Wednesday, May 14, 2008

(Another) new house!

So, the house that we thought we'd be moving into turned into a major disaster which we were very happy to walk away from. The home inspection revealed a multitude of issues that we didn't know about before (and some we did). Major structural issues, settling so bad the floors felt like a fun house, termite damage and dry rot on some of the joists and beams of the main floor, carpet that was used as a litterbox for the previous owner's cat, major problems with the electrical system (as in, half the house didn't work, and there were lots of random wires coming out of the walls), windows were painted shut with so many layers of paint that they would be almost impossible to open even with a lot of work, layers and layers of wallpaper covered by layers of paint on EVERY wall and ceiling surface in the entire house, warped and rotted deck boards...oh, and there's lots more. It really scared us--and that's saying a lot. If you know us, you know that we have done just about anything to houses. We happily got out of the purchase agreement and started looking for another house.

The same day we walked away from the Disastrous House, we found the Perfect House. It was on the exact street we wanted, even on the exact part of the street we wanted. It was a meticulously maintained Italianate style home built in 1893. The price made our jaws drop--it was so low. I can't even begin to explain how perfect it was in just about every way. So I won't even try. It was a FSBO, so we made an offer that day with no contingencies: no inspection, cash sale. Our offer was higher than the other one the owner had received, and we left thinking she'd take it. We also emphasized that we'd meet and exceed any other offers she might receive.

She called us back two days later, sounding apologetic, and said that she just couldn't accept our offer. From what I gather, the other people had assumed that they were buying her house (even though they hadn't signed anything) and there was quite a bit of tension. We upped our offer again. And once more, the next day, to a few thousand above her asking price. She still would not accept it.

After finding the Perfect House, and then losing it, we were very depressed. All of April, actually, has been a bad month for us. Our dog died, our car broke down, I paid almost $1,000 to have it fixed, then it died again 3 days later with the exact same symptoms. And the first two houses we tried to buy didn't work out. So we went on more house-hunting trips. Our realtor was probably tearing her hair out because we just couldn't find anything that was right for us.

We kept coming back to an old brick home a few houses down from the Perfect House. It has been totally renovated, has a double lot with a wrought iron fence, and a 3-car garage, which we have absolutely no need for, so it's almost a liability, but oh well... With our touches (landscaping, adding a half bath on the main floor and making the kitchen into a total yuppie paradise) the house will be amazing.

We put in an offer yesterday, and after much negotiating, we finally settled on $130k, down from the asking price of $145k. No inspection, no contingencies, cash sale. The house has been on the market for a full year, which I think helped us negotiate a lower price. And we're closing next week!

Some info on the house:
  • Built in 1883
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths
  • 2 large living rooms, so plenty of room for the grand piano that we're taking care of until my older sister has enough space for it.
  • Very high ceilings: at least 10 feet
  • There's an attic playroom off the upstairs bedroom that has a little window. It's just big enough to stand up in in the very center.
  • 1,877 square feet, plus a large unfinished basement with 9 foot ceilings.
  • Plumbing, electrical, furnace, water heater, and A/C are all completely new.
  • New roof & all new windows (we are sad about the new windows, since we prefer having the originals...but it's too late for that now)
  • Has all of the original trim, wood work, doors, and wood floors.
  • Wood floors were all refinished recently.
  • Lots of room (and sun) in the yard for gardens
  • Perfect location: 2 blocks from campus, 4 blocks from downtown, 1 block from a neighborhood grocery store, a few blocks from a Mexican food store.
So while it isn't the Perfect House, it will be a Very Good House for us. Since there's very little work to do on it, we can actually live in the house and enjoy it, rather than spend all of our time renovating and repairing. Yay! The only thing we'll do right away is paint the rooms the colors we want. After my dissertation is done, I'll turn my energy to planning a beautiful kitchen and gardens.

Okay, here are some pictures:


  1. Wow. It's gorgeous!! It reminds me of your current place, no? Nice find. Sorry about the other places, but gotta say, this looks lovely. And what a nice change to just live and enjoy - not renovate :) Congrats.

  2. I think this looks much better than the one with the horrible stairs. This really does look fantastic.

  3. We looked for over three years for our second house--our first house had been the first house we saw (but we looked at others for three more weeks). We tried to buy two other houses this time, but they also had issues. Sometimes, things turn out even better than 'perfect'---or, our perception of perfect changes, LOL. I think the house looks fabulous, but I can't believe you can buy a $140 000 without a mortgage. Wow. And that house would easily be $300 000 here :( I love old houses but 'good' ones are in high demand. Maybe you can convert the garage into an apartment or granny flat?

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  5. OMG the disaster house is really scary, but sadly it also reminds me of some rentals I've lived in, if you care to imagine, LOL! I love this one.

  6. Rixa, if this is the VERY GOOD house, I can't even imagine the PERFECT HOUSE...this one looks pretty darned perfect!! The floors are gorgeous, and I love, love, love the fireplace, doorframe and ceilings.

    All the very best with the move. I'm really happy this house worked out for you guys. It looks like a magical place.

  7. What a beautiful house! It looks well-cared for.

    What makes you confident enough to bypass the inspection? Did you guys just check it out yourselves?

  8. That house is gorgeous! I love brick (no painting!), and the unpainted woodwork is so beautiful.

  9. Oh my goodness! It's gorgeous. I'm glad you guys found such an amazing house. And the price! Wow! I'm definitely taking you on my next house buying trip. :)

  10. Congratulations! I am so glad this one worked out for you--it is beautiful!

  11. Your Very Good House looks like a VERY GOOD House. I only wish to be so lucky in finding a home someday. I love the look of it, inside and out. I love you fall in love with your Very good house and one day you realize its Perfect.

  12. Beautiful home, what a blessing that you are able to pay cash for it!



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