House #4 – Lake Orion

by brandt

Well, we’re off on another house hunt. I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the outside of the house this time, but I got lots of inside pictures.  If you’re on a slower internet connection, be warned.

This is a Homepath house, which means it’s a home that Fannie Mae has foreclosed on. Fannie will get in there and try to make the house liveable and somewhat “move-in ready,” but they’re sold as-is, so get a good inspection. If you can land a Homepath in a good location, you’ll have benefits out the wazoo.

-Low down payment and flexible mortgage terms
-Available to both owner occupiers and investors
-Down payment (at least 3 percent) can be funded by your own savings; a gift; a grant; or a loan from a nonprofit organization, state or local government, or employer
-No mortgage insurance
-No appraisal fees

The 2 biggest things are mortgage insurance and appraisal fees, which means you’re getting a phenominal deal, but sometimes a more “worn out” house.


Listing price – 147,500 (below budget for us)
Bedrooms – 4
Bathrooms – 2.5
Sq Footage – 2017
2 Story Colonial
Partially Finished Basement
Natural Fireplace

All pictures taken from a Motorola Droid phone.


As you walk in the house, you’ve got a nice opening into a big open foyer, which gives some definite separation between the front door and the rest of the house.  You don’t need to worry about throwing dirty dishes in an empty oven in an attempt to clean up if you don’t want to take people outside of this foyer.

As you can kind of see from out the door, they actually live off a  court from the main drag into the subdivision, and the only people that would venture down the court are the people who live there.  it’s got a great open view, and that storm door is a new door (probably something that Fannie went in and replaced).  Again, nice open area in the foyer.

I’ll get into more details when we get to the pictures, but notice that there’s a formal room (or sitting room) right off the entrance that would be great for “nice” furniture, plus the stairs are all real hardwood going up.   The flooring is almost a Pergo type laminate, and I think we would want to continue the hardwood along this main area to give it a nice flow.

While the metal railing can be detracting, that could be a great project to tackle – either painting the metal or completely taking it out and replacing it with wood.  I’m not sure what we would do with the rest of the stairs.  The wood on top is nice, but do you do full hardwood on the stair, or just keep it on the top?

The bathroom on the main floor shows the depth, but not the width of the bathroom.  It’s a skinny bathroom, and it’s got that old-person toilet seat, but aside from that, it’s surprisingly a bigger half-bath than I’ve seen in other houses.  A nice wide sink is also nice for a powder room or an area that someone can get ready for the day in, compared to just a place to do your business and move on with your life.

Here is the formal sitting room and dining room.  This is all BRAND NEW carpeting, a huge selling point for us, as well as fresh neutral color paint.  The biggest problem that Ashley had with House #2 in Rochester was that there wasn’t a clear separation of the dining room – the house depth looked really big because you walk in the door and see to the end of the dining room.  However, the drywall comes in about a foot, maybe a foot and a half on each end signifying a separate room without making you feel like everything is enclosed.  And with new carpeting and a fresh coat of NEUTRAL paint (not white), it gives you something you can move immediately in to and get cracking rather than waiting for professionals to make the house livable.

This was a big selling point for me.  New windows.  Living in a drafty apartment like we do, having good solid windows was a big deal.  Not only does it help the overall comfort of the home, but it improves your home heating bills PLUS it’s something that doesn’t need to be replaced for a long while.

Ah yes, the most important part – the kitchen.  Because it’s a Homepath house, it’s been thoroughly cleaned out.  They even took the dishwasher out (something I’d never seen before).  The cabinet space is tolerable for Ashley, and while it doesn’t have an island (something big on her wish list), the counter space plus pantry makes up for it.  I’m standing in the nook for the eating area taking this picture, so there’s another few feet for a nice table.

It also has a great space for the work triangle of a kitchen.  According to, “As you prepare food, you naturally move between three places where you do three different tasks: cleanup, cooking, and food storage—your sink, cooktop and refrigerator, respectively. Imagine a triangle that connects them. This is your work triangle, and it’s the heart of your kitchen design. Ideally, each side should be at least 4 feet long, but less than 9 feet long. Of course, you’ll also need a place for food preparation like cutting, and the most efficient place for that is within your work triangle. It could be a countertop on an island, or between the cooking and food storage zones.”  This has a great work triangle space, which means less immediate renovation in order to have a functional kitchen.

