Monday, February 28, 2005

14 Houses, No Home

Yesterday we saw 14 houses. After running out of homes that met our criteria, we lowered our standards and looked at homes that we could at least afford. Here is what we found:

1. too small. very nice, but not enough room for the boys, nevermind all their stuff.
2. Harvest Gold - need I say more? (that's the color of the house, not the appliances!)
3. couldn't get in, the combo on the lock box was wrong
4. too small
5. off the market
6. busy street, we had a really hard time backing out of the driveway
7. too small, plus the breaker box was messed up, probably wouldn't pass inspection
8. off the market
9. too small
10. too expensive. I hadn't gotten the tax info on it before we went out there, but we stood in the driveway looking at the sheet and it was way too high. otherwise a very nice house
11. too small
12. busy street
13. too small
14. waaaaay too much work needed. Apparently the guy who lived there had a temper and took it out on the house.

So in the end, it looks like #2 is our only option. It is a bi-level/split foyer/raised ranch (depends on where you are from what you call it, apparently). It has 4 brm and 2 baths, a nice family room, the back yard is totally fenced in (though it is really small), comes with appliances, has a garage, and is in a quiet neighborhood. Plus it is close to shopping and the library, and not too far from where Chris will work. It is also in our price range. It doesn't need any work done, other than paint, and that is only because I don't like the colors in there, not because it is bad; so I think that we could save up some money while we are there and hope to move on in a few years to something with a bigger yard. I sure hope so anyway; my sister bought a house with the intention of moving on and she is still there. So if we go for this house, I will have to overcome my aversion to Harvest Gold, LOL.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Still No House

Well, yet another house was no good. This one was an old log home that was being fixed up a little bit at a time. A lot of work had been done, but there was still a lot more to go. It was mostly carpentry type work, which Chris is not good at, plus the floor plan was again really odd, so that one won't do either. I raced down there and back to try to beat the snow, and I made it. It started to snow on my way back, but it didn't get bad until a few hours after I got home. I'm glad I made sure to hurry and didn't stay at MIL's to chat. I did drop in just to say hi to Troyer and Samuel, who are spending the week there.

This weekend we will be looking at 6 or 7 more houses, all of which are not at all what we wanted. We have run out of time, and now are looking to buy something that we can just move into to get us down in that area, and then maybe in 2 or 3 years move again into a house we really want. I am still crying over that white house we put 2 bids in on. I can't believe the seller is such a jerk that he won't sell it to us. *pout pout* Less than 5 weeks to go before we will be living out of our van!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

So I Went to See the House

and it was just as great as it looked. Nice and big and in good shape. The bad news about that is that it was actually worth the asking price. Actually maybe a little more. There was no way we could get into that house without creative financing of some sort, and for sure not more that the list price, so we said good bye to that one too. Sigh. When we got home we found out there were 2 offers on the table for it already, so I'm glad we had already decided not to try for it.

In my email I had a link to another listing, this one another house near Chris' parents. I have set up an appointment to see it tomorrow. I made it before lunch because we are supposed to get a huge storm tomorrow afternoon. Doesn't that figure? I am hoping to be home again by 3, and miss the snow. If it is already snowing when I wake up in the morning, I am staying home. I will be driving down in the car with just the baby, leaving Chris home with the boys. He wasn't excited about the idea of driving back down there 2 days after spending the day down there already. At least I'll have better luck in the car if the weather beats me home.

If this house doesn't work out, we have discussed changing our plans a bit. We will try to buy a house in a development that we can live in for 3 or 4 years, then sell again when the "perfect" house comes up. That way we can shop from the area, and not do this crazy running around business. We only have about 5 weeks left before we have to vacate this house, so we are getting close to panic time. We can't see how we will be able to afford to rent anything down there, it would cost more than any mortgage we could get, and monthly payment is what's holding us back in the first place. If we could afford $1300/mo on rent, we'd spend it on a house! LOL

So I'll update again tomorrow night.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Well, God Must Have Something Really Good In Store For Us

Our realtor just called again. The second house we were going to offer on is Sale Pending. So now we have absolutely nothing to buy. We haven't seen anything else that we would fit in. Waaahhh. There is that nice house I saw, which I guess I am going to go see tomorrow; but I tell you, we will all be on a diet if we get that one, because our budget is going to be severely cut just to pay the taxes.

Out of the Running

Well, my reator called me this afternoon. He said the seller did not accept our offer. Not only that, but this guy, who last week countered another buyer's offer with something lower, this week said he wants his full asking price or no deal. Harumph! It sounds to me like maybe we are better off not getting this house, I don't think we want to have to deal with this guy. What a pig. I hope he takes a huge loss on this house. And I also hope we find something better! Yikes, time is running out.

