Well, we finally engaged a real estate agent. We met with her (and an associated mortgage person) on Thursday, and put together a list of houses to see which we did, today.

We saw a total of 5. Of those five, it breaks down like this:

#1 Nice, everything we need, more on it later.

#2 Funky. Old. Sideways-looking. Awesome neighborhood. Awesome hardwood floors. Semi-renovated. Too expensive. Sucky closets. Only heat in basement was wood stove.

#3 Nice. Taxes too high. Dark, dark kitchen cabinets, pretty good space, though not great flow.

#4 Old. In bad shape. Awesome original woodwork. Awesome 6-foot windows with interior wood shutters. Currently a duplex. If we had a lot of money now, or even a regularly excessive income stream, this could be a DREAM renovation. I can imagine doing to this what “the girls” did to 1848 Grace street. (If you don’t know, I’ll tell you later.) Busy street. No garage. I’m really tempted by this because I see such enormous potential. But it would cost so much to achieve that potential, that even though we’d probably have no trouble getting it back (good neighborhood in cute town), it would be more than we’d really want to put into living quarters.

#5 Regularly updated. Near Sylvan hills between Hollidaysburg and Altoona. Hot tub, swings. The pool table conveys. Pretty neat space except for the bedroom area. But we would be wanting to spend some time in the bedroom area too. A little too expensive for what we think we’d be getting.

So, after all that, we are only really interested in number 1. #4 is tempting, definitely, but more so if we were at a different stage of our lives.

“#1” is actually “512 28th Ave.” and I took a lot of pictures.. It was built in ’65. It’s 3 bedroom, 2.5 ba (actually, 1 + 34 +12 ba). It has a one-car garage and adjacent workshop. It’s got a large finished basement area with a half bath, a separate counter top with sink and fridge. Between ample closets, basement space and a funky-attic-like-thing tucked behind the closets of the upstairs bedrooms, it seems to have ample storage. It’s got a nice kitchen with a bar between it and the den which has a gas fireplace in it. The Master bedroom (and 34 bath) are on the first floor with the laundry. It’s got a smallish and slopey lot, but nice enough to do some playing/hanging out in. It’s got a screened in back porch. Gas hot water baseboard heat with 3 zones. City water/sewer, central vac, thermopane windows, all brick exterior. 1912 sq feet above ground, and 800 below. No central air. It’s on a cul-de-sac. The asking price is $155K.

We’re tempted. Very tempted. While it would be simple enough to add a cooktop/range to the downstairs, and make it it’s own in-law-apartment, The downstairs doesn’t get enough light to have it be something Eve would be interested in staying in, so we can’t use her money. Still, we should probably be able to take care of that. If we borrow $120K at about 5.5%, that means P+I would be in the neighborhood of $680/mo. Pretend about $250/mo for taxes+insurance… About $930 per mo. More than the $700/mo we’re paying now in rent, but almost certainly a doable sum.

I guess the next step will be to find out typical gas bills and ask our agent Wilma how low she thinks we could get away with offering. We’ll certainly still look around, but I got a good feeling about this place.

OK, I could do without the salmon living room, and maybe some carpet in the basement would make it feel a little more inviting, but this are minor things compared to the walls we’d have to remove, etc. to make #4 the place we’d want it to be. And I’m nervous about the heating. I remember radiators from my childhood, but all I really know as an adult is gas forced air (and central a/c). OK. And it’s plaster walls. I’m not as sure about how to deal with them as I am drywall. There’s some dark paneling that we’d probably want to replace. But all of these things are minor compared to the flow of the space, the ease of MBR+kitchen+laundry all on the same floor, etc, etc. It’s easy livin’ in altoona, all over again! πŸ™‚