Quick note before I crash
House Update, and more Disney than you care to read

Welcome home, Cheungs!

I know I'm supposed to tell you ALL about our Disney trip and then I could probably write another week of blog posts about moving the kids into one room today and the subsequent disaster area that is my house. But right now all I can think about is that our landlord wants to sell our house, preferably as soon as possible, and I have already eaten all the chocolate. 

Last week sometime the landlord called about bringing an appraiser over. I decided not to think too much into this. Then while we were standing in line for the Storybook Land Canal Boats (cute!) Phillip took a call (not cute!) from the landlord who asked if we were going to be gone long enough for him to install new countertops. UM, YES? Except I was pretty disappointed to come home and see countertops that looked exactly the same, just minus some bubbling and peeling. 

And then today he called to tell us that he wants to put the house on the market. According to Phillip he sounded like he felt pretty bad about springing it on us, and was surprisingly forthright about why - he's losing three thousand dollars a month on his three rental properties and he's afraid of losing HIS house. I suppose I could begrudge him the lack of notice and all that, but the truth is that we're looking to buy anyway and he's been awesome to us so far and dude, it sucks to be losing that much money PER MONTH. Phillip said, "Well, we're looking to buy a house anyway" and the landlord instantly said, "Do you want to buy the house?" and Phillip said, "Well how much are you selling it for?" and while we are not ENTIRELY clear on this, as in, nothing is in writing and he could change his mind and who knows what he'll come back with if we say we want to discuss it further, but he produced a number about the same as what we paid for our townhouse. 

Which... see, this is where my mind gets blown a tiny bit. It is a number so low that it seems incredibly foolish not to say YES WHERE DO I SIGN? The houses we've been looking at are priced significantly higher. Of course, we've been looking at updated four-bedroom houses with over 2000 square feet and this house is... not that. We actually have no idea what the square footage is - maybe 1600? And there are only three bedrooms. And no dining room. And a really old, outdated kitchen. And two bathrooms that could use some remodeling. And slopey floors. And a hideous, unfinished laundry "area". And dingy blue carpet. And ancient windows. On a busy street and right next to an odd-looking duplex building - no fence between us at all. 

Still, it's kind of an amazing price. So amazing that we could definitely do some remodeling. A LOT of remodeling. 

Because we also kind of love this house. We LOVE the neighborhood and how close it is to pretty much everything. The schools are excellent. I'm always thinking about how awesome the backyard would be if I OWNED the house and felt that the work and money would be worth it. It's got a playroom downstairs. It has cool skylights and a wall of windows in the kitchen. I have spent extensive time daydreaming about how I would remodel this house (but never seriously, since I never thought we'd have the option to buy it). It's light, it has character, it has that 1920s craftsman look. We've been really happy here. 

But I never wanted to remodel anything. Phillip and are not DIY types at all. We're not into that kind of thing, have no talent in it, and if we ever attempted a bathroom remodel we'd probably end up getting divorced. That's why we're not looking at houses that need serious work. It's just not an option for us. 

SO WHAT ARE WE THINKING? I'll tell you. First of all, if we buy this house for what the landlord owes, which is the number he gave us when we asked what he'd sell for, we could hire an architect and contractors. We'd still be living in a construction zone, but we wouldn't be doing any of the work ourselves. And the second thing is that I'm really drawn to the idea of making all the decisions. That house I went to see before we went on vacation put a lot of dreams into my head. It was beautiful and modern without being the same old same old you see in every suburban development house. It was creative and beautiful and I really admired the imagination that went into planning it. It TOTALLY EXCITES me that we could have the same opportunity. 

The scariest thing is that we'd want to add at least two bedrooms, and we have no idea if that's even possible. One of the first things I'd want to do if we owned the house is knock out the walls of Jack's former bedroom (now Phillip's office) and make space for a dining room. Which means losing one of the three bedrooms. Which means we'd definitely need more. So we're not just talking a kitchen remodel, we're talking about MAJOR WORK. Additions, build outs (I'd LOVE to bump out the front and create an entry way), who knows what else. 

