One glistening, shiny, beacon on a hill, thing of residential beauty.
|Behold! The dream house.|
Okay, so maybe I exaggerated. Slightly.
In reality it's a hundred year old bungalow with no insulation, save, perhaps, a few bundles of old newspaper clumsily stuffed in between the walls. The windows are in desperate need of being replaced. Some are broken and others are leaking.
There's no garage. No one has any idea when the last time the septic tank was pumped out. And although the electrical has been updated, most of the old wiring was left in between the walls.
Also, there's an old indian burial ground in the backyard.
|Yes I suppose that does sound terrifying|
Alright, just kidding about the burial ground.
In the seller's disclosure, which is basically a piece of paper stating the details of the property to the best of the seller's knowledge, there's a question asking if there have been any graves, burial pits, caves or mine shafts on the property. Guess which box they checked?
|Our home ownership could either play out like Poltergeist or Indian Jones|
Anyway, being a good daughter, I sent pictures and information to both parents soliciting advice.
Also, in case we get sucked through a portal to the "other side" it might be handy if someone else knows the address to our potential residence.
|Just in case..|
Being that I have wonderful parents, the internet, experienced friends, well-meaning co-workers, and live near a massive library, I've compiled a list of good advice.
None of which I'll be following particularly closely...
# 4 Stay away from fixer-uppers.
Okay, I get this. There's no telling what horrors await in the structure of an old house. Inspectors are human and may miss things, which, left unchecked, could devastate a property.
On that note, I've been told to Netflix The Money Pit more than once as a reference for home renovations gone horribly wrong.
|Horror movie masked as comedy.|
Maybe I'm just arrogant and naive, (yes), but it seems that as long as you're honest with yourself about the condition of the property, there's no reason to write off a house needing some TLC.
Mainly because there's no such thing as the "perfect house" anyway. Especially for people just starting out. Compromises will need to be made, and brand new buildings, whether because of budget constraints or personal preferences, aren't always a practical option.
That said, know your limits. A house may have great "potential" but only after you've sunk the equivalent of Luxembourg's gross domestic product into it.
|Sometimes a bulldozer is the best solution.|
# 3 Make sure it's not more work than you can handle.
So now after I've effectively ignored the first bit of advice, several sighs and shaking of heads later, I'm warned to at least not get in over my head.
Ah, tis wise counsel. Fortunately I have a secret weapon.
No, not just paper towels, although they are ridiculously handy.
Fortunately I'm partnered up with someone who actually has some real world experience building houses. Otherwise the go it alone route would be terrifying.
But a lot of things can happen after an inspection. The number of structural issues, plumbing and electrical problems that come to light will certainly weigh heavily against the "vintage charm" that drew us to the property in the first place. If the house is solid in and of itself however, most other things can be dealt with.
This is where I've become bff's with the local library and youtube. Both have a wealth of knowledge in everything from installing insulation to repairing plumbing. And honestly, as a result, I feel pretty good about replacing windows.
Feel free to laugh though when I screw up later.
|Because I'm not ashamed to blog about it|
So yes, know your limits. Of both your budget and abilities.
Oh, and home warranties aren't a bad idea either. They'll cover your appliances and most electrical and plumbing issues. And since most everything is negotiable in a sale, it's not a bad idea to get the sellers to pay for a year of warranty coverage if you can.
# 2 Avoid short sales.
If there are some serious time constraints attached to your need/desire to purchase a home, it's true that this may not be the best path.
A short sale is basically the last step before a property goes into foreclosure status. The seller to just trying to dump the property for whatever they can get.
Sounds like an opportunity to get a sweet deal right?
The seller's lender is also involved in this increasingly awkward menage a trois. And if they don't like the deal you've proposed to the seller, then it doesn't happen.
Say two consenting adults agree to get a little freaky. In a short sale the bank bribed the desk clerk and busts into your cheap motel room to say nah-uh to the shetland pony and saran wrap.
|I don't think so, whore.|
Also, banks aren't designed to manage real estate. A lot of short sale properties may be sold "as-is".
This puts even more importance upon the inspection, if the seller/bank isn't going to fix issues with the property then it becomes your problem, leading to continued lengthy negotiations regarding the worth of the house now that you have to do X, Y and Z repairs.
Banks are also notorious for taking their sweet, sweet time when it comes to replying to an offer. For us though, it'll be worth a try simply because we aren't in a huge rush. Our jobs and lack of children allow us to be fairly flexible. And if you're willing to wait, there are deals to be had.
# 1 Don't get emotionally attached
Okay, we're talking about a future home. Not just a house. This will be a place where memories are made. An emotional attachment is the difference between a home and a well insulated box. (Or in our case, not so well insulated.)
Granted, limits need to be addressed. We all need to know when to walk away. But that doesn't mean I won't be a little broken-hearted if, when push comes to shove, I'll have to let go.
Maybe it'll be the foundation that will be that proverbial straw, or the indian burial ground.
Someone else could be a little quicker and snatch it up first.
Either way, there's no way to know until a little digging is done.
Maybe it's that reckless confidence of youth. Bold and slightly retarded.
Ah hell, what's the worst that could happen?
|But it has an awesome porch!|