The second day we went out, we saw only seven houses, not ten.
In a category by itself...
1) The beat brickface. This house was in Urbana, and it was vacant and beat. It was a big, brick-front colonial with a nice floor plan, granite countertops and lots of hardwoods. But it was totally beat, and there had been water in the basement.
The rest are hard to divide into categories. All the rest of the houses we saw were out in the country, but four were ranches, and two were not. I will start with the two that were not.
Category Y -- The non-ranches
2) The huge house. This house had a gorgeous property in the country, over an acre, trees and rolling hills. It was a nice house, but it was too big. It might have been great, if we still had our kids, but I could not imagine staying alone in that gargantuan house while Shawn was on a business trip. Often when houses are big, they have a number of extra rooms. This house just has huge rooms. The dining room, for instance, is 16 feet in one direction. Because it was so big, they had skimped on ceramic tile and used vinyl, although they certainly had not skimped on oak anywhere.
3) The raised ranch. I'd had really high hopes for this house. It had an extra, huge detached garage with a big loft finished with an office (read: hamshack for Shawn) overhead. We drove up and the property was stunning, gorgeous, out-of-this-world. It sort of took your breath away. The house had nice decking and a pool facing the back yard. However, upon entering the house, one was sure one's breath had been taken away as one gasped to survive the intense wave of cigarette smells. It had all new carpet in really nice shape, which was a tremendous shame, as it will need to be ripped right out again unless a smoker buys the house. Ugh!
Category Z -- The country ranches
4) The brick ranch. From the outside, this house appeared to have great potential: solid brick, gorgeous big yard, pond at the back. Upon approaching the front entrance, however, I began to wonder. The front door was hacked up or something, certainly not an inviting sight. The inside of the house was just disappointing. I don't know if it was dirty or what? It didn't really seem all that dirty, but it certainly didn't have a clean, sparkling, fresh appearance. Some closet doors were broken off, which always makes me feel as though people have been fighting or at least throwing tantrums. A sulky teen watched TV in the finished basement while we went through the house. It just didn't feel like a happy, well cared for home.
5) The yellow house by the highway. This house had everything we want: Gas stove, plenty of bathrooms and bedrooms, oak floors, vaulted ceilings, wood cabinets, formal dining room, huge finished basement for visitors, three car garage, built in cubbies off the garage, laundry sink by washer and dryer, kitchenette in basement, the list goes on. It backs to a stream. The only problem is the highway in the front. The highway is not flat out in front, sort of up a hill. I can't figure out if this is OK or not...
6) The gray house in the country neighborhood. This house has not much curb appeal, and only a two car garage, but other than that it is pretty sweet. Best open kitchen of any we've seen. Nice wood floors and vaulting in open kitchen/great room. Great finished basement that even has a walkout to a patio where they keep their grill!!! Also, this house just feels good, like it has good owners, good, nice, happy people. I really like this house. One strange thing... there seems to be quite a bit of turnover in this neighborhood right now. Perhaps the seven year thing? Dunno. Cool that it is a "neighborhood" of houses that are all on an acre... AND in our price range. That's rare. I suppose it's because it is not close to ANYTHING. There's always a cost.
7) The pristine brick ranch on half an acre. This was a super-substantial, fantastically gorgeous solid brick house on a fantastically gorgeous lot that backs to a corn field with a row of oak trees in between. Wonderful sun room. Solid oak everything: floors, trim, six panel doors, etc. Geothermal heat, lower taxes, immaculately clean. Drawbacks: only three bedrooms, basement is not finished, no dining room, this is the farthest house from Shawn's work, one of the most expensive homes we've looked at, faint small of smoke in the garage.