition, and the price was in our ballpark.

We submitted a formal offer last Friday. We knew it was low (not lowball, though), and wanted to see if or what the owner countered with. The first counteroffer came back on Saturday, but they barely dropped the price. Still, they indicated they were willing to negotiate so we came back yesterday with our top offer. Based on recent comps in the area it’s right on the money, so we shall see how serious they are about selling.

Will we be disappointed if it doesn’t work out? Not really, because we really didn’t think we’d find anything we liked this early and are not yet emotionally wrapped up in the house or the process (or desperate). We know there will be other houses coming up, and that maybe this one is just not meant to be.

But, maybe it is – we shall see. Stay tuned!



8 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Houses

  1. How exciting! As I was reading your post, I was thinking “how important is the view anyway?” and then I have seen that you have asked the same question to yourselves. I hope for the best for you guys.


  2. I don’t know if the second house is two story but when you said bedrooms upstairs I thought as you age do you really want to be climbing stairs. Can’t wait to read what you buy and pictures.


    1. We go back and forth on whether stairs will be a problem or not, but that’s moot with the house we put an offer on. It’s just one level. It’s a nice size for us too. It will be small with the two girls still at home, but perfect for Brett and I once they have left the nest (which will happen in just 3 years – sob!).


  3. I’m glad you talked it through and didn’t get caught up in your initial reactions. I can’t understand how a builder wouldn’t offer at least a little landscaping, and the basic utilities! Is that common there?


    1. Not having the landscaping at least cleaned up was a big turn-off for us. And they couldn’t even provide builder-grade appliances (which we would sell and upgrade with our own)? The painting was actually the big issue for us though. If not done the siding on that house is going to fail in just a few years, but it wouldn’t pass the VA inspection anyway and we’re not paying to have a new house painted!


    1. Brett and I were kind of surprised how much we actually liked the second home. We had been swayed by the “pretty face” of the new construction, but we could see the second house was much for in line with what we wanted and at a price we wanted to pay. There are things we want to do, but nothing has to be done in a hurry.


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