Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Round One

Today was our first round of looking at houses. Here's what happened!

House #1:

This house was a HUD house that we could tell needed a lot of work from looking at the pictures. It was well below our price range, though, so we thought we would take a look and see if it would be something we could take out a rehab loan for.

The first problem we saw was the roof. At this point our real estate agent had already seen a few things that she said were major problems and would normally tell us to run. She walked us around and through the house so that we could use this as a test house for the future and would know what she meant when she said that there was a problem in the future.

This is a hole in the backside of the house that lead underneath. Obviously a big problem.

We didn't take any pictures of the inside but the ceilings were only about 7' high, the entire house was slanting and there was a room that Tracey dubbed the "punishment room". It had no lights, an old wooden bench built in and locked with a deadbolt from the outside.


House #2:

One of the houses we wanted to see went off the market the night before we went to look at it so our agent sent us a few she thought we might add. House #2 was one of them. We pulled up and decided to not even look at it. It had been updated inside and looked great but was on a major road (something we couldn't tell by looking at Google Earth the night before) and was surrounded by some questionable apartment buildings. So, we left for the next house.

House #3:

The owner knew we were coming but the screen door was locked which meant we couldn't get to the front door to look at it. We poked around outside while we tried to get in touch with him. The outside was decent and had a cool bomb shelter but we never heard back from the owner. This may be a house we look at later.

House #4:

Finally! A house we can get into! This house was super ugly outside but it was all cosmetic-- some paint, some landscaping and it would be a million times better.

The listing for this house specifically mentioned the great paint job done inside. Not really our style. Gold trim, red walls, purple walls. It was very bohemian and cool; just not for us.

The dining room was a great size and our agent was pretty sure there were hardwoods under the carpet.

The kitchen was in good shape and had probably been remodeled in the late 80's/early 90's. There was a cute little built in breakfast nook, too! The kitchen had a door that went out to the backyard.

The owners were kind enough to leave a note asking us to excuse the jungle in the backyard. Tall grass aside, there was a little shed, some rain barrel system set up and a nice clothes line.

On to the basement! At this point we were feeling pretty good about this house. Everything we disliked about it was something that could be fixed fairly inexpensively. The basement was in good shape, the furnace was newer, our agent noted that there were no asbestos pipes, and the electrical panel was new. Awesome! Until Tracey opened a second panel and we saw this:

Fuses! Not something we want to deal with fixing. Right after we saw this our agent went to check on the oil tank and it was underground so we would have to find out if it was leaking into the soil. This house was a short sale as well so none of these issues would be addressed by the current owner. So, off we went to the next house.

House #5:

This house we were excited to see. Not only was it in our ideal part of town, it is just four blocks away from Tracey's best friends and their baby! The front yard was a disaster. Aside from the toys and personal belongings everywhere, the owners had placed a concrete slab in the middle of the yard. We're guessing it was because there's really no back yard to speak of (just the front and side) and they wanted a patio? Anyway, that would have to go at some point.

The inside was nice. Even though the outside looks like it was built in the 80's, it was actually built in 1908, and had a lot of the original built-in cabinets in the living spaces.

The owners had recently moved out and left a lot of stuff. We aren't sure if they were planning on coming back for it or not but this awesome old safe was in one of the rooms. They also left behind some dirt bikes and a Sea-doo! The rooms in this house were good sizes and really just needed the gross carpet pulled up and some paint.

There were some really nice features to this house like the front door...

... and some not so nice features like a really outdated kitchen. The cabinets were actually in really good shape but they had done some weird stuff like adding a dishwasher in a weird spot and the stove was all the way against the back wall. It would need to be re-done for sure.
The bathroom on the main floor was really gross to me but Tracey loved it. She can have it.

The entire basement of this house had been remodeled and had nice tile flooring (travertine?) and two more bedrooms and a bathroom downstairs.

When we went around the side of the house we started to see some issues that would need to be addressed. Even though the foundation was really great, the wood siding was starting to rot and would have to be dealt with. There was also some water damage on the roof and side wall of the garage that our realtor thinks was from a neighbors tree that has branches extending over the garage roof.

Our agent is going to investigate this house a little further for us. It's a short sale and priced above our range so in order to move forward with it we would need the bank to approve a lower offer. This might be feasible as it's been on the market for almost a year and has dropped in price almost $70k since it was first listed. If the bank were to approve our offer we would then have to get bids done for the work that needs to be addressed within the 40 days at closing and apply for a rehab loan.

We're going to keep an eye on this house. It's in a neighborhood that we know will give us a good return on our money in the future and had lots of space to grow into. After a nice kitchen remodel and some cosmetic work it would be very cute.

House #6

This house was another house our agent sent to us the night before we went to look. We decided to look at it even though it was not in a neighborhood we ideally want to be in because it was well within our price range and had easy free way access.

The outside of the house was beautiful and the inside had all of the original molding around the windows. The paint job was dark throughout but something we could fix easily.

The carpet was pulled up in most of the rooms to show the hardwoods underneath. I'm guessing they figured no one would keep the carpeting as it smelled like pets pretty bad.

Super cute kitchen with nice cabinets. No appliances, though! It was listed below our price range so we could have got a stove and fridge easily.

Off the kitchen was a sun room and utility room which led to the backyard and garage. The garage was in great shape as was the backyard. This is a picture from the listing so the pool was gone when we looked at it. We didn't take pictures of the upstairs but I was a little freaked out that the top floor was not totally level. Tracey and our agent assured me it wasn't dangerous. The house was built in 1886 so it was just 'settling'. Tracey was really starting to like this house and we went outside to look around some more.

Our agent started poking around the side and saw something fishy going on with the foundation. She was able to find a section that just had a piece of wood up and we discovered why it was priced so well-- no foundation! Well, there was a foundation but it was just poles and you could see where some of the wood was already being attacked by termites. This was basically a 30k fix and, even if we felt like fixing it, would have brought the value up way too high for the neighborhood (Montavilla, for those who care).

So, that was our first round of houses. One possibility, one that we can go back and look at another day. Our agent is leaving to take her kid to volleyball camp tomorrow and won't be back til Sunday so no more house hunting 'til next week!

- Misha & Tracey


  1. UGH! that last one! You totally had me pulled in! Below price range, lookin good, nice patio, ... and then the kick in the face.


  2. i remember houses #5 and #6 from our search! they were ones we saw toward the end and never ended up getting out to see before we found our house. #5 looks nicer inside than i expected from the outside!