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April 2017

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the rear view
Originally uploaded by tollers
This is the house from the back, and this is the view that sold me on the place. The screened porch is enormous and opens into the walk-out basement. The 18x24 den has a fireplace, and the downstairs 11x18 bedroom has a small half-bath (tucked under the stairs).

Upstairs are two bedrooms and two full baths, plus living room, dining room, kitchen and laundry. There's a two-car garage, if they're small cars or you never want to be able to actually open the doors a useful amount. More reasonably, it's a one-car garage with a lot of storage space. :-)

1400 square feet upstairs, plus another 819 downstairs (plus the porch and the garage), on 2.19 acres of rolling land with trees and a creek. If all goes to plan, closing on my current house will be June 16ish, with closing on this one either the same day or the next day. The current owner gets seven days to move out, and after that I'll have about three weeks to get moved before I have to be out of the current house. Somewhere in there, I want to pull down all the wallpaper and borders and repaint the walls, preferably before all my stuff is moved in and in the way.

It's going to be a very interesting summer!
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Apparently all the other folks on my f-list having successful house-hunts finally rubbed off... the owner of the Frankton house countered today and I accepted the counter, so I have a contract! W00t!!

Pictures and details coming soon... right now I have to finish up at the office and get out of here!
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Made an offer yesterday on the house in Frankton.

Haven't heard anything yet.

So... bad... at... waiting! *argh!*
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The counter-counter-counteroffer cycle continued with a quick response from Seller's Agent yesterday morning. They came down less than another 1% and wanted a response by 8 p.m. yesterday.

Hmmm... I started my offer cycle $10k above where I wanted to start, which left us w/ a $15k gap. They've come down a total of $5k, and the house needs a roof, HVAC and all appliances within the next year or two.

No, those numbers just really aren't working for me.

Called Hariette and told her to call the agent for the Frankton house and tell her I'd be up for the open house (this afternoon!) and that we'd have an offer to her on Monday, then to call the Highland Springs agent and tell him that my previous offer was the final one. If they wanted to take it and be done, that'd be ducky, but otherwise I was done.

Now I'm going grab some lunch and stop at my office to get some things done so that I can have time to go deal with offer paperwork tomorrow during the day, then I'm off to see the house again at the 3 p.m. open house. That should let me get answers to things like "just exactly where are the property lines?" (it's a really odd-shaped piece of property) and also to get some pictures of the interior, now that I've recharged the batteries for the camera.
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I'll probably do a full pros-and-cons list for these two houses in the next day or so, but I thought I'd jot down the initial impressions here...

Yesterday after work, I went and looked at a house about three miles from where I currently live. Wonderful neighborhood, close to friends, big tree-filled lots. The house is on a 5-acre spring-fed pond and the lot is just stunning. The house is a brick-and-cedar ranch built in '77, 1580 square feet, single-story. It has a gorgeous deck with nice wide steps and a landing leading down to the yard, and there's a matching dock sitting in the edge of the pond (there's even power at the dock, and lights). Downside is that the interior needs updating... primarily, a small "bonus room" off the kitchen needs to be converted into a laundry ('cause the washer and dryer are currently down about eight steps in the garage, which just doesn't work for me), and both bathrooms need to be completely gutted and redone. Also, there's no feasible way to fence the backyard for the dogs. It's towards the top of my price range, so there wouldn't be much money for updates after the purchase was done.

Today at lunch, I went and looked at another house. The neighborhood's nothing special... standard suburban block-long street with a cul-de-sac at the end. The house is 1965 square feet, built in 1991 and pretty much in move-in condition. Over time, I'd want to replace carpeting with hardwood, but what's there is certainly livable. .83 acre lot at the end of the cul-de-sac, and the house sits close to the street, so the bulk of the land is in the huge fenced backyard. Large screened porch plus a two-tier deck. The house exterior doesn't have much personality (and for some reason the master bedroom is the only one with no windows overlooking the gorgeous backyard), but the backyard says "Come hang out and play with the dogs!" The primary fencing (front sections and sides between neighboring yards) is 5-ft black chain link and seems well-installed. The back fence is along the boundary of the woods and is mostly pasture-fencing and not terribly sturdy. However, it's in the edges of the tree/scrub line and I honestly don't think my dogs would have any immediate reason to challenge it (since they won't be left outside without supervision anyway) so it would be okay for now. Eventually, I'd probably want to come just inside that treeline and finish off the chain link just to be sure it was secure. House is listing for $15k less than the one on the lake. Oh... two-story, w/ all bedrooms upstairs (which is a negative since I'm hoping this is the house that I'll retire in... master downstairs would be preferable).

