House #8 – Lake Orion

by brandt

So much for resting during the holidays, eh?  Ashley and I both thought that the availability of houses was going to really hit a low point because of both the winter months and the holiday.  That was, until we found out that we were pre-approved for a much higher amount under a Homepath Renovation mortgage.  Right now, I’m in the process of getting an updated FHA pre-approval since ours expired on the 22nd.  After we informed our agent of the increase, we asked for the MLS listings to reflect a higher price.  Wow.  All I know is that there were a lot more houses that were really interesting as soon as we made that jump.  Which gets us to House #8.

Here’s the important details:

  • Built in 1994
  • 4 BR
  • 2.5 BA
  • Unfinished Basement
  • Colonial style home
  • 2,235 square feet
  • Great school district (my old school district, plus the district my mother teaches in)
  • Listing Price: $175,000

So it’s a bit high.  And it’s not a Homepath, it’s a regular private sale.  And it’s a short sale, and we know how much luck we’ve had with short sales.  However, if anything, looking doesn’t cost anything, so we asked our agent to set up an appointment for us to view it over the break.

My initial impressions from the outside were very positive.  The subdivision is a nice small one, right off from the main road.  The house is set farther back in the subdivision so we don’t have that much of the road traffic to worry about, and unless our kids went on an absolute tear and decided to get a 10 minute head start on us by running, there’s no way they would make it to the main road.  It was snowy outside, so we couldn’t really see the location of the wetlands behind it as well as the foliage of the trees, but I have a pretty good idea of what the back looks like.  I wasn’t prepared for what I saw inside, though.

Here’s the entrance.  It’s nice.  There’s hardwood leading into the kitchen, and while the entryway is a bit small, it’s nothing that I’m overly concerned about.  And yes, that is blue carpeting on the stairs, but at least it’s in good shape.  It’s something we’d obviously want to change, but we could live with it while trying to get our feet under us.

As you follow that entrance to the kitchen, you find a couple of things.  First, on the left, is your basic half bathroom.  On the right is an entryway to the basement with carpeted stairs and painted walls heading down.  There’s also a step going down to get to those stairs with a door leading out to the garage.  It provides a nice landing to take shoes off from coming in from the garage, as well as an obvious sign that you’re heading to another room.

Sure, it’s a pink bathroom.  But if I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s this: A bathroom can never be too big, but a bathroom can be too small.  Enough room to do the business and get on with your life without being claustrophobic, disgusted, or paranoid that someone is going to…erm…”break your concentration.”

Before we hit the kitchen we find this little conundrum.  What is this?  Hardwood?  Meeting Tile?  And that’s real tile, with real molding around those walls?  Yeah, like chocolate and milk, peanut butter and jelly, Sir Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, it was quite the wonderful sight to my eyes.  And then I looked up.  And I almost shed a tear.

Yes, that is the kitchen.  Plenty of counter space.  Awesome recessed lighting.  Very nice cabinets.  Tile flooring.  Appliances included (including refrigerator).  And one of the best parts is something you have to look closely for.

Yes friends, what you see there is the magical 7 letter word all us DIY renovator like to call G-R-A-N-I-T-E.  And it was good.  So the kitchen has a great area as well as a nice little breakfast nook, which leads into the family room.

Hardwood there as well, plus a great brick fireplace (I much prefer brick to slate) and a wonderful mantle as well.  There’s a sliding glass door out the back which leads out to the wetlands/forested area.

The great part about Michigan is that you’re never too far from trees and water.  The bad part is that sometimes that water is wetlands, which is just a breeding ground for mosquitos.  I mean, summers are all about having barbecues before the mosquitos come out at 7:30 at night, and then quickly rushing everyone inside before they get eaten alive.  Now I’ve heard of some methods (my agent was telling me about this disk you put in the water that takes care of them), but we’ll figure that out when we get there.

The tour now takes us back inside to the dining room.

While I think the blue might be a bit much, the thing that really gives me a ton of hope is that wonderful detailing they did along the walls.  This dining room transitions into a formal sitting room giving you view of the front yard.  Upstairs we go!

This is the view from the master bedroom.  At the end of the hall there’s a bedroom at either end.  There’s a bathroom down the right side, and then there’s a little surprise in the door on the left…

I’ve only seen a few of these – a second floor laundry!  A very nice addition (since most people have bedrooms on the second floor of their house, and most of the clothes would be stored in said-bedrooms).  I would have never thought to put one up there, but it makes a lot of sense to do so.  Quick, to the bedroom!

This was the best view I could get based on the sun through the windows.  The master was very big, had great vaulted ceilings, and lead into a very spacious master bathroom.  It looks like whoever was living here doubled this as their office (based on the hard-plastic liner they had on the carpeting).  The walk-in closet, however, isn’t in the bedroom, a trend I’ve seen in a couple of houses now.  It’s actually in the bathroom.  So let’s go there, shall we?

Basic his and her sinks with a big ol mirror as soon as you walk in, plus a door for privacy.  And what’s that in the back of the picture?  Ohh…I see it now.  Another tub?

While it’s not like the previous house we toured, with the amazing jacuzzi bath, it still passes the Ashley test:

  1. Can I fit in it?
  2. Is it gross?
  3. Does it look OK?

As long as it passes those 3 criteria, she’s OK with it.  I could care less, I don’t take baths.  Men don’t take baths.  Anyways, as you look to the back of the bathroom, you’ll find a shower, a separate room where the toilet is located, and the (smaller-ish) walk in closet.

