Our realtor took us to see three properties this afternoon: two we'd asked to see and one that she recommended.
The two we'd wanted to see turned out to be not at all what we'd actually want. The first, a two-storey house, had a lovely great room and kitchen but the upstairs bedrooms were really designed to be bedrooms. The master bedroom had an ensuite and the other two bedrooms had this "jack and jill" bathroom between them, so each room could access the bathroom and the bathroom could only be accessed by going through one of the rooms.
We knew going into the second house that it wouldn't work for us, but we wanted to see it because we couldn't figure out its layout from the pictures. This house was on a corner lot and they'd expanded it at one point, taking up most of the side yard for a new master bedroom next to the garage. Most of the rest of the yard was taken up by a great deck - but the deck completely blocked two of the three windows in the basement room on that side of the house.
Upstairs, they'd converted part of the attic into a room with electric baseboard heat. Actually, the whole upstairs was strange because you went up a flight of stairs to a landing and then each room (including the bathroom and associated landing overlooking the foyer) was another two or three stairs up. Weird. Clearly, much of this work was a DIY job, because who puts a door in the middle of a three-stair staircase? They had changed the house for their own uses and unfortunately what they ended up with couldn't easily be converted to other purposes.
Even though these houses weren't right for us, both had large kitchens with comfortable living spaces and lots of space, and they were located in nice areas. So they weren't all bad... just not right for us.
The house that the realtor recommended was awesome. It's a bungalow with partly-finished basement, a deck and screened gazebo from the family room, and a walk-out basement. The bedroom area was separate from the living areas of the house and could be closed behind a door. We liked that because it means that Ian can play video games while I sleep. :) The kitchen was also quite large with lots of counter and cupboard space, and the foyer, family room, and dining area were bright and spacious. Downstairs, there was another full bathroom and two guest rooms in addition to a huge rec area and the unfinished part of the basement.
We didn't like that there was a powder room between the laundry room and the hallway and that this extra powder room was located in the closed-off bedroom area. Plus, the master bedroom ensuite was also accessible from the hallway om the bedroom area. We don't much love the idea of a bathroom that can be accessed by two different doors because that can be a lot to keep track of, you know? It would be hard to defend during a zombie apocalypse.
The other main disadvantage to the house was that it backed onto a semi-busy road just north of here that feeds the farmer's market. The land right between the property and road is unused and is presumably being held until the road is widened. Traffic on the road will be noisy, especially on market days, and when they widen the road there'll be even more noise and dust.
But still, if we had to find a house right now, this one probably would have been it because we felt so comfortable there right away. It'll definitely be the house to which we compare the others we'll see. We also loved that we were most happy with the realtor's pick; this has increase our confidence in her. Clearly, she's getting a feel for who we are and what we want/need in our house.
Looking at the houses today was fun and well worth doing - even though two of the three properties were totally unsuitable for us. Knowing what doesn't work and what we don't want is as important as knowing what we do want. The more properties we see, the more refined our requirements will be, and the more we'll know when we've found the right one.