House search update no. 2

21 March 2013

It’s been just about two months since my last house search update. We’re still searching, so I figured it was time for another!

About one week after my previous post, we went under contract on a house! Wheeee! This one couldn’t have been more different from the first house we put an offer on — it was in a downtown area, it was historic, and it needed some love. I actually mentioned it in this post — it’s the one that was right across from a school. It had been on our radar for a few months, but we didn’t pursue it because it was on the upper end of our budget. But after doing some extensive research on the neighborhood, we felt like it was overvalued, and that the seller might be willing to drop the price.

wraparound front porch

We scheduled a visit, loved it in person, and figured we’d write an offer in the next few days. That afternoon our realtor forwarded us an email that the seller’s agent had sent to all of the buyers’ agents that had ever taken clients to see the property, saying that the seller was willing to drop the price by $20,000, but wanted to be under contract by the end of the week or was going to take begin renting it.

Yikes! That certainly lit a fire under us, so we met with our realtor the next morning to write an offer. Within a few hours, the seller had countered our offer, which we accepted.

We immediately launched into inspections, as we wanted to know as soon as possible if there was something major that we needed to know about, budget-wise. We knew the seller had purchased the home two years ago, and that he had done some extensive updates: additional stabilizing under the roof and floor, new water pipes, new electrical, a new HVAC system, etc. Our inspection was very thorough (four hours!), but thankfully didn’t turn up anything major — no mold, no termites, no engineering issues. That being said, we knew there were still immediate updates that would need to be made: many of the windows were stuck closed (fire hazard!), there were no smoke detectors, there was some knob and tube wiring in the attic (outdated and dangerous), there were a few random plumbing and electrical issues, and the chimneys would need to be stabilized within 1-2 years.

pocket door

We also knew we were dealing with lead paint and asbestos. We brought in two companies to give us remediation estimates, and the numbers were rather frightening. To make this house work for us (and our budget!) we planned to do as much of the updating as possible, learning as we went. Unfortunately, with lead and asbestos, amateurs are highly discouraged from doing the work, so with this huge project we would have missed out on the cost savings from tackling the demo ourselves. A frustrating way to start!

For better or worse, we never actually got to the point where we needed to make a decision on whether or not we could afford the initial outlay to make the house (at least to our eyes) safe and inhabitable. The appraisal came back about $35,000 under our purchase price, and since the seller was not willing to budge a dollar, we were forced to walk away. As some of you probably know, a bank will not lend for more than the appraised price. Even if we could have made up the $35,000 difference in cash, we wouldn’t have wanted to start that far in the hole, equity-wise; we also would have needed that $35,000 ON TOP of whatever cash we needed to set aside for initial remodeling.

built in hutch

We sadly canceled the contract last week. In the end, if we had to part ways, I’m glad that our decision was made for us, because I think I would have had a hard time walking away from such potential on my own two feet. And let me tell you, this house oozed potential out of every pore. From its massive wrap-around front porch, to its huge and flat yard (one of our key criteria!), to the adorable dormer, corner lot, massive windows, high ceilings, FIVE fireplaces, gorgeous wood floors, built-in hutch, and – possibly my personal favorite — pocket door, believe me when I say I had dreams of this being our forever home, fixed up to perfection over the next ten years. But, it was not meant to be.

And we’re okay with that. Honestly, at this point I think we’re just a little more tired of the whole search process than distraught over this particular house. We’ve considered taking a break, but we really don’t want to miss out on current interest rates. We’re pressing on for the moment, truly grateful to even be in the position of looking, and thankful that we live in an apartment we love while we wait. Here’s hoping luck is around the corner!

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March 21, 2013 8:44 am

I’m sure the whole process is quite daunting! It’s a huge investment and you have to make sure it’s right! Good luck in the endeavor though, I’m sure something sweet and southern will come up for you. :)

March 21, 2013 9:04 am

I’m sorry this one didn’t work out, but I am sure you will find your meant-to-be home when the time is right. Wishing you lots of luck!

March 21, 2013 10:38 am

I’m so impressed by your positive attitude! I can only imagine how stressful this experience must be. Once you do find the perfect house though, I’m sure you’ll look back on this and see how perfectly it was all meant to be! :)

March 21, 2013 3:12 pm

Oh no! I am so sorry that all of this has been such a mess. Sending lots of love and tons of good luck wishes to you guys! xo

March 21, 2013 3:28 pm

My heart aches for you after reading this! I love old houses and wrap-around porches!! But rather than rush or get in over your heads it’s better to wait! You’ll find a great house and you and John will make it the PERFECT HOME! <3

March 21, 2013 5:09 pm

Thanks for the update – I’m so sorry about the house, but it sounds like you’ve already learned a lot from the experience. Things will work out for the best in the end, I just know it.

March 23, 2013 11:11 pm

Thanks for sharing your journey!!:) Even though this one fell through, it sure is pretty!

March 25, 2013 5:24 pm

Hang in there, girl! I know that must have been really hard – but you did the right thing! Always choose your head over your heart in situations like this! If you ever need any remodel plans, let me know! I’m an architect, after all!