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The House Hunters Thread

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
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6,298
Lots of exciting news on this thread!!! Congrats Lynnie and Diva on your offers being accepted! Woohoo!!

We started casually going to open houses a couple of years ago, after we were married. We started looking more seriously last summer, but then made some bad investments and lost a chunk of change. We put the hunt on hold because the market was so up in the air and started looking again this summer. We were pre-approved a couple of weeks ago and have seriously looked at over a dozen houses.

We don't qualify for the tax credit, so that isn't weighing into our decision at all...we're basically waiting to find a house that knocks our socks off.

Ideally I want something on the ocean or at least with an ocean view and at least a half acre of land. Some of the houses we've seen are more than half a mile from the ocean, but have 2 - 5 acres. We can't afford oceanfront/view with 2+ acres unless it's a foreclosure (and those usually require more than $100K in work), so we have to figure out which we want.

So I guess must haves are:
at least half of an acre
no more than a half of a mile from the ocean
2,000 SF+
Bedrooms on one level (for kids)
3/4 bedrooms
2+ baths
all hardwoods (or at least mostly hardwoods--we can put some in)

Nice-to-haves:
Central Air
Garage
Antique (preferably built in the 18th or 19th century)

We've looked at everything we're remotely interested in and almost made an offer, but the house was newer (built in 70's) and I just didn't like the style of house and couldn't suck it up. We're thinking about going back and looking at another house we liked, but I don't think we'll put in an offer. Nothing new is coming onto the market, so we're just on hold until more inventory comes in.
 

DivaDiamond007

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Quick reply since I''m at work


House is a cape-code style, without the dormers. Has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and an eat-in-kitchen. Original kitchen cabinets (have been painted though) and original finished hardwood floors in the living room, hallway and bedrooms. Kitchen has newer tile floor. The foundation is a full basement, half of which is finished with two rooms - one was used as additional living space and the other as a home office. Those areas were carpeted recently. 1.5 detached car garage with screened-in porch and the entire backyard is fenced. House has white aluminum siding and black shutters on the windows. Plenty of room to add up or out. It''s in a nice neighborhood with excellent schools - and is only 1 street over from my babysitter


Our inspection is on Wednesday and then we finalize our loan, then closing. EEK! This is so exciting!!
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
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Jun 25, 2008
Messages
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NEL - the house you are looking for right now is my dream house.
People in MI don''t understand that lakes do NOT COUNT as a beach. There''s just something about the ocean that is so unique and fantastic.

In other news, the house I was excited about sold last night. But - there''s another one in the same HOA. Slightly smaller, but with an additional 1/2 bath, and a more open floor plan. So cross your fingers for me.

Aaaaaand. One of our best friends offered to sublet our apartment!!! Not for the full amount, but enought to make a HUGE difference!
 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
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Diva, how exciting! The house sounds perfect! We're renting a house almost exactly like what you described right now and I have to admit that I like it so much that it's actually a de-motivating factor for us to buy, haha. Keep us updated!

Gecko, I'm sorry to hear about the house selling. How long was that one on the market? I feel like the houses that are actually priced well are moving pretty quickly. A house in our area came onto the market a few weeks ago that I thought was a very good deal in regards to the location, size and amenities and it sold quickly. Also, I agree about lake vs. ocean. I grew up in the midwest, so I never had access to the ocean, but now I've fallen so in love with the ocean that being a mile away feels very far...luckily our dog park is on a little bay, so I can at least see that every day.

Just curious for those of you out there--when you look at sales comps in your area, are homes selling at assessed value or below? I've seen several foreclosures/short sales sell 40%+ below assessed value, though it's obvious they need work. I keep seeing homes pop up, however, that seem to be in great shape selling for 20% below the assessed value. I'm still seeing some homes sell over their assessed value, though it's usually not more than 5%.
 

geckodani

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NEL - The listing was up very briefly. It sold quickly in no small part because it was NOT a bank owned property, and was still priced well!

No property that we''ve seen is listed for anywhere near the assessed value.
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
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Holy moly I think we found our house! Pardon me as I quote myself:


Date: 9/4/2009 10:57:10 AM
Author: geckodani
Nice thread idea Lynnie! Good luck on your offer - I hope it works out for you!

That sounds about right for us too.

We''re stuck in an apartment lease until May, but the place is falling apart so badly we''re willing to take a hit on the rent just to get out!!! So we''re scrambling trying to take advantage of the 8K to offset the price of the apartment. It sucks.

