I’m pretty qualified to be commenting on all of this. If the number of hours I’ve watched House Hunters counted as real estate training, I would probably be licensed in just about every state…and abroad too.
So, who do we have on this episode? Mark and Ashley, The Seattle Cooks. Actually their blog is The Seattle Cook (singular). That’s a bit inconvenient for my sentence, but anyway, here we go…
Mark and Ashley love living near Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. We see them there tasting things. Mark wants to continue to live downtown near his office, but Ashley wants to live with more space farther out. The great thing is that Ashley is a real estate agent. That’s so convenient. Why can’t she just pretend there’s nothing good to show Mark in the downtown area?
They love sailing and barbecuing oysters and drinking champagne. Do they do ALL of that ON a sailboat? It seems like it. That’s adventurous.
Back to Pike’s Peak, we see some fish-throwing! This is when they tell us they write a food blog together. Mark says the blog was a challenge they gave each other…”Can we blog for at least 100 days?” and then they kept it going. We learn they love living downtown (for the moment anyway).
They love their “classic historic” 1300 square foot loft, but they want more separation between the living areas. Ashley acknowledges that Mark wants a downtown condo and she wants to look at single family homes, because she says there’s value in the land. He admits he’d love to live within 3 blocks of work.
Their number one requirement is a nice kitchen. “All the best parties – after the age of 28 – happen in the kitchen.” They have to have a gas stove, and an island would be nice and decent counter space.
Hey Mark, I’ve watched enough of these shows to know that there are ways around high-priced, beautifully finished kitchens. The Property Brothers (don’t they remind you of the Bee Gees?) would have a few down and out properties to show you that could be converted to gorgeous spaces, I bet. Oops, wrong show.
The couple has a dining table that they can’t quite agree on the length of, but it has to fit wherever they buy. Ashley would also love to have outdoor space for gardening.
Mark adds, “Windows are key.” I would think so. Oh, he actually means that with so many rainy days, they need as much natural light as they can get.
They also have to consider their cat, Jack. I wouldn’t think there would be too many places that WOULDN’T suit a cat. Maybe only living next to a dog kennel or something…OH, they’re talking about having a more discreet place for his litter box than the living room. Agreed!
Their budget is $425,000 up to $475,000. Mark wants to see absolutely everything out there, but Ashley says they have to be realistic. She seems awfully sweet. I guess they haven’t been married long enough for her to be using her power for her own selfish purposes. I still say show him ONLY what SHE wants him to see.
Ashley is obviously not listening to me, because the first place they go is a high rise, Escala, which is 1½ blocks from Mark’s office. The listing broker, Olga, tells them (and us) that Escala is “affordable opulence” and is in the best part of Seattle. They look at an 18th floor model with gorgeous views.
Oh, kids, please don’t get taken in by a model apartment! They probably shoot pheromones in the walls to make it even more attractive than the upgraded extras make it look.
It’s $449,000. That’s not even including the monthly maintenance. Don’t do it! Luckily, Ashley gets it. She says she wants to keep the price in the lower 4’s because they have to consider the HOA dues. Good girl.
It IS attractive, but it’s only 1100 square feet. The kitchen is beautiful with “Italian finish cabinetry”, whatever that means. Maybe an Italian guy named Joe came in to finish the cabinets by putting the handles on.
Actually, there are no handles and the cabinet doors lift UP instead of swinging open. I’ve never seen that in solid wood cupboards, only those frosted glass types. I can’t tell whether that would be annoying or awesome.
The countertops are granite with the same granite running along the wall like molding or a short back splash. The rest of the wall is painted. It does look very elegant.
There’s fantastic under-counter lighting running the entire length of the countertops. That’s a good thing, because there are no other counters, so at least they’re lit well.
The dining table is where an island should be, which again means there’s very little counter space. The sink faces a cabinet-ed wall, so there's no view as you’re doing the dishes. That’s a shame. The views ARE spectacular, but Olga makes the point later that the lower the floor, the lower the price, even if the views suffer as you go down.
Mark says the living room area “feels slightly small”. It IS small. Olga is a bit snippy when she says, “I hate to break it to you, but this is big for condos.” BE nice. You’re kind of a witch for a realtor. He was only just saying…
They see a great balcony and the master bedroom with a not terribly big bed. It has huge windows, which is the architect’s trick for making the room seem bigger. Olga shows them an absolutely-no-bigger-than-standard-sized-sliding-door closet, saying, “You have really a quite large amount of closet space.“ Luckily, they seem not to notice or mind.
The bathroom has double sinks and a bathtub. And Ashley, for some reason, tells us (ALL OF US) that SHE likes to take showers, but MARK likes baths. “How embarrassing that she said that,” Mark comments. At least Olga only shrugs her shoulders and doesn't say anything.
We see a fitness center, a theater room and a wine cave with wine storage. Ashley likes it okay. Mark loves the location, but admits it feels small. They can’t figure out a place for Jack’s litter box either.
Next Ashley gets smart and shows them a place SHE wants to see in Queen Anne, which is apparently a suburb 25 minutes from downtown, but near where they dock their sailboat.
