I revisited both houses dissected in my last post. If my house hunt continues, I will now require myself to visit every house twice before I make an offer, because the second look was very illuminating!
On second visit WOW was the small house small beyond reason. There is no way I could live there long-term, and in fact I probably would have had a panic attack after unloading my possessions into it. The living room could hold my dining room table OR my small couch, and it would have been hard to have guests stay longer than a night or two. That's just now how I see myself living.
On the other hand, the bigger/newer house continued to impress me. I had a friend along who talked about these new-construction homes with a contractor friend of his, and was assured they're built solidly because of all the codes. It's true this house was finished with mid-grade stuff like cheaper doors and lighting fixtures, but those aren't fatal flaws. The light inside is nice, it feels really spacious, it's got nice views of trees, and I think it would be plenty of house for me without being overwhelming. Of course I can't furnish it fully but that's okay - no rush on that front. And major bonus - the small front and back yards. I have been clear from the start I don't want to have a lot of yard to deal with. But the yards are still big enough to each have a few raised beds, and I think I'll get a friend to design a pretty fence/seating area for the front to make it more welcoming to the neighborhood.
Another bonus is I already know people in the neighborhood - it's 2 blocks from where I'm staying now, and is around the corner from my real estate agents, who I really like. They're talking about throwing a party so I can meet the other neighbors they know. Exciting!
In short, if it's not obvious, I'm putting in an offer on the bigger/newer house. I probably won't know til tomorrow since it's a bank holiday today; if the seller insists on seeing my pre-approval before accepting the offer, that will have to wait. So, we'll see.