We got preapproved this week, and our realtor has a bunch of houses lined up for us to look at on Tuesday. Ready set GO!

Must haves:

3 bedrooms, or 2 bedrooms and a finished or partially finished basement. We need room for us, the computers, and a possible small homo sapiens in the next few years.

2 full bathrooms.
decent sized kitchen
bathtub!!!
garage
No more than 30 - 45 minute commute for either of us
no major renovations needed - we''re not that handy and don''t have the cash

Must NOT have:

Condo or townhome. I am not listening to neighbors stomp around anymore!!!
I would really prefer that it not be ancient.
The house:

3 bedrooms. The master is a little small, but we can deal.
2.5 baths. Including a bath tub.
I''ll have an adjustment period to the slightly pink tile, but I''ll live.
Kitchen is a decent size. Not palatial, but decent!
Attached garage.
My commute will not change, I''ll just be coming from a different direction.
It needs the following love:

Missing a few strips of siding (record wind storm a few months back). A couple of peel and stick tiles are coming up in the basement. The ceiling fan and light fixtures need to be replaced. All the bathroom vanities could use some love.

And that''s it. It''s in remarkably good condition. And it was built in 1995.


It''s a site condo, with an HOA. DH has checked the master deed on the association and is okay with it.

So.... I think we''re making an offer!!!
 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
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Hahaha, I have to admit that I think I understand. What''s overwhelming you? The commitment? The mortgage? The process? Wondering if this is IT? Talk it out, sistah!
 

geckodani

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Date: 9/11/2009 9:48:12 AM
Author: NewEnglandLady
Hahaha, I have to admit that I think I understand. What's overwhelming you? The commitment? The mortgage? The process? Wondering if this is IT? Talk it out, sistah!
All of it. We don't own ANYTHING. We rent. We lease our cars. We have no credit card debt, no student loans. And now we're looking to buy something for 140K.

I mean -
PANIC! LOL!

And the house is fantastic, but it has its quirks. I suppose all houses do though. And there's a lot that paint and some elbow grease can fix! I'm freaking about the increase from our rent to a mortgage payment, even though I know we can handle it.

Basically all the normal spazzy things that you freak about with a purchase this big!

I've rented for years. Something breaks - you call Fred and he fixes it. Something breaks in a house, and it's all you. Stuff like that.

I feel like I'm getting hung up on the small things, and I need to knock it off! The house couldn't be more perfectly located if I'd picked the spot myself, and that says a lot!

Just. Yeah. Someone talk me down off my ledge.
 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
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I totally understand, your fears are my fears to a T and also what''s prevented us from putting in any offers. I''ll feel confident about a house and then feel overwhelmed and start nitpicking it like crazy.

I think that when you''re comfortable renting, especially if it''s significantly cheaper than an upcoming mortgage payment and you''re afraid of problems popping up, the jump from renting to buying feels like an impossible leap. Like you''re digging yourself into a hole you can''t escape.

The thing is, if you''re anything like me, you''ve gone over the figures 100 times and it''s completely feasible. As my husband always says, once we do it I know that we''ll be so happy that we did. I think that everything you''re thinking is absolutely normal...in fact, I don''t even think it''s unhealthy. I think it''s good to think about all of these things, but the bottom line is that if you know you love it and want to take the leap, then you''ll be glad you did.

Oh, and about the "quirks" of the house--that''s an issue for us, too, but unless we want to up the budget (and enhance all of those other freaking-out feelings), then that''s what we''re faced with. I think at some point you realize you''re willing to take on a house with a few things that could be updated--don''t get overwhelmed by them. Some you might be able to fix short term and others might be more long-term and there is nothing wrong with that!
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
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Date: 9/11/2009 1:43:41 PM
Author: NewEnglandLady
I totally understand, your fears are my fears to a T and also what''s prevented us from putting in any offers. I''ll feel confident about a house and then feel overwhelmed and start nitpicking it like crazy.

I think that when you''re comfortable renting, especially if it''s significantly cheaper than an upcoming mortgage payment and you''re afraid of problems popping up, the jump from renting to buying feels like an impossible leap. Like you''re digging yourself into a hole you can''t escape.

The thing is, if you''re anything like me, you''ve gone over the figures 100 times and it''s completely feasible. As my husband always says, once we do it I know that we''ll be so happy that we did. I think that everything you''re thinking is absolutely normal...in fact, I don''t even think it''s unhealthy. I think it''s good to think about all of these things, but the bottom line is that if you know you love it and want to take the leap, then you''ll be glad you did.

