Editor’s note: A first home is rarely a “dream house,” but it is an exciting chapter in anybody’s life nonetheless, filled with memories and invaluable lessons. Steffy Degreff, mother and blogger behind the stylish Steffy’s Pros and Cons, has decided to share her first-home experience with us—the ups, the downs, and the delicious before + afters! Stay tuned over the next several months as we follow Steffy, her husband, and her son through the journey of homeownership!
Illustration by Tallulah Fontaine
Apartment living is impossible with a baby, said everyone ever when they found out I was pregnant and we (GASP) didn’t have a garage. Maybe it was my laziness (okay, it was) or our minimalistic mentality, but we did not want to deal with mowing a lawn, shoveling snow or dusting an extra 1000 square feet of living space every week. I loved our 2-bedroom apartment, with the tiny tree decals I stuck one-by-one on Hudson’s bedroom wall before he was born and the gym in the building. Life was easy, and that was that.
That is—until we found “the one.” They say when you see it, you know it, and that was definitely the case with us, because even the address on paper made me freeze for a second when I saw it in my inbox. My dad, a doting grandpa who lives thousands of miles away would regularly stalk the Zillow listings in hopes of convincing Matt and I to go in halfsies on a two-family home. After looking at a few and seeing how awful the layouts generally are, it was a resounding NO. It was common for my dad to send me one too many Zillow links a day, and I usually deleted them as if I was on autopilot, but I knew the block, the house, the location of this one and called him seconds after he sent it. Long Beach, NY is as local a city as local gets, and if you live in it, you usually have your dream block, and maybe even home picked out in your mind. No, this wasn’t my dream home, but the location was my number 1 pick, and the price was absurdly low. “Let’s buy it sight unseen,” I told Matt. I begged him. The listing had zero pictures on it, but I had this gut feeling that it was gold inside.
Then it happened, the FOR SALE sign went up. As fate would have it, I must have walked by the house mere minutes after it was placed. If you’re wondering why I happened to be creepily outside of this house that at this point in time had absolutely no relation to me, it’s because YES I am a weird stalker. I walked by it, I tried to see in it, and I google searched its history. Sue me. But it worked in my favor, because I got my broker on the phone and begged her to get me in the home before more eyes saw the sign.
Ramona, my long-time broker is the kind of obnoxious that you appease by giving in to her requests, so the seller’s broker let us in hours after I made the call. We put in an offer on the spot, it was accepted, and the keys were ours all in under 2 months. The seller realized after we were in contract that he probably could have sold the house for a decent chunk more, but thank goodness for contracts. I think it became a reoccurring nightmare that the deal fell through.
For most people, the bad news about their home comes when it is inspected / appraised, but we knew we wanted this particular home regardless of its condition. We got ours the day we got the keys – The home has a basically new roof, good insulation, working heat & AC, and all of the necessities to live, but the laundry room is legitimately located in the kitchen. It is not the kind of place you just plop your things in without doing any work if you care about aesthetics at all. Which we do. The layout is bizarre, it was built in 1954 and the original owners never sold it, nor did they do anything to it … ever (including clean the grease in the kitchen!) Step 1 was getting my family (all contractors) in it, and before I knew it they were spending money I didn’t have, and tearing my quaint, lovely, bizarre 1954 home to shreds. I loved all of their ideas, and they are all in the pipeline eventually, but for now I wanted to get my own hands dirty, make her our own and live with her for a while before we disturb the guts of the home. My first projects – the kitchen and the guest bedroom. Stay tuned!
Here’s the house now!
Read the next installments in this series: