We are not homeowners … yet. 🙂
Reading back on my posts last week, you can tell I was a LITTLE over-eager. Just a touch excited. Let’s recap some of my quotes from last week:
“But I totes love the house. (Don’t tell my realtor I said that.)”
“When we got home after stalking the house/neighborhood for a good half hour tonight…”
“I also just happened to find the house that we’re going to buy today.”
“I found our house.”
“I mean, we haven’t even been in it yet…”
“We drove by it tonight and we’re even more obsessed with it now.”
“It has everything we want.”
WOW! I need to slow it down a bit. Good thing I’m married; I would NOT be good at all those dating games people play where they have to wait 3 days to call or wait 2 days to return a call or whatever.
So, here’s what happened this weekend:
Friday: We looked at 6 houses, including our dream house that I drooled all over last week.
Four of the houses were beyond depressing (like, take down your disco ball and remove your TWO 100 gallon, dirty fish tanks that contain “creatures” and have sticky labels attached warning visitors not to “tap on the glass” – WTF people?).
One of those homes was brand-new and beautiful, but had an odd layout and ZERO backyard.
The last house was the one I’d been obsessed with all week.
We definitely liked the house (we’ll call it House #1). It wasn’t as amazing in person as it seemed in the pictures, but when is that ever the case?
It meets most of our requirements (aside from a finished basement) and the backyard/deck/fenced yard/neighborhood ARE amazing. We know we can’t change these things, but we can change everything inside.
Saturday: We talked about House #1 all weekend. Our realtor sent us some comps in the same neighborhood. (Comps are comparable houses that have sold in the last year or are on the market.) In our opinion, the comps helped our situation in that many of them sold for way less than their listing price and a couple similar houses sold for less than House #1 is listed at.
Sunday: House #1 just happened to be hosting an open house on Sunday. I invited my parents to come along with us to the open house since they know way more about this house-buying business than Adam or I do.
We spent a solid hour at the house looking it over with my parents. I was happy because only 3 other lookers came during the 3-hour open house. Most of them only stayed for 5-10 minutes, which is also a good sign that no one else is truly interested in it.
(The agents are trying to tell us that there is another interested buyer. I would think that if there was another interested buyer, they would have been at the open house staking their claim just like we were. Nope, it was just us.)
While we were in the unfinished basement, we started investigating some cracks in the basement floor. Cracking in a concrete floor is natural over time, but this house is only 7 years old. Plus, the cracks are wider than just the normal hairline cracks.
I pulled up the seller’s disclosure while we were there and they did say there were cracks and that they tried to fix these cracks by making perpendicular cuts into the basement floor (which we saw). The floor also looks like it’s buckling slightly upward which hints to some pressure below the foundation – water possibly.
New homes are built on something called a vapor barrier, so there isn’t much of a chance of leaking (yet), but if there is water pressure under the house now, there is a chance in the future.
Obviously, this concerns us.
Today: We still really like the house, but this IS a buyer’s market.
Many more homes will start to pop up on the market as the weather gets warmer and I don’t want to feel forced into the first home we love just yet.
The seller’s are motivated and have already moved away for a new job (to Denver actually). There’s a chance they could keep dropping their price.
If the house is still on the market and they drop their price, we might make our move. But I want to see what homes come up over the next few weeks/months.
I’m still stalking the house online to see if an offer is made (our realtor will let us know that, too), but I’m not betting on it. Homes in the price range that this house is in are just not selling right now.
Pictures: I am SO sorry I didn’t get any pictures for you guys! I would post the ones from the listing on the Internet, but I don’t want to do that in case some creeper can trace the pictures back to their original location. If we visit the house again, I will definitely get pictures for you. AND, if we lose out on this house and continue our hunt, I’ll take more pictures of those houses, too. (Trust me, you didn’t want to see pictures of the other houses we saw last Friday – they were depressing.)
The house hunt continues!
What do you think about our decision to wait? Any basement experts out there?
