Everyone knows the first rule of real estate is, "Location, Location, Location."
The second rule of real estate, as I've heard said before, is "Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood you can afford."
That second rule needs a slight amendment.
Sweetie and I spent a LOT of time determining what neighborhood(s) we'd like to live in when we moved to the 'Couv. Some of that involved balancing our desires with our checkbook. Our #1 choice for location would have been a neighborhood known as "Carter Park." It's immediately north of downtown Vancouver, with most houses built in the 1920s to 1940s. The houses are also well out of our price range.
The House of Swank is immediately North of Carter Park, by 3 blocks. Which is a hell of a lot better than we ever thought we'd be able to do.
There was ONE house we saw in Carter Park that met our basic requirements: 3+ bedrooms, 1.5+ bathrooms, $250,000 or less. I don't think the house would even qualify as a "fixer upper." There were two bedrooms upstairs, with closets that backed up to each other. Or rather, one closet that the two rooms shared, as there was no wall between the two closets. The kitchen resembled a circus funhouse, with a random assortment of cabinets that wrapped around a corner and were of no consistent height or style. The main bathroom had stairs between the sink area and the toilet and shower. Not just a step, but 3-4 stairs with a railing and everything. Which was better than the downstairs bathroom that, although it had a door, I don't think someone could physically fit into the room and close the door at the same time. That was at the top of our price range.
The second rule of real estate should really say, "Buy the worst house THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO LIVE IN in the best neighborhood you can afford."
After we toured the House of Swank for the second, and final, time, we checked out a couple of other houses in the neighborhood. A house 2 up from ours is for sale by owner. We grabbed a flyer. It was selling for about $70,000 more than our house was selling for. There was an open house around the corner that had an asking price of around $90,000 more. Granted, the second house had rooms that were SLIGHTLY larger than our house. And it was completely remodeled and finished to the 2007 standard. But dang if that isn't some huge appreciation. If this weren't such a slow time real-estate wise, I'm sure our house would have been sold to flippers for a HUGE profit. But it wasn't, and now it is ours.
That's going to be one of the most fun parts of getting to work in the house. As I'm ripping up the carpet any time I get sick of the labor I'll just think to myself how much of a profit the house would pull with the renovation complete.