It's all about the timing.
A few months either way and I would have either seen the house being renovated, or been able to do something about getting it. I think that's the most frustrating part of this whole situation. If I had gone with my initial impulse to go track down the owner, I think I would have been better off. Now I have a real estate agent pointing out houses to me (most of which are totally not interesting) and I'm fixated a bit on the house.
In happier news... well... no one has tried to kill me today. Still have some hours to go though :-p