Oh, and about the ''quirks'' of the house--that''s an issue for us, too, but unless we want to up the budget (and enhance all of those other freaking-out feelings), then that''s what we''re faced with. I think at some point you realize you''re willing to take on a house with a few things that could be updated--don''t get overwhelmed by them. Some you might be able to fix short term and others might be more long-term and there is nothing wrong with that!
Oh NEL I
you. Thank you!

This is 100% how I am feeling. I KNOW we can afford it. A few less dinners out here and there, but it is 100% doable. It''s just - PANIC! LOL.

I''m worried that if I let myself get hung up on the little things, we''ll rent for the rest of our lives. And that''s not good.
Meh.

Well, we''re putting in an offer tomorrow. Someone pray that I don''t have a stroke before then! Or after!
 

Lynnie

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 17, 2008
Messages
1,166
GECKO!!! Awesome news, congratulations!!!! Lots of house dust to you!!

And believe me, I hear ya on the freaking out!! Our mortgage is 2 1/2x what our rent is!! No matter how many times I run the numbers, and I KNOW it''s feasable, it''s still downright scary!!

We''re like you... we rent, own the car (I never had a car payment... my mom bought me this car when I was 17, and it still runs!), school loans are paid off, no credit card debt.

What I find that downright sucks is how much $$ you actually pay towards interest for the mortgage. We got a good rate (5.15%), but most of the first 7 years of payments go towards the interest
No wonder the bank execs are so filthy rich!

I''ve been distracting myself from the freak outs by fantasizing about paint, furniture, etc. And the tax credit


No strokes, miss gecko... you need your mobility to paint and decorate! Your elbows will need strength, girl!!! I''ll keep my fingers crossed for ya!! How awesome that you are subletting your apt!! Things are just falling into place, right?!?!


Our inspection got pushed to Monday. The sellers live kinda far, and the paperwork has been a bit slow (on their end). So the inspection''s Monday, and the appraisal will be Wed or Thurs.

Re: appraisals... DH & I were at the real estate office, sitting outside on a bench. We were waiting for our agent so we could put our offer in (she was stuck in traffic, and ended up being 45 minutes late). Two other agents came out for a smoke break, and were talking about appraisals, about how almost none of the houses they sell appraise for the mortgage amount. They were saying that some mortgages even fall through because of this, especially FHA mortgages. I''d be a little more nervous because of this, but my friends/new neighbors *just* got their house appraised last month to refinance, and it appraised for 20K over what we''re paying. The only thing their house has that ours doesn''t is newer applaiance. But I guess we''ll see what it actuallly appraises for. As far as comps in the area... it''s a solid, very desirable little neighborhood, so not many go up for sale, and when they do, they get snatched up. The closest comp, for us, sold in 4 days for $15K more than ours. But it had a new, updated kitchen (our kitchen appliances look like they''re from the 70''s)


~Continued dust to everyone~
 

mimzy

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 17, 2007
Messages
1,847
congrats gecko on finding a place!! are you in MI??
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
8,896
Thanks Lynnie!


Date: 9/11/2009 11:26:55 PM
Author: mimzy
congrats gecko on finding a place!! are you in MI??
Yes, we''re in MI.

And.... we just put an offer in.
Cross your fingers for us folks!!!
 

mimzy

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 17, 2007
Messages
1,847
Date: 9/12/2009 7:00:29 PM
Author: geckodani
Thanks Lynnie!



Date: 9/11/2009 11:26:55 PM

Author: mimzy

congrats gecko on finding a place!! are you in MI??
Yes, we're in MI.


And.... we just put an offer in.
Cross your fingers for us folks!!!

fingers crossed!

whereabouts?? wherever it is, once the offer goes through i'm sure you'll be getting an awesome deal
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
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Jun 25, 2008
Messages
8,896
Date: 9/12/2009 9:51:33 PM
Author: mimzy

fingers crossed!

whereabouts?? wherever it is, once the offer goes through i''m sure you''ll be getting an awesome deal
The house is in Lake Orion.
Total nail biting over here, LOL.
 

MishB

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 16, 2008
Messages
656
DH and I are going to bid at our first auction this Saturday. We won''t be doing it ourselves, a friend will be doing the bidding, but I am still as nervous as hell. It doesn''t seem to be common in the US, but auctions are the most usual method of sale here in Melbourne (Aust) where I live. It just makes things so much harder, you don''t know until you''ve bought it whether you can afford it, some agents will advertise a ''range'' but properties often sell for more than 10% over the top of the range. You can go through all the inspections, getting builders reports etc, the whole emotional (and considerable financial) investment, then get knocked out by the first bid.

