House #1 – Lake Orion

by brandt

This was the first house that we made an offer on. It came on the market back on September 14th, and we made an offer the previous day. The pictures aren’t going to be as good. This was my first attempt at photographing a home, as well as still learning how to use the camera on my phone.

It was in a wonderful subdivision of Lake Orion, with a great location to many local schools plus dedicated stop lights in front of the subdivision’s road to make getting on the highway much easier (especially because it was close to many schools).

– Listed as a Bank-Owned home
– Listing price: $144,900
– 4BR
– 2.5 BA
– 2417 Sq Ft
– Built in 1992 (within the 20 year range that Ashley was looking for)
– Included Microwave and Dishwasher

Mind you, we had been to a few houses before this, and nothing really struck us. We would look, and frankly be a bit disappointed because we were looking for the best possible deal, and nothing seemed to be out there. After seeing this house, our opinion changed.

The first thing that stood out to me was that this house just needed a little love.  From the exterior landscaping perspective, it had great bones.  There were some great trees and shrubs, but they needed to be trimmed back and contained before it could really POP.  The house “backed up” to the main highway right behind it, but that’s a relative term, as you can see below.


This is facing out the sliding back door near the kitchen inside the house, but as you can tell, there’s enough room for a decent yard, plus a fence, plus what the picture doesn’t show is there’s a sidewalk on the other side of the fence PLUS another 75 yards before you actually hit the main highway.  Even though there’s a bit of noise from the traffic, it’s not overbearing.  As a matter of fact, I might be one of the weirdos that actually likes to listen to cars drive by.

The front of the house has a nice porch area, and I’ve grown really fond of these front porches in the last few months that we’ve been looking.  I actually think they’re very underutilized.  While many might say there’s not a lot of people on their porches in Michigan due to the mosquitos, my question is “Why would you have a porch if you can’t sit on it!”  And I don’t like things “just for show.”  There was room at the end of the picture where I’m at for a couple of chairs and a side table, but I’d want to get in here, trim the trees and shrubbery, perhaps do some painting, and make this porch somewhere that people WANT to sit, not an awkward place to have people stand if you don’t want them in your house.

Again, I’m going to apologize for the weird pictures.  I was still getting my groove at this point.

The one “downside” about this house (if you can call it that) was the paint selection.  My goodness they had interesting ideas about paint.  I think I’m learning that subtly is key when it comes to paint.  For example, green isn’t a bad paint color, but a dark hunter green?  Whoa.  As a matter of fact, every room I went in to that was my first impression, “Whoa.”  Like getting slapped in the face with a wet fish, you notice the boldness of the paint right away.

Also, I’m not much into it, but apparently this house also had some negative fung shui, The stairs were right in front of the door, which apparently means that the energy is rushing either out the door or right up to the upper floor, leaving no positive energy on the main floor.  I don’t know about all that.  All I know is that I don’t want people to walk in and have a direct view of the stairs be the first thing they see.

Let’s go to the kitchen/living room.

This kitchen is where we got our motto of “Looking past the previous owner.”  On first  glance, I looked at this and went “Whoa…green cabinets with BRIGHT yellow walls?”  But then my agent told me to take a closer look.

While there are some cringe-worthy things about this kitchen, look at the positives.  First, paint is easily changed.  It takes time, but structurally it doesn’t affect the house at all.  The counter tops just weren’t a bad color, but with the combination of green cabinets and yellow walls, it didn’t look right.  But there weren’t any nicks or scratches on the counters, and the amount of space was a big plus for Ashley.  The floors were near perfect condition, and the cabinets also had one very good feature:

Almost all the cabinets roll out, and its a nice smooth roll with a ton of space.  It’s a nice feature, but for Ashley, all she cared about was having enough space to store all of her kitchen stuffs.

This is the living room.  I’m noticing a trend about a lot of houses we’ve toured: The colors of the houses we’ve visited aren’t BAD, but they didn’t take into consideration how dark the colors could be.  The thing I’m learning is that it’s probably better to grab a lighter color of what you think you want, and gradually make it darker than go for a bold color (like chocolate-brown).  Another problem is how dark it can make the room feel at night – when we went through, the sun was setting and the electricity wasn’t turned on, and it felt very dark.  Also, they used a lot of mirrors in this house.  Mirrors are good, especially for a smaller room or house because they can reflect the natural light and make everything feel bigger and more roomy.  But when a house is as big as this one was, and when you’ve got entire WALLS dedicated to mirrors, it might be a bit overkill.

