House hunting

As I said the other day, our time at our little house is up. Our landlord’s kids are off to college, so they’ve decided to move out of their big house and into this smaller one. We knew it was coming, but it’s still kind of a shock. Both the buying and rental markets have gotten so hot lately that we decided we better try to buy a house before we get priced out of the market completely. Renting costs just as much, so we might as well try to get more house for the money.

Our only knowledge base for home buying is the midwestern market, which is waaaay different than the one out here, so we’ve had a pretty big shock to the system. Shock #1 is that we pretty much can’t afford a house in our own neighborhood. When we first moved 3 1/2 years ago, our neighborhood seemed kind of transitional to me. Nothing special really. But it has really improved as people got pushed out of the city and then out of Oakland into more distant suburbs. Now there are lots of young families vying for the few houses coming up on the market.

So that brought us to shock #2 — the price is almost never the price. People intentionally price their houses low, get a bunch of offers (sometimes a dozen or more), and then end up getting 10-20 percent more than the list price. Example: One house we looked at was priced at $430,000 and ended up selling for $510,000. It’s crazy! I mean CRAY-ZEE. There aren’t enough letters to describe the crizaziness.

Then there are other houses that need so much work they will end up selling for less. So it’s hard to know what houses to even look at.

There’s also kind of a routine where people have an open house on a Sunday, then another the following Sunday, then have an offer date like the Tuesday after that. I had it in my mind that if we saw a house we wanted we would just make an offer. But it doesn’t really work like that.

So anyway, we have looked at tons and tons of houses all over the east bay. We have some possibilities, but you kind of always have to keep looking just in case something doesn’t work out. It’s such a roller coaster of emotions. First you love a house, then you’re not sure about it. Then you love another house. Then you love them both. Then you hate them both. Or more likely, you can’t afford either. I still believe we can get a house in our short timeframe. I just want it to be the right one.

Did I mention my mom will be moving in with us? We finally convinced her to relocate from Kansas. I am beyond excited about that!

Date night: Gather

When Mike’s parents were in town recently, we got to have a date night. I wore my new Madewell dress (snagged on mega sale, woo hoo!) and we went to this restaurant I’ve been eyeing for a while, Gather. It’s one of those trendy looking farm-to-table places and they specialize in crackly crust pizzas with unique toppings. I just noticed that their web site says the New York Times called it a “Michael Pollan book come to life.” My kind of place!

I was a little worried we were veering into snooty territory here, but they were actually really nice. Even though we had no reservation at 7 p.m. on a Friday night, they found us a seat right away. We had yummy cocktails — the list is long and fascinating — and a kale and sweet potato appetizer. 

Our pizza had shaved asparagus, goat cheese, and an egg. It couldn’t have felt more springlike. I thought it was all great, and reasonably priced. I loved that from our seat at the bar I could watch the cooks (between several jars of pickled veg) as they tossed pizza and carefully assembled plates. 

After dinner, we were so tired and it was getting late so we did what two nerds in love do — we went to 1/2 Price Books and spent $87. I was joking to Mike that he is the only person I know who could go to a cheap used book store and find a $35 book to buy. Gotta love us. 

still here

Just popping in to say that I am still here, but so very busy lately. February is not usually a busy month for me, but for some reason it was about as busy as a holiday shopping season this year. So busy in fact that we ended up hiring a nanny two days a week so I can get some work done.

We also found out that we have to move out of our rental house this summer. Though we have outgrown it for sure, I have become more attached to it than I realized. So it’s going to be very hard to leave this first house in California. The house we first called our own as a married couple. The one we brought Harper home to. Sigh, it’s a lot. But I guess it’s going to push us out the door into finding a home that’s really our own. (And the right size.)

After quite a bit of much-needed rain, our landscape is looking a lot greener lately. The little succulents in our front garden are so happy — their little blooms are reaching for the sky. 

Back soon, I promise.