Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I had my inspection yesterday and it went really well. The inspector said that the owner didn't cut any corners on the rehab. He was very impressed. Only a few minor things that can be easily done and would probably make sense for the owner to do. We'll see.

I know I posted pictures of the house as part of the search, but since I deleted all reference to the address, you may not know which house it is. So, here are a few pictures of my new house:

living area

back patio

entryway and living area

my bedroom

upstairs hallway looking toward my bedroom

guest room (back room)


basement (and W/D!!!!)
Wet bar, looking toward front of house


Dining area

street view

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Just thought you might like to know. :-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quick update

Things have progressed quite rapidly since last week. I called the realtor and went back to look at the 25th and **** houses last night. I really liked the 25th house, but wasn't sure on the street. As soon as I walked in on Tuesday, I was surprised that it was not what I had thought I remembered. Having seen several places after that had morphed it into something else. Needless to say, I decided it really wasn't for me and I'd need to put more work into it than I would have wanted. The **** house was a different story. As soon as I walked in, I knew that it was where I wanted to be. I put an offer on the house this evening.

I'm on pins and needles waiting to hear back. They have until 5pm tomorrow night to respond. Wish me luck! I really hadn't expected this to progress so quickly!

(edited to remove the house number and street of the place I actually bought)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's Sunday, and what does that mean?

Open houses! Yup, instead of a nice relaxing morning, followed by an afternoon at the pool, I was pouring thru the open house listings to see what I wanted to check out. I eventually selected about 7 listings I wanted to see, but bailed on 2 and 1 was never there.

But, before I get to that, I did remember to go out last night around 11:30 and drive by the houses I looked at on Friday. As I expected (and remembered), I felt very comfortable around the 25th and Judson houses. I even drove around to see if there would be parking spots, and I did find 2 or 3 within 2 blocks of each house.

The Stillman house was the one I most interested in checking out. Parish is a pretty benign street and so is Poplar. However, at the end of Stillman, (the house I'm looking at is 4 houses down from Poplar) there is a gas station. It is well lit, but definitely had a lot of traffic at 11:30 at night. I drove to see where the bus would drop me -- a block and a half from the house and the route I'd have to walk. I saw folks in their 20s and 30s walking on the street. I could also get off a block early and that wouldn't be a problem. Of course, Marissa lives in that area too and loves it (and feels just fine walking around). The street itself was quiet at that time of night and parking was a little harder to find. So, that doesn't really help me much.

With that said, let's move on to the new houses:

2024 St. Albans
I stopped here first. This is a cute little 3 br house in the Graduate Hospital area of town. It's an area that is still in a bit of transition, but I know someone who lived(s) on this block. Being my first open house, I expected an agent to be there with some information. Neither was there. It was very odd. There were folks walking in and out of this home with no one to make sure no one was stealing anything (you never know). The place had been redone and had nice hardwood floors and paint. Since it's a side street (one-lane) it's not that long. You walk into the living room and dining room upon entry (unlike the ones in Fairmout that have a little vestibule to walk thru).

The kitchen was a very nice size (eat in) and was also recently redone. There is a "patio" out back that could also be used as a parking spot; however, the alley to "patio" was a bit narrow and overgrown.

The 2nd floor was fully carpeted with 3 bedrooms. The master was an ok size, but the closets were a bit narrow. The other 2 rooms were small, but fine for an office or daybed. It looked like there was a pull-down staircase at the top of the stairs, but I coudn't reach it. It also looked like it was bulging out (not flush to the ceiling).

When I was outside, it looked like there was a deck on the roof, but since no one was there, I have no idea. The basement had been completely redone w/ 1/2 bath, carpeting, etc. It's the best basement I've seen yet.

Overall, the house was cute, but the carpet needed cleaning. Bathroom upstairs was an ok size. The kitchen was great. Upon further investigation, it does have a rooftop deck. Nice.

2123-2127 Christian
I didn't quite understand what these places were, but they were in my budget and they had an open house. Turns out they are 3 addresses that were split up into 3 condos each. The ones I looked at were all on the 3rd floor. They had a great price, but they were far too small for me. The best was one of them had the 2nd bedroom in the middle of the living room, but it was sectioned off w/ frosted sliding glass doors. Obviously the room is only meant for guests. Very weird. Again, it was too small for me and I didn't like the fact I'd need to carry my bike up 2 flights of stairs every time I wanted to ride.

