Author Topic: Which House Would You Choose?  (Read 3275 times)

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Which House Would You Choose?
« on: June 15, 2020, 07:49:08 AM »
Hello all.

My husband and I have been renters for the last ~15 years.  We decided this past winter to move to a rural area a little ways away from where we live now.  (Let's call it the Shire.)  We wanted to buy and fix up an old house in the woods where our baby would grow up.

Then covid hit, and to make a long story short, the real estate market in the Shire became BONKERS.  The houses we loved got snapped up.

So we have scaled down our ambitions.  The plan is now to buy a small, cheap house in the Shire, move there to get our bearings, then maybe sell in 1-3 years when a more ideal house comes up. 

(Yes, we've considered renting. But the rental market is also wacky, and we have a dog, which makes it difficult to find a good place even under normal circumstances. Plus we are tired of renting crummy places that we have no power to fix!)

We are most likely going to live in a suburban ranch house!  I have never lived in the suburbs before or in a new (post-World War II) house before.  It's not my normal taste, and to be honest, this is just not how I pictured things going after finally being ready to settle into a home of our own.  But I am trying to stay positive and be grateful for the fact that we are easily able to buy a house at all when there is so much unemployment and chaos in the world.

Right now it seems like our choice is between two different ranch houses.  Call them Bag End and Brandy Hall.

  • Both cost about the same amount.
  • Both have the same square footage.
  • They are on opposite sides of the same general neighborhood.

Otherwise they have significant differences. 

Brandy Hall has been recently renovated and has a trendier look to it.  It appears to be move-in ready.  We could unpack our stuff and start living.  (With a baby and so much else going on in life, this is an appealing idea.) Awesome, landscaped backyard that looks magical.  Has an extra bathroom.  It's easy to visualize life there.

The downsides: to get to some of the fun amenities of this area (parks, etc.), we would have to drive for about 10 minutes. Also there is no garage, and some of the renovations look a little cheap to my eye.

By contrast, Bag End looks slightly run down and would be more of a project.  Past owners made some super-weird design decisions, some of which would be annoying to fix (along the lines of needing to move a staircase).  There are odd little issues throughout the house that would irritate me every day until we fixed them.

We could make it our own, though, and with some improvements, the house could rise in value by the time we are ready to resell. It does have a garage.  And best of all, it is SO CLOSE to all the parks and playgrounds!  We could walk or bike quickly to a bunch of neat things.  This nook of the neighborhood seems quieter and significantly better. 

Which would you choose?

Decisions!
« Last Edit: June 15, 2020, 07:50:52 AM by marble_faun »

AMandM

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1179
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2020, 08:37:28 AM »
It seems to me that the two places don't really cost about the same. Bag End costs significantly more in rehab costs and in time.

Do you actually have enough money and time to make the necessary changes in the 1-3 years you plan to stay there? And will 1-3 years of access to the parks and playgrounds be worth those extra costs?

Personally, if it were me, I would choose Brandy Hall since you are planning a short stay, because I don't like rehab work enough to do it for someone else's benefit. If it were a long-term home, I'd choose Bag End. I *might* choose Bag End if I were fairly confident that my rehab work would lead to much more appreciation than Brandy Hall is likely to see, but only if I decided that rehabbing was my job for the next few years.

betsbillabong

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Location: Boulder, CO
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2020, 08:43:19 AM »
@marble_faun, we are on such similar paths! I am also facing similar issues, although with the prices where I am I was always looking at ranches, since nice architecture is $1m plus.

What I'm trying to keep in mind is that location and yard are the only things that stay -- and also that the land is what appreciates; houses always need work and are a depreciating asset.

I would probably lean towards the second place. When your baby gets a bit older you will LOVE being walking distance from a park. I'm a solo parent of a six year old and have never not had that. I cannot imagine having to drive to go to the park, so that's my top consideration. That and how awesome the yard is.

