Wow, so, it has been just a wee while since I posted an update about the house hunting… we finally closed on the 28th of August! We moved in over Labour Day weekend, and then, of course, I started school the next Tuesday… which would be a big part of why this is the first update since then.
The house is fantastic! We aren’t anywhere near fully unpacked yet… we don’t have nearly enough bookcases. I think in the Spring, we’ll build a floor-to-ceiling bookcase for the living room. Maybe that will hold all the books!
Our first bit of home improvement was to put up a pot rack in the corner of the kitchen. By no means will that be the last, though… I’ve already created a list of projects. For the nonce, however, we’re just getting all buttoned up for the winter in our new home, and I’m knitting ALL the things!… at least, when I’m not at school, or doing homework, anyway. I’m already dreaming of Spring, though, and making plans for the garden. ~squeeee~
The inspection was yesterday, though the radon test won’t be done until tomorrow, and hopefully, it will be warm enough when he’s there to pick up the test equipment for our inspector to test the AC unit. No major issues found, though there are a few things that need to be done, here and there. I’m very pleased with our inspector, Gordon Glidden from US Inspect, I think he works out of their South Lyon office. He was extremely thorough, let the Reverend accompany him throughout the whole inspection and showed him everything he saw, and explained all of the signs, symptoms, things he was looking for, and so on, whilst I trailed after making copious notes.
We ended up meeting the seller, as she was working at home when we were there. She’s very pleasant and definitely a type A personality, so I don’t think having her fix the few things that really should be will be an issue. We also found out that her new house has been delayed slightly, so she’s going to go ahead and move out prior to closing, and we’ll be able to take possession on 15 June! Apparently, she’s selling most of the furniture, anyway – in fact, she offered to leave us her patio set.
The neighbours renting the house behind this one have apparently been storing a bunch of stuff in the wee garage, because reasons. Unfortunately, the one major issue found in the inspection is that one of the walls of that garage is rotting. The grade around the garage is sub-optimal, and the concrete has settled (or just wasn’t originally poured correctly), so it slopes in some areas toward the garage, rather than away, which is bad for drainage and most likely the cause of the issue. Our inspector says that wall has maybe five years left in it, so we’ll have to decide if we want to repair it – which means pretty much re-doing that entire wall, or just remove the garage.
The larger garage has workshop space in the front that would be perfect for a bindery studio when partitioned off from the rest of the garage, and would easily still fit two cars in after such partitioning. On the other side of the workshop space, exterior to but abutting the garage, is a garden shed easily large enough for all of the gardening tools. So, all in all, I don’t see much reason to keep the wee garage. Of course, we won’t need to make a decision on that any time soon.
So, last night, we got the loan application – all 80-some pages of it! – signed. Our mortgage agent has gone ahead and locked in our rate, which is about an eighth of a percentage point lower than originally quoted, and is giving us a credit of some sort on closing costs (I think because of some arrangement with the Reverend’s workplace?), so that’s pretty cool! We need to put together a couple more supporting documents, which should happen today or tomorrow, then we’re off to the underwriters!
Holy cats, I think we’re buying a house!
Well, dear readers, we’ve already heard back from the seller…
Our offer has been accepted!! We’re scheduled to close 15 June, and take possession 15 July, as the seller is waiting for the builders to finish her new home!
Now, there are still things that could go wrong, of course, but pending inspections and our pre-approval turning into an approval, the Dippybirds have a cosy new nest!!
Another day of house touring with our amazing agent, Jeanice Townsend. Seven houses on the list. The first we looked at was a charming cottage built in 1920. Three bedrooms, one bath, one car detached garage. We had such high hopes for this one, even though we weren’t too sure about the size of some of the rooms. We walked in, and the place looked amazing! Wee, yes. No dining room to speak of, just space for a table for two a bit in front of the kitchen island, but the kitchen was completely new. I could still smell the new on the cupboards. Granite counter tops, new stainless steel appliances, new ceramic tile in the kitchen and entry area. New flooring in the living room, as well. New carpet in all the bedrooms. New ceramic tile floor in the bathroom, new tile from the tub to the ceiling in the tub/shower. The tub itself was so new, it still had the care instructions stuck on the side. We were absolutely amazed, and really quite charmed, even if the layout was not particularly efficient… even though the floors had quite a bit of slope and roll going on… even though there was no way we could host a family dinner. And then, the Reverend went into the cellar.
