Although we started looking at houses in person today, we have been looking at them online for almost two years. I have an app on my Droid called Realtor.com, that shows you houses for sale in any part of the United States. We have seen houses for sale wherever we have traveled by using that app. It is very a very handy tool for finding a house to buy. In addition, we have had our daughter go and look at some we found while we were in Arizona. Because we have been looking for so long, we pretty much knew what was available and for how much. Getting pre-approval for a loan before going to look in person was essential, because we are ready to buy, and did not want to find something we loved and not be able to make an offer on it.
I can now tell you that it is tiring looking at houses online. Looking in person is exhausting. At least it is the way we looked at them. We walked all around the yard, looking for signs of voles, looking at the view from different parts of the yard, checking out the outbuildings, under the house. It takes a lot of time to look at everything on the outside. Don’t even get me started on looking at the inside.
The first thing I notice when I walk into a house I am thinking of buying is the smell, or rather, the LACK of smell. I don’t even want to look at a house that has a bad smell in it. The good thing is that the two houses we looked at today didn’t smell bad. Here is a synopsis of the two houses we looked at today:
This house was a lot bigger than what we need. We agreed to go look at it because the price was well within our range at $42,000. It had 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen with a breakfast bar, laundry room/pantry, and a separate office with an entry from the carport. And yes, it had a two car carport, fenced back yard, and a storage shed.
The pros: in our price range, large bedrooms, existing office
The cons: off a very busy highway with no traffic light, in need of many small repairs throughout the house, needed painting, needed LOTS of elbow grease on the white kitchen cabinets, light fixtures missing, and the shed was falling in (the roof had a huge hole in it) While all of these things could have been fixed over time, the biggest con was that it was right next door to a business. We don’t know what kind of business, but we could see bobcat diggers, a dump truck, and other things like that through the trees in the back yard. And, the neighborhood was quite noisy at 11:30 a.m. on a school day.
Smaller house, in better shape than the first one. 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, living room, kitchen/dining combined, enclosed back porch with laundry hookups. No carport or garage, but there is a lean-to type barn on the property. I have been looking at this house online on Redfin, and asked the real estate guy if he knew anything about it. Turns out it was his listing, so he told us how to get there so we could go take a look.
The pros: Well within our price range at $45,000, inside is ready to move in, hardwood floor in living area, on 5 fenced acres, large trees in yard, out in the country.
The cons: Back porch enclosure needs to be redone, needs a new front door, needs new steps to the front porch, no carport, no stove (but this could be a pro because I can get a gas stove).
We drove home after looking at these two houses, and discussed the options. Then we met with our real estate guy and put in a bid on the second house. We will know on Monday whether or not our bid is accepted. If it s, then we’ll go to step three, which is getting the actual loan. If it isn’t, then we’ll start looking again.
We didn’t understand a lot about the bidding part of buying a home. Steve, our realtor, told us that when a HUD house is put on the market, there is an initial period where only homeowners can bid on the property. At the end of the intial period, they either award the bid to the most qualified bidder, or they reject all bids and open the bidding to anyone, including investors. You can bid lower than the listed price, the actual listed price, or higher than the listed price. On this particular house, we bid the actual listed price, because we felt it was already a good deal. After our bid was submitted, we found out that we are the only bidders on this property, and the bidding closes at 1:00 a.m. tonight.