House #6 – Lake Orion

by brandt

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the housing market……

As many of you saw a few days ago, House #5 (that’s 5 houses we’ve toured overall) looked like a wonderful prospect.  It was huge, it could use a lot of TLC and a designer’s touch, it was priced wonderfully, and most importantly, it got both Ashley and I geeked.

Naturally, as we’ve learned during the course of this whole home-buying procedure, that means that something is going to go awry.

I mentioned that it was a Homepath house with all those great incentives, most notably the lack of PMI and the extremely low price.  Well, don’t ask me how this happened, but that house wasn’t for sale as a foreclosure through Fannie Mae.  We found out that it was a house up for auction, cash-offers only.  I’m not sure how that can happen, especially when the MLS listings show that home as a foreclosure.  It’s like going in to Wal-Mart, finding a TV listed for $750.00, but when you go to buy it, the sales associate tells you “Oh no no no, that’s actually a TV you’d have to purchase at Best Buy for $1500.00.  Cash only.”

My agent was just as frustrated as me, partially because she’s been working with us for the last 3 months and everything we’ve made good solid offers on has run into problems, and second, it’s bad business sense.  Who honestly has $120,000 to put down in cash on a house?  According to her, the people who go to auction have about $50,000, and they’re making it difficult for us, a young couple going to make an offer that will lock the bank in for 30 years of payments?

I digress.  Needless to say, after I heard this news from my agent, I was a bit bummed.  Back to square one.  I decided to give Realtor.com another chance, and did the common search terms that I always use for finding a deal on a house:

–          Located in Lake Orion, Michigan plus 4 surrounding areas

–          Priced between $0 and $165,000 (outside of our budget, but just in case we can negotiate down)

–          Minimum 3 bedrooms

–          Minimum 2 bathrooms

–          Minimum 2000 sq ft (huge, I know, but I’m looking for deals here)

–          Built within the last 20 years (Ashley’s’ requirement)

Usually the pickin’s slim.  There seems to be some deals, but when I click, many of them are in CCS (Contingent Continue to Show status – there’s an accepted offer, but the agent chooses to keep the house out there).  Even the CCS houses are on my watch list because who knows what could happen.  Well, one of those CCS houses showed up yesterday afternoon as BMK – Back on the Market.  Wow.  Could this be?

I emailed my agent, and asked her what the deal was on the house.  She called me that afternoon, and said it might be an option; she’s going to run over there to check it out.  She also told me that House #2, Rochester, was off the table.  They apparently accepted an offer, and according to the seller’s agent, it was “Oh much much higher.”  *psst…it wasn’t worth that much to begin with*

All of that sets the stage for a crazy night.  I was waiting for the polling booths to close and for the news outlets to start broadcasting the results, Ashley just came home from work, and we were trying to figure out if we wanted to trek out to a new Salvation Army in the area.  At 6:30, we headed out the door.  She needed gas in her little Chevy Tracker, and so after gassing up and the election results started coming through on the radio, I got a phone call.

“Hello?”

“Hi Brandt, its Debra, how are you?”

“I’m great Debra, what’s up?”

“You need to buy this house.  Wow.  This is your house.”

“Huh?”

“I’m over here right now, and Ashley will love this kitchen.  I’ll start taking some pictures and email you.”

“You know, we’re on the road right now, and we’re about 10 minutes away from the house.  Did you want us to swing by?”

“YES.  Hurry on over, you guys are going to love this place!”

Wow.  If our agent is pumped, maybe it was fate that caused me to go on Realtor.com and take another look at the houses?

Of course, there has to be a hang up – this is another short sale, just like House #2.  So we might get all the way to the stage of the bank, and our offer might be rejected.  As a matter of fact, that’s what happened with the previous offer.  My agent said that the sellers were still living in the house and still making payments, so the bank probably figured it wasn’t “bad” enough for them to grant the short sale.  So what did the seller’s agent tell the sellers to do?  Stop making payments, and move out.  It’s sad when it comes to that point, but according to both agents, once that occurs, it gets the bank’s attention real quick.

Here are the details on the house:

–          Built in 1997

–          Listing price: $159.900 (we’re maxing out our pre-approval by offering $153,000, putting 3% down and asking seller to pay 3% of closing costs)

–          3 BR

–          2.5 BA

–          2202 sq ft

–          Finished basement (and it looks great!) at 950 sq ft

–          Vaulted ceilings in the dining area/family room/master bedroom

–          Gas fireplace

–          Included appliances – Dishwasher, disposal, dryer, microwave, refrigerator, stove, washer (though I didn’t see the washer/dryer there)

Sounds pretty good eh?  Just wait until you see the pictures!  I will apologize in advance for the pictures from my phone, I need to clean the lens – there’s some glare from the lights.

It’s in a wonderfully quaint subdivision right off a main road.  We’re the second house from the road, so while there is the noise of traffic, it’s not too bad, and I’m not worried about my kids accidently running out into rush hour traffic.  There’s a normal sized front yard, and a smaller back yard.  We actually looked at another house in this subdivision (the first house we ever looked at) and this house looks MUCH better, I would venture to say it’s one of the nicer houses in the subdivision.