More Waiting

We found out this week that the house didn't get sold last week. I guess the other buyers also thought it was too high priced. We talked to our agent and wrote up a new offer quite a bit higher than our last one but still below what the seller countered with. I have no idea if he will go for it or be stubborn and greedy and wait until someone pays him what he wants. If he doesn't take this offer, we don't have any more money so we will be writing up an offer for another house we saw, if it is still available. I found another house I would love to go see, but I found out the taxes are crazy. $300/mo makes it out of our range, we'd have to offer much less than the asking price to afford it, and that would most likely be a waste of everyone's time. I wish we had a little more money, but I am seeing that a little more money just makes me look at a new group of houses that are all a little out of our range, lol. If I had enough for this latest house, I'd be looking at houses another $25K too high. Ah well, I am very glad to be able to afford *something.* I know it will all work out.

Tomorrow we will be going down again, because Chris has to work from that office, so I will be able to drive around a bit and hopefully meet with our realtor and get some papers signed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

He Sits! He Crawls!

Ok, he's not going to win any contests for endurance or distance, lol, but Levi, who just turned 6 months old on Sunday, can now sit for about 30 seconds before falling over, and can get up on his hands and knees and rock back and forth until he falls forward! He is regularly escaping his bed, so I had to set up the play pen in his room for him to sleep in.
He had his 6 month appointment on Friday. He weighs 17 lb 4 oz, and is 26.25". That puts him right at 50% for growth, and in fact is in the middle of his brothers' stats too. The dr was impressed at how good he was, very social and calm. He is right on track for all developmental milestones. I guess it'll be time to start solids with him soon, but right now he doesn't seem to be missing them.

Here is Levi crawling:

Here he is sitting up, very proud of himself, LOL:

And here he is with his brother Samuel cheering him on:

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Kill Him or Kiss Him?

Well, after such a huge disappointment about not getting that house we both really wanted, and talking it over ad nauseum, I learn from Chris that maybe, just maybe, we might have a little bit more money we could afford to offer for this house. Ugh! I already told our agent that there really wasn't any more money per month or in savings for a higher down payment, but it seems that I lied to him! So I will be talking to him on Monday, and letting him know that we actually can go a little higher, if the house hasn't already sold to the other interested buyers. So maybe we're back in the game. But maybe not. Bleh, I'm glad we have more money than I thought, but I hate looking like I'm playing games with my own realtor. So should I kick Chris *while* I'm kissing him? LOL

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Back to the Start

Well, my agent just called to tell me how our offer went. He says the listing agent told him that he just got a similar offer to ours, and the seller countered with a pretty high number; he said his buyer wasn't going to take that counter offer either, but that his buyer didn't request inspections. I have no idea how you can buy a house these days without any inspections unless you are paying cash, but I know for sure my mortgage company won't approve a loan without them.
So I guess we're back to the beginning. Waaaahhh. In my mind I was already moving in.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Waiting Waiting

We signed the offer today, and our realtor submitted it to the listing agent. Now we wait to hear what the seller has to say. Hopefully we will know by tomorrow.

Our agent found out some history on the house and the seller; it seems that the seller owns another home that he had put up for sale in another state, but it didn't sell. He is still living there, and has decided that whichever house sells first, he will live in the other. He bought this house back in July and did a few improvements, but not much. I have no idea why his other home didn't sell. It may be because he is asking too much money and won't take a lower offer. If so, then the same may be true about this house, which means we are out of luck, because we just don't have the money to counter with a higher offer. I guess that means he is out of luck too, LOL.

And so we wait.....

Monday, February 07, 2005

Making An Offer

We went to see another house yesterday. It was priced out of our range, but we really didn't have much else to look at, so we figured we'd give it a try. Here's the report:

The location is great; back road, very little traffic, exactly half way between Chris' parents and his office. The yard is very pretty; nice front yard, huge back yard, lots of nice mature trees, but still a big open space to play. 2 car garage plus another shed maybe for bikes and toys.

The house itself is a 4 brm (4 true bedrooms, not closets! LOL) 1.5 bath farmhouse. There is a back screened in porch and what they called a 3 seasons porch, which just means it is a porch with windows. Neither is big enough for furniture, maybe just some lawn chairs, but perfect for pulling off snow suits or muddy shoes. The kitchen needs updating desperately, but it will do for now; I am not one known to love being in the kitchen, LOL. Nice sized living room plus 2 more small rooms that could be a den and a school room.