Is moving the staircase truly necessary? I am considering a place that is FUGLY but I think could be ok with new floors, new paint, and over time switching out bathroom vanities, etc. I would do paint and floors before move in, and upgrade kitchen, bathroom, etc as I went along. But I've ruled out any structural change, since I don't think I'd get the money back in equity. I would ask your realtor for advice there. I have also heard a few horror stories about moving to cheap flips and having to fix stuff, and it's kind of fun to think about making my own changes and doing it right.

The one thing I'm keeping in mind is that I've been in a seller's market pretty much my whole adult life (I lived in SF and NYC before here), but it's very possible that when I sell it will be a softer market. Will others want to buy the house then?

So, I don't know. But I would lean towards Bag End.

EDIT: @AMandM brings up some good points. In my case, I'm unlikely to ever be able to upgrade, and I've been assured by my realtor that the forced appreciation would make a big difference. I would definitely not get into major rehab beyond simply painting and flooring in this house.

And -- I expect that by September/October the market will have calmed down. Sadly my lease ends in August and I think yours does too, or even sooner. But I am considering having my stuff put in climate controlled storage and staying in a month to month place if I don't find a spot. Ugh, what a horrid time to be house hunting!

AMandM

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1179
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2020, 09:06:24 AM »
We are most likely going to live in a suburban ranch house!  I have never lived in the suburbs before or in a new (post-World War II) house before.  It's not my normal taste, and to be honest, this is just not how I pictured things going after finally being ready to settle into a home of our own.  But I am trying to stay positive and be grateful for the fact that we are easily able to buy a house at all when there is so much unemployment and chaos in the world.

Wanted to add a response to this, because I sympathize!

I grew up in the city with a deep prejudice against suburbs, inculcated by my mother who hated driving. In fact had never lived in the suburbs until we bought our first house--city, small town, tiny village, but never suburb. I could not believe I was actually buying a mass-manufactured tract house in a bedroom community, but it was what we could afford in this HCOL area. It turned out to be a very happy place for our family: great yard, stores and library and pool nearby, park and church in walking distance, friendly neighbours, etc. We were all sad when the time came to move.

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2020, 04:57:43 PM »
Thank you all for the advice.

Unfortunately I won't need it, because BAG END JUST SOLD!!!!

I requested a showing within hours of it going on the market.  We were supposed to see it today, but that got cancelled.

We had just started to lean toward Bag End. We were feeling so positive!  We had dreamed a new dream!

RAAAAARGHHHHHHhhhhhhgg

I'm not happy.

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4584
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2020, 07:02:28 AM »
If it's a 10 minute drive to the park, you'll go to the park 50% less often, at least. You won't be able to send your kid there on his/her own (if you are still in the house when they're 5 or so). You probably won't notice the irritating layout after the first week.

Location, location, location. It's a cliche for a reason. The house itself is just studs and drywall. As long as it's not going to fall down, and you fit there ok, I'd do Brandy Hall.

Sounds like that might be the only choice anyway, though. Good luck, I feel for you. We're feeling lucky that we bought our place last year before things went totally nuts. There are literally only 2 houses for sale in our entire (fairly large) neighborhood right now, both well over $1.5 million. "Affordable" (ie, $1.2 million) places get snatched up in a few days at most. Yikes.

-W

martyconlonontherun

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 352
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2020, 07:19:50 AM »
Thank you all for the advice.

Unfortunately I won't need it, because BAG END JUST SOLD!!!!

I requested a showing within hours of it going on the market.  We were supposed to see it today, but that got cancelled.

We had just started to lean toward Bag End. We were feeling so positive!  We had dreamed a new dream!

RAAAAARGHHHHHHhhhhhhgg

I'm not happy.
That's why I find house hunters so dumb. You don't just have 3 houses and decide. You wait, find one put in an offer/miss, then move on to the next.

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2020, 07:36:09 AM »
Plot twist!

There is another "rustic little old cottage" property available, not far from a similar house that we we loved and made an offer on a week ago.  It is on an INCREDIBLE lot.

The house is being sold as a tear-down, which is a total crime considering it is still livable and full of character and history.

The catch is that this property is quite a bit more expensive than what we had wanted.  We could afford it without being irresponsible, but it would delay FIRE.  We'd basically be living "at" rather than "below" our means.

