Monday, March 3, 2008

House Hunting

I'd intended to mention this in my first post, but had to run off to swimming practice before I got a chance.

After Tory moved in last year, it was obvious that the old house just wasn't going to be big enough for all of us any more. We'd been renting the place for seven years - about twice as long as I'd expected to be there. The real estate market was at its peak, and we decided we just couldn't justify buying a house. I'm very glad now that we didn't.

So we rented this house, and we'd planned to stay here for at least a few years. The house is big - probably a thousand square feet bigger than any place I've lived before. The master bedroom is huge, the kids' bedrooms are a decent size, and there's room for my office in the converted garage downstairs. There's an extra storage building (built to house a spa, but never did) so I've got room for my lab benches, server rack, helium tanks, dewar, and all that good stuff in the detached garage. I did finally part with Behemoth, my old VAX 6000-510 minicomputer that I'd had in the garage at the old house for so long. It found a new home at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View - maybe some day I'll go visit it.

All was good until a few weeks ago, when the landlady called. The house is owned by a trust - it was inherited by five siblings when their parents died. Apparently two siblings had already sold their shares to one of the brothers, and now another is faced with a big tax bill and wants to sell out as well. The brother agreed, but on the condition that he would buy the one other share as well and own the house outright.

They did give us the option to buy the house, but at a price that would have been more realistic a year ago, when the market was better and we hadn't had 10 months to find all of the little problems with the place - like the electrical conduit for the wiring to the office that wasn't done to anything remotely resembling code and had to be completely replaced when it corroded away. But the brother's willing to take the place as-is, so we're out of here in the next couple of months.

It's a buyer's market right now, but it's still California, and a decent 3-bedroom house anywhere near town is still half a million bucks. We found a place we like just a few blocks away that'd be great - not huge, but big enough, and with both a shop (with plumbing and 220 volt power) and a very clean detached garage. The price is still a stretch, though. At this rate I'm afraid we're going to be renting for a few more years.

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