Engineer seeks spacious yard outside of the city

After working overseas, Lance Wilkes returned home to the Peach State for a job with Georgia-Pacific.

“I was looking to settle back down closer to family and friends,” said Wilkes, 30, a civil structural engineer.

Although he works in downtown Atlanta, Wilkes had lived in busy cities such as Bangkok and now preferred a less urban location. He searched from south to north of the city for an average commute of 30 minutes or less. His now-fiance, Kayla Woody, also helped him hunt for houses.

“We figured out that the best way to search for a house was to look by school system,” he said. “That’s what pushed us toward the east Cobb County area.”

Working with Jimmy Payne of Re/Max Town & Country, he considered these homes during his six-month search.

No. 1

Meant to be?

A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home happened to be on Lance Court in Marietta, which seemed like a perfect fit because of Wilkes’ name. At three-quarters of an acre, the property was one of the largest he saw, with a deck, patio and fire pit in the fenced backyard. Updates included ceramic tile and granite in the kitchen and baths, and new carpet in the upstairs and bonus room. The home, built in 1984 in the Piedmont Bend neighborhood, was listed for $228,000.

No. 2

Roomy two-story

A four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home on Ageratum Court in Acworth had an awesome finished basement and the price was a bargain, based on the square footage, Wilkes said. The deck also was impressive, as part of the fenced back yard. “I really wanted something where I could walk out my back deck and feel like I was in a private setting,” he said. The home, built in 1990 in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood, was listed for $235,000.

No. 3

Bonus in the backyard

A five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home on Hampton Trail in Woodstock boasted hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and a finished basement. The Fairways neighborhood in Cherokee County offered amenities such as a pool, tennis courts and clubhouse. Although the backyard was smaller than he preferred, the property backed up to an undeveloped area owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he could walk his dogs. The home, built in 1991, was listed for $254,900.

The Choice

No. 1. First he placed an offer on No. 2 (Ageratum Court), but withdrew the offer after the inspection identified too many needed repairs, he said. The brick exterior, architectural shingles and overall quality of the Lance Court home appealed to the engineer. “It was everything I was looking for,” he said. “It was a really solid-built house.” He made an offer the day the home went on the market and moved in during March. The sellers even left the riding lawn mower.