Next on the tour was the other bedrooms.  There wasn’t anything overly marvelous or utterly disgusting about the bedrooms, they were your basic sleeping areas.  But one thing did stand out to me.  They all had light/ceiling fan combinations.  And they looked really nice.  Here’s a few shots of the rooms:

Bedroom OneBedroom Two.

Bedroom Three.

But that’s not the most interesting part.  Take a look at these fan/lamps:

Upon further inspection, it’s a Hampton Bay indoor ceiling fan.  And upon even further inspection, it looks to be very good. And it’s really amazing how much little details like this can add pop to a room.  I mean, the fact that it was brushed nickel, the fact that the blades were dusted, and the fact that the room was bare made me walk into the room and say “Wow, look at this.”

Anyways, the upstairs bathroom was next, and there’s not much to say about your basic bathroom setup.

Dual sinks, a toilet, and a shower/bath.  That works for me!

The basement was dark, so the pictures didn’t turn out too well there, but the nice part was that it was unfinished.  We could get in there and stud those walls out and turn it into a total man cave.  While it wouldn’t be a fully finished basement with bathroom and everything, it would still do the job for football (when Ashley wants to change the channel).


  • Meets our minimum requirements for houses
  • Secluded subdivision
  • Nice modern upgrades (ceiling fans, granite counter tops, hardwood floors)
  • Minimal cosmetic cleanup to make it livable
  • Easy access to major freeways and highways to get to work


  • Better potential houses coming on the market soon (we’ve got our eye on one foreclosure in particular)
  • FHA loan, which means we’d be paying PMI
  • Short sale, which could take up to 3 months to close
  • Less money available for renovations/fix ups.

Needless to say, this house is on the list of high-priority houses.  Because there might be a few more coming down the pipeline (and this house has stayed stagnant for the past 2 months).  I think we’re going to make a decision on Monday as to what we want to do…

(and that, folks, is called a “hook.”  Stay tuned for updates!)


16 Responses to “House #8 – Lake Orion”

  1. Um this house is awesome! Okay I’m a little biased, the rooms seem to be set up quite like mine. The kitchen is the reverse layout of mine, I have double sinks in my master and hall bath, the hardwoods, moldings.. I’d take it!

    Oh and can I tell you how jealous I am of that price???? Good lord you can’t buy a shoebox for that in NJ!

  2. I’m with Rebecca – hello huge house for a smokin’ price! But every market is different of course, and getting something that doesn’t come with PMI is a MAJOR plus. Can’t wait to see the other two!

    • One of the other houses coming up is super cute. Brandt hates it when I say cute, but it is. The upstairs floor plan is pretty cool and a partially finished basement. Hopefully you will see it soon.

  3. Stumbled upon your blog and I’m enjoying your posts! I wish I would have taken more pictures and written down more details while we were searching for our home. Looking back through the notebook my husband kept, it’s difficult to discern what “bathroom good” really means. Very smart approach you both are taking!

    • Thank you! We have family and friends all over the country so this is an easy way to keep people posted on what’s happening in our lives. “Bathroom good” for Brandt means anything big enough to fit him, which is most bathrooms.

  4. Very cute house and great potential for quick fix projects to make it beautiful!

    Hubby and I decided to stay away from short sales because of the waiting time and unexpected turns you might experience with them. A friend of ours stuck with a short sale for 6.5 months until the deal fell through because the bank decided to refinance with the existing owner rather than follow through with the short sale. Ugh!

    Good luck!

  5. You guys always look at such nice houses. Whoever owned that really put a lot of work into it.

    A note for second floor laundry – it typically raises your insurance rates because when a hose/machine breaks it really causes a lot of damage (ruining the ceiling, possibly walls, flooring on both floors, etc.) versus first floor laundry where a busted hose would result in just ruined flooring. Not really something to make a purchase decision on but that might be why they are less common.

    My house (1956) has the laundry machines in the backyard – the used wash water actually drains right onto the back yard through a PVC cuncauction I made. What different worlds we like in, lol.

    • James,

      I never knew that about 2nd floor laundry. I figured it would be a logical place to put it, but knowing that would explain also why there’s a good amount of people who have them on the main floor/basement. And this house was a gorgeous house. I think we’re looking at nice ones because we’re really trying to take advantage of the slumped economy in Michigan. With all the foreclosures/short sales out there, we’re jumping when the market is best.

      I guess that’s one of the few bright spots about living in Michigan during the slump.

  6. What an exciting time in your life, shopping for a home. Good luck, hope you find the ONE. We bought our house 5 years ago and felt at home from the moment we walked in to see it for the first time. This was only the second house we saw and we knew the search was over.

    Now we have fun making the house our own, renovating, decorating and enjoying every moment! It is our new home in the new country, so double excitement.
    Happy New Year.

    • Thanks for the support, Kinga. We’re hoping that we’ll have some good news this week, but it’s been great going through the whole range of emotions, from being totally pumped about finding “THE ONE” to missing out on it and finding “THE ONE” again. It’s been an awesome roller coaster.


  7. Where is this house anyhow? And i was reading your other comments on here. Just thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth to add to James comment about the 2nd floor laundry. Mine is like that too. I do love love love that I dont have to lug clothes up and down the stairs to put them away. HOWEVER, since you probably do not have a washer/dryer yet. Do not, I repeat do not buy a front load. Maybe they are better now, but I have the red LG ones that came out in late 2006. They spin so fast that I literally feel my house shake. I hate it. I set them on low which still does a wonderful job and it has helped, but I always get a bit freaked thinking that at any moment my washer and dryer will crash through the floor and kill me. I lived in a one story when I bought them.


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