Check out some of my writing on these fabulous blogs:
Seven Rules for Intentional Love (on Makeunder My Life)
The Tax-Document Checklist; A No-Stress Guide To Filing Your Taxes, Part 1 (on Money Under 30 – the first in a 6-part series on tax prep)
Often, basements and foundations in brand new houses need to “settle,” which leads to some natural cracking. Since the weight of the house is pushing the foundation down and shifts slightly as time progresses, it’s often very normal to see cracking in a basement that is 3-10 years old. However, if you’re worried, I’d hire a home inspector (it costs about $400-500 CDN up here in Toronto, so it may only be worth it if you are pursuing an offer.)
Thanks for the tip! That makes sense. These cracks were wider than normal settling cracks, though. And the previous homeowners thought it was enough of a concern to take action to stop the cracks. There is also SLIGHT buckling upwards in the foundation. You only notice it if you are REALLY looking for it. But I think you’re right that new homes need to settle. If we make an offer eventually, we’ll do an inspection and bring in a structural engineer to check things out.
That sucks! You could always do an inspection now (cost: maybe $300-700) and see, before putting an offer in. Or you can put an offer in and then do an inspection and you can back out if it doesn’t pass the inspection.
I definitely think that houses would be more likely to be depressing. I only looked at townhouses and condos, which were all pretty nice. My realtor actually would walk through places before we went and looked at them together and we would cross some out that way. That also helped me to only see the nice ones. Seriously, I looked at ZERO depressing or ugly or bad places.
I think that you guys waiting isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is always going to be more houses out there and you might even like another one better! Have you been checking out redfin.com? I have the app on my phone and it’s addicting to search for places. I also love being able to favorite them – then I could check the stats on the place while wandering around them instead of using the paper printouts my realtor had.
Redfin isn’t in Kansas City 🙁 It’s only available in certain cities. Trulia and Zillow are my best friends right now, though. 🙂
Awww, that sucks! 🙁 I <3 Redfin. You should write a letter to Redfin asking them to at least offer their amazing data in Kansas City as a test run to see how popular it would be there! 😉
If the price of the house ends up dropping, or you decide this house suits your needs and is a good deal, don’t let the cracks prevent you from making an offer. You’re obviously going to have a home inspection clause in any offer, which would easily let you back out if the cracks were a big concern to the inspector. If you feel especially paranoid, and the homebuyers are motivated, you might be able to get them to pay for a structural engineer to check out the cracks and foundation specifically (or you could pay for this yourself, especially if the regular home inspector was concerned — it’d be better to spend that money than buy a house that’s going to have huge foundation issues and costs in the near future). That could be part of your initial offer.
But I also just bought a 5-year old house myself, and can tell you that it is totally normal for houses to settle a lot in this time period, which results in some cracking, shifting, etc. I don’t know what the cracks look like, but I wouldn’t assume they indicate a huge foundation problem without hearing it from an expert.
Best of luck on your house search.
It’s a buyers market so just bide your time, you’ll also get that but feeling that it’s the one. Like you said many, many more should be coming on the market soon. Listen to that little voice in your gut, it’s very persistent.
haha I react the same as you — and I’m not even looking for a home. I found a condo a few weeks ago in my neighborhood and became obsessed with it. I was checking the listing everyday and was ready to go in to the bank and figure out how much mortgage I could get. I’m not sure what came over me; I don’t even care that much for home ownership. Anyway, it ended up selling (for $5000 less than the asking price no less. Damn.) and I’m still a renter.
It’s good that you’re being levelheaded… I need to follow your lead
We’re both buyers and sellers right now (anyone want a beautiful 2bd/2bth condo just outside Chicago?) and certainly understand what you’re going through. We’ve gone to a few open houses where I felt really sorry for the realtor because they were THAT.BAD. Fortunately, our condo is beautiful so we get a lot of looks and our pictures are accurate. I never understood why people take pictures with fancy lenses that change the look of a room, it just ticks me off when I waste my time looking at it and discover that the kitchen they made look spacious with a lens is actually only large enough to fit one person.
I think it’s smart to wait on the house. With our place, and the one we want right now, we just knew right away. Sure, there have been homes that we know we could make work, so if the one we want is sold and nothing else claims that title we have options, but you just know when you find the right house.