It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1900 square foot house, listed at $485,000. Mark says he feels like he’s in exile. There are high ceilings, hardwood floors and a nice slate fireplace with a great view of the water in this Arts and Crafts style house. There’s also plenty of space for their table.
Mark says he “can see a life here”, but he doesn't know if he’s ready for it. Wow, that’s a big admission. It IS a big deal to move out of the city into the burbs. It’s a whole other ball of wax, that’s for sure. I’m thinking they shouldn't give up their urban vibe, especially if the only under-age member of their household can fit on the window sill.
The more I think about it, the more I don’t think they should do it. I don’t want them to get sucked into the whole having more space thing. Once they fall for that, they can never go back to a cool place in the city. Closets become the be-all and end-all of one’s existence.
They continue through the house. The rooms are smallish, but they have beautiful white painted woodwork and the windows are large and let in a lot of light. The kitchen is galley style but okay and, even though there is an electric stove, there’s gas on the property and Ashley says they could switch out the stove.
They go outside and Mark says he can BREATHE out there. Mmm. Is there a change happening? There’s a 2 car carport, which Mark immediately says they should turn into a nightclub or a lounge. How cute is he! He sounds like such fun! I’m beginning to change my mind. Maybe they CAN be happy here!
The master bed and bath on the ground level has a wood-paneled bathroom, which is a bit odd. There are MANY hooks on the back of the door and Mark says all his friends can have towels there too. Funny. There’s an interesting stairway from which you can touch the pot rack in the kitchen. Mark says he can grab a pot as he’s coming down the stairs. The house is kind of kooky...just like him. (In a good way, I mean.)
There is a full bath upstairs and Mark himself mentions the bathtub, I guess before ANYONE else does! French doors lead to one of the two upstairs bedrooms and it has another gorgeous view. It could be a great office. And the other room could be a guest room.
Ashley likes it. She says there’s a bus line close by. Mark says he actually loves it. One reason is because Jack can have the upstairs and Mark can be downstairs and they can each have their own part of the house. Wow, that was easy for Ashley! She may just get what she wants without having had to resort to trickery and deception. (What would THAT feel that?)
I’m so conflicted though. I don’t want them to be stuck in the 'burbs when they have such a great urban lifestyle. But this house is totally winning me over. I can see them there. I can see them having great parties in their newly constructed “lounge” and having room for people to stay over. Oy, they're not making this easy for ME to decide…much less them.
They look at one more condo after we see them hitting golf balls at a driving range. This one is a mile walk to Mark’s office. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1191 square feet for $369,000. It looks like an office building. There’s a bathroom immediately upon entering. (Isn’t that bad feng shui? Won’t all their good fortune go down the drain?)
They enter the living dining/space. You have to be kidding me! It’s TINY. REALLY. There ARE a lot of big windows, but with tinny-looking blinds. There IS an island with countertop seating, but it’s small. Mark likes the concrete countertops. And there’s a pretty big balcony.
The second bedroom has a Murphy bed, which Ashley pulls down to show Mark. He says it’s cool, but he’s not sure he would ever sleep on something like that, but their guests can. Ashley says he just MIGHT have to sleep on it. Good one!
THEN Ashley shows Mark the desk that can be folded down when you’re not using it as a bed. THAT IS TRULY NEAT! Mark likes it.
The master bedroom is completely surrounded by windows. That’s weird. They like it, but Mark is actually bothered by the fact that it isn’t 3 blocks from the office. Ashley has one more piece of important info. It’s a short sale. OF COURSE, IT IS!
That’s the House Hunters equivalent of taking away an hour of cooking time on Top Chef or making you partner with the worst person in the bunch on The Next Food Network Star. In other words, it throws a complete wrench in the works.
Ashley says it could take up to 6 months to get an offer accepted and there’s no guarantee it will be. Of course, this being House Hunters and the fact that they've most likely already BOUGHT the house, we don’t have to worry that Mark and Ashley will be homeless. However, I will still mull over each option with great seriousness and the impact it will have, most importantly, on their lifestyle. It’s NOT an easy choice.
The last condo was TOO small. It was ridiculous. The first one was nice, but still lacking in space. The house gives them ample room AND the ability to show that they can still be cool and live in the suburbs.
Mark seemed to IMAGINE himself there. Okay, that’s my choice. They’re going with the house. All my hours spent watching House Hunters tells me this is the one they are definitely going with. Let’s see.
And they pick…OMG, they picked Escala, the first condo. They got a lower floored unit, which was listed at 409,000 and they got it down to $404,000.
They love it! (Are they just saying that? I had already imagined them in that cute house. I wanted to see his plans for a lounge under the carport and her herb garden.)
They did furnish the condo nicely with lots of bohemian-type furniture and their table wasn’t as long as they made it seem, so it fits fine in the kitchen area. And they can store their wine in the wine cave downstairs. BUT the cat’s box is still in the living room.
Wow, was I wrong!!! I suppose they actually knew better than I did what they were going for. Imagine that! All the great things that Seattle offers were just too hard to give up, I guess. (Here’s a little blurb on Mark and Ashley’s blog about House Hunters.)