Real Estate

Photo by Binyamin Mellish on

For the past 17 years, I’ve lived with my partner in a house we designed. I thought it was a pretty cool house and still do, and it seemed rather expensive, especially to build at the time. That is until I hit Zillow to see the homes from my past. This was a prompt from an old high school friend on Facebook; how much does your childhood home cost now compared to when you lived there.

After posting this, I couldn’t get these former houses out of my mind. Looking at the renovation pictures of two the others bothered me for some reason. I felt like someone had taken something from me. So many memories of both houses, one I hadn’t lived in for 40 years and the other for 20 years. I decided I needed to write more about these houses and share a few pictures.

I thought about going chronological, but instead I decided to go based on price, from the lowest to the highest.

My current house is a large 3 bed, 3 bath with den and loft that cost us $350,000 to build and how the value is estimated at $700,000.. not bad. We had planned on selling this home and buying a smaller one in town. Where we now is 14 miles away. But after spending 2 years looking at properties, we realized that another house would cost as much for a monthly house payment as what we are paying here for a smaller and older house. And I would be crushed if someone came and changed the house. They can do that after I die.

The house that my partner and I bought brand new in 1979 for $89,000 was a 3 bed, 2 bath house. In the 20 years that we lived there, we put in a basement, so when we sold the house in 1999, it was a 4 bed, 4 bath house that we sold for $350. It now has 5 bathrooms and 8 bedrooms!! And sold for just under $900,000—lots of tremendous changes to this house. At first I was amazed at what they did with this house.

Some things I liked and wished I had done when we lived there, but other things broke my heart. Outside they cut down all of the trees. We had a small grove of birch trees and I loved them. I know that birch root systems can cause lots of problems around a house so taking them all out probably was a good thing. They put in a wonderful landscaped front yard.

I ran a daycare in the basement of this house for 11 years. The basement even had a separate kitchen. But they took out my huge play yard and put in a long back driveway.

They also removed our three-level decks and the hot tub. These, along with some of the remodeling they did inside, most likely was done because the house was used as an assisted living home for elderly people and they didn’t want them to trip on stairways.

Inside, they replaced all of the carpeting with hardwood floors which I applaud. I watch a lot of TV shows about decorating and renovation and almost all homes now have the wood floors… it’s healthier and easier to clean.

They kept the double oak doors but they painted them black, when before they were a gorgeous natural wood. But they did keep the molding and medallions that we put around the doors.

Two of the features of this house that I loved was the sunken living room and the raised hearth fireplace. But they raised the living room floor and redid the facing on the fireplace and now raised hearth is gone.

As far as I was concerned, it took away the unique character. I do love the wood floor.

In the kitchen, they took out the center island, replaced my black and white checkerboard floors with wood floors but kept the black and white checkerboard backsplash. They also painted the oak cabinets white and replaced the black granite countertops with a light gray. I loved the color scheme that I did in that house so much, I used the same one in my current house. But I was shocked to see that they turned the dining room into a bedroom! And they painted all of the French doors black.

They turned the garage into an extension for the rest of the house which was something I wanted to do. They put two bedrooms and an exercise room in this space.

In the basement, which I used for my daycare was also very different, I almost didn’t recognize it. I finally realized that they walled off the far end of the long room for another bedroom and added this arched doorway. On the otherside of the door was the entry to the bedroom that was once my son’s room. I was surprised to see the fireplace and brick wall that we put in, although they did reduce the size of the hearth.

I have a lot of memories of this house… I ran my daycare business here, my children were born here and never knew any other house and my daughter died here. I know it’s no longer my house, but still…..

My parents bought the 3 bed, 1 bath house for $18,000, and sold it in 1981 for $89,000. It’s now a 3 bed 2 bath house that sold last year for just over 1 million.

This is the house were I spent my junior high and high school years. My mom loved this house and when my parents divorced, she stayed in the house. Before that, they did a lot of remodeling and decorating. My mom did not care for the fireplace so she painted it white. The new owners stripped the paint off so it’s natural again. Pretty much the whole house was in my mom’s favorite colors of olive green, salmon and peach. My dad was obsessed with carpeting and put it everywhere including the kitchen and bathroom. I was not sad to see the floors in the kitchen and bathroom changed to hardwoods, as was most of the rest of the house. In the kitchen, they painted the cabinets yellow, and put in new counters, but kept the retro backsplash was original to the house, which was built in 1929. The basement was unfinished but we had a pool table there and my dad built the beginnings of a two-man biplane in the basement. When it got too big he moved it out to the garage. The new owners chopped up the pool table and refinished the basement that included a new second bathroom.

The first house my parents bought was a 1 bed 1 bath 1908 700sq ft cottage that they paid $8,000 in 1953. My siblings and I slept in the attic. They sold the house in 1962 for 18,000. In 1999 it was on the market again for $62,000, and I had the chance to buy and regret that I didn’t. The new owners tore down that charming historic cottage and built a 4 bed 4 bath house on the lot. Today that house is worth nearly 2 million dollars!!

The house prices of these four houses indicate just how close to downtown Seattle they were. The closer, the more expensive. Location, location, location. This is why my current home, which is 100 miles north of Seattle, is the least costly, even though it’s the newest.

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