Friday, January 11, 2013

House Hunting Blues

I haven't really mentioned it here yet, but we have been looking around for a house to buy. We originally started talking about it when we moved into our current place a little over a year ago. We figured with the difference in rent, we could put that money back into savings towards a down payment. In the meantime, any extra money we have is also funneled into savings. We figured by the end of our lease, we'd have a fairly decent chunk of money to work with.

Then we started having issues with our landlord so we decided that if we could find the right house at the right price, we would go ahead and buy now rather than waiting out the lease. We can break the lease without penalty as long as we give enough notice so that's not an issue. However, it does mean we have less money to work with.

Unfortunately, having less money to work with means our options are pretty limited. The right price for us means settling for houses like this tiny one

or this one in a bad neighborhood

or this one that's falling apart

None of which we really want. Then I noticed that a house I had previously fell in love with when we were looking at a higher price range had been reduced. The reduction brought it down to our new price range.

It was an older house, but had nearly everything on our wish list. The catch was it was listed as a renovation project. However, since Steve works in construction, that wasn't a major sticking point for us as long as the renovations needed weren't too much. I had did a little research and found out that there is a type of loan that rolls the house purchase and money for renovation into a single loan so we were even willing to go that route if it needed a little more than we felt comfortable tackling ourselves.

Over the weekend, we went to check out the house. We went without the realtor so we could only look at it from the outside and peek in the windows, but from what we could see, we liked it. We did notice a few things that would need to be fixed, but they weren't anything too major so Steve told me to call the realtor and see about getting a real tour.

I was a little hesitant. After all, this was my dream house and I was afraid that the realtor would mention something that would make it impossible for us to get the house. The fact that the house had been on the market for a while added to my fears. So I kept putting off calling until Steve told me to call or else.

Unfortunately, I was right. The realtor told me that the house needed major renovations, renovations that we wouldn't be comfortable handling ourselves. She estimated that would probably cost 2-4 times what we would pay for the house just for the renovations. I was actually kind of surprised at how much she said it needed because it really doesn't look like it from the outside. The final nail in the coffin was her announcement that since the house did need so much work, it was considered distressed, therefore it was impossible to get a loan on it.

Needless to say, I was crushed. Now it's back to the drawing board.


  1. How disappointing! But, it's good that you didn't end up buying it and then found out how much work it really needed. I hope you'll find the perfect home soon!

    1. That is true Grace. I looked some more this evening and found another possible house. It didn't grab me quite like the other house, but it does have mot of things on our wish list. We're going to try to go look at it next week.

  2. You know Dana, by the time we first bought our house, which I affectionately call our shoe box, we had already bid on two other houses. One in particular I loved, it had a huge livingroom with a fire place, and the kitchen over looked a high fenced backyard. We ended up with our shoe box, which I still liked, but needed work to make it our own. About 8 years ago we had an great opportunity to buy another house with a huge piece of property, but I couldn't leave my shoe box. My neighbours are out of this world. They are my extended family.

    My point is sometimes, life has a different plan for you than you think you need/want. When the time and place is right, it will happen, and the other house will just be a memory.

    Good Luck Willie

    1. Thanks Willie. I think part of the reason it bothers me so much is that this was my dream house and it was at a price we could afford (or at least I thought we could before I found out we'd have to pay cash). We've both moved quite a bit in our lives (before and after we met) so we're not just looking for a house, we're looking for a place we can set down roots.

      But we're not giving up. We're still looking and I'm sure the right place will come along.

  3. It's disappointing, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I'll pray that the absolute perfect house makes itself known to you :)

    1. Thanks June. I'm also a firm believer in everything happening for a reason so I'm trying to keep that in mind. We're also praying for God to lead us to the house we're intended to be in.

  4. Awe Dana, I'm sorry for your disappointment, I know that feeling, but it is a good thing you found out all the issues with the house before going ahead and buying it.

    Your perfect home is there waiting for you and I'm sure you find it soon :)


    1. Thanks Roz. I am grateful the realtor was up front with us about the problems, including the fact you can't get a loan on it. We're still looking but so far no other house has grabbed me quite like that one, but I have faith the right one will come along.

  5. I like that first little wooden house you pictured here - as long as it's in a tornado free area. There's even a rainbow in the picture. That kind of house always attracts me.

    In this country families of ten children are raised in houses no bigger than that.

    1. That house is cute, Malcolm, but we want something with more space. One of the things on my wish list is a big kitchen because I love to cook and it's hard to get that with a small house.

  6. Hi Dana,
    I am living in the home that my husband brought me to as his new bride, on our wedding night. It was in such bad shape that no one would have moved into it. The problem was at the time of our marriage, there were no houses to be had in the area - none.
    It was build or accept the only wreck in the countryside. I know exactly what your realtor would say about our home at the time....distressed indeed.
    This house was in such bad shape it came with the land - it was essentially free. LOL
    Long story short - 28 years later, I love my home. The basement (build of fieldstone) did crumble and we had to move the house off of it on to a newly dug wood basement (cost about $10,000 at the time) and we have had to redo the flooring, most of the walls had to be gyprocked, we had to insulate, we had to turn a bedroom into a bath (the only one we have, but it is really big) because this house was built before indoor plumbing, new windows and new siding of course. In the end we spent less on all our renovations than a new house would have cost, and we have the charm of this old girl, with its crazy nooks and crannies. We have raised three kids in it, and they have fond memories of the rambling old place.
    I guess the moral to my story is, especially with a handyman for a hubby, if you are willing to live in the mess, don't be afraid of renovations. We did them as we could afford them, and the kids just got used to having carpenters at the supper table.
    One year, they made a castle out of discarded chunks of gyprock that was too heavy to move, but was amazing. They painted it and flew flags from it's turrets. LOL

    Good luck my friend,

    1. Thanks Lillie. We don't mind putting some work into a house. In fact, I was actually looking forward to it with this one. The house is 100 years old and I had already started researching the house and that period so we could restore it to its former glory. We might have even went ahead with buying it knowing all the renovations it needed if not for the fact we can't get a loan on it. We don't have the cash to buy it so not being able to get a loan on it pretty much killed the deal.


We love to hear what you think, but please be polite.