 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 27, 2007
Messages
6,298
MishB, the process in Australia sounds very, very stressful! So you have to pay for an inspectoin/appraisal/etc. before it goes to auction, then hope you don''t get outbid? Good luck on Saturday!

Gecko, Diva, Lynnie? Any updates?? You''re all in different stages of the process, so it would be great to get an update!

And how are all of the other hunters doing? Did anybody have any luck this weekend?

D and I took the weekend off. No new inventory has come onto the market and we were a little burnt out. I think we''re going to take a second look at 2 houses this weekend, though.
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
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Jun 25, 2008
Messages
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There''s another offer on the house. *sigh* We might be in a "Highest and Best" ademdum situation, which we''re not happy about. Honestly, I think we''ll leave our offer as is and see what happens. The whole highest and best thing is a little shady.


MishB - Good luck! I''m with NEL - that sounds stressful!
I hope it works out for you!
 

Lynnie

Brilliant_Rock
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Messages
1,166
Diva- INSPECTION DUST!!!

MishB - lots of luck to you! Keep us updated... it's interesting to hear how things work on the other side of the world! So you do the inspections and all BEFORE you put the bid in? Doesn't it work differently here? I think here, you put in your bid sight unseen... anybody know??

NEL - continued house dust to you! It's so easy to get burnt out... after the first house we put a bid on fell through, we took a few weeks off. All that emotional build up, all to have it fall apart is quite tolling!

Gecko - Try not to get disheartened! I was a little upset, too, when I found out there were two other offers. It's pretty likely that other offers are contigent on the buyers selling their houses, which would put you in a great position. Is your potential house occupied at the moment? I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!

My update:

We just got back from the inspection. It went really well! All the major stuff is in great shape - the furnace, a/c unit and windows passed with flying colors. The roof was recoated last year, so that's fine. He said there's still a good 3-5 years before we'd need to either recoat again or get a new roof. There are a few small problems:
One of the circuits is double-tapped (not code)
One side of the laundry sink has a little leak (we're okay with that, we'll just use the other side)
A few of the ceiling tiles in the basement are sagging. Not from water or anything, just from being old. They had cleverly had boxes stacked to the ceiling in that part for the walk-through!
There's a water spot and a small crack in the ceiling at the top of the stairs. The inspector was 90% sure it was old, probably before the roof was recoated last year. But he suggests to get a roof guy in to certify that the roof is currently not leaking
The outlets outside are the old kind. Newer ones should have automatic shutoffs, for when it rains. No biggie (they're like $8 each)
About half of the outlets in the house are the old kind, too - the kind with just 2 prongs. DH can convert them, no problem.
I think that's it.

While we were there, one of the daughters stopped in to do some packing. She was really nice. She told me about the neighbors, and she talked so fondly of her father. The house was new construction when he bought it 55 years ago. She and her 4 siblings grew up in that house. She even offered up any furniture that we wanted to keep! We're taking her up on the kitchen table, and the storage shelves and filing cabinet in the basement. There's a freezer in the basement that she's welcome to leave as well, but her brother may take it, she said. We're debating about the chair lift. We don't need it, but could probably sell it on craigslist for 300-400. They run 1500 new. The daughter said that could stay or go, it's up to us... she was SO nice, and wished us lots of luck and everything.

So my mortgage lady is supposed to call me today sometime so we can get all that paperwork in. Then the appraiser will probably come out by Monday. So it's moving along! It's so exciting!
 

meresal

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
5,720
Well, we''re not so much "house hunting" as "house building"... and should be finished about a month before the baby is born, which means it will most likely be finishd about a month after the baby is born.
We aren''t ready to leave our apt just yet and this gives us exactly the house we want and exactly when we want it
.

We''re probably signing the contract next week! Can''t wait!
 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 27, 2007
Messages
6,298
Meresal, how exciting!! I''m keeping my fingers crossed for you that the house is finished on time (or early!) so that you can at least nest a little before the baby comes!

I just set up an appt. with the realtor to look at a few more houses this weekend, but I''m feeling a bit "meh" about it. Since nothing new is coming onto the market, I think we''re starting to look at houses we normally wouldn''t consider. Smaller yards, fewer SF...I don''t know if I should just go and keep an open mind or if it''s going to be a waste of time of my much-loved September weekend.
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2008
Messages
8,896
Lynnie - I''m glad the inspection went well!!!

