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Just Moved: Denise and David

Location: Pompton Lakes, NJ

Setup: 2 bedrooms on main level with 2 baths, 2 extra bedrooms upstairs, unfinished basement

Style: Extended Cape

Square Footage: 1,900

Price Paid: $320,000 (originally listed for $390,000, asking price was $349,900)

The Deal: $168/sq. ft.

When did you start looking (month/year)? August 2010

When did you close on your new home? November 2010

How many homes did you visit and look at? Probably around 30

What were you looking for?

We wanted a move-in ready home; something that wasn’t going to require much maintenance (but we didn’t quite get that!). We were looking for at least three bedrooms, two floors, two baths, a finished basement (or one with the possibility to be finished), a fenced in yard, and near the center of town. Our most important necessary feature was a fairly updated kitchen and that’s what we got.

What was the best part?

The best part was knowing that we were going to be establishing a home somewhere -- together. We wanted to move right in and have a place that we could immediately start decorating and calling our own.

Was it hard to compromise and find a home you both loved?

During our house-hunting visits we kept coming back to two homes. Our current home was the first option. Option two was in the same town, a few blocks away, with an amazing kitchen and largebackyard. It was listed as having three bedrooms, but that was false; It was clearly had two bedrooms with the possibility of creating a third. It also had only one bath. The asking price, however, was amazing. We realized we were getting more for our money with this house, so we and made an offer.

Do you have any advice for Nesties who are still looking for their first home?

This has been quite an experience. We learned so much so fast—a lot of which I wish I knew before. On the bright side, we can happily generate a checklist of questions to ask before you buy.

· See the house on a rainy day! Everything looks picture perfect on a nice, sunny afternoon. Go when the climate is raw and look or listen for any odd leaking spots/noises, water patterns, and so on.

· Look up. When you go into a house you tend to look at eye level (all of the perfectly staged furniture entices you) and down (what kind of floors are these), but you need to look up: Is the crown molding set and established, do you see water marks? Are there any odd cracks? Is the wallpaper peeling or crumbling off (extra immediate cost)? Where are the light fixtures? This last question is important for several reasons: Each room with no overhead light may need an electrician. Every ceiling with water marks forces you to become well versed in water leaks and require you to be highly vigilant during the home inspection (trust me! I found this out too late). Cracks need to be checked as well. This isn’t to say forget you s hould about looking down because that can be a whole other issue!

· Open every cabinet, look behind furniture, and lift up area rugs. Yes, a majority of homeowners are honest people, but let’s just say sadly a large enough percentage of sellers are also just trying to sell.

· Spend time outside. We usually tend to focus on the inside, but you have to set aside a good chunk of time to look around outside. Look at the foundation, walk around the house and look up, check the patio structure, assess how deep cracks are in the driveway, survey outside night lights, and listen for trains, highways and neighbors.

· Talk to the neighbors. When you buy a house, you’re essentially buying the neighbors as well. Start friendly conversation and see what they have to say about the area, about their houses (hmm, does your direct neighbor have a French drain and you don’t…red light, beware!), ask about local shopping, eateries, traffic flow, etc. Neighbors are a valuable resource.

What’s your favorite thing about your new home? What's unique about it?

We’ve been working hard to make this a home. We’ve had some serious setbacks but what we are enjoying most is the ability to decorate and create. We are just about done with the dining room which has become a center spot for us. This, alongside our awesome living room, is letting us finally feel settled in. The privacy of our backyard is also a favorite of ours. We can entertain and have people over for impromptu barbecues and cozy nights by the firepit. We really enjoy just having our own space together, a place where we are merging together our families and friends.

Wait… there’s more! Check out Denise and David’s home makeover and get the tricks to pull it off yourself!

Want to show off your new digs? Email your info to [email protected] for the chance to be featured!

-- Samantha Leal