Oh, dear readers, the cellar. A wee unfinished / unfinishable basement. With cracks in the walls. With moisture causing the walls to shed the plaster, concrete, whatever that got put over the cinder blocks. So, the owner put more plaster or whatever on the walls, stuck a dehumidifier in a corner, and left it thus. The Reverend spotted quite a bit of damage, and settling, and structural issues, and as we went back through the house, peering at the walls and ceilings, we started to see all the cracks… we noticed the spot in the ceiling where something in the attic was applying pressure to the wallboard, so hard it was tearing and flexing. Which told us that one of two things was going on here: either the owner doesn’t realise that there is a structural issue, despite all the renovation they’ve done, or b) the structural work the house will need is more expensive than gutting almost the entire house and re-doing every room and floor. A damn shame, that. We clucked and tutted, and off we went.
Next up was a 4 bedroom, one and a half bath two-story brick house built in 1977, with a daylight basement on not quite a third of an acre. We spent quite a bit of time walking through the place, room by room, looking for the feel of the place, looking for any problems we would need to fix. This one has plenty of room, coming in at just over 1500 sq ft. Examining the place, the Reverend noticed that the entire house was wired for ethernet, which is something you don’t see every day. We were intrigued. There are some minor things that would need fixing… the hardwood floor in the kitchen could stand to be refinished, the treads on the stair to the second floor should probably be replaced, and the place could use a couple of coats of paint more interesting than “eggshell”, but it was nice enough. A little more than we wanted to spend for a house that didn’t completely knock our socks off, but it would do. Chalking it up as a definite maybe, off we went to look at a series of houses in developments south of the city.
First on our list was the first house-in-a-development on the list. That one was getting a lot of interest, and the agent was already expecting an offer or two. Tired of that game, we decided to give it a miss.
Next was the nicest of all the devo houses we had picked out to look at. Well within our price range, this one was a three bedroom, two and a half bath “bi-level”, which seems to be kind of like a two story, only you walk in halfway between the floors. Well, about a third of the way, anyway. Upstairs, a nice kitchen, decent living room / dining room combination, with one long side of the living room not being a wall but a railing looking over the entryway. Skylight in the kitchen, one over the living room, and one in the en suite master bath, too. No signs of water damage from them leaking, so that was good. The master bedroom was a good size, as was one of the other bedrooms – definitely large enough for an office for two – the third was a bit small, but could be a perfectly serviceable guest room. The full bath was pretty decently sized, the master is what I’m used to seeing called a three-quarter – that is, toilet, sink, and shower stall. Downstairs, the laundry room, half bath, and a decently sized family room, with a sliding door out to the deck. We walked around the place, noticing pretty much exactly the things we were expecting to see in a mid-90s devo house. The next house on the list was literally the exact same floor plan, but this one had better finishes – nicer appliances, better formica on the counters, skylights, a nicer deck. There was a lot to like in this place. But Jeanice sat down with us and asked us, pretty point blank, “does it feel like home?” We looked at each other, sighed, and shook our heads. “No, it doesn’t. It feels like a hotel.” “A nice hotel,” the Reverend added. But no, this was not us.
So, we scratched all the rest of the
boxes houses made of ticky tacky that all look just the same off our list, and off we went, back into town to look at a house that the Reverend had found online which looked super, super cute, but kind of small. We weren’t so sure about it, but resolved to look at it anyway, because it just looked positively adorable. Two bedroom, one bath, built in 1950 out of stone and wood, less than a thousand square feet, but it had a finished basement that looked promising, lovely garden area, two detached garages, and a three-season porch that looked just impossibly charming.