The kitchen is wonderfully big.  I’ve talked a lot about the work triangle, and the kitchen gives a huge work triangle.  Plus, there’s enough counter space for preparing food, cooking food, and eating food.  The wallpaper will go, but that’s about it.  Ashley wants to replace countertops already, and we’d probably replace that circa 1990’s white sink with some nice brushed nickel, and stainless steel appliances.  The cabinet space is wonderful, and whether Ashley decides to paint them or not, at least we’ve got something that isn’t an eyesore for us and for guests.

That’s a continuation of the kitchen, and it leads straight back to a half bath in front and a laundry room on the left.  Again, all appliances that were there are going to stay, which is wonderful for us.

The eating area has its own little nook right next to the kitchen, a basic and easy design.  The linoleum is worn, but not disgusting.  Ashley is formulating a dark hardwood all on the main floor, so it looks like I’m going to have my work cut out for me.  The door you can see peeking to your left leads out to the back, and while it’s not a sliding door, it’s innocuous enough to make you forget it’s there.  Goodness that glare bothers me.  Oh well.

My pictures aren’t very good, so I’m going to cheat and grab them from the Zillow.com website.

Ah.  Much better.  OK, this is the family room, and to the right is the breakfast nook.  It’s got HUGE vaulted ceilings (18 ft at least), and I really like how it feels formal in here.  Gas fireplace with regular brick, and if I really wanted to get my DIY on, we could be like Sherry and John at YoungHouseLove and give that boring red brick fireplace a nice white color.

That’s from the agents pictures.

If you turn around 180 degrees, you will see the front door.

A few notes: the opening to the left leads into the hallway where the laundry room, bathroom, and kitchen all conglomerate.  The door to the back right leads to the garage, the stairs lead upstairs, and if you follow the hallway to the right, you’ll find the master bedroom.

Let’s go right, and see the master.

BAM!  Not the best view, but notice those vaulted ceilings again.  This master isn’t as big as the previous house, but it will all be worth it.  This room runs 15×13.

The closet and bathrooms are one of the best parts, though.

Obviously this is one of my pictures, and obviously I can’t take a good picture to show how big the closet is.  It’s an “L” shape.  You walk in, there’s lots of closet space.  You turn left, there’s even MORE closet space.  No need to figure out how to add more space like the previous house here!

Let’s go to the bathroom (no, not like that).

Jack and Jill sinks are very nice; the soaking tub is very nice.

The shower is very nice, and what’s that door?  Oh yeah, A PRIVATE TOILET!  This way, someone can be getting ready in the morning, and someone can be CENSORED BY ASHLEY


Gosh darn it, sometimes that girl is no fun.

OK, let’s go upstairs.

That railing there looks down over the family room and the dining room.  To the left is another full bath plus a bedroom.  However, one of the coolest things is to the right.

There’s this whole open loft area where it looks like it was used as a play place plus an office, plus a bedroom off to the right.  This way, we can use the area for the office/library, and not have to dedicate a bedroom to it.

There’s the view from the other direction.  Again, basic bathroom plus bedroom – perfect for kids or guests.

Did I mention that this house is still in wonderful condition?  Sure there are things we’d want to change, but compared to many of the short sales we’ve looked at?  Wow – it’s like comparing diamonds to a turd.

There’s one of the views from the balcony up top.  We differ about the railings – Ashley likes the look, I think it looks too much like a jail cell.  I’m sure they put them in because they had kids (and when we have kids, we’ll probably do the same thing), but for now, I’d rather have it seem extremely open than make it seem like we’re about to go on a hunger strike.

Let’s go to the basement.

The carpeting is cheaper thinner carpeting, but it’s finished, so I’m not going to complain.

Wow.  Look at all that room!  And it’s not done!  To the left, to the left.

Wow – just….wow.  That was one of the big things that won Ashley over, the fact that the house was in wonderful condition.  Sure, there’s things we’d like to do (hardwood, countertops, etc), but the fact that we can move in and not feel slimy?  Huge selling point.

So let’s go over the pros and cons.

Pros:

–          Move in ready

–          Meets all the criteria

–          Wonderful resale value

–          School very close by

–          Away from main highway that backs up every morning

–          Close to work

–          Turn right to get out of subdivision to get to work (big plus for Ashley)

–          Close to major shopping outlets

–          Big enough to grow in

Cons:

–          Short sale, so we might be waiting upwards of 4 months (my agent was saying 45 days, but who knows)

–          Offering the max we can afford (higher monthly payment)

–          PMI is included

–          Nearby main road can back up very quickly

–          Nearby homes can bring the home value down

–          Not much money left over for immediate renovations

All in all, we made an offer this morning.  My agent knows the seller’s agent very well, so this should be signed-sealed-delivered to the bank within 24 hours to get the bank’s clock working.  Here’s hoping that 6th time is a charm!

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7 Responses to “House #6 – Lake Orion”

  1. Wow, best of luck to you! How serendipitous!

  2. Now just catch the ball -we will all start running after the catch.

  3. it’s beautiful, i love it and hope you get it!!! eeeeeeeeeeeee! <– that's my super excited squeal by the way…

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