Sunday, April 28, 2013

Whirlwind few days!

It's been a few days since I've updated but a lot has happened with the house.  We met with Joy and went through the estimates we had and came to a total concession amount we'd need to move forward.  Joy put together a carefully worded letter explaining what we'd learned and included copies of the reports we had and we asked for a concession in the amount of the repairs.  We figured we'd have to wait a bit for a reply and we did. 

On Thursday, I went to Dream Dinners and got a haircut.  When I got home Greg said he had a beer for me. He hadn't given any indication that he'd heard from Joy.  I asked if he had and he said yes and the owner did not believe there was anything wrong with the foundation as it had been repaired and that was that.  We were stunned.  We expected a counter but not nothing.  We talked a lot and ended up giving Joy a call back and having her turn the house portal back on since we might be looking again soon.  

She recommended that we see if we could find any info about the original repairs.  When we met with the contractor and described what we understood to be the repair work done he named a company in the area that made that specific repair.  He said this company had since split into two different companies and the records were likely lost.  I did a little research on the company and found the websites for each of the spin offs and sent it to Greg the day prior.  Well, Greg was pretty aggressive regarding this and the next morning he called them both up to see if by chance they did still have the records and one of them DID!  We had to wait while they obtained permission from the owners to let us know what the repair was.  

It turns out there was a second foundation poured on the right side of the house.  The issue we are having now is not on the right side but actually on the back wall of the house.  We kept in close contact with Joy throughout the day as we got the info.  I called her that night and asked if we should make a counter given the new info we had.  She thought that was a good idea and I told her we'd be willing to make the repairs if they could agree to meet us halfway.  She said instead of going through the whole paperwork process, she'd go ahead and just make the counter verbally and get back to us later on.  An hour later we heard back from her and she was sounding much happier than when we'd spoken an hour earlier.  They'd decided to meet us halfway!  Greg asked her what changed their tune.  She said it was the fact that we'd gotten the information on the original repair.  When they realized the issue was the back of the house and not the side that was repaired they were willing to work with us.  

We are so excited to have all of this hammered out!  Now we will move on to meeting with contractors about the updates we want to make to the house.  We are meeting Joy out there tomorrow night to map out what we are interested in before we meet with two Wednesday.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bringing in a Structural Engineer

This past weekend we brought in a structural engineer to check out the cracks in the foundation of the house we have an offer on and help us assess the cost of any potential repairs to it.  We also brought back the original whole house inspector because Greg spoke with the owner of the house to see what he could find out about the foundation repair made in the past and he asked about attic access and he found out the attic access is in the master bedroom closet.  Unfortunately, the owners do not have the documentation about the repairs made in the past so we are flying blindly in that respect.  

On Saturday, when we arrived we met up with the whole house inspector and he checked out the attic.  He said it looks great, the only recommendation he has is to improve the insulation but that we should wait and see the heating bills before we update because it might only have a minimal impact on our heating costs.  

As he was leaving the structural engineer arrived.  We showed him our concerns and he went ahead and walked around and took some measurements while we talked about the rest of the house and he met back up with us to discuss what he saw.  He told us there is about an inch and half bow in the back wall of the foundation.  The house was built in the 1960s.  In the sixties houses were built without sill plates.  A sill plate binds the house to the foundation and this is missing in this case.  He said we will need to buy actual structural drawings for the repairs but said it would be i-beams every four feet along the side and back walls of the foundation.  He gave us this info because we are under a crunch to get someone out to do an estimate so we can go back to the sellers for assistance with the repair.  

Today we had a contractor come out and take a look at the foundation and explained the repairs that had been recommended and he wrote up an estimate for the repairs.  He said overall the issue looks pretty minor compared to the rest of the houses he'd seen that day.  That statement gave me a bit of piece of mind.  We are taking this along with an estimate for a furnace repair and the upgrade to fuse box back to the owners for seller assistance because of the total cost.  Hopefully we hear something soon. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Whole House Inspection

Today we had our whole house inspection.  This was the first time we were in the house since we decided to make an offer on it a week and a half ago.  We've driven by it a few times but this was our first chance to get in it again to talk about what we want to do to update the house.  My goal with the inspection was to stick with the inspector to ask questions about what he was looking at and also check out the house further.  

When we arrived we learned that the termite inspector had already stopped by and there were no signs of termites.  Yeah, first hurdle cleared!  

We had a long way to go though. Our inspector got to the house a bit before we did and he already had one big concern. The foundation, there is a crack in the garage that was repaired in the past, however, it looks as if it has opened up in the past few years.  He said it could be a settlement issue or we could have a foundation issue.  His recommendation was that we bring in a structural engineer to take a look so it could be assessed since the house is build on a hill (gotta love Cincy).  

