Thursday, March 17, 2011

On House Hunting

Dan and I have been house hunting since early spring of last year. We found a house early last fall we really liked and even put down earnest money on it. It was an excellent buy and definitely move-in ready. We were both so excited.

However, after some money crunching, we realized that the property taxes were going to be a deal breaker for us. We could have done it; but, we would have been ‘house poor’. In other words, we would have been strapped for money and unable to do proper maintenance and/or upgrade such as adding a covered patio. So, we decided to let it go.

I was so badly disappointed that I just couldn’t bring myself to do more house hunting. The holidays were upon us; so, we decided to take a break and renew the search after the New Year.

When the New Year came upon us, I became sick with combination of cedar fever and a cold. I was sick for about two weeks before I started to feel better. Dan caught the cold from me and he was slightly sick for approximately a week.

Once we were both starting to feel a little better, we resumed searching for a house online. Our criteria changed a little after our brief visit up north. Dan saw the potential of what I wanted and decided that he wanted what I wanted too. So, we broadened our search and let our real estate agent know so that he could update his search criteria for us.

A house popped up in our radar about a week ago. From what we could see of the specs and of the pictures provided, it really appealed to the both of us. The one thing we were not sure of was the inside of the house since pictures of the inside were not provided. I suspected that it would be in poor condition and/or the homeowner’s stuff would get in the way of visualizing the inside. I hoped that my suspicions would be wrong; but, it turns out that they were correct.

We went over to see the house last Monday night with our agent. The homeowners were still in the house and it felt strange. But, the old man wasn’t able to get out much. So, that was understandable.

From what we could see, it is mostly neglect. And, those people are borderline hoarders. I’m not the one to talk; but, it was a mess – especially inside the three car garage which was piled up with crap. Tires were scattered about the property with an unusable shed sitting on the corner of the lot. I totally understand now why there weren’t any pictures of the inside of the house.

We looked the house over very closely and determined that a lot of work needs to be done. I’m not talking about cosmetic or remodeling work. I’m talking about fixing it up so that it is safe and habitable. The patio balcony needs to be rebuilt. The built-in oven looked like it probably did not work and it wasn’t stable inside its place. The guest bathroom was in horrid condition with obvious water damage as the floor depressed easily. And, some of the floors were in absolutely horrid condition.

In spite of all the problems we saw, we both could see a lot of potential in the house and the land. And, we both know that a lot of hard labor will go into the house and fixing up the property. But, we’re both excited about the possibilities of doing restoration to a house.

However, we are not willing to pay the price that is listed. From what we could see, the price is at the top range of the market. Both of us know that it’s going to cost a small fortune just to fix up the house alone. I personally feel that it is almost in a ‘flip’ condition. And, on top of the fixes that need to be made, there are things we both would like to do to the house such completely replace all the floors and gut the kitchen to turn it into a nice functional cozy spot in the home.

Our agent is going to talk with the seller’s agent and look at the comps of the surrounding area. And, we’re going to continue the search for a house because both of us have a hard time believing the owners will come down in price to the tune of twenty grand. (Yes, that is how much all three of us – the agent, Dan, and I – estimated it would cost to fix up the house). This house will most likely be in the back of our minds while we continue the search for a new home. We hold onto a slim hope because we are willing to pursue this avenue if our agent comes back with favorable remarks.

So, we wait. And, continue the hunt.