Tuesday, June 5, 2012

House Chronicles Part 1 and 2

So I mentioned that Brandon and I had started looking for a little Casa. The truth is that Brandon and I have had quite an awakening about what we find is neccessary for a family our size and what we are willing to spend. Then we moved to a place with a higher cost of living. Needless to say, our budget is quite small for the area.

We started to look, just because we realize with a smaller budget our choices are going to be limited and so it may take some time for the perfect little Casa to come across our radar.

We asked our friends at church for an agent recommendation and we are so blessed by her. She is patient, puts up with our quirks (ahem... we are accompanied by four little people everywhere we go, we make frequent potty breaks for mama, etc.) and is super helpful.

So last week, we picked some houses out of a list and went on our first official househunting adventure here in VA.

(I should add here, that we had our first house built, so we um... didn't have to see past other people's decorating bloopers while looking for our first house.)

So we went to House #1. House #1 was tiny. And we knew that from the description. But there were no inside pictures so I guess we were intrigued. Tiny was an understatement. It should have been listed as a 1 bedroom cottage. Instead it was listed as a three bedroom house. Our king size bed wouldn't have fit in the master and the eat in kitchen would have fit a 2 person pub style table. NEXT!

House #2. House #2 was bigger in square footage. It was white everywhere, but that just made it easier to picture our tweaks. The kitchen was outdated but the killer was the master bath. It was only a shower stall and that stall was TIIIIIIINY. I'm not sure I could fit in it with my pregnant belly. And it had lots of hair in the drain too. Barf. There was no room for a future remodel of the bathroom to make a bigger shower without, I dunno, taking out the toliet and one sink? LOL Sorry #2, you did not make the cut.

House #3. House #3 was spotless. It was modern and well cared for. It had an amazing open kitchen. I didn't even mind the brown cabinets. (I'm more of a white cabinet girl myself-- yes, even with the kiddos! But brown is growing on me.) We loved that the floors were hardwood in all the common spaces and carpet in the bedrooms. I have a little carpet hate in me, but this would be the agreed upon compromise... It had a large garage, a closed in sunroom (helloooo playroom!)and a decent sized laundry room. One downfall was that it had no dishwasher, but it had plenty of cabinets where we could have sacrificed a set for a dishwasher installation.

That is all the houses we had scheduled for our first outing. We talked it over and decided to put an offer in on house #3. We figured it had been on the market a bit and we could try. We looked at comps and realized that the listing price that was in our budget was a bit high. So we lowered it to be in the range with the comps and waited.

And they countered back at full (overpriced!) listing price. Oh look, they were nice enough to throw in the washer and dryer. But we weren't going to pay $10K extra for a washer and dryer. Nice try, slick. They also moved the closing date up. (HELLO!? I'm very pregnant folks!) and demanded we double our earnest money.

We countered again, raising our price a bit, keeping our closing date and earnest money amount the same.

And they countered back.... at full list price, again, more earnest money but our closing date. Womp, womp. Suddenly the seller's agent tells us all about the sudden flurry of interest in the property.

By this point, we felt like they were being difficult and the more we thought about it, the more we couldn't justify anymore movement up on our price. So we stopped negotiations and walked. See ya!

Back to square one, we set up another date to go out with our agent and started House Chronicles 2.

This time, there wasn't much else that caught our eye in the listings our agent sent us. We had a foreclosure, a house that was sent to our agent after she heard house #3 didn't work out because she thought it was "similar" and another house that looked great in pictures but was at the top of our budget.

House #4 was the foreclosure. Oh.my.word! You hear stories of stripped out foreclosures but I think until you really SEE one, you can't comprehend exactly what it is like. This house had no door knobs, no light fixtures, no appliances, no outlet covers and only one light switch cover (that was broken.) The master bedroom was painted red and they obviously did not tape off anything. There was paint on the carpet, the baseboards, the ceiling and the door. There would have been less red if it was a murder scene. All the carpet was ruined. Bedroom 2 had a wrestler drawn on the wall (?) and bedroom 3 had no flooring. In addition, there was water damage and the stair rail was very loose. The house would have been better off bulldozed, I think. We left quickly!

