Friday, November 21, 2014

House Acquisition, Part II

When I last left you, we were feeling a bit down about walking away from a pretty good house.

Apparently it was not the first time that house had been on the market. Our realtor said it had previously been on the market, most likely the summer prior when the residents were around. I'm not sure if it ever ended up selling. I biked by a couple of times and although the for sale sign eventually disappeared, it never had a "sold" sign attached to it. Despite being a pretty great house, I imagine it would be a bit difficult to sell for three reasons:

1) Potentially unreliable heating system, as previously discussed.

2) Selling the furniture with the house. While an asset for some, likely undesired from the majority of people purchasing a home.

3) The house was "their" house. Of course renovations are possible, but the owners had certainly made the house "their" home. Everything had been renovated to suit their wishes; things that the average person might not want. A very closed in patio with a gaping hole containing a green house seems pretty cool at first, but not ideal for Josh and I who have drunk friends who would likely fall into the large hole.

So we move on. The good thing about finding a house we thought we wanted was that we asked the realtor a bit more on the actual buying process. Basically, what happens when you find a house you want? I really didn't know. In the event that you don't know, here is what I learned about the initial steps.

If you have a realtor (real estate agent.... realtor keeps getting flagged and I'm starting to question if it's a real word that means what I think it means) you will never actually be in contact with the current owners, their real estate agent, or their lawyer. Your realtor is essentially the mediator and your main point of contact. You tell your agent what you are offering, typically on the condition of the home inspection, request a closing date, sign a document, and wait. The seller/seller's agent has 24 hours to respond with a yes, no, or counter offer.

The next house we look at had been on the market for quite awhile, or at least since we had started casually browsing the internet six months prior. It was a cheapish bungalow in a nice area that is a mix of medium-size to large houses. No one had lived there in awhile and it definitely had a feeling of  being abandoned. It was a bit dirty, which is fine, and had a lot of little things that one would want to fix. Also fine. There was some old food in the fridge (ew), parts of the roof looked questionable, and the basement had been through some pretty intense flooding that winter.

Water in basements isn't uncommon in PEI. We had a stupid amount of snow last winter. (Yes, that was the official final measurement. "Alright, it's May. How much snow did we have?" "Officially? A stupid amount." So. Much. Snow.) A mix of rain and the snow melting quickly in the spring left the ground overly saturated, like throwing a sponge in a full bathtub and expecting the sponge to absorb all the water. So while a touch of water was understandable, I have the feeling this place flooded for awhile and was perhaps unattended for a long period of time. It stunk of musty basement smell and seemed very caveat emptor: buyer beware. Despite the tiny red flags, I will say that the home had wonderful shelves built into the walls of the living room. The house is no longer listed, so hopefully it found some new owners.

We looked at another house in the same area that was pretty nice but had few drawbacks. Through discussions with our realtor, we learned that homes with three bedrooms tend to be easier to sell than homes with two bedrooms. Although Josh and I don't really have any need for three bedrooms at this point, we figured we should keep that in mind unless we find the most amazing two-bedroom house ever. This particular house had three bedrooms, but they were all quite small. The master bedroom had a regular-sized closet and then room for a bed and one nightstand. The other two bedrooms were quite a bit smaller and would be filled with up quite quickly. This house had also been for sale previously by the same owners, but they had pulled it off the market at some point and completed some lovely renovations. (Psst, this house is still available at the fare price of $149,000. Negotiate downwards and then put a bigger window in the master bedroom.)

When purchasing a home you don't want to spend more than you really have to. But you also should be suspicious of low prices in areas that are typically more expensive. This brings us to the next house. The pictures online looked quite promising! It also had something I had never heard of, a "great room". Exciting! I could only imagine the treats in the great room. It would be state of the art EVERYTHING and the GREATEST ROOM OF ALL TIME. A little internet searching told me that a "great room" is basically a room, often with high ceilings, that has the function of many rooms. Think a combo dining room living room den. In this particular case the house also had a living room; it seemed unnecessary to have both.

Side note: It's kind of funny how much more you think about new words as you learn them, compared to words you have known forever. Example, the word living room. Perhaps it initially had a different function, but if I had never heard of this word I might think it implied something much grander than it is. A room where the light tickles the wall, statues come to life, plants grow to sizes beyond what they ever would in a kitchen! But really, it's where the television usually is and a often has a big window.

We quickly learned why this house had a low price in a good area: the great room was an addition, as was a porch, and they were both sinking and very slowly splitting off from the original house. The bedrooms needed a few small updates, the kitchen had been updated, the basement was meh.... But part of the house was sinking. Tipping over. Being absorbed by the earth. Losing the fight against gravity. Our realtor said he would likely discourage future clients from even looking at it.

Luckily we had found a fall-back house that had just been listed that day. The pictures looked good, location was excellent, and the whole thing seemed to have a feeling of "old lady driven", like an older car that had been well maintained and loved over many years.

After the disappointment of a sinking house, there was optimism in the air. Something good was going to happen.

(In part III !)

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