A number of interesting, but only if you were really wondering, things have happened since we last spoke.  I will outline them here, if you are good.

  • We had the FHA appraiser through and it went well.  Conservative appraisal, but I’m told this is not surprising as FHA is usually conservative and they are also realistic with the market.  We think that if we had the same person come in three years from now, it would be much higher, even if the house were in the exact same condition.  Regardless, the appraisal is above what we’re paying, so we’re all good.
  • The city appraiser (or however you classify this person- the non-FHA dude?) is apparently an idiot.  And so is the other agent, possibly.  Some how PEPCO turned off the electric between the time we had the inspection and the following week when the regular appraiser was in.  This was apparently and oversight (what else is new, PEPCO) and no one’s fault but the elecctric company’s.  Except then there is the issue of the water, which WASA says has not been turned off and is active since the 3rd.  The appraiser claims there is no water and he can’t do his inspection.  Well sir, did you try turning it on at the main valve?  I know I’m new at this, but even I am aware of the existence of the little lever that is currently preventing the busted pipe in the basement from spewing expensive H2O throughout the house.  Seriously?  Seriously?
  • Finally, the tidal wave of paperwork has moved into a steady trickle (just like the faucet in the bathroom upstairs!) which has me exponentially less freaked out.  We should find out from the broker what bank we are going with (and the interest rate!) later today and I got confirmation my bonus check will be deposited in time for closing.  AND we have a bunch of people coming to check out the apartment in the next few days.  Sigh of relief, drinks all around!

At this point, the Realtor is relieved my Type A-ness is coming towards a more relaxed middle ground and she can focus more on her work and less on my sudden questions over text message.  And I can start packing these infernal boxes…


The past three days have happened so fast!  No in fact, it seems like last Sunday was just a few days ago (ok, it was a few days ago).  We went out with our Realtor, Lisa, on Sunday with the idea of looking for a back up in case the Gresham offer did not go through (for those playing along at home, Gresham was offer number 263. I’m kidding, but it’s close) and ended up finding one “something to consider” and one “really viable alternative” and we were thrilled with that.  As we drove away from the house on Jefferson we decided that it would be a good idea to go ahead and make the offer.  The Gresham place, after all, was too good to be true and plus we had recently found out they had already received other (read: better) offers.

So onward and upward, Lisa started to do whatever it is she does when we randomly say we want to make an offer on something.  We finished up the initial paperwork on Monday afternoon and our offer was in.  We had hopes for this place for two major reasons: 1) the bank that owned the property was the same bank that Lisa always worked with on her own foreclosure listings and 2) the house was two doors down from a strip club.  Not ideal of course and in fact, Matt and I had a screaming fight about what would happen in six or eight years when we were ready for resale.  Ultimately, we both don’t have strong feelings against strip clubs to begin with and we really liked the house.  Plus there was already a city plan for redevelopment on that street and we felt relatively confident it would be a non-issue in due time.  We didn’t hear anything more from the other agent or the bank that night.

Tuesday was nerve wracking.  Matt did not have to work but I did and all day we didn’t hear anything.  We texted and emailed each other periodically “just to be sure”.  As if one of us would have heard something and then not told the other.  Matt IM’ed me around 2:30: “Can we call Lisa now?”  Not right now, she will call us if she has something to tell us, let’s not pester her.  But ok, we can call her after 5 when the bank is closed.  We never heard from the bank or the other agent that day and I think we both slept a total of 4 hours that night.

Wednesday came and I was swamped with work all morning.  The house did not cross my mind but after talking to Lisa the night before, we felt pretty confident that we would hear something today.  Fortunately I was juggling vice presidents and didn’t have time to stress about it.  That evening the call came from Lisa: we got a counter offer!  What exactly does that mean? my dad asked.  Well, they weren’t completely averse to our offer…

The rest is history, as they say.  We pushed back a little bit, but later heard the bank had another offer and conceded completely to their counter.  We couldn’t stand to lose again and we decided to fight this time.  The afternoon was filled with more anxiety as we continued to not hear anything immediately.  I looked forward to last night because I had a distraction planned for that evening: co-worker’s husband’s concert at the Black Cat. It should do nicely to forget everything for a few hours.  We got home and ate some quick dinner while Matt broke it to me that he had to be at work early the next day.  We decided to skip the show after all (and I totally owe you, yw, I promise we will go next time), and anyway, we might get a call from Lisa.  Our energy quickly drained and we were laying on the couch watching DVRs of Dog Whisperer when Matt’s phone rang.  It was Lisa.

