Saturday, June 20, 2015

Househunting Part I

When we moved here I figured it'd be about 10 years before we could buy a house. Houses like our rental were going for $450,000, which just seemed insane. Plus, we'd made it out of graduate school with no debt (paid off our car when we moved here), but we also had no savings. And for the past four years I've been saying, "In 10 years we might be able to buy". I've marveled at the insanity of people paying over half a million for these small homes, which just aren't worth that much. I've told friends that the trade-off to having kids young is that we'll never be able to afford to buy a house...but we'll be empty-nesters at 46! But I figured that it might be possible in 10 years, after I finish school, work for a couple years to pay off student loan debt from the masters, and then work a few more years to save up a down payment.

And then Amazon stock prices went way up. And we remembered that part of how they pay you is with stock. And we realized that if we cashed it all in we might have enough for a down payment. Interest rates are still low, and housing prices are skyrocketing, so it seemed better to try to get in before Seattle goes the way of San Francisco.

So, because adding something highly stressful to our plates in the middle of the quarter and while contemplating a job change seemed the way to go, we contacted a realtor that a friend recommended and got the ball rolling. Unfortunately, the rich people somehow missed the memo that they're supposed to live on the east side and Mercer Island (and maybe Magnolia) and have been coming into our neighborhood and offering cash at exorbitant prices for the homes here. There was almost nothing available, in our price range, in our beloved neighborhood.

Our first time out looking at houses we did find one house, miraculously in our price range in our neighborhood. It seemed perfect. It was past the review date, which was also good. So we made an offer and they accepted. We scheduled the inspection. And while there for that realized that we'd somehow missed that the second bedroom was tiny. There was no way the boys were going to be able to share that room as they hit teen years. It was going to be iffy to get a bunkbed in there, let alone anything else. But the lot was large, so an addition was a possibility. And then we started getting the rest of the bad news. The roof needed to be replaced within the year. The deck also needed to be replaced in the next year or two (not to mention the yard needed a TON of work - bamboo and ivy need to be removed, the lawn needed work, etc), they'd not bothered to update all of the electrical while they could have easily done it when finishing the basement, all the pipework was galvanized and would need replacing in five years tops, there was possible asbestos in the attic, and the sewer line to the street was broken (a $20k repair). As we looked at things more closely we started to realize that what work they had done looked like they'd done it themselves - and done a rather shoddy job of it. A day later I realized I was walking into the bathroom or the boys' room at our rental and reveling in how spacious they suddenly seemed. In the end we realized we were both feeling anxious and cramped just thinking about living in that house. We'd have to pour as much as $150k into the house in the next five years - a house already priced at $353/sq ft. So in the end we opted to walk away.


Susan said...

Congrats on the new job. And good luck house hunting. The market out there sounds ridiculous. We've encountered a lot of shoddy diy work as well while house hunting.

Andrea said...

House hunting is so exciting, but wow stressful. That is exciting you guys get to start looking. I can't believe prices are so high there. Good luck with the next house.