Monday, July 23, 2007

Mr. Kluges's Distraction

(c) 2007 Ms. Huis Herself at

Since Mr. Kluges can't concentrate at work either, here's a guest post about the house from him....

Home. It's a tricky word and one that I think describes more of a feeling than a place. I've really only lived at "home" once in my life. It was where I spent the majority of my life growing up, from age 5 to 18. When my parents sold that house and built another, I lost "home" and ever since then everything else has felt transitory.

In the 35 years of my life, with moving back and forth from college and trips over seas, I figure I've moved over 20 times. I would like to stop moving. I would like to establish somewhere to call home, for a long time. It's what we're looking for here. Our requirements for home here are lengthy and quite frankly, impossible to fully meet, but the most important thing about the place is how does it feel. It's not really a rating that we have, but I think all the things we do rate are subject to that one piece, how does it feel.

I found a house that felt right. It had a large number of defects, but deep down, it felt right. The roof was bad, the foundation looked like it might have had problems, the wiring was ancient, the plumbing was suspect, the bathroom was almost non-existent and resale looked like it could be a problem. But for all these things, it felt right. My wife, being more practical, had concerns about the property. Our real estate agent, who appears to be more practical than either of us also seems to have had concerns.

The propery was put on the Market in September of 2005, when the owner moved to Sidney, Australia. His initial asking price was $280,000, which was grossly over priced. The house sat empty the rest of 2005, all of 2006 and until very recently, all of 2007. He continue to reduce his price, until finally it was listed at $200,000 on July 1st, 2007.

I first noticed the property in the beginning of April, when it was listed higher than we could pay for it, especially with all of its issues. I was not willing to buy the house while ours was still on the market in the Twin Cities. It would have been financial suicide. A lot of things had to come together for us to get that property, and they all seemed unlikely. We would have to sell our house quickly, the price would have to come down and I'd have to come up with a plan on how to deal with all of the issues with the house. I was resigned that someone would buy the property before we could.

But suddenly, things started to happen. Our house did sell quickly, one month from listing to closing. The price did come down to $200,000. All that remained was to look coldly and calmly at the problems with the house, how to fix them and the cost. I went through that process. I read articles and books on taking care of old houses, refurbishing old houses, removing lead, dealing with asbestos, costs of rewiring, how to repoint brick work, tax advantages of historic properties, and so on and so on. It started to feel manageable.

I visited the house several times on my own to walk around the grounds and look at the exterior of the house. I visited the house three times with our agent, including once to do a black light test to look for pet urine damage on the hardwood floors (there was none). We asked if we could pay to have our inspector look at the house before putting in an offer. We wanted to be sure we put in a fair offer and we wanted to make sure we weren't getting in over our heads. The owner never answered our request for an inspection. After another week and a half, and the urine test, we decided to put in a lowball offer anyway.

Up to this point it felt like we might really get the house. It seemed like fate was gently guiding us to this house, that it was meant to be. But then things took a twist. There was already an offer on the house, contigent on the sale of the purchasers' own house. We upped our offer by $5000 (at the buyer's "suggestion") and set a closing date one month out (August 20th). That gave the purchasers 24 hours to either come up with the money and a closing date or forfeit the property.

It's Monday morning and I'm sitting at work, paralyzed with anxiety. I'm waiting for the call from our real estate agent, hopeful that we got the property, but every hour that goes by I grow more and more doubtful. I was hoping that by the time I finished writing this, I'd have an ending, but no luck. And so, I wait...


DiploWhat said...

I continue to be amazed at how inexpensive houses are in the midwest. Or maybe it's how expensive houses are here....Wow.
I was right about my "costs less than our 2 bedroom condo in VA". By a whole 'nuther house and then some!!!!

Mr Kluges said...

Is there a phrase for cheaper than "dirt cheap"? Folks here have no idea how good they have it.

Happy Veggie said...

That house would cost so much more in the TC, even with its issues. Our little three bedroom, one bath with its tiny city lot is worth about that much.

Pusher said...

Just so you know, I'm obsessively refreshing the blog page just in case there's a house update. Joining you in the fretting and fidgeting and hoping really, really hard!