HOWEVER, if we could secure our dream home where we will be living for the next 30-40 years, it could be worth it.

AND the price is starting to come down.  This is what happened with the first old cottage that caught our eye.  It started too high for our taste, then came down over months.

I've inquired with our realtor to see whether or not she thinks it would be worth making a low-ball offer on this house.

In the meantime, we are seeing Brandy Hall (the trendy ranch house 10 minutes from the parks) tomorrow.  If we decide to go with Brandy Hall, we will need to make an offer on it immediately, because these little ranchers are MOVING.

But I now want to keep open the possibility of this other place! 

I have an awful feeling that we could close on Brandy Hall, only to have the rustic old cottage come down in price to our range, and then we'd miss the opportunity.  That would be just our luck.

AMandM

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1179
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2020, 08:19:52 AM »
Ooh, exciting (but also nerve-wracking)!

Some things to consider:
--if you plan to move away from Brandy Hall in a few years, there will be transactions costs that you won't have if you'd stay in the newly-available cottage (Hobbiton House?) for 30-40 years.
--would you rather live in Hobbiton House starting now and work N years longer than planned, or would you rather live elsewhere, FIRE when planned, and look for another long-term house?

Good luck!

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4584
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2020, 09:16:33 AM »
Given that you have a young kid, keep something in mind - what you want now might not be what you want in 5 years, or 10 years.

We made this mistake on a house in 2014. It was *perfect* at the time (we had a 3 year old and a newborn). As years passed, it became clear it wasn't so perfect:
-The street was busy enough to be dangerous for little kids on bikes or scooters or just walking around.
-There weren't any parks in walking distance.
-There was no useful public transit option.
-Getting to school required crossing a busy roundabout and going through the entrance/exit of a gas station, and we weren't far enough to be eligible for the bus.

None of that stuff mattered when we bought, because a 3 year old doesn't ride the bus or wander the neighborhood on their own anyway, and the sort of busy street isn't dangerous for an adult. I don't mind riding 5 miles of bike path to get groceries, so that was fine too.

Fast forward 4 years and our 7 year old (and his 4 year old sister) feel trapped in our house. We have to drive them places, they can't go just find friends at the park or get sent outside for the day and come home when it's dark. The house wasn't perfect at all anymore.

So we moved to a neighborhood where you can walk/bike/bus to anything you want and there are parks and creeks and tons of kids out causing trouble until dark every day all summer. Our kids radius of freedom has expanded from maybe 100 feet to more like 3 or 4 miles (more if they take the bus, which they have successfully and confidently done on their own many times now). The change in their attitudes and abilities (especially as compared to some of their peers) is astounding.

It's where we should have been in the first place (moving probably cost us $100k in commissions/fees/etc) but we weren't really thinking about what our family would need in the future. Dumb move.

So look at any potential house through the eyes of a 5 year old, a 10 year old, and a teenager, and think about the childhood you want your kids to be able to have, before you get too excited.

-W
« Last Edit: June 16, 2020, 09:21:10 AM by waltworks »

betsbillabong

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Location: Boulder, CO
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2020, 02:10:33 AM »
@marble_faun I say go for the cottage if you can afford it -- don't wait for it to come down. You'll spend much more money in transaction costs than the difference in price.

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2020, 09:32:34 AM »
Thanks, all -- I really do appreciate these thoughts.

It is nice to imagine our baby growing up in what I might call a "trick-or-treat neighborhood."  Walkable, with schools that the neighborhood kids all attend, and with enough community spirit for people to do things like hand out candy on Halloween and put up holiday lights.

Brandy Hall would fit the bill here.  It's actually less distant than I originally thought to parks and playgrounds.  Some of the nicest and most scenic parks are a 10-minute drive away, but within walking distance there is a school playground, plus a different green space with trails, AND a bike path to downtown.  I had somehow overlooked this before.

If we decide to move in a year or two, it would be fine financially -- even with closing costs factored in, it would likely cost less than our current rent for a year!


