So pretty much as soon as we started thinking our first try at home buying was going to fall through (thanks to major water damage and mold), my husband and I started looking at other places. We drove past at least 15 different houses checking out neighborhoods and discovering that not all pictures on real estate websites are accurate when it comes to houses. It’s amazing what taking a photo at a certain angle can do for a house. Busy streets disappear, yards look bigger… We were able to eliminate many of the houses we were interested in and narrowed it down to two in particular.
Being just a little bit on the anal side (I prefer “detail oriented”) I created a spreadsheet to compare the properties on everything from price to included appliances. We drove by both neighborhoods and liked the areas. In the spirit of HGTV’s House Hunters here are the two houses we were most interested in:
House #1 for $219,000
4 bedroom, 3 bath split level on 9,124 sq ft lot in a nice culdesac neighborhood. HOA gives access to a nice community pool. The house has 2420 sq feet of living space with a formal dining and living room, family room, game room and a brand new kitchen. Master bedroom has attached bathroom with soaking tub and separate shower. There is no garage, just a paved driveway. The home was built in 1994 and appears to be in good condition.
House #2 for 239,900
5 bedroom, 3 bath split level on quiet 1.3 acre corner lot. No HOA. The house has 2408 sq feet of living space including a large family room with wood burning fireplace and formal dining and living room. The house was built in 1967 and has very “kitschy” dated bathrooms (one all pink, one all blue and one all green) and a somewhat dated but large kitchen. Wood floors in excellent condition all through the house and a new furnace and hot water heater. Attached 1+ garage with separate entrance and a circular driveway.
So, did we decided to make an offer? Which house did we go with? The more affordable split level with newer kitchen and pool access? Or the more expensive, dated house on the large lot? We went with…
House number two! We are making an offer today on the house. While we liked the idea of pool access and a new kitchen, there were ultimately two factors that helped us with our decision. First was lot size. We have 3 very active kids with one more on the way and House #2′s large lot is perfect for tiring them out The second factor had to do with House #1. When we were arranging with our real estate agent to see the houses, we found out House #1 was a short sale property. That pretty much took it off our list all together.
Here’s another instance where knowledge gave us power in our decision making process. When we first started looking at houses, I googled all kinds of thing to get more information. I learned about foreclosures and auctions and short sales. Basically a short sale is when the bank and the home owner agree to sell the house for less than what is due on the mortgage. Basically it’s a pre-forclosure move. Unfortunately, nothing is short about the time frame when buying a short sale property. It’s not just the seller who has to accept your offer on a short sale, it’s the lender too, and just because one says yes doesn’t mean the other will. Short sales can take up to 6 months to close and without an agent who has experience with short sales, it’s often difficult to close at all.
So basically, although the house was cool, we didn’t want to deal with all the problems and uncertainties that come along with a short sale. We really like the second house and although it’s a bit dated, it has major potential. Hopefully the sellers will accept our offer and this time we can make it all the way to closing!
Want more information on short sales? Check out this article from REALTOR Magazine Online.