And so here we are.  We have signed more paperwork than I knew could exist today with As-Is addendum and and revisions to the contract and what not.  Matt even had his phone confiscated for all the house-related work he was doing in the middle of the day. I got a call from Lisa a few hours ago saying that we were finished with paperwork and the bank would deliver the contract tomorow, which gives us at least one more day on the clock.  I breathed a sigh of relief and started drawing up my to do list…

We have been house hunting.  There has not been a 3 month lapse between the first shithole we put an offer on and what we’re doing right now.  Rest assured, I spend a good majority of my time wasting at work on redfin.com.  Home ownership is an investment in our future, and we are trying to invest. Desperately, in fact.  Lisa and James (we upgraded to a better model of Realtor since we last spoke) are going to throw a party when we finally land on something.  We have possibly won the award for the people who have been hunting the longest/made the most unsucessful offers in their experience.  So to catch everyone up, a brief photo tour of where we’ve been.

This place had black mold and a pink bathroom.

This place had black mold and a pink bathroom.

We made an offer on this place, were out-offered, attempted to make another offer and were too late.

We made an offer on this place, were out-offered, attempted to make another offer and were too late.

I dont know what the fuck we were thinking here.

I don't know what the fuck we were thinking here.

We seem to be attracted to places with copius plywood.  I believe this went under contract before we could move.

We seem to be attracted to places with copius plywood. I believe this went under contract before we could move.

I honestly dont remember where this is from. Im sure we made an offer on it.

I honestly don't remember where this is from. I'm sure we made an offer on it.

And how could anyone forget the $500,000 in repairs???

And how could anyone forget the $500,000 in repairs???

It has been a long time. We’ve made offers and lost on them for one reason or another. We have not gotten depressed.  We’ve got an offer on a great place a couple of blocks north of where we live now, and while we aren’t hopeful that it will be accepted- it’s really priced way too low and there are other offers on it- but it has been good experience with a short sale (kill me now).  We came across another place this evening and are making an offer on that one too in the hopes that one or the other will eventually take.  One day we’ll get something, and it will be in our price range, and my credit score will be high enough and the dogs will have a yard.  It’s taking some time, but I’m pretty sure we’ll get there one day and I will finally be able to blog you all the details of failed projects, broken foundations and most likely temper tantrums in all their glorious technicolor.

More soon!

So we had our inspection on Monday and as you may be able to tell from the title- well, oh hell no.

We were prepared.  People keep saying sorry to me and looking at me like this horrible thing has happened and I’m going to need some time to get over it.  Um no.  We were aware from the beginning of the very real possibility that the Shithole was way, WAY over our heads.  It turns out we were right on about that.

Days before, Matthew and I had conversations about what exactly we were willing to put up with from the Shithole and what kinds of problems were we willing to stick our neck out for and get a bigger FHA loan.  I imagined the inspector telling us our repairs would cost a bit more than half of what we were offering for the thing in the first place.  That was my max- I would be willing to find a loan to make us whole on this project even if it went all the way up to around 100 grand (not the candy).  I was prepared to consider this offer from the Shithole through conversations with Matthew, our dads, the chihuahuas, random neighbors, co-workers and the Mexicans at the laundromat (although certainly not our mothers, oh god no).

As it turns out a crack in the foundation on three corners of the house, complete roof replacement, upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems, a brand new HVAC system, securing the floor under the bathroom so the tub doesn’t fall through, replacing plaster, framing the basement, laying new floors and painting was going to cost us well over three times what our original offer on the house was going to be.  I can’t even fathom that amount of money.