I should be seeing a couple more houses tomorrow, but both of those are back out in the country, so a different set of criteria applies.

These two houses are both in established neighborhoods (so no room for the kind of development that's made my current neighborhood such a mess), both easy driving distance to work (less than nine miles in both cases, on streets w/ not horrible traffic), both close to friends and my vet.

Decisions decisions...
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So, I met w/ my real estate agent this morning and we did all the paperwork to make the offer on the river house. I spent a couple of hours up there last night looking around again, to make sure it was still the right house. Then, before I was even home from doing the paperwork this morning, my agent calls... the listing agent, who's been a complete pain in the ass to deal with through all of this, but who had been asked repeatedly to let my agent know if there was any activity on the house, just told her (when she faxed over my offer) that they accepted an offer on the house yesterday.

This guy has blocked us at every opportunity. I would have made an offer earlier, but he said the bank "wouldn't accept it with the closing date that far out". I also could have made the offer yesterday morning first thing (including a copy of the Intent to Close letter from the developer buying my current house), if he'd bothered to either tell Hariette that he had an offer in play or if he'd updated the MLS listing, which still shows the house in Active status.

But no. He continued to be a lazy ass who didn't do his job, didn't return phone calls, didn't follow through, and now because of him, I've lost my shot at that house. By one lousy day. And the bank lost money, because I thought the house was a good deal before they dropped the listing price by $20k, so I would have happily countered back up above list if I'd known I needed to be in a bidding war. Common courtesy... apparently not so common any more.

So now the clock is ticking towards when I have to be out of this house, and I'm starting the search over from scratch.

*sigh*
Apparently, I'm just not supposed to look for a new house.

Ever.

Because both times I've found a house to buy, the deal to sell the existing house has either fallen through (the deal two years ago) or gotten delayed (the current deal).

In this case, the developer just "bought" a 90-day extension to the discovery period, which means that instead of getting a letter this month with a closing date in 60 days, I could get the letter any time in the next three months.

*sigh*

I'm guessing the bank that owns the river house isn't going to want to sit on it for another three to five months while the developer gets off their collective asses.

This has not made me happy...

More details later, if anybody's interested. For now, I'm going to go sulk.
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I went back up to the house on the river yesterday and spent a couple of hours there by myself, taking pictures and measurements and looking at some of the tile and hardwood samples that I picked up from my friend Tony who's in the flooring business.

I like it. I like it a lot.

I met a couple of the neighbors, got a rough idea of where the property lines are (it really does include the big piece out to the side that extends out to the bluff over the river), and just generally spent some time thinking about whether this is a house I could enjoy living in.

I think it is.

Sally's on her way up to my house now and she's going to ride out there with me as a second set of eyes. If we still don't spot anything dreadful, I think it may be time to start thinking about making an offer (obviously with an inspection period in which I can back out if the inspector turns up something unacceptable).

Whee!
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Email conversation with my Dad, referencing the house that I looked at this week where the owners are apparently willing to sell the resident pony along with the house and barn...

You want to be thorough about this, so ask your real estate agent if you can get an up to date appraisal on the pony.


How does one find an appraiser for a pony? :-)

more houses...

Jan. 2nd, 2008 09:52 pm
tollermom: (Default)
Yesterday, as the snow blew in (and occasionally made the road disappear) and the temperatures dropped, Hariette and I made the rounds to look at four more houses.

The first one was a small farmhouse with almost 10 acres. The house was cute from the outside, way outdated inside, rooms were much too small, and the land was boring. If the land had been interesting, it might have been worth living in the little house while building elsewhere on the property, but it was just flat and boring. Away it went.

The next one was in Pendleton and came off the list pretty quickly too. The layout was weird, which would have led to a lot of unused/wasted space, and the house was just creepy feeling. Strangest thing... couldn't really put my finger on what made it feel so strange, but Hariette felt it too.

Next up was a house with a pony. Honestly. The listing says they'll let the pony go with the house. Who does that kind of thing???? Anyway, nice house, and nice acreage, but the house layout is a little formal for my taste, it would need a good bit of updating of walls and kitchen, and nothing about it made me go "Ooh! This is the one!" It's still tentatively on the list. $5k under the "baseline" house in Westfield in my previous post, 25.7 miles/35 minutes from work, 2668 square feet, 2.33 acres.