It goes without saying that you need to get an inspection, cracks or not. I’ve watched far too many episodes of Holmes on Holmes where people didn’t get inspections that I get kinda irked when Mike comes in and fixes everything for them for free. But don’t be afraid to get additional inspections from experts on one thing if there’s a concern. That couple hundred dollars upfront could save you a ton of money later.
And now, I may hijack the post to mention a few things from a seller’s perspective. Make sure you’re respectful about other people’s homes. I know it sounds obvious, but now that I’m a seller I find out people do the stupidest things when they’re looking at homes. Show up on time, or at least during your appointment window, never early unless you know a place is vacant. We had people show up at least half an hour early and let our dog out (we were planning to go get her before they got there!) who promptly peed on the floor since there were strangers in her house (guess we know what sort of guard dog she is!). Be careful in the feedback you leave too. Don’t be afraid to leave constructive criticism or say the house isn’t for you. That’s a heck of a lot better than leaving a pleasantry that makes the seller think they have a chance. Oh, and it SHOULD go without saying, but don’t ever, EVER bring a dog to a showing (unless they’re a service dog) and then let it pee on the floor and not clean it up or let the owners know (yup, happened to us!).
Sorry to hijack but not being a jerk when looking can only help during negotiations 🙂
If you have reservations – just say NO!!! A home inspection doesn’t actually mean anything legally. Wait until you find a house that you are comfortable and happy with. You are in the best position to buy a house – it is worth the wait to find one that you will continue to love as opposed to one that leaves wondering why you bought it if you have to put the purchase price into repairs.
Ah, house searching…my advice would be to not settle for something you’re not 100% happy with…it is a HUGE decision and one you’ll be stuck with for a while! (no pressure!!) but good luck, the right one will come along in its time.
Love the difference in tone between this post and the first one. Haha. Difference between thinking with your head and heart right? I guess that’s what buying a house is all about, a happy medium between the two.
The Fed just announced they will keep rates at 0% or awfully close through 2014. Does this make you want to hold off on buying a little? I was like you, gung ho ready to buy a house now that we have the cash reserves, but now that I have another two years to save, while not having to worry about interest rates really rising, I’m in no rush. The 80% chance of buying a house in 2012 is probably now closer to 20%.
I think yall made an awesome decision to wait! I know for us when we were looking for a house, we found one that we really wanted, but we decided to wait, just like yall. About a month after, we found an even better house, both in location and actual house! So you just dont know what might happen 🙂 Good luck!
Glad you are thinking with your head and not just your heart. You need both to buy a house, don’t forget that 🙂
We are currently in the process of buying a house in the UK and you are right when you say it’s a buyers market!! We ended up having an offer £11,000 (approx $17500) under the asking price accepted. The trick is not to get too attached to a house that you don’t yet own!
Just because homes are supposed to be built on a vapor barrier unfortunately does not mean that they always are. I specialize in property tax appeals and we’ve handled several construction defect cases that you just wouldn’t believe what the builders did not do. If this house is in a development — i.e., all your neighbors were built at or around the same time or in phases, try to find out if they’ve had any problems that might indicate something wasn’t 100% right with the construction. If there is a homeowners’ association, contact the board to ask about problems that others have had. If there is an HOA and there have ever been problems, somebody is guaranteed to bitch about them at a homeowners’ meeting!
One suggestion to save money when you do finally get to buy your home is to look into appealing your property taxes. (I’m not lobbying for the job, I’m striclty west coast and I think you’re in the midwest?) You can typically do it yourself and save a lot, in some cases for as long as you own your property. This is where having an appraisal comes in handy, you can use that to potentially get your taxes reduced. That can result in an even lower mortgage payment.
Good luck! I’m still in very teeny baby steps of reducing my debt in the hopes that when I am 80 I can finally afford to buy a house (law school loans are the worst).
I’ve never seen a basement slab in a modern home that DIDN’T have some sort of cracking over 2-5 years, that’s completely natural. The time to worry would be if you see the walls of the property showing major cracks due to a shift in foundation.