Oh my goodness gracious me. The Reverend is quite fond of woodpeckers, and as we got out of the car and walked up to the house, one started rat-a-tat-tatting at the top of the maple tree by the front door. I think we might well have been won over the minute we walked onto the property! The owner had baked cookies – peanut butter chocolate chip – and left them in a basket on the kitchen counter with a note to please help ourselves. Yes, the place is a bit small, but the ceilings are high, and there is not one square inch of wasted space in the house. The living / dining room combination is plenty large enough for entertaining – be it game night, movie night, or a family dinner. The kitchen. Oh, my stars and garters, the kitchen! Not huge, but so very cleverly laid out! All through the house, the wood trim is stained and sealed, rather than painted (that is such a pet peeve!). There are cupboards, and built-ins, and storage chest window seats, and holy cats, it is so clever, and cosy, and lovely. I marveled at the fact that there was literally nothing that I was wanting to change about it. I’ve been getting a bit dispirited, as the last entry here shows, but this house, I think it’s The One! Jeanice the Super Agent contacted the seller’s agent to ask about if there were other offers on the house already, or if they were expecting one soon. This place is quite well within our budget, and if necessary, we could bid rather a bit above the list price, if that was what it would take. But no, they haven’t gotten any offers yet, and aren’t expecting any. Well, they’re getting our offer tonight, and the way things have been going, I expect we’ll hear back Friday or Saturday.
So, I’m already starting to dislike house hunting. The housing market in the Ann Arbor / Ypsi area is kind of crazy.
We made an offer on the b est house we saw in our first day of home touring. Unfortunately, neither we nor our agent think the house will appraise for the asking price, or even as much as the second (and final) counter-offer the seller made, so we’ve walked away from that one. We had our second day of house touring. Three houses were on the list. We got to the first one, and our agent told us before we even got out of the car that it was not the house for us. Having seen the house even just from the street, I’m inclined to agree.
The second one in our list was one that we were downright giddy over, just from the pictures. We got there right after an open house finished, and got to walk through with just our agent. Oh, we fell in love with that house. Sadly, so did several other people, so we made an offer for as much over the list price as our budget would allow. Unfortunately for us, someone else was able to offer more than we could. I’m very glad for the seller, quite certain the other family will be very happy with the house, and we’re back to the proverbial drawing board.
I’m starting to wonder exactly what it is that we absolutely need in terms of space, realistically. Do we need a guest bedroom? Is a second bath that important? Do we absolutely require a dining room? Tiny houses are a thing, but I’m not sure they’re a great thing for us. But maybe we could make it work? It seems like it would be rather hard to fix if we got there and concluded that we can’t. As charming as these tiny houses are, I’m not sure I can see my way clear to buying one. Even if our mortgage payments would be that much less than our current rent.
So, the next question becomes: how much work are we willing to do on a house? That’s another way to bring a house into our price range. I’m extremely disinclined to buy a house that will need tens of thousands of dollars of work to make livable, requiring us to continue apartment living whilst also paying a mortgage. I’ve seen how out of hand renovations can get… once you start taking a house apart that has been let go, they have this nasty tendency to need about three times as much work as you thought at the outset, blowing your renovation budget out of the water, extending the time you need to be paying for two homes, and oh, the stress. We’re willing to do some cosmetic work, I think, but nothing that means we can’t move in as soon as we have possession of the place.
There are a lot of devos around, and some of them have nice enough looking houses, I guess, but I don’t trust the solidity of construction in a lot of them, and living in a little box made out of ticky tacky that looks just the same as every other house on the street… well, it just isn’t us.
I’m seriously beginning to wonder if we should just try to find a piece of property and build something new…
Greetings, intrepid readers! It is once again time for the Dippybirds to consider a new nest, and this time we’re looking at home ownership. We’ve finally managed to put enough of a polish on our finances to clear a loan, and have, through a friend, managed to land an excellent Realtor. After doing some looking around we decided on three potentials for our first visit. Here they are, in competition order as noted by Herself:
Not sure the embedded video player works; if not, click the link below.
I know, I know, it seems like it has taken forever for us to post these. Life has been a bit chaotic, as life is wont to do. So, without any further ado… here they are! (well, some of them, anyway. We’re still parsing and labeling.)
We met with our photographer earlier in the month, and were reminded that we still needed to take our engagement photos; you know, while we’re still engaged. So this week that is exactly what we did!
We took most of them on our property, because it’s a lovely place. This one is on a set of steps that lead from the walk-out basement to the porch.
We live on 11 acres, mostly wooded. This shot is in front of a spring-fed pond on the grounds.
There’s more, of course, but these are the first ones to be processed. We’re very excited to see the rest! We also can’t recommend the photographer enough. It can be challenging finding someone who is willing to shoot a Wiccan service, and having to shoot within a circle has its own difficulties. Our photographer is excited and looking forward to the opportunity. Check her out if you get the chance!