Meanwhile Hobbiton House seems to offer the best of all worlds.  It has a rural feeling, with more than an acre of land surrounded by trees and off a dirt road.  But the dirt road leads to a quiet, residential neighborhood with sidewalks leading to parks, etc.  A lot of other rural properties in the Shire are off of double-yellow-line country roads with no sidewalks, and we would be trapped on our own property unless we wanted to get in the car. So Hobbiton House is pretty special in that regard.

The sellers want a LOT for Hobbiton Hall, but our realtor thinks they might accept a low-ball offer.  Even if they do, the house would consume a lot of our capital, and we'd have less financial flexibility, which is a bit unnerving to us.


We will be seeing both properties today!!

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4584
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2020, 09:45:29 AM »
Keep us updated, and good luck!

-W

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14550
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2020, 09:57:00 AM »
Thank you all for the advice.

Unfortunately I won't need it, because BAG END JUST SOLD!!!!

I requested a showing within hours of it going on the market.  We were supposed to see it today, but that got cancelled.

We had just started to lean toward Bag End. We were feeling so positive!  We had dreamed a new dream!

RAAAAARGHHHHHHhhhhhhgg

I'm not happy.
That's why I find house hunters so dumb. You don't just have 3 houses and decide. You wait, find one put in an offer/miss, then move on to the next.
House Hunters is reality TV.

Spoiler: show
 The buyers are already at least in escrow if not closed on their house when they tape the show. The other two are just fillers. Who knows how many they looked at or bid on prior to making their offer.

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2020, 01:38:15 PM »
Y'all.  We LOVED Hobbiton House.  It was quite run-down but was totally livable, with many historical details intact.  We could make our homestead dreams come true from within a trick-or-treat neighborhood.

Our plan is to make a low offer on Hobbiton House.  If the sellers won't come down, well... it will just be a nice thing that is too expensive for us, and we will move on.  But we are going to take our shot!


Brandy Hall was nice but more awkwardly arranged than we had thought.  An adequate place to live, but it wouldn't be ideal and did not speak to our hearts.


We also viewed a third property, a recently renovated house in the same neighborhood as Brandy Hall.  It might be a former Airbnb.  In pictures online it looked cold and sterile, but it turns out to be quite nice!  The sellers seem to have done some quality work, and it felt homier and nicer than we had expected.  So that's our new second choice if Hobbiton House falls through.

SunnyDays

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1499
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2020, 02:24:02 PM »
Don't rush into a purchase if you're not ready, in terms of financing or life stage.  You can't make a house "fit," as much as you might want to. There will always be more houses for sale.

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2020, 06:41:32 PM »
@SunnyDays : Oh, we have the financing, it's more a matter of how Mustachian we want to be.

We are making a SUPER low offer on Hobbitton House. It's been on the market for a while.  We heard they'd be open to any offers, so we figured we'd put in our bid and see how they respond.

Of course, the sellers' agent told our agent that they had other potential buyers coming to see it today!  So we could have a repeat of our earlier experience, where a house that sat on the market for months got multiple offers right when we put ours in, and we lost it.  Then I'll feel silly for not offering just a teeny bit more to clench the deal.  (Or for not doing this last week, when I had ruled this property out because it looked too expensive).

This time I am trying not to get so emotionally invested in the property. It's hard. But I'm trying.

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2020, 01:15:34 PM »
We made our low-ball offer on Hobbiton House (the woodsy fixer-upper), and the sellers met us in the middle!  We are accepting the deal.

We will try to figure out how much the house will cost to bring back to life.  If it's too much, we can back out after the inspection.  But at least we have a shot at this.

I'm trying to stay emotionally detached, but I am freaking out!

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4584
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2020, 02:00:16 PM »
It's getting real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot Shire!

-W

AMandM

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1179
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2020, 02:37:52 PM »
Congrats marble_faun!  Fingers crossed for Hobbiton House!

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2020, 06:54:37 PM »
Thanks, y'all.

There's been an ominous development.  After we agreed to the sellers' counter-offer, we sent over a new contract.  I thought we had a deal at that point, since we were agreeing to their price.

BUT NO!

