Here’s a house we saw last year. It somewhere between Santiago and Centenario, on Calle 49 x 78 y 80 (yes, I’ve taken to writing addresses like they do in Merida. I think it makes great shorthand.) We passed on it, but I kept the listing’s printout. Which is my first tip for any house-hunter: Don’t throw away anything. Keep all your handouts because something you overlooked about a property may become apparent later in your journey when you learn more about the Centro.
It was a challenge to see its potential. A cocina economica was being run from a very modest kitchen. The yard was rutted. Barking dogs could be heard next door. The street was unimpressive. It was ours for $59,000.
But then I noticed how close it was to houses that had been invested in and improved. I saw its walking distance to places I’d want to walk to. I even saw its potential as being a sleeper — a modest house on a street poised to see lots of spiffy renovations from imaginative retirees or snow birds. And when I learned more about local construction tricks, the barking dogs and unsightly views weren’t so troublesome. I still get skeeved out by some of these neighborhoods, but I’m working out on it.
It’s also one of the few houses where the front opens up to the north, facing the Gulf breezes that I keep hearing are so valuable this time of year. If this hadn’t been the first house I saw, we would have seen this little casa in a more favorable light.
Update: The listing disappeared until this week. Someone with a more cultivated eye saw things in the Calle 49 property that we didn’t. It’s online again. Whoever grabbed it did some nice things with it, raising the ceilings bringing in Colonial touches. Now available for $95,000.
Now, I ask you, what can you do about those neighbors’ windows leering down onto the patio?