House #10 – Lake Orion

by brandt

We viewed this house last year.  Yes, I know “last year” is only 6 days old, and it’s weird to say that about something that happened a week ago, but it’s true.  I was working from home during the break, and after juggling schedules with the owners of the house, my agent, and our schedule, we finally got a chance to tour the house.

This one was a long shot.  I was scouring through the listings (after getting an updated pre-approval for a much higher amount), and this one was on my radar.  I knew the subdivision, had friends in high school who lived there, it met our location requirements, but it was priced high.  I got in touch with my agent, and figured it couldn’t hurt to take a look.

Welcome to a Michigan Winter Wonderland.  Here’s the nitty-gritty details:

  • Built in 2001
  • 4 BR
  • 2.5 BA
  • Partially Finished basement
  • Colonial style home
  • 2,625 sq ft (!!!!)
  • Same great school district that brought up fine upstanding citizens like me
  • Listing Price – $195,000 (listed as a short sale)

I was a bit confused when I pulled up.  Usually when you see the big bins out in front of a house it means that the home is a foreclosure, and they’re literally taking anything and everything and dumping it in the trash.  Uncaring, I know, but that’s how it goes.  But this is a short sale?  Anyways, we walked inside, and I was kind of surprised at what I saw…

If you click to get a better view of the area around the stairs, you can see that the carpet is all torn up.  And through the left there, you can see into the kitchen, which looks like it’s missing a bit of the ceiling?  So we continued further into the house…

This is an office/dining room that’s to the left of the entryway.  There’s a few things that I really like.  The detail at the top of those pillars is really nice, and the wall goes about halfway up and leaves a huge open space.  Again, it follows that trend of modern homes having very open spaces for their rooms instead of sectioning them off and closing everything up.

This is the formal sitting room to the right of the doorway.  They tried to have some fun with their paint (bold colors like blue, green, pink), but they almost went a bit too bold.  I think some lighter hues could be great, but when you go as bold as they did, it takes away from the room itself and puts more of the focus on the walls.  And having a dark blue color like this could make that room seem really dark when the natural light goes away.

This is from the formal sitting room into the family room.  They’ve stripped all the carpeting from the room, and we would learn later there was a reason for that.  But I really like how the windows on either side of the fireplace let in TONS of natural light, especially balanced out between the fireplace.  In the back, there’s a great backyard but it backs up to an industrial complex.  I drove by there at night once, and while they do have a flood light on the back of the complex, it doesn’t interfere too much with the backyard.

Here’s the shot of the living room from the kitchen.  Again, notice that they’ve stripped ALL the carpeting.  We were having to watch where we walked because there were still carpet tacks exposed.  But with a little TLC, this house would be a beauty.  We were still scratching our head as to what was going on.  It’s a private short-sale.  Why are they stripping all the carpeting?  Why are they doing all this work if it’s not a foreclosure or bank-owned?

This is the view of the kitchen.  Standard Formica counters, lots of storage space, and lots of space to have multiple people in the kitchen at one time (something we’ve been struggling with in our apartment).  I guess I should address that big old elephant in the room.  Where’s the ceiling?  Good question.  They’ve begun the process of stripping all the drywall for some reason, and usually when that happens, there’s an issue with water.  We could see a little bit of water damage on one of the walls (the paint had bubbled with water inside of it), but it didn’t seem like horrible damage, especially because we couldn’t really smell mold.  I was torn, because  this would be a great house to make an offer on to get in, fix up, and make it really pop, but because there wasn’t much information out there, I didn’t want to make an offer and find out that  there needed to be $50,000 worth of work into the house.

Here’s another shot of the kitchen, from the sliding glass door leading out to the deck in the back yard.  Again, I think that a nice warm color in the kitchen really helps make it one of the focal points of the home, but going as bold as they did overshadows things.  In the back there is a mud room type area with the garage to the left, a bathroom straight ahead, and a laundry room to the right.

I really like how this room has its own door.  It’s also off to the side of the house, so it’s not disrupting anything, but still easily accessible.

Again, nothing too special about this room except for a designing thing I’ve noticed.  See, it’s a small bathroom.  You go in there, do your duty (or doodie), and leave.  Having a minimalist sink like this one doesn’t make it feel so cramped like some of the other houses we’ve been in.  Sure, there’s not much room to store things in there, but it also eases up on the possibility of over-storing random items like toilet paper, or soap, or hand towels.  Let’s go upstairs!

Here’s the view as you walk up the stairs looking to the left.  The master bedroom is right in front, another bedroom to the left, and a linen closet to the right.  As you turn right, you’ll see the bathroom plus two more bedrooms.

Bathroom on the right.

Adjoining bedrooms at the other end.

And because the bedrooms are just basic bedrooms, here’s the pictures of them.

Bedroom one.

Bedroom two.  These 2 bedrooms were right next to each other.  Obviously, someone was thinking about painting this room and decided to slap some on the walls and see what it looks like.  I think someone should have recommended John and Sherry’s method (of YoungHouseLove fame) of testing paint – slap a paint swatch on the ceiling with a bit of painter’s tape, instead of wasting money on paint and then having that on your wall until you decide.

