Playing Fixer Upper (and I need your help. Please!)

We got back into the house-hunting game. We've been off and on for the past year and a half with a few big breaks, and picked up again this summer, but the market around Portland is completely bananas and we haven't had any luck with the offers we've made. Maybe until now...

We got energized again recently. Last week we dipped our toes in again and drove around to six homes by ourselves (all but one vacant), looking in the windows and poking around the yards of the vacant ones (sshhhhhh). None of them ended up being what we wanted, but then we saw a 1910 farmhouse on almost 1/4 acre listed, and drove there the next day. We fell in love with the yard. In love. It's like the yard I had growing up, but bigger, and it already had a chicken coop! It was painful to decide the house was too small and too much of a wildcard with the age and condition... so we moved on.

I was really conflicted about what kind of house we wanted, because we've been looking at places that are smaller than our current home but have yards. And yet... here was a home with a great yard, and not that much smaller than our current home, and yet it just felt wrong. (Partly cause it didn't have a garage or basement, so no room for the gym or extra storage like we have now.) So. We changed our search parameters and looked for bigger houses, up to the top of our budget.

Fixer Upper!


To our surprise, we found a 4-bedroom, 2-car garage, boring 90's house only 20ish blocks from our current place. (We are in a great location for us.) It's been listed for months, latest offer fell through due to buyer's financing, and is not much of a looker right now. It's been a rental, so it needs ALL the paint and flooring and light fixtures and counter tops (the fun stuff). It's bigger and in a better location than we ever thought we could afford. It's more money than we wanted to spend, but that's the theme of this market right now. And it's spacious enough we feel like we can live there for a lot longer than we could in a 3 bed, 1- or 2-bed ranch like we've been looking at.

We went to look at it. We were a little tired and stressed by this point, but to make it more fun we pretended we were a couple on Fixer Upper driving to the next house Chip and Jo had for us to look at, and waved to the pretend cameras on the windshield. This is how it always goes, and how it went for us:

One of us: "So, what are you looking for in a home?"
Husband: "It needs a nice yard..."
Wife: "A big kitchen..."
Husband: "Room for an office..."
Wife: "At least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths..."
Husband: "A 2-car garage would be nice..."

We found a lot of these things in this mystery home. The yard is nothing compared to the farmhouse, but is bigger than we thought from the listing photos. (So we're asking ourselves how important the yard is right now, anyway.)

We made an offer. Less than the asking price since it's been on the market so long and needs so much cosmetic work, but still the top of our budget. We are a little terrified (whether it's accepted or not!).

(Fixer Upper is the greatest reality show of all time.)
The Ranch on the Hill from Fixer Upper

So... I need your help.


We've only bought one home before, and while we love our townhome and it was totally right for us for the first few years, we look at friends who spent a little more on their first homes and have room to grow into them more than we do. Other friends with bigger budgets have bought much nicer homes, with more room to grow, but that's not an option for us. You know me--you know I'm not afraid of a DIY project--but this house will require a lot of upgrades to make it great, and is already at the top of our budget, though is probably a good deal and will grow in value quickly even if we just do a few quick upgrades (I can tell based on recent nearby similar sales in better condition).

But it's so scary to spend so much money on a home! We could spend less, but get something that would be smaller and maybe farther away from work and other important places for us. We could buy something with a great yard but tiny house. We could just keep living in our townhouse. We are having a really hard time identifying our priorities!

So I hope you can help me. Tell me about your home. Is it what you were looking for when you picked it out? Do you love it? Do you wish you could fix it, but never do, and are you frustrated by that? Do you find you need as much space as you thought you did? Do you have a great yard and hang out there all the time?

Thank you for your wisdom. We need all the perspective we can find right now! Thank you, friends!!

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