After we talked about this we walked around the house and he was amazed at how well it was kept up. All of the mechanics of the house were so well maintained that they looked as if they'd been installed within the past five years.  He checked out everything imaginable in the house, the stove, the oven, flushed all the toilets, ran tons of water, turned on lights, tested the whole house fan, walked on the roof.  EVERYTHING. Overall, he said the house was in pretty good shape and aside from the foundation, the takeaways I had were as follows:

*  Replace the electrical box.  It is currently a fuse box, outdated technology.  
*  He recommended adding access to the attic into one of the closets.  He said generally to get access they have to remove the whole house fan (which is pretty darn cool - not sure how I missed that when we were walking through) and he doesn't do it because he doesn't want to break it.   
*  Roof is only one layer and looks about 10 years old.  
*  Add metal brackets to secure the railings out front and consider putting in a railing around the porch for safety reasons. 
* Furnace and A/C are in great shape for their age but we need to be prepared for a possible breakdown.  We negotiated a one year warranty into the sales price so we are covered for a year.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Offer accepted!

Tonight we found out our second offer was accepted!  Last night Joy contacted us and let us know the owner's had responded to our offer and countered.  We talked about it last night and decided what we wanted to counter and I talked to her this morning about what we were considering and we went ahead and moved forward with a counter to their counter.  She sent over an electronic copy for us to sign in the afternoon.  We didn't expect to hear from her until tomorrow but tonight at 8:30 she gave us a call back to let us know they'd accepted!  

Greg was so excited he called the girls out of bed to tell them and we had to get them back into bed.  Now to move forward we have to apply for the mortgage, turn in the earnest money and get the whole house inspection scheduled.  We are excited to move forward with this process!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

We made an offer!

Today we officially made our big move towards becoming home owner's!  We made an offer on a house.  We dropped the girls off at daycare and then headed over to Huff to meet with the 203k mortgage person and then Joy to make an offer on the "Mid-Century Modern."  

We spent about an hour with the mortgage person talking how the FHA 203k works.  We learned about the contingency fund, how to select contractors and all the other ins and outs of the program. 

Once we were done with this Joy came in and we went through the process of making an offer.  We signed a lot of required paperwork and then moved on to discussing the offer process.  Joy was awesome and went through the contract with us page by page.  Reading to us and explaining where necessary so we had a very good understanding of what we needed to do once we made the offer and the deadlines if it is accepted.  Greg and I were a bit punchy from our nerves over what we were doing so we bantered a lot about what we were doing to attempt to keep the situation light.  Joy did a good job of keeping us on target and ensuring we grasped what we needed to know about the process.  Once we'd read through the contract we discussed the price, Greg and I both had a different idea about what we are interested in offering.  We discussed this briefly as we went through the comps and then asked Joy's opinion.  She helped us come to a compromise and we came to a number and went with it.  

Now we wait.  Mr. Impatient already e-mailed and asked Joy has heard anything back and she hasn't.  So we wait.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saturday House Hunt Recap

Yesterday, we visited two houses for the second time.  The first was the house in Edgewood that Greg liked and I was unsure about and the second was the house I saw without him Friday night.  I told him that I saw some potential with this house but I really wanted his opinion on it.  We also invited my best friend Dawana along for the ride to see what she thought.  

The Lionfish House (revisit):  This time I took a look at this house through Greg's eyes.  I really do like the backyard and the fact that the work on the house is pretty much done.  However, driving to it we noticed how far back in the subdivision it was and we really didn't love that. Dawana toured it with me while Greg and the girls looked around and pointed out all of the positives in the house.  I still just did not quite feel like it was a good fit for us.  It is a great house, just not the one.  After we toured it again we talked for a few minutes with Joy about the pros and cons of this house and then she prepped Greg for the differences we would see in the second house we were going to see.  

The Mid-Century Modern (revisit):  I rode with Dawana and talked to her more about this one on the drive over.  This house was not "done" like the other house but it was something I really wanted to consider because of the potential I saw.  As we walked through I could see a spark in Greg's eye when he got to the master bedroom and he started envisioning creating a master suite for us complete with a walk-in closet.  After a bit of discussion surrounding the bedroom we took a look at the kitchen again and started talking about ideas for expanding it.  Greg then decided he wanted to check out the backyard so we went outside.  There is a bit of yard and then some woods, as he and the girls were headed up through the woods a deer came by.  It was one of those funny moments you think your real estate agent would have planned if she could.  As we came back in the house I heard Greg ask Joy where the woodsman was that released the deer while we were outside.  In the end, we ended up spending nearly an hour in the house checking it out and talking about ideas.  Joy even said she liked the house yesterday more than she liked it when we looked at it Friday night.  She said she would research the house more for us and let us know what she found.      

Later in the afternoon we got an e-mail from Joy with more details about the mid-century modern house.  We were disappointed to learn that the house is not in the Fort Thomas school district. This explains why it's been on the market for awhile.  After a lot of thought and some discussion with Greg, I decided that he "wins" and we will put the girls in Catholic school when the time comes.  

Today, I spoke with Joy briefly about the house and what we would be able to do with it under the 203k program.  She suggested we make a list of the changes we'd like to make and send it to her so she could help us assess what it would cost to make some of the changes.  We went ahead and drafted the list and sent it over to her to review.  We will chat with her again tomorrow about next steps. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fort Thomas without Greg

For this outing Greg had to work the Reds game, so the girls and I went out to meet Joy at two houses in Fort Thomas.  One of them Greg was particularly interested in and the other I've had my eye on in the listings for some time and we received a notification this week that the price had dropped.  