We were told that one of the sellers is out of town, so they will need a few extra days to initial the contract.

THIS IS EXACTLY THE SAME THING THAT HAPPENED WITH THE FIRST WOODSY FIXER UPPER HOUSE THAT WE LOST.

We gave those sellers some extra time to consider our contract, because one of them was out of town.  Then they went with another offer.

It's happening again!!!! 

If we lose this house, I give up.  I will be done with life and will lay down on the ground and have my husband shovel dirt over me.

SunnyDays

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1499
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2020, 08:41:20 PM »
Sounds suspicious to me.  Are they just stalling so they can consider other offers?

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2020, 09:09:58 PM »
@SunnyDays : That's what I'm afraid of. 


They also asked about us (through our respective agents), saying they were curious to know who we were.  Maybe they thought it was odd that we wanted to save the house, since they had expected developers to buy the property for the land. 

I figure our desire to save their old house can't hurt our chances if they happen to be sentimental types.

Or maybe they just wanted to know if we had high-paid occupations so that they could try to soak us more.  I don't know!  Everything in real estate is so weird.

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4584
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2020, 09:38:06 PM »
Send 'em pictures of the fam, with the kid looking cute.

I'm not kidding.

-W

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1942
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2020, 09:39:49 PM »
They're stalling. An offer can be accepted from anywhere in the world via DocuSign...industry standard now.

If their agent is any good they are putting out feelers with everyone that expressed any interest in the house: "We have a great offer in hand, if you want it you better submit your best and highest offer, and now!" Don't take it personally, if you were on the selling end you'd also want to get the most possible.

Make them nail down "a few days" by putting an exact date on it. And make it clear that your offer expires 5pm on that date. Be prepared to walk away. Don't let them string you along as their backup plan.

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1942
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2020, 09:47:39 PM »
Somewhat riskier would be to call their bluff and refuse to extend the acceptance deadline. If you're wrong (out of town == no internet access?) then you've walked away from a potentially good deal. On the other hand, if they really are just stalling, it could save you a ton of money if it means they cannot work their leads for better offers and you avoid a bidding war.

betsbillabong

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Location: Boulder, CO
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #26 on: June 23, 2020, 06:59:29 AM »
@marble_faun Any news?

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #27 on: June 23, 2020, 12:20:11 PM »
It seems we are under contract for Hobbiton House! 

(I say "seems" because I have not yet gotten a copy of the contract signed by the sellers. But we have been assured it's coming.)

No bidding war!

I'm excited but also on the verge of exploding.

Next up is the inspection.  Will see if we get cold feet once we realize just how much work needs to be done on the place.

My worries are now shifting to thoughts of having to remediate lead paint, hire trustworthy contractors, etc.  A whole other world of anxiety!  But at least we get our chance to consider the property fully.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4793
  • Location: Northwest Indiana
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #28 on: June 23, 2020, 01:16:48 PM »
Just gotta say.... love the naming here. Good luck with the house!

(coming from someone with cats named Arwen and Rosie Cotton)

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1942
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #29 on: June 23, 2020, 01:21:39 PM »
Congratulations, hope it all works out for you.

betsbillabong

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Location: Boulder, CO
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #30 on: June 23, 2020, 05:00:26 PM »
Fantastic! I am in another bidding war, but hopefully know what it takes to win this one. It's no Hobbiton, but it's a really nicely gardened home in a walkable area of one of my favorite small towns, a 15 minute commute. Lost the amazing house backing up to the creek, so not the special house of my dreams... but this one is really sweet. Good luck!

UPDATE: I'm under contract!
« Last Edit: June 23, 2020, 11:58:19 PM by betsbillabong »

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #31 on: June 24, 2020, 07:15:39 AM »
@betsbillabong : WHOOHOO!!!!  Congrats!  Your potential new home sounds like a pleasant place!

SailingOnASmallSailboat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #32 on: June 24, 2020, 10:54:56 AM »
@marble_faun and @betsbillabong  congratulations!!!

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4584
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #33 on: June 24, 2020, 07:36:40 PM »
Woo!

