April 30, 2006

Inspection shock

I had perfected my inspection fears, leading up to today. Top on my list, the crawl space is filled with oozing, gooey, mold slime, like the Ghostbusters ectoplasm and our inspector runs away in terror.

Today was the day of truth and no one was slimed.

Our inspector was awesome, enthusiastic, informative and techy. He came with a laptop, digital camera and color printer. He produced this beautiful report of the whole house and then walked us through all the problems and brainstormed ways to fix them.

We learned that “Water is our homes worst enemy”. Yes, we have some water issues, but nothing that we can’t fix with some simple remedies. The water problems have not caused any big problems, not yet. This is Atlanta, after all, a place with torrential rainfall.

To throw it all out there, the house has rot, mold, ants, spiders, a little bit of sagging and old, old pipes with an old water heater. It is 60+ years old, and for all that, in really good shape.

In addition to the inspector, our realtor brought in a contractor to make estimates of repairs for our negotiation phase. Hearing all this “bad” news caused a bit of panic. The realtor, inspector and contractor all assured us that it was “a great house” and that what they were finding was not anything out of the ordinary.

They were ready to talk solutions with us, not dire warnings. I’m taking that as a good sign.

This week we will negotiate with the seller about repairs and documentation. Then they will have a few weeks to make repairs before we close. I’m over my initial shock at hearing all the bad things. I still think this is a good house for us.

I did learn that the Atlanta sewers are filled with giant rats. Ew! Thankfully, our house does not have any kind of rodent problem. Phew!

April 27, 2006

All for coming to work

Last weekend my department had an employee outing day. I guess they happen regularly, but this was the first one since I started. It was a Saturday afternoon bowling event. I couldn’t go because I was sleeping and working my standard weekend overnights.

This afternoon an e-mail was sent out announcing the “winners” from the outing. I browsed through it, to see what these prizes were. I didn’t know an employee party meant prizes. There were gift certificates, TV sets and even a Tivo.

At the bottom of the e-mail they announced that all employees who couldn’t come because they were working would get $25 gift certificates for a fish place. One lucky employee who was working won a 13″ Sony TV. That person is me. Me!

For working last weekend I won a TV. This seems way better than the plastic desk clock I got last year from my old job. Who said private sector jobs were bad? Who said you can’t buy employee satisfaction through prizes?

April 24, 2006

Offer update

Great news today, the seller countered our offer by meeting us half-way between our initial offer and their asking price, plus they accepted all the terms we proposed. Our realtor thinks this shows that the seller is confident that the house is in good shape and is motivated to sell.

Yay! We met our realtor at the hour by hour closer to being, our house, to look and walk around the house again and to sign the final offer agreement. Next step is to make an appointment with a home inspector and negotiate the terms for any repairs.

SB kept saying, “This house is so much better than I even realized or remembered.” We have been all smiles today.

I took some photos of the inside.

April 23, 2006

Game on

Today we made our first move, submitting an initial offer on the house (#15). The seller has until noon on Monday to counter our offer and if all goes well we will close in early June.

April 20, 2006

Sleepless nights

I’m learning this week that house hunting causes sleepless nights. Late Tuesday night SB and I continued our on-going, nearly constant discussion of houses. As noted before we’d narrowed it down to 4, 8 and 15. We’d made a pro/con list for each. We’d mulled it over and over and over. We are nothing if not over analytical to the point just before total insanity.

So Tuesday night, well past bed-time, SB put in his pitch for 8, which we both thought of as the most charming but also one with many concerns. He put in his pro arguemnet, I countered with my cons, we reached an impass, we went to sleep.

His most important point was that we, with our super critical, super analytical brains, were sure to find fault with any house and if we continued with our current strategy we would never put in an offer. This balanced with another point of his, that this, being our first house, will not be our dream house, it does not need to be the perfect house, it is just a start.

Wednesday I reflected. I thought. I pondered. I studied the current house listings. I reviewed the photos and I made a decision. I decided that we would probably never find a house as charming, as engaging to us as #8. My concerns about its proximity to the I-20 and McDonalds and it’s lack of storage, were not as huge as I was making them out to be. I told SB we should put in an offer. I felt like we would regret it if we didn’t try for it.

We knew there was an offer in on #8, so SB called our realtor right away last night. We set up a time to meet this morning, prior to which she would find out if the rival offer had been accepted. Then we went to bed.

I tossed. I turned. I got up and wandered the apartment. My thoughts filled with the bad things of this house, the fear of buying a house at all, and the enormity of the commitment to living in Atlanta for five more years. I regressed back to the very core of the house buying motivation. When I did sleep, it was more of the same, nightmares of bad houses, of bad decisions.

This morning, with very little sleep, our realtor called. The rival offer had been accepted last night. While there is still a chance that the deal could fall apart, we acted too slowly and we should consider it gone for now. I felt relieved and SB, while disappointed, said that he was “not really that attached to it”.

After breakfast, at a coffee shop in our hopefully, soon to be new hood, we took a look at our other front runner #15. While we couldn’t go inside, we did measure out the overall dimensions and do a more concentrated examination of the yard.

It meets almost all of our needs and wants. It is easy walking distance to the neighborhood shops and restaurants. It is on a quiet street, on top of a hill. When you stand outside the loudest thing is birds and trees rustling in the wind. It has a landing pad for the motorcycles and basement for bicycles and power tools. It has a laundry room and all new appliances, furnace, AC, windows and roof. It is also cheaper than #8 and in terms of square footage, almost the same. On the pro/con list it is a huge winner over its competitors.

When we got home, I called our landlord to talk about getting out of our lease early. He was happy to hear we are staying in the area and is ready to work with us. SB called our realtor. We are meeting with her on Saturday morning to prepare an offer. I feel much better about this house, and while it may not scream cute the way 8 did, it does have its charm, as Robin and Lnet agree.

I feel comfortable with this decision and pretty confident that we can make it happen. I guess now we start learning the intricacies of negotiating on terms and all the legalities and paperwork. I think tonight I will be sleeping better.

p.s. – As for #4, we think the seller/realtor of that house is trying to pull a fast move. They are being very shady about whether it has a previous offer in or not. We think they are already insincere, which is not a good sign. Also, the house is very small, so we are going to pass on it. There’s no need to get into some sort of false bidding war or to get conned out of money.

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