Not Actively Looking

We’re still house hunting…  In the course of our house hunt, we offered on a number of houses.  We’ve lost out on each one.  One of the houses is back on the market only a few months after it was initially purchased.

They bought it at $380,000 cash.  Public records showed that purchase price and I knew the winning bidder was an all cash offer.

They painted the cabinets in the kitchen and put in granite counter tops.

They refinished the hardwood floors and painted the rest of the rooms.

They listed it for sale again a few days ago at $425,000.

 

That’s the way the housing market is going in California.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the market crashes again.

In the mean time, we’re still looking and have offered on a few.  We’re being priced out of the market.  So, the new plan is to keep our pre-approval current, but stop “actively” looking unless something good really pops up.  By “actively looking” we mean looking at multiple houses every week, even ones in not so good neighborhoods.

House hunting, dead cars, and quilting

Well, we’re still house hunting. We’ve made offers on 5 houses now and each one has fallen through. It’s a bit disappointing and discouraging because in every case the sellers have gone with offers that are made by investors. People who have no intention of living in these houses or contributing to these neighborhoods. Instead, they plan to rent the houses out at the very least, or maybe even flip them.

I really do worry about what that does to the community and neighborhood that these sellers are leaving behind. I mean, yeah, the seller gets an all-cash offer without having to pass through contingencies, but at what cost to others?

The thing is that we’re offering over the asking prices with 20% down on a pre-approved loan. We just can’t compete against someone offering all cash and waiving all contingencies. In one case the seller wanted to see at least 50% of the purchase price in cash in the bank. Seriously! I wanted to be snippy and say that if I had that much money in the bank, I sure as hell wouldn’t be buying in that community! But I didn’t. Instead we responded that the offer is as stands.

One of my coworkers said that a house went up for sale down the street from her. The sellers were asking $490,000. They had 15 offers, one of which was $530,000 cash with no contingencies and another was $540,000 financed while waiving the appraisal contingency. My coworker said that the house was a dump and should never have sold for that price… but it did.

And now house prices are going up again. Interest rates are still super low and the inventory is low as well. Those two things combined mean that demand is high so prices are high. It also means that things are selling super quickly – I’ve heard that the average time on the market for houses in our area is 7 days. Can you believe it? A week and your house is sold.

Add into that, now, that my car died. Yes, my beloved Saturn SL2 that I bought with money left from my Dad’s death finally croaked. I donated it to the Polly Klaas Foundation, so at least it went to a good cause. But now we’re a one car household. It’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds. A new car is not an expense that I really wanted quite yet.

Oh well… This is kind of a Debbie Downer of a post, but it’s what’s going on right now.

I did finish a couple of quilts.

This Black & White one I made for my friend/coworker J. It took a long time to piece and quilt – about 20 hours total. The back is Minky, which is kind of a pain to work with, but it all worked out.

The Front of J's Quilt just after I finished

The Front of J’s Quilt just after I finished

 

The border and closeup of the squares

The border and closeup of the squares

 

J's Quilt on her Sofa

J’s Quilt on her Sofa

 

I also finished this wall quilt with an Asian flair.  I got all of the fabrics and the pattern on clearance when my favorite quilt store closed.  It didn’t take too long to piece and quilt, maybe 6 or 7 hours total.  The most finicky part was making sure I had the center cut and pieced properly.  The most annoying and time consuming part was hand stitching the rod pocket on the back.  Have I mentioned how much I hate hand stitching?  This will be hung in my office at work – the colors actually go really well!  I call it “Peacocks and Peonies.”

Front

Front

Back

Back

Detail

Detail

Diagonal

Diagonal

 

So that’s it for now…

Important Conversations Happen at Disneyland

It’s funny how all of our important conversations happen at Disneyland.  It’s where DH (finally!) asked me to marry him.  And this trip, it’s where we seriously discussed buying a house this year vs. waiting a few years.  I couldn’t figure out how to tell him why buying sooner rather than later is so important to me.  And then I realized, that for me buying a house isn’t necessarily about owning it and knowing that nobody can raise the rent on us in our old age.  It’s really about being able to fix the things that are bothering me about our current situation.  Things that he doesn’t have to deal with unless I’m physically incapable of taking care of it myself.