Congrats to both of you (with fingers of course crossed)!

-W

AMandM

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1179
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #34 on: June 25, 2020, 08:02:26 AM »
Hurray! Congrats to both of you, and best of luck with the inspections etc.!

betsbillabong

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Location: Boulder, CO
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2020, 10:45:29 AM »
Thank you! I had to offer WAY over list and beat out a cash offer but I did it. Fingers crossed for inspection.

And @marble_faun I hope things are going well for you, too! I did not mean to hijack the thread. I know we have both been in the trenches and Hobbiton sounds fantastic!

anni

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 142
  • Age: 25
  • Location: Rocky Mtns
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #36 on: June 25, 2020, 01:56:07 PM »
When is the inspection? Keep us updated! Sounds charming!

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #37 on: June 25, 2020, 04:19:48 PM »
@betsbillabong I didn't think you were hijacking!  It's heartening to hear from others in the same boat.

This whole experience has been very stressful (especially with the real estate market going all out of whack), so I'm glad to hear of anyone's story and success.

~~~


On my end... I might be getting cold feet.  Or maybe just last-minute nerves as I've been signing tons of documents and it's all starting to feel real and a little scary.  I don't know. 

On one hand, this seems like the PERFECT place for us.  Similar pieces of land in the area (but with large, new houses) are now up for sale in the million-dollar range, so this may indeed be our last chance to get a property like this, among the last of the little run-down cottages.

BUT fixing it up (especially while living a few hours away) will be a challenge.  We can afford repairs, but there is the potential for this to spiral out of control and become a financial drag if we are not careful.  Also, actually being able to vet good contractors and ensure that they are doing quality work to make it habitable for us and our baby is now my major concern. 

I'm trying to envision us pulling up to our new home to unpack and start our new life.  If we're at the fixer-upper, are we excited to begin a new adventure, or are we anxious about safety/money?  If we end up in a more typical suburban house in good repair, are we relieved, or do we regret letting Hobbiton House go due to our fears?

Anyway, the inspection is coming up very soon, and we'll be able to gather more information and think it all through for a few days afterward.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14550
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #38 on: June 25, 2020, 10:52:59 PM »
I tbink I might know someone who can help. Paging @marbles4...

marbles4

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #39 on: June 26, 2020, 07:39:10 AM »
Thanks for the tag, Dicey. I'd choose Hobbiton House! But then, that's my prerogative...

I quick read through this thread and it does seem similar to the decision we made in 2014. We were moving from a city core to the suburbs. And we had just had our second baby.

We ended up buying a fixer-upper - OK for those who know my journal, it was definitely more than a fixer-upper - actually it was a historic house that, at the time of purchase, had no bathrooms or kitchen.

We sold our first house and hired a contractor to renovate the historic house, while our family of four and two big dogs lived in a tiny apartment for six months. I do have a journal on the forums, which tells some of that story. Sorry, its kind of disjointed and I tend to regularly get off-topic. I haven't yet made it to the part about us fixing it up yet, but I intend to eventually.

@betsbillabong I didn't think you were hijacking!  It's heartening to hear from others in the same boat.
I'm trying to envision us pulling up to our new home to unpack and start our new life.  If we're at the fixer-upper, are we excited to begin a new adventure, or are we anxious about safety/money?  If we end up in a more typical suburban house in good repair, are we relieved, or do we regret letting Hobbiton House go due to our fears?

We moved into our historic house excited to begin a new adventure, but not before sinking a ton of money into it. Also you mention safety, and I will say that despite extensive lead-paint remediation, our younger son did exhibit slightly elevated levels of blood lead levels at his 1 year appointment. It was scary, but we monitored it and it went to normal levels by his next appointment. (He's now five and reading Box Car Children independently, so no apparent lasting impact, but it was definitely a time where I really felt like I had made an unforgivable parenting eff-up). We actually suspect the higher lead test was a result of the 70s-era apartment and not the house, but we'll never know for sure.

A typical suburban house would have had us much closer to FI now (probably already there) at age 37. But, 99 out of 100 days, I would not go back and change our decision ... In fact, sometimes I find myself just sitting in my living room and pinching myself because I love it here so much.

