From Spotlight: House Hunting? Match Your Needs With Your Budget

How a Couple’s Dreams Changed Once They Began Looking for a House

“What to look for in a house” shouldn’t be carved in stone. Sometimes changing your mind is a good thing.

Image: William_Potter/Getty

Names: Katye Nash, 27, and Cody Moore, 29

City: La Grange, Ky.

Year of Home Purchase: 2018 Sale

Price: $154,000

Home Style: 25-year-old ranch

Professions: She's a recruiter; he's a salesman.

When Katye Nash decided to stop renting and buy her first house, she knew she and her boyfriend, Cody Moore, might have to make some tradeoffs. And, boy, did they.

With the help of their agent, Garrett Ackles, they ended up in a home (which they love, btw) that was the exact opposite of what they set out to find. Instead of a move-in-ready home in the city limits of Louisville, Ky., they ended up in a fixer-upper one county over. Here's their story: 

What did you imagine buying when you started looking? 

Katye: I was looking for a home central to everything, a convenient location. I wanted three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a master suite, and an open concept [floor plan]. I did not want to live on a major road, because Remi, our puggle, can be an escape artist. I didn't want anything to happen to her if she got out. But most of all, I did not want to buy a fixer-upper, especially for my first home. 

How many houses did you look at?

Katye: 30. We put offers in on three.

Whoa! Tell me about the offers that didn't end in you owning a house.

Katye: I put an offer on a house [in Louisville] that was newly renovated, so all the hard work was done, and it was move-in ready. We offered above the asking price, but we were beat out by a cash offer above the asking price. Hard to beat that. In this market, you almost had to make an offer on the spot and still pray! Houses in the $150,000-to-$350,000 range sold super quickly (and above the asking price), and it felt like I was always a second too late and didn't have enough money. Our budget was $200,000, and it wasn't enough for that neighborhood. 

When did you realize "We can't find a house we like — and afford it?"

Katye: When we were outbid on that first house, I realized I was going to have to go farther out [from the city] than I initially planned to get something I could afford.

So what happened then?

Katye: Garrett encouraged us to look outside the city. He said Oldham County was a good place to look because the school district's good and the market wasn't so competitive [for buyers]. We realized the long-term investment [in Oldham County] is good because houses always sell, but Jefferson [County, where Louisville is] can be hit or miss. A neighborhood that's hot there this year may not be, down the road.

Off to Oldham, then?

Katye: Yes. After going to about 15 open houses or so [in Oldham County, but still close to Louisville], I couldn't find what I wanted in my price range, so I branched out to La Grange, a small town that's 10 to 15 minutes farther north but still in Oldham County. I found a cute little house in La Grange that would be perfect for my first home and made an offer that was accepted! I was so excited! But the inspection turned up a lot of problems, and we had to back out. I was beyond devastated. But I kept looking.

What did you end up buying? 

Katye: A 2,000-square-foot ranch house in La Grange that has three bedrooms and two baths and needed a total renovation. It was twice as big as the other house (the one with the inspection problem) but a lot cheaper. We discussed the financial commitment and the time and patience it was going to take to fix up this house and decided to take a chance. 

How did the reno go? 

Katye: The day we closed on the house, Cody started ripping up the old floors and appliances. By the end of the week, he had already filled an entire dumpster. We knocked down an interior wall to make our master closet bigger, and we took the master bathroom and kitchen down to the studs. The refrigerator had a leak, so the floor was ruined and had to be completely replaced. Also, I am really allergic to cats, and the previous owners had about 10. So, when we ripped up the carpet, I had a horrible allergic reaction, and I couldn't go to work for, like, three days.

So it was a typical home renovation. Makes you wonder how couples who do these projects together haven't strangled each other, doesn't it? 

Katye: Honestly, before that renovation, as cliché as it may sound, we NEVER fought. Like at all. 

But all's well now? 

Katye: Yes! We are still finishing up some small projects, but overall we are very, very happy with the updates. All I can say is, thank you, God, for Cody! He did 99% of the renovation himself, and he did it in three months while working a full-time job. He is a rockstar. I was just there to pick out the paint color and flooring.

What about your renovated ranch in Oldham County makes you really happy?

Katye: We have an acre of land, which is really nice for our dogs. Looking back, the first two houses would have not met our needs long-term, and we wouldn't have been able to get our new puppy, Rupp. It all worked out the way it was supposed to.

A headshot of Leanne Potts
Leanne Potts

Leanne Potts is an Atlanta-based journalist and serial home remodeler. She's tackled five fixer-uppers and is working on a sixth. She's written about everything from forest fires to dog-friendly decor and spent a decade leading the digital staff of HGTV.