This picture isn’t the best quality due to lack of lighting, but as you can see, it’s got a natural fireplace with a basic mantle plus bookshselves on the side.  Our flatscreen plus surround receiver plus DVD player would look great up there, but I’m always hesitatnt about flat-mounting against a wall due to the viewing angle of the TV.  It will be something I experiment with.  Again, a neutral light beige color plus new steam cleaned carpeting make this a very tantalizing offer.

Mmmmm….a hot pink deck.  YUMMO.  Thankfully it’s a basic deck that would take me an afternoon to powerwash the paint off, another afternoon to stain it, so it’s not a killer.  The backyard is nice, not much room for a playset, but this subdivision is well known for it’s younger families.  Who knows, we could completely get rid of the deck, put one in about half that size, and have more room for a play set.

We don’t really have fences here in Michigan.  It might be just us, or it might be an east coast west coast thing you feelin’ me (thank you, Phil Dunphy).  Ashley likes the fences, I don’t.  I remember running through everyone’s backyard when I was but a tyke, and all the parents looked out for the kids.  Ashley, not so much.  But I love how open this is back here.

Here’s the basement.  It’s interesting, because part of it is finished, but in an interesting way.  Half of the basement is unfinished storage/laundry, the other half is studded/drywalled plus carpeting/linoleum and cabinetry.  While there’s a lot of work that can be done down here (like getting rid of the cat smell), it’s a start.  The Man Cave looks like it has potential down here, though the Man Cave will probably be turning into a princess kingdom once we have kids.

As we head upstairs, you can see that the hardwood is all on the 2nd floor, but as you will see in upcoming pictures, it needs to be refinished.  It’s legit hardwood, which is very nice, and with our cats, the wear and tear on soemthing like carpeting is minimzied to a few rooms.  Ashley really likes the dark brown hardwood color (like a chocolate or a walnut color), which would make the light walls pop even more.  Again, that metal railing could stay or go (it doesn’t look TOO bad, compared to others we’ve seen), and there’s enough of a protection from random people falling down  the stairwell.

There were 3 bedrooms that had a basic bedroom layout, with new windows plus closet room.  They were spaced out in all 4 corners of the upstairs, with the bathroom being right in front of the stairwell in a nice centralized location.  One of the rooms would make a great office (especially with the hardwood), as well as a couple of spare rooms.  There really wasn’t a bad view in all of the house.

And now we get to the bathroom, with the big dork being caught in the picture again.  I would have liked to have 2 sinks in the bathroom, but I can deal with just one.  The lights were very low hanging, and the tile needed a lot of cleaning work.  The counter would be probably towards the top of the replacement list, but it has a bath+shower combination plus a toilet, and if needs be, this would work.

This is the master bedroom, taken from the bathroom in the corner.  The entrance is in the front left corner.  These are 2 separate closets, and while I’d like to have walk-in closest (or even an area where the 2 of them connect together, it would be nice to have my clothes separated from Ashley so she doesn’t get her girl cooties on my man clothes.

Here’s the master bathroom, and honestly it was a bit smaller than I would like.  I mean, it’s about the same size of our apartment, MAYBE just a bit smaller.  The size doesn’t matter, but the best word to describe this word is “basic.”  I’m not looking for the royal treatment, but in a master bathroom, I’m expecting something a bit…more.  What that is, I’m not sure.  Maybe more counter space, maybe more room, maybe a separate toilet/sink area from the bath/shower, I’m still trying to figure that out.

So let’s look at the pro’s vs. con’s for this house.


– Below budget

– Appraisal/Mortgage Insurance waived

– Good subdivision with benefits (marina + lake privledges)



– Age of the home (we’re looking at something a bit more modern)

– Not a lot of room for improvements

– Lower resale value


All that being said, we’d have to get the house for about $130,000 to $135,000, and becuase it’s a brand new house on the market, we won’t get it for that low.  We’re going to look at another house we’ve already seen this Sunday, and I’m hoping we’ll have some additional information on the short sale we’re still waiting on.




2 Comments to “House #4 – Lake Orion”

  1. my mouth kinda dropped that you could get a 4 bedroom house for $150,000! it makes me wonder if Eric and I will ever be able to afford a home here or if we’ll have to move! the minimum for a home here would be about $400,000 for a small townhome! eek.

  2. That’s been the one really great thing about living in a place like Michigan. Just wait, I might have found a goldmine…we’ll possibly be checking it out this Sunday. We’ve been spoiled because there’s some great houses out there that go for people’s second homes that we’re looking at for a starter home.

    Michigan could always use more fresh blood!!!!!

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