Some of the drawbacks about the house: the furnace is an old coal furnace converted to oil, so it is very inefficient and needs to be replaced. The siding is shingle, and the windows are wood, so it would need vinyl siding and replacement windows eventually. I mentioned the kitchen already, plus it is painted a dark brick red color, and is on the north side of the house, so it is very dark. The basement had 2 sump pumps in it, so there is clearly water in there. It looks like the previous owners did a good job of channeling it but still, no water would be better. Most of the wiring is old; service to the house and the panel are all brand new, but Chris would have a lot of outlets and switches to replace. The laundry is in the basement, and the steps down are awkward; I would really like to have the washer and dryer hook ups moved upstairs next to the half bath, but Chris said that would not be a priority. There was some water damage under one window in the master bedroom, but I couldn't tell if it was recent or not. I thought it looked like it, but Chris says he doesn't think so. We'd have to find out about that. It could be as simple as a clogged gutter, or something more serious. Last, it was not clear how the two bedrooms on the east side of the house were heated. We couldn't find any vents but it was very warm in them. Of course, yesterday the temperature was in the 50s, so it was actually hot in the house. It has a metal roof, so it was very warm in the sun. I am concerned about heat in the summer too. At least there are lots of shade trees on the property, so maybe we will just spend a lot of time outdoors, lol.

A view of the front yard:

Front of house:

The back of the house and the garage

A view from the driveway looking down the street:

After walking through the house and talking with our realtor, he told us that since there was a lot of work left to be done on the house, and it has been on the market a while and is vacant, that we could offer quite a bit below the asking price. He said there was no harm in trying, which was nice. I'm used to realtors saying "I won't waste my time with an offer too low" and such. I think we got lucky getting this guy.

He's going to email me more info about the property today, and we are going to write up an offer this week!

Friday, February 04, 2005

Yet Another House to See

On Sunday Chris and I are going to drive down and see another house. This one looks great on paper, except for one thing: the price. It is really out of our price range. We have exhausted everything in our range and it's all either too small or just icky. This one has promise, but I don't know how we'd find the money for it. The plan right now is if we like it, we are just going to offer the absolute most we can scrape together and hope they take it. I am afraid, though, that it will still be an insulting offer. There is always hope that the sellers are motivated, or that money will fall from the sky and land in my wallet! LOL

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another House With Issues

But of course, what can you expect when you are working with a low price range, at least for the size house we need? So here is the report on yesterday's house:

The property was perfect. 2 acres, some open, some meadow-like, a stream in one corner, a small barn with room to put both the car and the van inside (no doors, but at least I wouldn't have to clean snow off in winter) and also the riding mower. Pretty views, not too close to the road, and I can't even tell you how excited Grandpa was at the thought of his boys being so close by. There is an in ground pool which has been kept up, so we could use it (not sure what insurance and upkeep would run on that per year, though); and they are leaving behind a nice wooden swingset.

The downstairs of the house was also pretty nice and roomy. A living room, a smaller room for a family room or office/den, a dining room big enough to fit my table in with all the leaves in, plus a kitchen that was a decent size. There were two sets of stairs, the main set in the front of the house, and another small "servants' stairs" by the kitchen. I have always liked the idea of 2 sets of stairs in a house. Perhaps in reality that would be annoying. I can see the boys racing around the house in a big circle, LOL.

Unfortunately, the upstairs has major problems with organization of rooms. The two front bedrooms are nice and roomy, no problem there, but what should be the third bedroom has to be a walk through to get to the bathroom at the back of the house. There is really no way to put up a wall to enclose it without cutting the room right in half. As I said, the bathroom is at the back of the house, and it was pretty gross. It only had a shower, no tub, which is a problem for at least 3 of my boys. It was pretty mildewy, too; no ventilation. It would have to be redone. Next to the bathroom was a tiny room that really is only big enough for a sewing room or a huge walk in closet. Troyer would probably be willing to have a tiny space like that just for the chance to have his own room, lol. So essentially, there are really only two true bedrooms.

Another big problem was the roof. I walked around the outside of the house and could see at least two huge holes in the soffit under the roof. It is a metal roof, and needs to be replaced. I'm not sure how much is leaking in but holes are not good, lol. Also the windows are a mixture of new replacements, old replacements, and original (and keep in mind this house is over 100 years old!). I think 2 rooms have new vinyl replacements. I didn't count, but there are a lot of windows, and most need to be replaced. Finally, the cellar under the house, accessible only from the outside by a set of very steep steps, is unfinished stone, and it does get water in a hard rain. I have no idea if it requires repair or how to divert the water so it does not leak again.

I asked about heating costs, and they are very high. I think windows would go a long way toward remedying that, but we couldn't afford to do much with the windows after taking care of the roof and foundation, and the bathroom. It would be a few years before we could get all the windows done.
That said, it would be a great investment, if we were willing to fix it up right. But is it a money pit? What kind of problems would we find while trying to fix the obvious ones? Can the house be repaired or would it be a case of needing to take it down to studs and starting over? Would I *want* to live in a house under constant construction? (in other words, do I look crazy??? lol)
I am really really hoping that the perfect house for us just hasn't come on the market yet, and that when it does we will be in there first with an offer. I keep in mind that our house was only on the market 5 days. So maybe the perfect house for us will be a similar story; on the market and sold (to us!) in less than a week. It just isn't out there for us to see yet. Let's hope, lol.