**** *****
This house is on a small side street (1 block). The neighborhood was very quiet and there were folks sitting on their porches, or walking their dogs. This house had been completely redone. There was a nice small family room and a nice new kitchen. The kitchen was open to the living area, but divided by a bar w/ separate sink and wine cooler. Totally unnecessary for me, but whatever.

The basement was very clean and level. You could easily turn it into a furnished basement. Plus, it was nice and cool. The patio outside was cute, but the air compressor was out there and very loud. The other places had the compressors set back on the side, but the entry to the patio was from the side.

The 2nd floor had 3 bedrooms, and no closets, except for the one in the hallway. The bathroom was an ok size considering the place. Ok, no closets isn't a big deal. You can easily put upright wardrobes in there. All the rooms were bright and I liked the hwd floors they put in. The main thing that bothered me was how narrow the upstairs hallway was. I mean, it was about as wide as I am as you go past the stairs. That didn't thrill me. Still, it was a cute house and I could see myself fitting in it.

After that I was off to my next house b/w 19th and 20th and Poplar and Parish. Very different feel. I realized I didn't want to even look. It was a bit more transition than I'd like! I was then off to Old City to look at a condo, but there was no one there. So, I then was off to look at my last place in South Philly. Again, no one was there. That's ok, b/c that area wasn't one I was thrilled about but figured I'd check out anyway. I think I looked at South Philly, it would be around Juniper to 11th and Federal down to the restaurant area on Passayunk. Otherwise, it's just not doing it for me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Information Overload

I don't even know where to begin. I had an appt today to look a ton of place w/ my realtor's assistant. I'll talk about a bunch of the places I saw, but only really show you the pictures of the ones I really liked. We started off at CityView apartments and then worked our way west through Fairmount.

City View
We looked at 2 apartments here, one of which was listed as a 2br, but was really a 1br w/ a den (but really look like 1 long room). CityView used to be a business hotel so the rooms and kitchens are still set up like that. One apartment I went in was the 1br w/ bathroom, w/d, etc. The 2nd bedroom was accessed by a door w/ a lock on it that leads to what must have originally been a studio. The bedroom had a mini-fridge, sink, etc., the bathroom, and another set of w/d. That's right. The apt. came w/ 2 washers and dryers! Anyway, I didn't like the set ups so we immediately crossed them off our list.

2231 Green St.
When I saw this listing I got really excited. This section of Green St. has some beautiful homes, most of which have been chopped up and turned into condos. This place was similar to the one I saw yesterday on Spruce in that it had the living room on the main floor and the bedrooms at street level. The difference here is that the foot traffic is much lighter, so more privacy. Didn't matter much b/c I didn't quite care for it. The place would have required a lot changes and the kitchen was tiny. Also, you had to go thru one of the bedrooms to use the bathroom. Blech. Cross that off my list.

781 Judson St.
Ok, the funny part about this street is a friend of mine used to live on the same block, so I know it pretty well. It's a nice and quiet side street b/w Aspen and Brown. It's about 1,000 square feet w/ 2 br. You walk in and it was a nice open floor plan w/ pumpkin pine hwd floors. The kitchen, unfortunately was a small galley type kitchen, but then again, how much do I really cook? There was a little patio out back that could fit a table and 2 chairs and a grill (hallelujah!). The HVAC unit was right next to the table instead of on the side, so it was a bit loud out back.

The 2nd floor, also w/ hwd floors, had 2 brs and small bathroom (typical of the street). The main br was big enough to fit a queen and still get around ok.

The basement was partially finished. The owner had her desk and electronics down there, so there must not be an issue w/ water in the basement. The laundry room (unfinished part) was a decent size.

I definitely liked it, so I'll keep it on the list.

738 Taylor St.
We didn't realize this was a trinity until we walked in. I don't know how I missed it in the description. Probably b/c the sq footage was listed as 1,000. Well, as far as trinities go, this was beautiful! I'll post pictures b/c I just loved it. The main floor was a decent size and kitchen was beautiful. They did a good job on it. Also, the back patio was bigger than the one on Judson.

The main problem was that the stairs were far steeper and narrower than the trinity I looked at yesterday. Ugh. The 2nd floor den was done very nicely, as was the bedroom on the 3rd floor. Again, the stairs just killed me, especially the ones down to the basement. Funny how it was the same sq. footage as Judson, but the layout was sooooo different. As cute as it was, the stairs were a bitch and I had to cross it off my list.