Here’s where I became a dork…I decided to take video of the rest of the house, and thus, didn’t have a lot of pictures of the upstairs.  But it needed a lot of repainting (again, there was the bold and dark colors of brown, blue, green, pink, and black.  Yeah, we’d definitely have to get in there and repaint.  However, it was structurally sound, didn’t need MUCH work (repainting, a few TLC type repairs, and landscaping), and was in a wonderful location.

So we made an offer.  The house was listed at $144,900.  We really wanted the house, and our agent said that it would go quickly.  My first impression hit me pretty hard, but I wanted to run it by my agent before I jumped.  I had this feeling that we should probably offer more than the original offering price.  I asked her what she thought about offering $148,000.  She told me she thought that would be a good idea, especially because of the condition and location of the house.  That night, we signed and submitted our offer.

She called the next day, and informed me that we are officially in a “multiple bid” situation, where there were 4 other offers on the house (including ours).  What did that mean?  Well, the bank now wants our “highest and best” offer for the house.  While our agent wasn’t a loan officer, she did have different tools through her agency to help estimate our monthly mortgage cost, which was the most vital information to us.  After going back and forth with different numbers and scenarios (the amount of money we would put down, the amount of seller-paid concessions and closing costs, the amount of the monthly mortgage), we upped our offer to our highest and best, crossed our fingers, wished upon a star, put our 4-leaf clover and lucky horseshoe under our pillow, and prayed to the housing gods to look favorably upon us.

We found out a few days later that the bank had narrowed down the bids to ours and one other bid.  HUZZAH!  And we would find out in 1 business day what the banks decision was.

That was not a good night of sleeping.  I don’t sleep well anyways, but the thought of us potentially getting our first house in this dramatic of a fashion left me a nervous Nellie.

Then, the phone call came.  I summoned up all my courage, and with the phone shaking in my hand, put my agent on speakerphone.

“Hi Brandt, it’s Deb how are you today?”
“I’m great Deb, how are you?”


oh crap.

“I hate to tell you this Brandt, but the bank went with the other offer.”

the housing gods were LAUGHING at me.  Pointing and tossing their heads back and LAUGHING.

“Well, Deb, do we know what the other offer was?”

She told me that we wouldn’t know until the sale had been finalized and the records were made public, but she did reassure me by telling me that they could have had a Conventional loan vs. our FHA loan, they could have had more money down, they could have offered more, who knows.

Then she told me this, which has been one of the most important pieces of information about home buying that I would recommend to anyone.  She said “Brandt, do you think the house was worth more than you offered?”

I thought about it.  Was it?  I mean, it was a great house.  The market was putting it at a great price.  However, we would have been right near a main highway.  We would have had some work to do inside the house.  So we had to ask ourselves “Was it worth it?”

So in the end, we couldn’t’ offer more.  And we wouldn’t have offered more.  We offered our highest and best.  But that little piece of advice is something I would give to anyone.  Know what your personal highest and best offer is.  Don’t get so caught up in the prospect of buying a house or the competitiveness of bidding that you fail to get the deals that are out there.



3 Responses to “House #1 – Lake Orion”

  1. man, i am SO looking forward to buying a house but at the same time, I’m not, just because of things like this. it’s so nerve wracking! I mean such a huge purchase! It’s not like clothes that you can just return. I guess it wasn’t meant to be your dream home…

    i do love it though. I can so much potential. I think i need to move to michigan…your houses are so much prettier than our cookie-cutter track homes we have here…

    • The sad thing is that all these great houses come at a price – last summer (2009) it was very very very depressing. I mean, GM executves not being able to find work anywhere, the entire economy of SE Michigan being based around the auto industry absolutely sucking it up, everything.

      And I was looking for my first job out of college during this time. Yeah. Not a good time at all.

      We’re seeing a rebound here, which is why I’m wanting to grab a house ASAP. If your’e looking for a good place for houses, COME TO MICHIGAN!!!!!! We’ve got lakes too! No oceans, though.


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