Hobbiton House sounds really neat and that's probably the route that I would choose. But, this decision is a big one that of course only you and your partner can make. It will have lasting impact, whichever you decide. 

I am happy to answer any questions that you have about my own experience. I LOOOVE old houses, unique houses, modern houses, really any houses, and could talk about them all day.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2020, 07:42:17 AM by marbles4 »

AMandM

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1179
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #40 on: June 26, 2020, 11:38:21 AM »
On one hand, this seems like the PERFECT place for us.  Similar pieces of land in the area (but with large, new houses) are now up for sale in the million-dollar range, so this may indeed be our last chance to get a property like this, among the last of the little run-down cottages.

BUT fixing it up (especially while living a few hours away) will be a challenge.  We can afford repairs, but there is the potential for this to spiral out of control and become a financial drag if we are not careful.  Also, actually being able to vet good contractors and ensure that they are doing quality work to make it habitable for us and our baby is now my major concern. 

I'm trying to envision us pulling up to our new home to unpack and start our new life.  If we're at the fixer-upper, are we excited to begin a new adventure, or are we anxious about safety/money?  If we end up in a more typical suburban house in good repair, are we relieved, or do we regret letting Hobbiton House go due to our fears?

I think a lot of it comes down to whether you find the necessary renovation/repair/restoration work exciting and rewarding, or a heavy but necessary obstacle in the way of your future happiness.  Because everyone I know who's bought a fixer-upper discovered it needed more work than they initially thought. For some people, that meant more exciting challenges and opportunities; for others, it meant more time and money spent in servitude.

betsbillabong

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Location: Boulder, CO
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #41 on: June 26, 2020, 01:46:59 PM »
I actually just made the other choice -- but the fixer/upper was not an historic, charming cottage but rather a very large old raised ranch that felt more traditional than the split levels I can mostly afford.

I really noticed from your first posting that you REALLY wanted the old historic kind of cottage but were settling for a normal suburban place and that you would keep looking for that amazing property another time. It seems to me that you've found what you're looking for, but coming to terms with the reality that it will require a bunch of work.

The inspection will tell you a lot, I think -- how much work will it take to make it fine for now, as opposed to doing some kind of gigantic renovation?

I really wanted a small charming place on a big lot and although I am super excited about my new home, its location, and its charming gardened backyard, it's not the dream. If you can afford it, I'd go for Hobbiton!

Betsey

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6739
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #42 on: June 26, 2020, 02:29:27 PM »
I hope the inspection goes well. Itís so great when you find the house you love. We have fixed up many houses.

wildbeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 597
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #43 on: June 28, 2020, 12:53:11 PM »
ptf.  good luck with your decision!

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #44 on: June 29, 2020, 08:18:27 AM »
I appreciate everyone's thoughts on the house!  It's good to talk things out here, since most of my friends seem to be broke and/or unemployed, and this doesn't seem like the right time to engage them in discussions of buying idyllic dream properties.


So here's the post-inspection story.

Hobbiton House is indeed AWESOME.  A diamond in the rough. 

BUT.

The house will need a LOT of work: a new roof and new electrical system just for starters.  Then there's all the deferred maintenance.  The siding may need to be replaced.  There's potentially some hidden water damage in the bathroom.  Some window frames are rotted. There is some cracking in the foundation which may or may not be serious.  We aren't sure yet about radon or the condition of the chimney. Etc. etc.

Unsure how much this will cost.  (As part of our negotiation, we agreed that the sellers would not be covering repairs.) 

On top of that, the house is really too small for our family.  It is very cozy, but it lacks the space we need in the long term.  (Both my husband and I work from home.)  We would want to build an addition ASAP, adding to the expense.

I can see why the house was being sold as a tear-down. It would be easier to demolish it and start over from a blank canvas. But no tearing down will happen on my watch. I'm on a mission to save the quaintness!

Meanwhile the real estate boom in the Shire has evolved into a renovation boom.  All the good contractors are booked solid for the new few months.

This means there is no chance that the house would be ready in time for us to move directly into it.  We would have to rent a place in the Shire while the house is repaired.  Another expense.  Also we are tired of renting.