Since we'd met with Joy earlier in the week I'd had some time to talk to my Dad a little about the houses we were looking and sent him a link to one we sort of liked but were not sure about.  He recommended I look into houses that weren't already updated and pursue an FHA 203k loan.  He also encouraged us to stay closer to Fort Thomas since Edgewood is 20 minutes further away from work for Greg and myself.  This frustrated me more but I think he could sense that we weren't quite finding what we were looking for.  The one thing he stressed the most was that we have time to look and should not rush into anything.

The Water Tower House:  This was the house Greg was interested in. I didn't love the kitchen in the pictures and I was worried about the ceiling height on the second floor.  I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the kitchen and found it was pretty functional.  There is a weird little desk by the window but otherwise I thought it could work.  The yard is fenced and just beyond the fence there is the Fort Thomas water tower.  Not the best view but tolerable.  There were two bedrooms on the first floor each with decent sized closets. Then we took the very steep stairs to the second floor.  It was terrible and very tight and I was correct it's not likely Greg would be able to stand up straight.  We were only up there for about two minutes and I didn't bother to look around much before we maneuvered the girls back downstairs.  I didn't even bother to check out the basement because I knew the house wasn't going to work.  

The Mid-Century Modern:  When we drove to this house I was a little thrown it is at the end of a street near 471.  As we walked through this one I was a little intrigued by the house because I was thinking about what my Dad had suggested and taking out an FHA 203k loan and fixing the house up.  This house seems like it could be fixed up to meet our needs.  The kitchen and bathrooms are pretty outdated but the house is pretty immaculate and well maintained otherwise.  Joy told me that the style was mid-century modern 2-3 times as we walked through.  I'm not much into design so that doesn't particularly mean much to me but I think some of the older features are pretty interesting.

When we were done touring this house a had a brief chat with Joy about how I'm kind of frustrated with this process and how we haven't seen anything I've had an instant connection with yet.  She reinforced the fact that we've only seen a few houses and that our price point is very competitive   She stressed that we've been very aggressive with getting information about houses that we are interested in and seeing them quickly and let me know that it was fine to continue looking.    I let her know that I wanted to bring Greg back to see this one again since we are going to see the Lionfish house for a second time tomorrow morning.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Second Trip out to Edgewood

It's been about a week and a half since we last met with with Joy and saw the Cat House.  We have a couple more in Edgewood that we are interested in seeing so we saw three houses this trip:

The Lionfish House:  This house is nice.  It is fairly updated and very tidy.  The bedrooms are an ok size and it has two full bathrooms upstairs and a half bathroom downstairs.  The backyard is a pretty good size however, there is a drawback, there was clearly a pool removed within the past few years and no deck just stairs down to the yard.  It is fenced and when the trees come in during the summer it looks like it will be fairly private.  Greg is a big fan of this house because it has a two car garage with a lot of storage.  The house also has a pretty cool aquarium that has a lionfish in it that emerged from behind a rock and scared the heck out of N.  The poor kid fell apart when she saw it!  Since Greg really likes this house we will likely see it again.  I was kind of up in the air about it but I knew we were seeing the cat house again and I was looking forward to seeing it empty.  

The Wheelchair/Creepy Mirror House:  When we couldn't get in right away because the back door was locked.  Joy told us that it was being sold by a woman whose mother had lived there and she had passed.  It was creepy to me before we even went in because there was an old wheelchair sitting in the screened in porch.  Since we couldn't get in the back door we decided to proceed on to the next house.  However, Joy noticed in the instructions that there was a garage door code and we were able to get in.  The lower level of the house had a quasi finished basement.  It is going to need a lot of work to be family friendly.  The stairs to the upper level were kind of steep and made me a little nervous with the kiddos.  The upper level had a fairly updated kitchen and a good size outdated living room.  The bedrooms were a decent size and it had fairly decent closets.  However, at the end of the hallway to the bedrooms there was this awful full length mirror that did the house no justice.  I decided pretty immediately that this house wasn't for us and Greg acted like it wasn't so bad.  It was nixed by the time we pulled out of the driveway.  

The Cat House (revisit):  I was pretty excited to see this house again.  I really wondered it is was "the one."  As we were pulling up to it I noticed one thing that counted against that I hadn't noticed the first time.  It looked exactly the same as the next 4-5 houses on the street.  I'm not a fan of cookie cutter houses.  I'm not really sure how I didn't notice this on our first visit. I was still excited to see the inside again, until we walked in and it still smelled like cats!!  This time I had a bit of a cold and the smell still hit me like a ton of bricks when we walked in and really the whole way through I could not get past it and I was trying.  We didn't completely nix this house with this visit but it's odds have diminished greatly. 

After this trip I decided to pose a question on facebook regarding how you know if a house is appropriate for you.  The answers ran the gamut and held to two extremes, either you feel an instant emotional connection to the house to not allowing yourself to connect with the house at all but just look at the bones and figure out if it meets your qualifications.  To be honest this entire discussion has left me further confused.  I am going to meet Joy and see a couple houses in Fort Thomas Friday night without Greg.  We will see how it goes from here.