Meresal - Oh, to be building a house to my own specifications. Some day! How exciting for you!!

NEL - I hear you in the meh! We''re feeling pretty meh about the whole thing too.
 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
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Gecko, did you guys end up leaving your offer as is? Did the owners accept either of your offers?
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
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Date: 9/15/2009 10:48:26 AM
Author: NewEnglandLady
Gecko, did you guys end up leaving your offer as is? Did the owners accept either of your offers?
We left the offer at its original price - we really weren''t happy with the "highest and best" concept. The offers were due in by 3:00 today, so hopefully we''ll hear SOMETHING by tomorrow. The offer expires Friday, so at the very lastest we''ll hear something by then!

We''re kind of meh, and not very hopeful at this point. I''m looking at other listings. I''ll laugh if we get the place at this point, LOL.
 

DivaDiamond007

Brilliant_Rock
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Jun 7, 2007
Messages
1,828
Not much to update with me today. Our inspection is scheduled for tomorrow so hopefully that goes well. I''m a nervous wreck about it but DH is not - funny because it''s usually the other way around


Lynnie - Our loan is FHA and I''m worried about the appraisal too. The house was listed below most of the comps in the area so our realtor didn''t think our loan would fall through due to that. We''ll also have to have an FHA inspection in addition to the one scheduled for tomorrow and they''re pretty picky. We already know of a few things that will come up; nothing major though - she needs to insall handrails on the 2 outside porches, and paint the wood columns on the back porch. I''m really worried that she''ll refuse that then we''ll lose out - even though it''s bascially maintenance work. I won''t stop worrying about getting it until we have the keys at closing!

We got our loan paperwork in the mail and everything checks out there; we meet with the loan officer on Friday to sign everything and then I guess we wait for the appraisal and the FHA inspection. This takes sooo long! Makes the nerves so much worse for me.

Gecko - Yay for finding a house! We got lucky on ours because the house had just been listed; we were the first and only offer. No competition! Good luck!!
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
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Date: 9/15/2009 1:11:10 PM
Author: DivaDiamond007
Not much to update with me today. Our inspection is scheduled for tomorrow so hopefully that goes well. I''m a nervous wreck about it but DH is not - funny because it''s usually the other way around
This made me laugh - it''s the exact same way over here!
 

Lynnie

Brilliant_Rock
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Feb 17, 2008
Messages
1,166
Meresel... good luck on your build!! What an exciting time for you!

Gecko & NEL... continued dust!

Diva... we are going FHA, too. It seemed to be the best option, for us, since DH will be in school full-time for the next 2 years. We''d be scrimping too much to go with a regular 10% down mortgage. From what I''ve gathered, FHA is mainly concerned with safety issues, and they want to make sure the house is ''worth'' AT LEAST the appraisal amt. The seller agent knows this, and SHOULD tell the sellers the FHA guidelines & contigencies. If the sellers accept an FHA offer, they know that the house will have to pass an FHA inspection, and therefore, any ''safety'' issues will have to be addressed/fixed before closing (railings, trip hazards, and in our case, double-tapped breakers and old outlets). I mistakingly wrote in my previous post that DH could fix the outlets, but it would have to be done before closing, so it''s on the sellers. So we''ll have the mortgage people''s appraisal, and the FHA appraisal done. Ugh... and nobody told me that the mortgage appraisal is a separate fee altogether, so expect a separate bill for that (ours is $460). Not sure if that varies from state to state, either. The FHA fee is rolled into our mortgage.

Can I vent for a minute? All this paperwork is so overwhelming... Our loan lady didn''t get back to me til today, and she emailed me this list of things I needed to email her. So I print out about 30 pages of stuff to sign, date, initial. Scanned them back into my computer to send back to her... Then I couldn''t find my w2''s from last year. I had to tear my house upside down. I''m usually very good at keeping that stuff organized, but I filed my taxes in March, and the forms had gotten mixed up with some of my wedding stuff somehow (I got married in April). And earlier, the mortgage lady quoted me that I had to bring $3000 more to closing than I previously thought I had to bring. Then, after a few frantic phone calls to my RE agent, it all turned out to be a misunderstanding. She had plugged in $6000 into closing costs (provided by seller) instead of 6% (BIG difference!). Ugh - what a day! My living room looks like a paper factory exploded!
I guess this is what happens when you want a quick closing, though... Hopefully, the madness is *almost* over!
 
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