And yet!  The PAYOFF! 

This time next year, we could have the most amazing home I ever could have imagined.


Our next step is going to be to call around to different contractors and design/build firms and try to get some quotes and timelines. 

We have a particular budget for repairs, and if it seems like we'd be approaching our limit, we would have to back out of the sale.

Also if all the work will take more than a year, we will need to say no.  We can't have this process dragging on indefinitely.


We have never done anything like this before, so interacting with the contractors/builders/architects makes me nervous. I'm actually googling to figure out basic info on how contractors, builders, designers, and architects all work together, and I'm feeling like a bit of a rube.

I really don't know what to expect! We will be relying on the info they provide to make a decision.  Will they even be interested in giving us quotes on such a quick time frame? 

Time to make some calls and get this ball rolling somehow or another!

former player

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6097
  • Location: Avalon
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #45 on: June 29, 2020, 08:45:23 AM »
In order to make this work I would be looking to do the minimum necessary in the first place to make the place safe and habitable (not necessarily comfortable, but habitable) with further works planned down the line. For one, your plans may very well change once you have lived in the house: there is nothing like living in a place to understand how it works and what needs to change.

Of the things you mention, the roof and the electric are the only immediate "must do"s.  The rest (subject to safety on the chimney) can be temporary fixes - it's always surprising how far cleaning and painting can go to make something that looks uninhabitable perfectly useable.  For an extra office an insulated shed in the garden would be easy and suitable.

You may well find that a contractor would be willing to fit you in for the immediate fixes in order to get you into the house if they have the likelihood of more work coming from you at a future point.


marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #46 on: June 29, 2020, 11:35:28 AM »
Thanks, @former player .  This is where my husband and I diverge a bit.  He very deeply does not want to have major construction projects lingering for years, to the point where it would be a deal-breaker on the whole project.  If we have to wait for more than about 12 months for everything to be ready, he'd rather just move into a turnkey property, even if it doesn't have the potential of Hobbiton House.


Between baby-related sleep deprivation and a million other things I'm juggling, I feel like I'm not operating at peak mental capacity.  I accidentally just slipped and told a potential designer what our max budget might be.  Ughh!  That was exactly what I didn't want to do!

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6739
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #47 on: June 29, 2020, 11:55:13 AM »
The first house we bought when young needed a ton of work but was habitable. We barely moved in before we had our first child. We redid one room a year ourselves. Only thing hired was the roof and furnace. 8 years ago we bought a house in worse condition and being 40 years older we didnít move in until everything was done. Luckily my husband had just retired and I hired him a full time helper. It took 4 months. Since you would be hiring everything my guess is itís not going to be worth the cost.

marble_faun

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #48 on: June 29, 2020, 04:11:51 PM »
The first house we bought when young needed a ton of work but was habitable. We barely moved in before we had our first child. We redid one room a year ourselves. Only thing hired was the roof and furnace. 8 years ago we bought a house in worse condition and being 40 years older we didnít move in until everything was done. Luckily my husband had just retired and I hired him a full time helper. It took 4 months. Since you would be hiring everything my guess is itís not going to be worth the cost.

Yeah, I'd be game for something like this, but my husband is not.  He has a demanding job and pre-existing hobbies, and he does not want house repair to become a new, all-consuming activity that takes up all his free time for years, no matter how cool the property is.  This is one of his lines in the sand.

betsbillabong

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Location: Boulder, CO
Re: Which House Would You Choose?
« Reply #49 on: June 29, 2020, 06:44:52 PM »
I think you need to find three well-thought of general contracters (I've actually found faceboook parent groups to be surprisingly helpful with this) to give you the full-on, move-ready budget, both in terms of dollars and in terms of time.

I think the big question I have is whether you can indeed afford this house with all the amazing renovations. If you can, that is wonderful! I think there's a lot to be gained by getting the beautiful and special forever house.

However - it sounds like it could be a bottomless pit, too.

Good luck!