18 months ago we decided to stay put on Vashon and build a new house to replace our house that is one bedroom too small and that we generally don’t like. We hired an architect, fired that architect and then hired a much better architect. We got throughout schematic design and had a great design. But we were increasingly weary of committing to raising the kids on Vashon for the next 20 years. The crazy Vashon people and their fear of progress, the lousy elementary and middle schools, the low percentage (50%) of high school kids going to college and the lack of diversity make for a place where I’d regret raising the kids. I went to high school where education and learning were not respected and very few of my friends went to college. I could do better than that for my kids.
We started house-hunting in the San Francisco area. We figured if there was a good time to buy in San Francisco, the Great American Housing Crisis was it. We took 3 trips down there but couldn’t find anything we liked or could afford in or out of the city. Then we started house-hunting in Seattle, which seemed cheap in comparison to San Francisco.
We narrowed in on Capitol Hill and Washington Park neighborhoods quickly just based on access to good public schools, walkability to restaurants and parks and larger yards. We made an offer on a house in Capitol Hill but couldn’t agree on price and we lost a poorly-handled bidding-war on a second house in Washington Park.
We weren’t using a real estate agent thinking we could do it ourselves (with the internet) and thinking we could pay less for the house by saving the seller the 3% broker commission. In both cases, we think it hurt us not having an agent — other agents just don’t feel comfortable talking directly with buyers. Or maybe they fear their obsolescence and resist?
We decided to enlist a real estate agent and picked one of Seattle’s best, Bob Bennion. Bob proves that there is such a thing as a valuable agent. He has decades of experience and is well-connected. We found a house in Capitol Hill that needed lots of work but has tons of potential. Bob advised us not to buy it. We brought our contractor along to check it out and he too told us not to buy it (and he’d get paid to renovate it!). We made an offer anyway and after 3 weeks, we agreed on a price.
Now for the inspection…