Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Somewhere, Out There

Third weekend of househunting. The Husband is at a softball tournament, so I am on my own. I head to Berkeley, to check out two houses in the same neighborhood near Ashby. Oh, to have lots of money to fix up an old house. The first is full of quirks and tiny hallways and hidden closets - and cracked plaster, rotting carpets, decaying bathroom fixtures. I'm pretty sure I could knock down the freestanding garage if I just lean hard. Asking price: $419K.

The second one breaks my heart - clearly once a grand house, huge, with columns and a sweeping staircase in the front hall. Tall elegant windows and French doors in the parlor, living room, and dining room (several with warnings not to touch). There's a butler's pantry off the kitchen, and back staircase for the servants. The agent does not hesitate to tell everyone that it needs a new foundation and roof, not to mention new everything else. There are four big bedrooms upstairs, all with varying peeling wallpapers, and the strangest bathroom I have ever seen. Pink fixtures that have faded to purplish, and pink tile on the floor, walls, AND ceiling. Who tiles their ceiling??? Asking price: $395K.

I venture into a new neighborhood for the last two houses - Richmond Annex. We've instinctively avoided anything in Richmond, stories of crime have scared us away. But the Annex is charming, downright Berkeleyesque. The first house is tiny and immaculate, but no room to grow, as the backyard is about the size of a king mattress. Asking price: $379K.

The second makes my heart beat faster. A living room with a fireplace and beamed ceilings. Two big bedrooms. The bathroom fixtures are aqua, the kitchen is old, but it is clean and charming. The double garage has been turned into an apartment, and the realtor takes great pains to tell us that although the work is up to code, no permits were obtained. The yard is lush, with fruit trees. I can imagine our two little terriers romping. I walk through it again, slowly. This may be it. Asking price: $448K.

When the Husband gets home I load him into the car and drive him over to see the Annex house, even though the open house is long over. He is charmed too. I will call F. tomorrow.

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