The last one was our surprise entry for the day. I had spotted the listing and pointed it out to Hariette, and we went to see it solely on the strength of the location (two acres on a bluff overlooking the White River). It's corporate owned and being sold as-is (we're guessing, in the absence of actual facts, that it's probably a probate sale... it doesn't have the abused look that foreclosed houses usually get). Built in 1963, and with minimal updating since then, but it's a cool layout for your basic 60s ranch, the view is stunning, and the house is structurally (and mechanically, from what we could tell) in great shape. It needs all the walls painted and pretty much all the flooring replaced, but it's listed almost $40k under the rest of the houses currently under consideration, and I could get a lot of updating done for that $40k. So it's on the list too, and Hariette has a list of questions to try to get answered (especially finding out exactly where the property lines are, 'cause there's probably less than half an acre inside the backyard fence, so where's the rest? If it's off to the side, that would rock, 'cause that would take it out to the best river view. If it's out the back, then there's an acre in the gully, and that's not terribly useful.). $40k under baseline, 25.6 miles/36 minutes from work, 2000 square feet, 2 acres.

Scorecard... seven houses seen in person, three ruled out (along with two ruled out on drive-bys without needing to see the inside), so four houses still on the list, with the Frankton house with the pool and the fixer-upper on the river being the leading candidates at the moment. There are four more on our "schedule a time to go see these" list, but I expect that only one of them will end up staying on the list, so the pool is narrowing.
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As we get closer to the point when I should be getting a letter with a closing date from the developers who are buying my neighborhood, I'm once again seriously looking at houses. I posted recently about my search for a buyer's agent, and today was my first trip out to look at houses with Hariette. We had a great time riding around... she's lots of fun (she's the wife of a coworker, and we'd met before but it was several years ago) and she's gotten a really good feel for the kind of thing I'm looking for, so today we were going to look at the current top four contenders (this got cut back to three when we ran out of time).

The four-hour, three-house tour... )

Tomorrow we're going out again... I think we've got two houses in Sheridan, one in Anderson and one in Pendleton on the list, as well as driving past a couple of others. (We knocked a couple off the list during drive-bys today... both were on highway 37 north of Noblesville, which is just too busy for my taste.) The one in Pendleton looks especially promising, and we may also go take a look at the really cool old farmhouse that I've been eyeing in Lapel. It's probably going to require more work/money than I have to throw at it, but I want to see the inside before I take it off the list completely.

Wheeeee... houses! It's fun to look, but I'm still hoping for a house that just jumps out and says "Me me me me! I'm the one!" Nothing in the current crop has had quite that effect, but there's still time.

(Oh, and just to point out... there's something really weird about looking at houses that are still occupied. Opening closets and cabinets always feels nosy and vaguely voyeuristic.)

Edited to note: Reading back through this, I realize that the "farthest" house is really eight miles closer to the office than the one in Frankton. Looking at the map, I can see that this is true, but since the trip in from Frankton comes through a series of decent-sized towns and the one in from Arcadia comes through miles of mostly farmland, it still feels farther away (and is also in a much more rural, and therefore less-frequently-snow-plowed, area). Weird.
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Yay!

I have a real estate agent now! One who knows the area that I'm interested in, whose office is only a couple of miles from mine, and who (most importantly) doesn't mind doing most of the back-and-forth business through email.

This make me a happy camper.

The fact that she's the wife of a friend and coworker make me even happier. Good think I was talking about my agent search at the departmental WinterThing party, 'cause I had no idea Mike's wife was a real estate agent.

I'm sifting through the first batch of listings from her. Definitely some worth-going-to-see houses. Now if it would just be less rainy/freezy for long enough for me to go take a look at some of them!
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Is it just me (or this area), or is it really hard to find a real estate agent who'll respond to email on anything remotely resembling a timely schedule?

I'm looking for a buyer's agent, because I know that somebody who knows the area well can save me time and hassle and do some "pre-screening" for me so I don't keep going to see houses that turn out to be completely wrong. I have a strong preference for doing all my question-and-answering via email. Realtors seem to prefer phones. I understand that, to an extent, since they spend so much time in their cars, but surely they're in the office at some point??

The agent that I worked with on the house up in Alexandria is a great guy, but he's got a Hotmail account which is frequently full. When it will even accept mail, it still sometimes takes him weeks to answer (usually triggered by a phone call from me going, "Hey, Don, check your email, please!").

As a recent example, there's a house that I'm interested in near Lapel, so I sent some questions to the listing agent, using the email address prominently displayed on his web site. After two days without a response, I called and left voicemail mentioning that I'd sent email. That got me a fast (but incomplete) response, but my reply to that email has now gone unanswered for almost three days. *sigh*

Last night, I dug back and found an email from an agent who had contacted me when I signed up for an automated search on his web site. My hope was that since he'd bothered to email me once, to see if I was able to find what I needed using their search tools, then he might be more technically savvy and either be interested in helping with my search or be willing to recommend someone else in his agency who could work with me. Haven't heard from him yet, but it's still morning and I sent the email late last night, so I'm holding out hope that I might still hear from him today.

