The joys of house hunting

Wow, I’m really glad I recently switched from pay-by-the-mile insurance back to traditional monthly insurance. My car’s been getting a lot more activity in the last few weeks (and the monthly rate on my insurance is lower than the base rate on the by-the-mile anyway).

Which is to say I’ve been driving around a lot to look at quite a few places. Some of them have been pretty interesting. Others have been… “interesting.”

Something I’ve seen a lot of are listings where the photos all have “virtual staging,” where the empty rooms have had furniture inexpertly Photoshopped in. Except the Photoshopping has gotten a lot better, and apparently there’s some software that does it automatically. But unfortunately the software doesn’t actually understand scale, so you end up with all sorts of weirdness, like these images from one particular property I toured today:


This looks pretty reasonable at a glance, but the lighting is all off when you really look at it, but more importantly the scale is all wrong. Those rooms are way smaller than the scale of the furniture makes them look. (They’re also way jankier in person; what looks like burled maple in the photos is actually unfinished plywood chipboard in reality!)

Then there’s houses where without the context they seem really reasonable, but when you go there they’re just like… what the heck? For example, this bathroom looks absolutely opulent:


And in reality, it is — it’s actually around the same size as the apartment I had in NYC! — but you’ll never guess where it is in the house.

It’s hiding in the back of a closet.

And the house it was attached to was a rather… odd assemblage of spaces. It felt like one of those paintings of people made by drawing a bunch of body parts in very fine, close-up detail and then put together without any regard for their physical relationship to one another, a strange disjoint composition of many rooms in isolation which would be reasonable on their own but as a whole it’s just a gigantic mess.

Now, there was one house I toured today which is absolutely amazing, and is listed for a great price and is in a great location and has an amazing view of the lake, and I’d be really tempted to put an offer on it, even with its tiny (but fixable) kitchen, but the sellers are very motivated to sell it, and as such have put a rather unfortunate (for me) clause: all offers require an existing pre-inspection, rather than having an inspection contingency, and as a result I’d have to pay $450 up-front to determine if I’d want to go through with an offer. And there have already been three other pre-inspections done on it, meaning there’s at least three other offers in place. And that puts me in an uncomfortable situation, where I’m having to spend money up-front to be able to put in a silent bid on a thing, where either I’m going to be bidding less than the other buyers, or I’m going to have to hedge my bets and put in a lot more money in an offer than I’d be comfortable with. And in this real estate market I’m sure someone else is going to put in a ridiculously high bid anyway, and it’ll probably be a cash offer.

I love Seattle and I’d like to stay here if I can, but gosh, it sure is getting tempting to look at nearby cities where the market isn’t so stupidly competitive, like Tacoma or Port Angeles or whatever. But that’d mean losing out on my social life and my physical connections to people.

I keep on telling myself that I want a garden and I want a workshop but I’m not sure if I’d actually make use of either thing. I do definitely want a better gaming/entertainment space, though, and a separate office from my recording studio. It’s feeling really difficult to square the circle and find that exact set of things that I want or need.

Maybe I should put more thought into moving to Portland. I actually have a lot of friends down there and the city has plenty of advantages, and is only a short train ride away from Seattle. And while I’d be missing out on my weekly drawing group I know there’s plenty of nerdy groups I could join in on there (including a pretty vibrant retrocomputing scene, and an amazing indie gamedev scene as well). Plus, holy cow does Portland have an amazing food scene, even compared to Seattle’s (which is pretty good!). And I’d always had it in the back of my mind that I’d end up there someday.

I dunno. What the hell do I want? And how should I best get it?


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