Sep 30, 2012

House Hunting Part IV: Model Home Tours

I sort of left you hanging with my last update on house hunting. Basically, we I had cold feet due to some research on making a profit on homes here in the Bay Area. So, we decided to hold off on the process and see if the idea would resurface.

And it did. I couldn't stop thinking about it in fact.

Brandon signed up for a first-time mortgage informational class with HSBC and will be attending that on Thursday. He thinks it will hopefully answer some of our questions in regards to the unique real estate market here. Some of our questions and concerns:
  • What are the chances of reselling for profit if we move in five years?
  • What type of mortgage is best for us?
  • Should you put down more than the standard 20% down payment?
  • How will this affect our tax bracket?
Regardless to the answers above, we want a house. So we are now both leaning towards just biting the bullet and doing this thing.

We had attended some open houses a few months ago and really enjoyed the process. It generated great conversation on what we want and don't want in a house. So we went out again yesterday, focusing on a different neighborhood and different type of home: brand new homes.

We love that with this builder, we can choose all of our finishes, from floors, to countertops, to cabinets. So we paid close attention to which finishes we liked the best and what we liked the least.


I'm obsessed with windows in showers. I explain why here.

Brandon and I both loved this master bathroom and the stand up shower. I think it quickly became our favorite.

model home 11

Apparently, the builders were out to impress me - many of the bathrooms we toured had lots of windows and open space.

model home 2

Even this little bathroom off the family room was impressive. The wainscoting reeled me in and Brandon loved the stand up shower "cave" that was under a flight of stairs (not pictured).

model home 8


The kitchen and living room layout was the most important feature for us. We want an open and welcoming space.

We loved the layout of this plan, but not so much the finishes. The dark floors were great, but the medium brown cabinets were not. We took note.

model home 5

A close up to give you a better idea. I love love love the island and was happy to see that most of the models did have one and they are staple in all the floor plans.

model home 3

Kitchen number two: loved the hardwood floors and the white countertops + white tile backsplash, but not the super dark cabinets. Brandon; however, loved the dark cabinets. We'll see which one of us gives if we do end up choosing our own finishes at some point in time.

model home 10

Another view. Check out those gorgeous windows! I wouldn't mind doing dishes there. No siree.

model home 9

I would say that Kitchen One wins on layout, but Kitchen Two on finishes. Granted, both are pretty dang gone nice, so I'd take either.


Kitchen and bathrooms are top priority on our list. I don't care so much about bedrooms or dining areas and how big they are, as long as they work. We talked about how more space in the kitchen/living room was far more important than a giant master suite. Luckily, that seems to be the trend in newer homes and the bedrooms were pretty tiny, with most of the square footage being in the living area.

We are partial to hardwoods throughout the house (the thought of cleaning carpeted stairs makes me cringe), so we are hoping that's an upgrade option if we decided to go with this builder.

model home 1

I just had to include this gorgeous dining room. Notice how the designer hung the curtains really high? Makes a world of difference.

model home 12

We left with a good feeling about buying a new home versus an older one. Of course, we'd have to give up some things like a backyard (in this development, all the houses are very close to together and have small outdoor spaces), a bit of character in the home, and a little privacy (again, close neighbors). But, of course, buying a house is all about give and take.

Next steps? Well, after the finance course, we'll need to get pre-approved for a loan and then manage our way through that process. If we choose this development, we'd more than likely wait for Phase II, which starts next Spring. Kind of perfect timing since our lease on our apartment ends then as well. Until then, we are going to keep our eyes open and keep brainstorming about what we really want in a house.

For more history on our house hunting process:

House Hunting Part I: Open Houses and Wish Lists
House Hunting Part II: Well, That's A Perk
House Hunting Part III: Why We're Not Buying a House (Yet).

Question for you:

1. Older house that needs a little TLC with a back yard on a quiet street?
2. New house with all the bells and whistles near downtown area with shops and restaurants and little outdoor space?

Essentially, that's the decision we'll need to make!


  1. The houses in the pics look beautiful! We like to go to open houses too, but the Bay Area is so tough. We always laugh at how ridiculous it is to spend $1million on a 2bdrm! Craziness.

  2. i like the kitchen!

  3. Going to open houses makes me excited, honestly! I get to see different house interiors and exteriors, and run my imagination on how I would renovate the entire place if I end up choosing that particular house. The more I go to open houses, the more I get to compare and narrow down my choices. Have you found the perfect house for you yet? Kindly check this website for updated market listings: Till your next blog! ^___^


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