This is a great post to have today because my brother is closing on his house today. I had originally planned last year to have this posted today so it’s funny it happened to line up on the same day.
Buying our house was quite the process. Reading through this after writing it, it seems like the entire process was terrible. Although it did get pretty bad near the end it was overall really fun. It’s just that the negative things stick out more in my memory.
My wife and I each made a list of different things we wanted our house to have and needed it to have. Then we got an idea of what we could be approved for a loan. When the bank told us the number it was about three times as much as we could afford. So we knew as long as we could afford the monthly payments we would be approved for a loan on any house.
We decided on the areas we wanted to look and found a couple of places. People kept telling us not to look in one of the areas because the taxes are too high.
We looked into it and the taxes were the same as all the other places we were looking. Either way we would have gladly paid the extra taxes because they are used right. The emergency services in the town are well funded and it’s one of the best school districts in the area.
The first house we looked at was too small. It may have worked if we had no plans on having children but we would like to have a couple at some point. Also, the attic, though it was very large, was only accessible through a small opening on one end. There was also a low ceiling going into the garage that I found on my way down the steps.
The agent selling the house was also a really sketchy guy. My sister and I found our grandma’s house from when we were growing up listed for sale and decided to go look at it because she would have considered buying it.
He was the agent on the sign out front because it was his company selling it. He knew nothing about the house and told us the barn out back was part of the deal even though we knew it wasn’t. The neighbor across the street owned a thin stretch of land from the road to the barn because it was theirs.
The second house we look at was kind of small but we really liked it. There was a large fenced in yard. The property next door was also for sale so there was a possibility of tripling how much land we had for barely any more money.
Since the agent was also constantly on his phone at both of the houses we had looked at, as well as my grandma’s, we decided to actually get a real estate agent to help us try to buy it. He refused to let us see the house again once we got our own agent. I would assume it was because he would make less money with another person involved.
The next house we looked at was a mess. It was well kept but poorly designed. It seemed as if someone took a pr-emade house and let someone play Sims with it.
The kitchen had a toilet in the closet. There was a room just off the living room that was just big enough for a washer and dryer. That room had two entrances. There were random walls and entryways. The only carpet in the house was on the stair leading into the basement.
The basement was really the deal breaker. It smelled like they had 30 cats living in it. And there were dozens of full litter boxes just sitting around to support the claim. To top it all off the house was in a flood zone in an area that has seen an increase in flooding in recent years.
The next house was almost perfect. The seller was offering $3,000 back on the close but we didn’t understand why just looking at it.
It had a double garage with room to park outside. The back yard was huge and could easily accommodate any kids we have as well as their cousins and pets. The living room was beautiful and could fit the entire family comfortably for the holidays.
When we were in the back yard we noticed some slight roofing issues. There was also a creek on the property line slowing taking land away very close to garage. Those were both fairly easy fixes so we assumed that was why the seller was offering money back.
In hindsight I always wish we had gone upstairs before going into the basement. I still wonder if it would have made it tolerable to get the house.
We walked down the stairs into what seemed like a horror/thriller movie scene. The walls were covered with what looked like a vapor barrier. It was plastic with insulation on the other side. But it was just sitting there. It was connected only at the top and allowed to puff out everywhere else.
I went to investigate the area that wasn’t covered. The cement was a completely different shade of gray from how damp and mildewy it was. I said we were done there and walked out. My wife didn’t argue because she knew the standards I had for moisture in basements going into the process.
The next house felt right. We walked in and each just got a feeling about it.
The living room was a nice size. It had one and a half baths, meaning a full bathroom and then a separate room with just a toilet and sink. There were four bedrooms which would give us a room for each planned child and an extra room for a playroom or office area.
The basement was not finished but also showed no signed on moisture. We happened to have looked at it on a rainy day so it would have been easier to spot any water coming in. The basement was also in a state where it was finishable.
The kitchen had a loft ceiling with skylights. One of the things on my wife’s list was a finished kitchen so she fan-girled when she saw it.
The back yard had some Japanese Knotweed taking up most of it but I had grown up around it so I knew it could be dealt with. There was also a sinkhole near property line that we were told the town would be responsible for fixing.
The next house was interesting but I still really liked it. Some of the wiring didn’t make sense. There were switched in rooms for lights in other rooms.
There was also no door to the back yard. We had to walk around the house to get to it, which wouldn’t be so bad if the other houses weren’t so close as to not be sure where the property line was. The basement was at a level where we could have put a door into the foundation. I would have hired someone to do that because I’m not going to risk a house collapsing just for a door.
It was on a dead end street so it would be safe for kids to ride bikes. The basement had a nice family room area on one side and tool storage cabinets on the other side.
The back yard was a steep hill but they made it work very well. It had a large wooden step structure leading down the hill. There were a couple of patios and spaces for growing gardens. And at the bottom was an area that could have been cleared out for kids to play.
We looked at a couple others but I don’t remember them. We decided to go back to the one that gave us the feeling and put an offer in.
The day of our home inspection we found some wiring issues. The circuit breaker box was rusted through because it wasn’t sealed to the outdoors and needed to be replaced. There were some outlets wired wrong and loose wires in some spots.
The furnace blew out a huge flame when started because it is very old and hadn’t been used in a while. But after that it ran fine.
The attic didn’t have any floor in it which wasn’t too much of an issue. They aren’t required to. But it did have loose boards that would shoot up if you moved wrong, like in the movie Christmas Vacation.
The roof had at least 5 layers of shingles on it. The only reason it was deemed safe from collapse was because it is so steep.
It had been the seller’s family home since it was first built so they fought us the entire time we were trying to buy it. They seemed to not actually want to sell it, which made sense to an extent. But it wasn’t the first time it had been listed so clearly they needed to get rid of it.
We said we could fix the electric if the seller fixed the furnace. They refused to fix anything. They said they had another offer who would take it as is.
We told them they could go with the other offer and they decided they could fix the electric but not the furnace.
The days before our closing we did our final walk-through. The first thing we noticed was the dishwasher sitting on the curb in the rain. They had taken out the dishwasher that matched everything and put in one that didn’t match and was rusted on the inside. We sent pictures to our realtor but it ended up not mattering because my boss gave us a dishwasher that wasn’t rusted.
The electric had been technically fixed but had been done poorly.
There was an outlet in one of the bathrooms that was not up to code because it needed to be a Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet. The inspector mis-typed and put “no GFCI” instead of “non-GFCI” so the seller had the electrician install a new outlet next to it that was GFCI. It was also connected to the circuit in the living room downstairs instead of the bathroom it was in.
They left the non-GFCI outlet there. We didn’t know why they had put the outlet in until we were at the close and found out the mortgage company had told them to fix it.
The bare wires in the basement that we had planned to turn into an outlet had been completely disconnected but we don’t know where. The wire leads into the ceiling but I don’t know how to trace it to reconnect it.
And to top it all off when the circuit breaker box was replaced they didn’t tighten the wires to the neutral bar. I spent days pulling my hair out trying to figure out why some of the outlets in the house didn’t work even though they worked during the home inspection.
At the closing they signed a document saying they had never rented out the property. After we moved in we started getting mail for the people who had been renting it. We also found old receipts in the kitchen cabinets from someone who was regularly buying baby products just a few years beforehand. Then when Onyx tore up the carpet in the gym, we found tags from children’s clothing produced in the late 2000’s.
But we went through with everything because we had already had months of stress trying to get the seller to agree to sell. First thing I did when we got the keys was change all the locks. You can never be sure who had an extra copy.