House #5 was the house that the agent sought us out for. She claimed it was similar to house #3 and only went on the market yesterday. But it was SO not like house #3. The home smelled of smoke and airfreshener. Nice try! There was no laundry room, just an accordian door for a washer/dryer in the kitchen. The kitchen had very few cabinets. The breakfast nook was too tiny for us, but there was a halfwall partition separating it form a dining space. We could have made that better with some work. The livingroom area had beautiful hardwood floors, but the bedrooms were tiny and there was no garage or space for a playroom. The bathrooms were pink and beige tile. Did I mention it smelled of smoke and had no furniture in it? So Bran and I figured that the carpet would have to go, it would all need painted and we'd have to pray the hardwoods didn't absorb all the smoke. My eyes burned. The best thing going for this house was a large deck out back.

And then we went to House #6. House #6 quickly made me forget about House #3. It was BEAUTIFUL and well taken care of. It was on a large piece of land that made it very private. It had a rocking chair front porch and I could just see myself out there with a glass of sweet tea watching the kiddos play. We couldn't see the road or a single neighbor. It had a detached 2.5 car garage with an attic space above it. We envisioned that as a homeschool room/playroom. There was a large laundry room/mudroom. The kitchen had stainless appliances and only needed a fridge. There was plenty of room for a large diningroom table for our family size. The livingroom was amazing.

And the master bath was a show stopper. Stonework around a huge, deep soaking tub. I squealed with delight as I called our agent and Brandon in.

The master had a large closet and the room itself was plenty big for us and a baby (since my newborns room in with us.) The other two bedrooms were good sized as well. We drooled over that house. We had a few questions for our agent to ask theirs, and we headed back to "town." On the way home, we talked about the list price, etc. And then when we finally picked cell service back up, we got a message from our agent saying that when she called, she was told that they had just accepted an offer TODAY, while we were inside the house. Our agent left her contact information in case anything falls through.

Boo hoo.

Six houses (well technically 7, because we looked at one before we found our own agent, but that house isn't even worth mentioning.) and back to square one. I know our house is out there... we just have to find it.

Later today (since I am typing this at 2:35 am..) we are going to see two more. I don't know if I should be excited or feel dread. This hasn't been an easy process at all.

So how many houses did you look at while you were house hunting before you found The One? Any terrible foreclosure stories?



Our Adoption Journey to Eastern Europe said...

Sounds like an episode of House Hunters :)

I think we looked at 4-5 houses total before finding ours. The day we found ours we looked at two, and the first one sounds like the forclosure you described-not going to happen. The home we bought is perfect for our growing family-open spaces, large bedrooms, huge yard and privacy :)

Don't feel you need to budge too much on what you're looking for, I'm sure your perfect house is out there!

Marti said...

We looked at 15 different houses the day we found our first house. Patience is key.

Kristina said...

Oh lord... We will be starting a house search in December. We've always rented but we don't have any plans on moving and renting in south Florida is crazy expensive so time to buy! Prayers for your search!

Fiveboys said...

We looked at about 20. We just bought one about 2 weeks ago. And we had actually looked at this house about 2 months ago and hated it. But after looking and looking and realizing how much more expensive the area we were moving to is, we decided to re-look at it. And we did and then we bought it! :) It's a long, disappointing journey sometimes. But God knows and He's got it handled. Just keep looking and keeping praying!

Robin said...

I do *a lot* of looking online. I look at any house up to 10,000 above our price range (we can always offer lower), and in a range around the area we are looking for. The house we bought this time I was not sure about online. It looked like it was on a busy road with no yard. The road is busy, but not as busy as a feared, and the yard is really nice for being in town; I just could not see it from the online pics. So, my advice would be to do a lot of online searches on different sites and get an idea what is out there in your price range.

hollie marie said...

We probably looked at a dozen and had a similar experience with the first house we made an offer on. The comparables (there were lots!) were listing at almost $20k less than this seller's asking price! So we made an offer and were met with a rude "asking price only" no-budging kinda response. It's no wonder 3 years later that house is still on the market.... with the same listing price!