Bedroom three.  Remember, this bedroom is on the other side of the hall near the master.  Until this point, the upstairs had carpeting all throughout.  But once we get into the master bedroom, the pieces start falling into place.

Here’s the shot from the back corner of the master.  It’s just a big room, no walk in closet in the room itself, and again, notice that all the carpeting is stripped up?  We’re getting closer and closer to the solution (and although I’m dragging you along like the producers of “LOST,” there will be a solution to this mystery).  Into the bathroom!

To the left of the entrance leads you into a doorway with a shower/toilet combination as well as a big tub right as you walk in.  The shower is a shower, the toilet is a toilet, and I won’t bore you with pictures of those.

This was a nice little addition.  Not only were there his and her sinks, but one of the sinks had a little vanity area.  According to my agent, who knows these things, “It’s a nice little place for Ashley to sit down and put makeup on.”  In between the sinks is a big walk in closet with a few very nice additions.

These structures are all custom-built for this closet, and that costs quite a bit.  Plus, the roll-out baskets were a very nice touch, and there’s no shortage of room for either the shoes or the dress clothes that Ashley and I have acquired over the past little bit.

To the basement!  Which is where we find the last clue to solve the mystery of the trash bin!

We continue down the stairs (which are right off the kitchen underneath the stairs going upstairs) and follow the trend of stripped carpet.  We walked out to the main area, and started putting pieces together.

Again, notice the ceiling was stripped out.  This next picture puts it all in perspective.

That’s facing the wall on the left side.  And notice those streaks?  Those aren’t good.  We found out (later) that the tenants weren’t living in the house at the time, and hadn’t winterized the house.  Big mistake.  There was a pipe valve under the master bathroom toilet that burst, and it’s leaked.  However, because it happened in the winter, and because it wasn’t that long ago, they’ve been able to stave off the mold (for now).  Let’s finish up with the tour and I’ll give my thoughts on what exactly that all means.

The basement has an awesome kitchenette that is to die for.

First, that’s granite counters.  Second, those are nice cabinets.  Third, that’s real tile.  Fourth, that’s a DISHWASHER!  And fifth?

Yes friends, a fireplace.  Oh, but the fun doesn’t stop there!

Again, minimalist bathroom, wonderful tile and fixtures.  But from where am I taking this picture?

Um, yeah, THAT’S THE FREAKING SHOWER!!!!  Floor-to-ceiling tile, and BEAUTIFUL!  There was also a bedroom down here (room only, stripped carpeting) as well as an area of unfinished basement where they had used it for storage.

So what’s the deal?  What did we do?  Well, after doing some poking around, we found out about the burst pipe.  And because we had no clue as to the extent of the damage, we decided not to make an offer.  Believe me, I was very close to making one, and same with my agent.  But then we started getting cold feet a little bit, all because we weren’t sure how the bank would handle it.  I mean, we would have offered low.  Very low.  Especially because we would have to have enough left over for a 203(k) home repair to take care of the damage and make the house livable.  And who’s to say that the bank doesn’t come in and hypothetically say “Yeah, not enough.  We’ll only accept a minimum of $180,000.”  If that’s the case, we’re out.  And the seller was also discussing making the repairs himself, which he would want to be recompensed for.  There were too many “what if’s” out there to make us comfortable, and so at the recommendation of our agent, we walked.


If I wasn’t trying to get in my first house, I would think about this as a possible steal for a fixer-upper/investment property.  The location is superb.  I mean, looking at the comps of the properties around it, this house had the potential for 6 figures in profit after fixing it up.  At the end of the day, though, we just want a good roof over our heads, a place to sleep, and no worries about mold, mildew, or other problems.  I would go through the pros/cons, but because we made a decision and moved on, I won’t.

We’re getting close to finding “the one.”  Ashley doesn’t want me to reveal too much about what’s been going on recently, just because she doesn’t want it to be jinxed, but things are heating up a bit.  Let’s just say that we might be getting closer to hitting that home run!


Want more Ashley’isms?  Want more of Brandt’s bad jokes and social commentary?  Follow us on Twitter @newhouseotblog!  Lame jokes, bad clichés, and over-reaching metaphors abound!


8 Comments to “House #10 – Lake Orion”

  1. oh wow… its got the same zany color scheme as the house i’m renting right now. only we have floors and ceilings… lol

    This would be a fab fixer upper but no bueno for a first home! Hey while you’re at it… wanna find my first home too? haha

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  2. Mold = no good. Solid choice not to offer on this one. But I like the sound of this “heating up.” I’m trying to wait patiently. Emphasis on the “trying.”

    • That was the biggest thing – the mold might have been “manageable,” but I think we don’t want to lock ourselves into a house with a potential of nasty problems with mold and miss out on other opportunities.

      And I’ve been banished by Ashley for saying anything more about anything “heating up.” As soon as things are in the clear, you all will probably be the second to know (after we get the families into the mix)….

      Besides, I gotta give you something to come back for, right?

  3. I love how many pictures you take. We should have done this during our house search. You forget things so quickly! Good choice not to settle for this one.

  4. Oh wow! The house has so much potential! But yes, so much work too. I just found your blog and am looking forward to seeing what house you end up making an offer on!

  5. shame – but there will always be another … like buses 🙂 le

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