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Location: Salem, Massachusetts
Setup: 4 bedrooms, 2 baths
House Style: 1779 Antique Colonial
Square Feet: 2,300
Price Paid: $516,000
The Deal: $224/ sq. ft.

How long were you looking?
We attended a “Business Forecast” dinner sponsored by Michael’s alma mater. One of the presenters said "now is the time to buy a house," and although we hadn’t given it one ounce of thought before that night, we immediately got the bug (and the nudge we needed) to start looking. Once I went online and scheduled our first house tour, I had no patience -- we spent only three months looking, which was even a bit too long for me.

How many homes did you visit and look at?
We singled out Salem because of its proximity to the ocean, convenient commuter rail, and historic neighborhoods. This kept our house tours down. We looked at just over a dozen single-family homes in Salem, and Michael went to an additional four open houses in an adjoining town just to compare.

What was the hardest part about finding your new home?
The most frustrating part of the house-hunting process was the "what if" factor. What if something better comes on the market tomorrow? What if the other house is really the best fit? We struggled between two houses for a very long time (and continue to get email updates from realtors who have thankfully proven that we made the right choice by not waiting for something potentially "better" to come along).

What was the best part?
The best part was doing something "big" as a couple. Other than our wedding, this was the first major decision and purchase we made together. We got to learn what aspects of a house and town would make a comfortable "home" for us.

It was also fun seeing how people decorated...it was like walking through a magazine!

Was it hard to compromise and find a home you both loved?
Michael made spreadsheets for each house we were considering, and together we created a list of our priorities (close to the train, large yard, office space, etc.). We each assigned a ranking of these priorities for every viable property we saw. By doing this we got to see what was important and what was an added bonus. Did the close proximity to restaurants and bars make up for the lack of a garage? Was the enclosed deck better than two open porches? He wanted location. I wanted a yard. The easy part was the actual structure -- we both wanted something old and refused to even look at new homes. If it wasn't built before 1900, we weren't interested! We wanted character and history (okay -- and a dishwasher!).

Do you have any advice for Nesties who are still looking for their first home?
Really know what you want before you sign the deal. Make a list of your priorities and rank the homes you visit. We ended up with a convenient location over more square feet and are thankful every time we walk to the train or to dinner. Being so close to everything has been better than having a separate laundry room.

And don't get discouraged if your first offer gets rejected. Ours did and we took it so personally that we ended up revisiting another property that continuously ranked second on our list. After our fourth visit through the house, we realized we could be very happy there. And we are!

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-- Caitlin Losey

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