In this day and age, it doesn't seem like it should be this hard to find an email-savvy real estate agent... am I missing something obvious here? Is there some kind of logical reason why real estate agents seem to be email-averse?
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So... I posted here about the development deal that was supposed to be buying up my whole neighborhood, and the house I was going to buy in Alexandria, IN. I'd put down $2K in earnest money and the sellers patiently waited for the four months it was going to take for the development deal to come through.

Then the developer bailed on us. *sigh*

The seller proposed a deal where I could continue to have an option to buy the house, but the deal included things like me paying the taxes but them putting the house back on the market. Ummm... no? *blink*

So that deal's gone. They'll put the house back on the market, they'll get my $2K in earnest money, and if the house is even still on the market when I finally manage to sell this one, then we start the negotiation process all over again.

In the meantime, we've found out that the guy who was supposedly "representing" the neighborhood to the developers was in fact insisting on almost three times as much for each of his two properties as any of us were getting for ours (and he's farther from the "money corner" so his should be worth less, not more). Gee, d'ya think that's why the developer decided the whole deal was too expensive?

So we have two new developers interested, and one has set an open meeting with all of us for July 18th. He's talking a year or slightly more in timeframe, from what I hear through the grapevine.

I'm thinking maybe I should start looking for land and drawing up house plans, instead of trying to find the perfect house again.

So... short story... I'm not moving yet.
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Hmmm... I went back to find a previous post about the house I've been looking at buying, and apparently I never posted about it.

How odd.

Well, I guess I'll remedy that now!

A little over nine months ago, a developer approached my neighborhood. We're the only non-commercial corner now at a busy intersection, having had the other three corners developed for retail (strip centers, banks, gas station and the Kroger From Hell), and he was interested in buying us all out, flattening the houses and doing more commercial development. Since all of us moved out here for the peace and quiet and have seen the area turned into a five-lane road with major traffic and way too many stores and lights, we were all game for this idea. We haggled, we all sorted out our respective contracts, and we had a deal. Or at least we thought we did.

Armed with the contracted sale price of my house, I started looking for a new place. I wanted to be out in the country... a bigger place... room for the dogs to run... maybe a pond. It took five months (the proposed closing date for the sale of my house was 270 days after the contracts were signed, so I had time to look), but I found it. 11 acres of rolling wooded hills, with a 1.5-acre pond and a two story house with an immense basement garage. I fell in love. I haggled a bit w/ the sellers and we settled on terms that made both of us happy. I was fairly generous in my offer and the amount of earnest money I put up, because I knew I was asking them to hold it for me for four months.

Four months which expired today.

In February, we all got letters from the developer, telling us things were going well and we were on track for closings as the contracts reached their expiration dates (which for me would have been mid-May).

In April, the four families with the biggest lots got phone calls... their contracts were being cancelled. "But the deal's not off and we're not cancelling the later contracts... we just need to work some more things out. We'll renegotiate your contracts when we firm up the deal."

Yeah. Right. The developer met w/ those families, told them all of this in person, and then two days later the rest of us got letters cancelling our contracts. So obviously he lied when he said they weren't cancelling the rest of the contracts, 'cause the letters were already in the mail when he had that meeting. Bastard. (I'll tolerate a lot in the name of "business"... just don't lie to me.)

A couple of other developers expressed interest, so I updated my real estate agent. I didn't want to cancel my contract for the new house until absolutely necessary, but I wanted him to know what was happening (and I also wanted to pick his brain to see if he knew other developers who might be interested). As of late last week, we have three developers "interested" (including one referred by my real estate guy, who rocks), but nothing even close to finalized yet.

And now my contract has expired on the house in Alexandria. Argh.

But there's a bright side! My agent (I mentioned he rocks, right? If anybody needs a real estate agent in the Anderson/Muncie/Alexandria area north of Indy, let me know!) called today and said the sellers have a proposal. If I'll pick up the utility payments on the house, they'll keep the deal open for awhile longer. So I told him to see if he could get a feel for how long they'd consider doing this, since it could be another six months before I'm ready, but I'm provisionally excited! I really really didn't want to lose my shot at this house, so I'm hoping this can buy me enough time to work out a sale of the current house.

So wish me luck! There will be musical house parties if I can get it. The greatroom is immense... easily room to set up a band in one end and a bunch of chairs in the other, and the front porch is perfect for hanging out with friends and guitars.
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