Sunday, June 26, 2011

Opportunity knocks

We are confirmed homeowners, Sister A. and I. I haven't had to pay rent or deal with a landlord in over 17 years now, and for A., it's been much longer. The necessity of having to do your own home maintenance instead of relying on a landlord (who may or may not decide to fix things, after all) is far outweighed by the peace of having your own space, without the tramping of elephants from apartments overhead, without loud music or loud arguments from neighbors on the other side of the wall.... And if you want to change or update something in your home--even knock down a wall--by gum, you go right ahead and do it! (But only if it's not a load-bearing wall; otherwise, the house will fall down on you.)

Since we moved to this neighborhood, there've been a couple of houses for sale on our block. One was on the market while we were looking, then it went off-market for a while (probably so the owners could make some improvements), then it went back on the market and sold in a few months. The other house for sale has been sitting empty since shortly after we moved into our house. We've driven by it several times, estimating size and number of bedrooms from its exterior and windows; it's a bit smaller than the other houses in this 'hood, and it has only a one-car garage, unlike all the others. But it looked like a nice, solid house.

Finally, into my head popped a fellow I used to work with--MM, computer-brilliant, single, one car, at or nearing 40, and still renting. I checked the particulars of the house online to make sure the price wouldn't scare a first-timer, then decided to email & ask if he might be interested in becoming a homeowner:

"This is kind of an out-of-the-blue idea, but there's a house on our block that's been for sale since shortly after we moved here (when the PODS guy picked up our POD, he redelivered it half a block away at this house!). It's smaller than the others here, w/ only a 1-car garage & 2 bedrooms, so it's a tough sell in this area, BUT...for a single person who needs an office/computer room, it would be a really nice house. Quiet neighborhood, $69.5K; nice backyard, judging from the pix online; kitchen could stand updating, but only if you mind it; & since the house has been on the market so long, I bet you could get it for a lot less than the starting price....

"You're not a college student anymore. How about settling down? [We] promise not to bug you."

We would be living right up the street from him, see--hence, the reassurance.  :)

Whaddaya know, he was interested! He'd been thinking about a house recently, but hadn't quite convinced himself that the extra cost of getting into and maintaining a house was worth it in the long run (compared to renting? uh, YEAH, it's worth it). Anyway, he got hold of a real estate agent with the company handling that house and, yesterday, A. and I got to tag along while he checked out the house on this block and another in a different area. The temperature was a hundred and HOLY CRAP! degrees, but it was fun, anyway. We love to look at houses, see their potential, and fix them up in our heads. Plus, Sister A. has plenty of experience in home-buying, spotting potential problems, and so forth, which--fortunately for us!--was valuable to MM.

This house has good bones. It's part of an estate, and the elderly person who owned it had slipped on the maintenance a bit in their final years, but there was nothing catastrophic going on. Solid foundation, no cracks, no sign of leaks, windows are serviceable (though they could stand replacing), general layout is good, bedrooms and living room are both good-sized, flooring is cheap but he can replace that later. We liked the place--if either one of us had been house-hunting for ourselves alone a year ago, we would have jumped on it. Good brick houses in that price range are mighty scarce.

Oh, and MM liked it, too, on its own merits and in comparison to the other house we saw yesterday. That's the important part.  :)

I believe he has another house to look at, but it looks to us like all his initial misgivings have departed and he's seriously on the house-buying road. We are so excited for him!


MM said...

Me too! Inspection on Thursday, wherein all of the house's dark maintenance secrets are finally exposed to the light. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing interesting surfaces... ;-)


las794 said...

Consider our fingers crossed & lucky kitty feet rubbed!

Shaggy, Scooby and Scout said...

Just stopped by since we haven't for awhile! What a great story. My son (age 26) bought a house spring a year ago and got in on all those first time homebuyer incentives that were going on. He bought a little post-war 40's house. It had been fixed up to sell, new windows, patio door, carpet(basic), new furnace, water heater, shingles, refinished hard wood floors in kitchen & LR. A nice little place and he got a pretty good deal too. His buddy rents the basement, so he gets help on the mortgage payment too.