Our real estate agent is coming over in about 20 minutes because we want her opinion. We want to know if the estimated selling price is as awesome a deal as we think it is. We want to know her opinion about resale value, given the busy street and rental next door. We've also left a message with our architect friend, to see if it's even possible to add on to this house (and if it would bankrupt us). And I think after we talk to those two people we'll have a much better idea of what we want to do. 

Because if we don't buy this place, we're looking to buy a house within the next several weeks. And this makes me ill. 

Let's look at pictures of happy!


Here is what Molly looked like when I finally took that lollipop away:


I seriously have a thousand things to say about this trip (you = on tenterhooks), but right now let's think cheery thoughts for my husband who is stomping around saying things like, "We're RIGHT back where we were a year ago!" and perusing (and CALLING) rental listings. 


Realtor said the only real way to expand is to add a second story, which would most likely blow through our remodel cash pretty quickly. Hmm. Now to talk to the architect...



Wow! What an exciting opportunity! I always think its better to have more options than less/none. Still, I'd say be patient, take it slow and weigh the pros and cons. God works in mysterious ways.

Sarah in Ottawa

Welcome home!

You jest, but I am looking forward to hearing all about the house hunt. I'm totally curious as to what comparable houses cost vs. what he's willing to sell for. Your agent will get you that info, right?

Exciting stuff!


Making it completely yours could be fun. We lived in "limbo" for 5 years, part us/family/business. I hope you are able to get settled soon. Good luck!


As we are in the process of getting our house ready to sell (advice??) and looking at farm listings, I am definitely excited to hear more about this opportunity.

Amy J

I just wanted to tell you I feel your pain. We were renting and the landlords let us know that they would be moving back in 30! days. (Military clause). We found and bought a house in that time (holy stress). Good luck!


That picture of Molly is AWESOME!

Life of a Doctor's Wife

Firstly, you have such a cute family! Love the photos.

Secondly, WOW, what big exciting news! Good luck! Keep us posted!

Melissa T.

Look forward to hearing more about Disneyland.

We bought a house that I didn't think was a fixer-upper and we still fixed and upped a lot...ourselves. I do not recommend if you want good quality family time. Or if you do decide on doing a lot of changes, do it at once so it's all said and done in a relatively short period of time. It's hard to balance family life with construction. :)

Hope you are well!


Love the Molly with lollipop face picture. Too cute! Can't wait to hear how the trip went- and good luck with the house decision!


I was so excited to read about the house opportunity. I hope it works out and you guys can buy your plcae. Can;t wait for the Disney update too!


We are also looking around for a house. And I would need a bigger size than you have, but I have quite a few more kids than you do!


Construction oddities aside, it sounds like you found your house! :)


Maggie, you love that neighborhood. Do it! I don't think you will be sorry and frankly, if you own the house there is plenty of time to think out how you want to do things. Bathrooms are easy, quick and can be faily inexpensive. Which is to say you can make it NICER in the meantime. Plus, new counters!


Goodness, you had no idea how much you needed that vacay, huh?
I started out with BIG renovation plans for this house but since we have almost zero budget, well, now I'm looking at minor changes. But when I was all dreamy and unrealistic I made a few calls and found out that kitchen renovations cost far more than I thought. So, um, definitely get some estimates before you commit to anything.
But it would be SO much easier if you didn't have to pack and move and unpack all over again!

Dan Sweet

Speaking as someone who opted for new construction done pretty nice in 2009 who has since seen my house depreciate, I'm glad I went the way I did. We looked at lots of places that we would have wanted to make a decent number of changes to and are VERY glad we stayed away. In this market where basically everything is still declining no bank is likely to loan you any money to make renovations anyways. Living in the middle of a work site is a giant pain and workers aren't rushing jobs cause most of them don't have a next job to go to. There are tons of houses out there that people dumped $40 - $100,000 into between 2005 and 2008 making look fresh, clean, granite, hardwood, white molding, etc. Those houses cost $10,000 - $40,000 more than the houses without the same improvements. You'll be way better off in $/stress/headaches/etc if you find one fixed the way you want it even if it is a little stretching financially. Sure it might still go down another 10% but if you aren't planning to move anytime soon who cares, you wake up in a nice place everyday. Was just having lunch with a friend who bought at the same time as me in the older needs work $50,000 less range. He is frustrated they have an old kitchen and can't economically justify making any changes since it is still depreciating since purchase as it.

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