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Househunting and Old House Update

September 25th, 2012 at 03:31 pm

While looking at house listings last week, we ran across two rather surprising options. One is a 1900 farm house, 4 bd, 2.5 bath, 1827 square feet on almost half an acre. Although it is two stories, the master is on the main floor. It also has low porches so not a lot of stairs. And a great, big, wide farm kitchen with lots of light. It's $229,000. I think it's so low because it is near the freeway. The house has special insulation so that you can't hear freeway noise inside the house. Freeway noise outside the house doesn't really bother us because we lived off a highway for ten years and there are plenty of trees towards that side of the property to mute it.

Then there was a 1959 rambler, also on almost 1/2 an acre. It's not as many square feet, 1453, but has a bigger garage and several outbuildings. It is fully fenced. It has a great kitchen, but definitely looks like the era it comes from. It is in a more out of the way location, but not so far as too make anything difficult. The only thing is that there is a fair amount of traffic and the driveway is sharp. Fortunately it is also big enough to turn around in and come out face first instead of trying to back out. Because of the slope it sits on (part flat, part hill) it might be difficult to mow, but it has a ton of established fruit trees on the slope so the land is productive, and we could get a pro in to mow if it was too hard to maintain. It is $235,000. There is also a McMansion for sale next to it for $800,000. Way out of our price range, but it's a pretty view to look at.

We've done drive-bys and these are definitely on our list of ones to visit if they are still there in a couple of months or if they happen to have an open house.

It is nice to see that there are houses in the low end of our price range with actual land. I'd far rather have a mortgage of $200,000 than $350,000. For the most part that has meant looking at houses on 1/4 acre or less, but knowing there are older, less expensive houses with almost 1/2 an acre to be found is nice. And there is no rush. There will be plenty of time to really look once the house sells. If it sells.

Two other options we have looked at before are still available. One is in the perfect location and is really nice, if a tad bit on the small size. Still big garage and a shop for storage so I can work with a smaller house in those cases. It is really nice and has just dropped from $250,000 to $243,500. I would have to take down a couple of trees that aren't too big to make any sort of a garden and it is a smaller lot than I want, but again, perfect, perfect location. I'd be doing a lot of container gardening. But there'd be no chance of keeping chickens. Rabbits, yes, but not enough open space for chickens.

The other is the first house by the freeway, the one with the perfect gourmet kitchen and large back yard, garage and shop. This one we've been inside. Plenty of space and manicured flower beds I would turn into a vegetable garden. Again, freeway noise in the front yard, funeral home/crematorium, memorial park, and elementary school nearby, but you can't hear any of the noises from any of those things in the back yard or the house and I'd spend no time in the front yard as it's tiny. It's sitting at $300,000 now, was at $315,000 for a year. It's quite large, one floor, and handicapped accessible. I think we could get them to come down on price if we were serious about it since it has been on the market well over a year, coming up on 18 months. It's a little further from the perfect location house, but still pretty close, within walking distance to both my mother's house and Trader Joe's and the high school.

We are still a few weeks out from putting our house on the market. The outside painting of the house, front and back porches, and shed is complete. Two interior rooms have been painted and next weekend they hope to finish with that. They also need to put up the new gutters and drainpipes, replace the broken window pane and paint the play structure, as well as paint the new porch overhang on the shed roof and put new roofing on the shed roof since it is two different colors from a previous repair after a major windstorm a few years back. The house looks pretty nice now, though I don't like the exterior color much.

Originally I asked for a pale blue with gray trim, this is sort of a beigy-green with white-gray trim. But I did okay it. The painter gets to keep any leftover paint from previous jobs and he had a bunch of this from one, so we got the outside paint free and I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth. If I had to live in it, that would be another thing entirely and I would have paid to tint the paint a different shade.

Once all the painting is done we will have someone come in and give an estimate on carpet cleaning and whether or not it's worth it to bother or just put in new carpet. I think we can keep all the carpet in the bedrooms, but the carpet in the living room and great room will have to be replaced. We'll see. Then once the carpets are done it will be ready to be sold.

Everyone seems to be agreed on $110,000 as a starting price (except DH and I). We want to see what a realtor says. House is assessed for taxes at $91,000. I am thinking more along the lines of $90,000 as a starting place.. I know how long houses sit out there if they are overpriced. We paid $65,000 and honestly I'd be happy to just get $10,000 above that at this point. It would give us $40,000 for a downpayment, pay the realtor, and pay off the remaining mortgage, and give us a little extra in the bank for all those unexpected expenses that crop up when buying a new house.

3 Responses to “Househunting and Old House Update”

  1. MonkeyMama Says:

    I'd consider going for $99k if you think you could get $90k. But *definitely* don't price it over $100k, if you'd be happy to start at $90k. I've seen so many houses in our neighborhood sit forever at $220k while $199k = insane bidding war (final selling price $220k ). The psychology of that just strikes me as absurd!! But I think a lot of people shop with a $200k price limit, and then lose all logic when it comes to the bidding war. (They wouldn't even look at homes priced higher, but get talked into it once they get attached to a certain home). & I am sure $90k is also reasonable for the quick sell.

    Good Luck!!

  2. Blessed Says:

    I't doesn't hurt to get a few Realtor's opinions. They will give you a high and low range. We sold and bought not too long ago. We were assessed for taxes $47,900 under what our home sold for so the tax assessment doesn't mean much here. We lucked out and got 6 offers in the 1st 4 day and got the price the Realtor told us to start with. I'm glad we took his advice because no knowing any better we would have took the assessed price.

    Also when you buy use a buyers agent. I know you likely know this already but just in case I wanted to type it. We used one this time. Huge difference! With our 1st home we were encouraged to pay full asking by the agent. We were young and didn't know any better. With a buyers agent he pointed out any possible flaws and got us a price $15,900 under what we were willing to pay. He said the home was worth every bit of the asking price but to please trust him and he would get us a better deal.

    I am glad I did! He got us more for our home and saved us money on the new one so we could still go into a nicer home debt free.

  3. snafu Says:

    If the carpet is to be ripped out, I suggest you replace it with hardwood if you can get a 'sell-off' price or laminate that compliments the wood tone of the kitchen cupboards. I'm sure your realtor will confirm buyers are rejecting carpeted floors. The media has convinced them carpet retains dust, odor and can't be kept as clean as 'hard' flooring. If the cupboards are painted a neutral, mid tone is safest.

    You need to get your house on the market as soon as possible. How many houses have sold in your district in the last 4 months? Buyers want to use available HARP money and these low interest rates. Buyers drop out of the market when they start thinking about Christmas.

    Preparing your house for sale is really important so you need to put yourself in the buyer's mind-set. The potential buyer makes a decision about follow-up in about their 1st 5 minutes viewing the property. What features are most important to a buyer? What will get them to want your house? What will it take to start a bidding war? MM nailed it with the plan to ask $ 90,900. or $ 95,988.

    I believe the most important factor of all is choosing a very successful agent who with a big clientele. People often use the same agent repeatedly. Agents know who to call and how to generate interest. I always ask for a written marketing plan. Don't pick someone new or unfamiliar with the area or friend or relative or an agent that offers to reduce their commission.

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