Feb 1, 2012
So apparently house hunting doesn't go nearly as easily as they make it seem on HGTV. It's not where you look at a few houses and do a few hours of negotiation where the realtor runs back and forth while you nervously try to eat a meal and you seal the deal in what seems to be a few hours. No, that's not how it goes at all.
Here's how it really goes. First you spend 60000 credit card points and $1100 to fly 8 time zones away to try to find a house before you move so you don't have to live in a temporary apartment or hotel room with 2 young kids and 2 dogs for a month or two while you wait for closing. Then you spend 2-3 days looking at houses, being completely overwhelmed and having every single house you look at run together to the point where you can't differentiate one from the other later on when you're trying to discuss them all despite you haven't taken decent notes on most of them. Then you make an offer on a house that you love and tell them you'd love to have the deal sealed before you leave the country the next day. They don't even come anywhere close to meeting the timeline you requested and instead make a counter offer about 2 hours before you leave the state. And on top of that, they counter back with them dropping the price by $1000. On a $315K list price, they "negotiate" by dropping it $1k, cut the closing costs that they'll pay in half and move the closing date back over 2 weeks. They also say that basically they want to not discuss anything more until after the weekend, which is 3 days after we get back to Italy.
We are really frustrated with their counter. We thought our offer was reasonable based on the comps in the area and the market. Obviously we left a little negotiating room, but we thought it was a decent offer. It seems like they paid more for that house a year ago than most of the other houses that sold in that area a year ago, so I can see how they want to get more money from the house than what they paid, and what they're trying to do by pricing it at $315k is have them still make money after all the closing costs and other expenses are paid. We get that, but we're not going to set ourselves up for losing money when we want to sell it later on down the road because we overpaid for it and we don't want to pay more than the house is worth. The fact that they're being so unreasonable is really discouraging and makes us feel like they don't really want to sell the house, even though we know they're moving out of the state in early April. At this point I think it's smartest for us to play their game. We're going to wait until Monday to make a counter offer and we're going to lay our cards on the table and see where that gets us.
So we didn't have to wait until Monday. Early Saturday morning (Italy time) they rescinded their offer and said they were going to entertain other offers at this time. So we gave up on that house. I'm not exactly heart broken, because I still think it was too much house for us for our first house. I don't want to be house poor and while we could have made it work, we would have been sacrificing in other areas. We stressed for a while about our situation. I was ready to call off buying a house and wanted to consider renting for our time in Phoenix but Mark was pretty adamant about not renting. We started to look at other houses in the area that we hadn't seen and then started looking back at ones that we had seen. Since it was really important that we had the master and 3 bedrooms upstairs for us, we narrowed our houses down to the area that we liked and that had the layout we liked, which left us with 2. One was the first house we saw. I liked that house as far as the layout and how bright it was, but Mark was pretty much dead set against it. It needed new carpet and paint and the yard needed a lot of work and the yard and pool were both tiny. He didn't like the neighborhood as much, which was odd since it was about a block away from the Mulberry house that he really liked. So that one was out. Which lead us to look at the only other house that had the layout we wanted.
When we looked at this house, there were a few things we liked about it and a few things we didn't like about it. The pool and yard is the second best we saw behind the Glenrosa house. It's in a nice gated community and it's on a corner lot, so it has a good sized pool and yard, with mature landscaping and grass and even a raise garden area for me. There is a small park that we can see from our back yard, which is a huge plus for us and it's in a good school district. It had double ovens and a gas stove, which were big on my list, and then Glenrosa house didn't even have those. However, it seemed really dark in the house and that was a huge deterrant for me. I like bright open houses and this didn't feel like that at all. They had black window treatments though and the blinds were all down, so that didn't help. My biggest dislike of this house was that the entire upstairs was tiled. All of the bedrooms had tile and I am not a big fan of tile at all, especially in bedrooms. So that will be something we'll change right away. We're going to carpet the upstairs, although I think it's going to be pretty darn expensive since it'll be around 1500 sq ft. And I'm still not sure if we want to try to rip out all the tile or just put carpet down over the tile… We'll have to see. We want to upgrade the appliances in the kitchen, although the house includes all of them, plus the washer and dryer and a built in grill in the back yard, so that won't be a priority for us right now. We'll probably put in a tile backsplash and also updated the light fixtures through out the house, and update the master bathroom a little too. It has a 3 car garage so Mark will have room to make a woodworking shop, and that was probably more of a priority for me than it was for him since I really want him to have the opportunity to pursue this hobby. I'm sure he'd be great at it.
So Saturday we decided to make an offer on this house. It was originally listed at $289,900 and they had dropped the price to $269,900. We decided to offer $258k with them paying 2% closing costs. After the first fiasco with making an offer on the Glenrosa house, we were really hesitant to low-ball them on the price. To our surprise, the sellers accepted our offer as is. We couldn't believe it! We also found out that they are an older couple and he is retired military and a retired cop.
We're excited about our new adventure. We went from wanting a completely done house without any opportunity for us to upgrade it, to buying a house that we will be able to customize to our liking and hopefully being able to earn some equity in it also. I'm just glad that we have a place to go when we get to AZ instead of having to move in to a temporary apartment while we start the house hunt over. The whole situation with the first house really was a blessing in disguise. I don't have any pictures of our house, but if you'd like to see the listing for it, email me and I'll send you the link!