So we aren’t buying a house then.  At least for another few days.  We’re going back to the “lets keep our eyes open” stage which is very comfortable for me.  We’ll look at houses, consider the possibility of another offer, imagine going on a cruise this spring instead of coming up with a down payment…  I’m fine with that, even if in 2 years we drive by the Shithole and it is has tranformed into a glorious mansion with a hot tub and gourmet kitchen, we now know for certain that we could not have been the ones to bring it to that point.  To me, I can breathe a sigh of relief.  We did not do something wrong, and to have that certified by a professional feels very, very good.

Everyone knows that generally speaking, paying a mortgage makes so much more sense than paying rent.  For one thing, sometimes the monthly payment is less for more square footage.  For another thing, even if it’s about the same price per month, the money is going to come back to you in resale in a mortgage.  When the landlords decided to raise the rent after Matt moved in, our discussion on this point became much more thorough. We decided it was time to “keep an eye out” for the right thing.  And maybe in, you know, about 3, 4 5 months we’d find something in our price range to buy.

Shortly thereafter, Matt ended up waiting on a real estate agent at his restaurant and we had instant access to any property we wanted to see.  And we visited a few in the neighborhood, all the while I nagged Matt, “She does realize that we aren’t going to buy anything any time soon right?  I just don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”  It turns out her job is to work with people who are “just looking” and trying to “get a feel for what’s out there” until she encourages them enough to think that they could buy something and fix it up.  Still, I was pretty sure we needed to learn how to pay our credit card bills on time before we started thinking about getting a friggin’ mortgage!

And then last Monday happened.

Last Monday.  Just a few short weeks after we’d looked at our first property.  2 months, maybe a bit more, since we’d started talking about it in the first place.

I’m signed up to get updates from a few realtors and this place popped up on the market that day.  Well below our price range and in the most up-and-comingest part of our up-and-coming current neighborhood.  In fact, less than half a block from my current high end condo building I was renting from.  We were familiar with the neighborhood and the unwieldiness of the home prices in the blocks around us.

Great opportunity for today’s investor or first-time buyer interested in 203K financing. Property needs total renovation. Roof was replaced. Make an offer on this conveniently located property.

Uh huh.  How bad, exactly, is the fire damage/crumbling foundation/termite nest?  I emailed the listing realtor and didn’t hear back, so on his way to work later that afternoon, Matt called our agent and asked if she could take me over (I was off all last week for the holiday).  Take pictures, I was commanded and off we went.

shit hole dining room

I thought I might die.  The place was a complete Shithole.  The Shithole has feces, bits of gunk and crap, leaves, actual soil, leaves, clothing, cans, and various other bits of disgusting pieces of shit littered throughout the place.  I did not wish to touch a single thing in the house, but fully understood the unbelievable price.  I snapped tons of pictures.  The moment I got home I called my dad and told him to check his email. What did he think?  Not the worst renovation he’s ever seen, but definitely near the top.  But can we handle it?  Well… you get some of the big stuff taken care of by the experts, I think you could handle it maybe…  Matt and I agreed.  It had strong possibilities, and with a promised 300% return on our investment, how could we not consider it?  Despite it being a Shithole.

The Shithole is the definition of investment, sweat equity, climbing the property ladder, and various other titles of shows on HGTV.  We were doubtful and intrigued and cocky but realistic.  We slept on it and then invited Matt’s dad (professional plumber) over to check the place out.

"The plumbing is the least of your concerns."

"The plumbing is the least of your concerns."

He concurred. The place was a Shithole.  But he didn’t notice any horrendous problems one could cope with.  Except the roof, which during my dark tour the first time around, I did not notice the significant water damage on the south corner of the house.  Oops.  This would be a problem, but hopefully not something our 203K financing couldn’t cover for us to make the place livable.

So we made an offer.  Just like that.  We made an offer on our first house yesterday.  We slept on it one more night of course, and discussed how much we would offer (I suggested $20,000, but evidently this isn’t enough) and what our contingencies should be.  (We ended up offering about 11% less than the asking price, plus the seller had to clean out the debris and contingent upon a satisfactory inspection).  The next day we met the real estate agent at Matt’s restaurant and signed the papers.  Our 14 day clock starts now.