777 25th St.
This house is on 25th which is one of the main roads thru Fairmount. This house is over 1100 sq. ft. and is also b/w Aspen and Brown. It had newer hwd floors on the first floor and pumpkin pine hwd floors on the 2nd floor. The 1st floor was a nice size and open. The kitchen was a much nicer size, but not recently redone. The cabinets were painted and the appliances were a little older.

The door to the nice-sized patio had a dog/cat pass thru. The banister on the stairs was really neat and a bit different. The 2nd floor has 2 brs, one of which has a nice window seat that could double as a bed. The bathroom was also a normal size and looks like it had recently been done. The main bed was also a good size and the windows were pretty good at keeping the sound out. I didn't notice the sounds of traffic on the street.

The basement was finished and would be a good place to put my treadmill. Also, the laundry room was nice and clean w/ a sink. The main downfall was the lack of central air. There was a window unit in the LR that quickly cooled down the 1st floor. The 2nd floor would also need window units until I put in central air. Overall, I liked it, so it's staying on my list.

2614 Folsom and 2709 Swain
These 2 places were fairly similar in size and layout. The one was redone a little better than the other, but for the size and location, it was way overpriced. Also, the selling agent had to let us in and kept trying to sell me and ask me questions. Really, it made me dislike the place more. Also, the expensive one didn't even have closets and the one "closet" in the master was barely functional. I didn't like the basements or the bathrooms. Essentially, they both came off the list.

891 Stillmun St.
Up until this point, I was pretty familiar w/ the neighborhoods I was looking at. This house was 2 blocks north of Brown right where Girard meets Poplar by the gas station (for those of you from Philly) across from Girard College. That being said, the house was a few doors down from Poplar and on a quiet, one-way street. The house was on the smaller size -- 840 sq. ft. -- but what it was lacking on size was made up for in other areas. This house had definitely been redone recently. It had an exposed brick wall on one side, going up to the 2nd floor. The LR was on the smaller side, while the kitchen was a much larger size w/ room for a table and chairs. The kitchen was brand new w/ new appliances and cabinetry. The main floor was very bright, which is always a good thing for me.

The upstairs was carpeted w/ an ok-sized bathroom, and 2 br. 2nd bedroom was small but had a nice closet. The main br was bright w/ a bit of exposed brick. The basement was unfinished, but was clean.

It wasn't until I reached the kitchen and fully looked out the back window that I found the best part of the house -- a backyard. There was vegetation, a tree, soil, and room for an outdoor table and chairs (and a grill of course) on the wooden part of the patio. Wow.

All in all, I liked it, but I need to see the area at a different time of day. I'll try to drive by tonight (if I can manage to peel myself off the couch) and see what it looks like. It's only been on the market 7 days, a few days, so it's hard to tell if it will sell quickly or not. Needless to say, it stays on the list.

934 Bambrey St.
This house was a pretty good size -- 11oo sq ft -- but b/c of its location, it was a bit less than the others I looked at today. Not only is it b/w Poplar and Girard, it was just behind the gas station I mentioned above. The walk up the street from Poplar is isolated and deserted before reaching homes. The inside was very nice with 3 bedrooms, a large bathroom, a good size patio, a very nice kitchen and a 3/4 bath on the 1st floor. Sadly, all that could not make up for the location. Not only do I not feel comfortable w/ the location, I can just picture my mom's face as she drives up to it. So, it's off the list.

838 Newkirk St.
Last but not least, this bi-level condo had a lot of stairs to climb before getting to the front door; however, aside from the CityView apartments, it did have parking. It was nice inside w/ a little exposed brick for character and a 1/2 bath on the 1st floor. The bedrooms upstairs were ok, but I did not care for the loft character of the master bedroom. Really, what killed it for me was the stairs. Off the list.

That's it! I am wiped out. Plus, it was so hot today that I was just sopping wet and my clothes were starting to stick to me. I found 3 places that I like so far, but none of which I must jump on tomorrow. If any of them sell this weekend, I'll be ok. I do want to see some of the open houses and then go back and see them again on Mon. or Tues.

After loading all of these pictures, I realized two things. First, the backyard of Stillmun overshadowed other parts of the house I forgot about (like teeny tiny cramped bathroom). Second, the next time I do this, I'm uploading the pictures to flickr or picasa and just linking to it. This uploading thing, although it looks nice on the page, is way too time consuming!