It’s not about the marijuana smell making its way through our walls from the side we share with the New Yorkers.  It’s not about the Chinese karaoke blaring through the side we share (right this second) with the Chinese family.  Those are both annoying things, but I can deal with them.

It’s about not being able to do the laundry whenever I want.  Most of the time the washer and dryer are being used by one of the other three families in our complex.  And we’re not allowed to do laundry after 10pm.  I often feel like the only way I can do laundry at home is if I take a day off midweek… and hope nobody else has done the same.

It’s about having a stove that doesn’t lean heavily to the right.  That causes some interesting problems when it comes to evenly cooking food.

It’s about having an oven that doesn’t randomly decide whether to cook 50 degrees hotter than the dial says so that I have to guess (and hope and pray) that dinner (or cookies) isn’t burned.

It’s about having a refrigerator with all of the shelves in the door, and a freezer that doesn’t randomly stop freezing.  When the freezer gets warm it makes this really loud pop/bang sound.  We call it the freezer troll.  The Freezer Troll says hi a lot.

It’s about having more than one plug in the kitchen and a counter that’s big enough to hold a cutting board.  Oh, and a dishwasher, and a pantry!

It’s about having space for a dining room table AND the people sitting around it AND the people who need to walk by to get into the kitchen.

It’s about having a heater that works properly so that I’m not shivering from September to May every year because I’m too scared to turn it on.

It’s about taking a shower without having to fear that a neighbor will also want one at the same time (we all share the same hot water heater), or that a neighbor will decide to run the washing machine, or that the sprinklers will turn on.  It’s about having enough water pressure in the shower to rinse the shampoo out of my hair quickly.

If it were any one (or even two) of those things listed above, I could probably deal with it for a couple more years.  I take that back… the kitchen, laundry, and heater stuff bother me every day.  But the rest of the stuff is not such a big deal to me.  We’re really lucky because we’re in a rent controlled 4-plex.  I thought about moving into another place for a couple years so that we could continue to save.  Unfortunately, that would mean paying a lot more in rent.

Those are the things we discussed in Disneyland while waiting for DH’s coffee to arrive.  So, on Saturday I got the OK to start figuring out what it is that we need to do to buy a house.  I have to gather all of the things we’ll need to apply for a mortgage.  And then we’ll go from there.  Why do I feel so nervous all of a sudden?

I found a house

One of my new year’s resolutions is to buy a house.  I really, really want to have a place to call my own.  Someplace where the neighbors’ marijuana smoke doesn’t waft into my living room.  Someplace where I don’t hear gunshots with regularity.  Someplace where I can do laundry whenever I want.  Someplace where I can have a heater that works and appliances in my kitchen that are good, and….  you get the idea.

We almost have enough saved for a down payment.  If we’re really conservative we can buy a very small house by June.  So of course I’ve started dreaming and looking at houses for sale.  And of course I found one… and quickly found that it’s not the right house (whew!).

OK – it sounded awesome on the surface: 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, farmhouse style, 1.75 acres with a creek running through, hillside views, country living close to civilization.  All for $219K in the SF bay area.  My jaw dropped.  I mean, seriously?  So I looked closer because the 4 pictures I saw showed some work needed, and I found a video and 5 more photos.

You have to cross a bridge to get to the house.  The bridge was washed out in 2010 (I think).  The guy who owns the house rebuilt the bridge but without permits.  So first strike: need to get the bridge certified.

The house is water damaged.  There’s no sheet rock, real flooring or kitchen.  The foundation “needs work”.  And the roof is currently a ginormous tarp. I don’t know what it costs to fix a foundation, but I do know that my Mom’s kitchen was redone a few years ago for $30K, the bathrooms were $15k, the floors were $10k, and the roof for her single story home was $20k (this place is 2-story)…  it was all high-end stuff to be sure and this was just before the markets crashed, but it gave me an idea of how much money would need to be sunk into this house to make it livable.

No wonder the house is going for so cheap!!  To give you an idea, there’s another house with the same acreage and same square footage going for $670K just down the street from this one.

Oh well…  if I was a contractor or if I had the $150k+ to get all this work done I’d be all over it.  But I’m not and I don’t so I can’t.  Oh well.  That just means that there’s a better place for us, right?  Right.

Damn.

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