Wednesday, January 25, 2012

And Now, A Shorter Honeymoon

Hey, it's all good. There's a reason we're choosing to have me take less time away from work, i.e., uncompensated. We're cutting back from three to two weeks. After all, we're no longer going to be spending a lot of that time house hunting. Instead, we'll be paying for living in both houses!

Yesterday was some day! It started with another quick look at the home offerings available, noting that another couple had fallen to the wayside, victims of other buyers. The buying of Sun City homes has certainly picked up since the new year started. Even the radio has commented on things starting to look up nationwide. Not only have some gone away, others show raises in price, not drops. It might be time to hop aboard while there was still something we could afford.

I took another look at one home that we'd considered above our top budget - by just $100! Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1365 sf, two (!) lanais, one with gas fireplace, fenced back yard, front and back tall pine trees, plenty of storage....

It was time to hop online with a query to our agent. I'd picked her because she was the listing agent on the very first piece of property we were interested in on line, and we stuck with her because she's been extremely helpful. She's half of a husband/wife team of realtors. Was this one still actually available or had the bank simply not de-listed it yet? Had they been in it and did they know if it stinks of cigarette smoke? And were my impressions right that houses were really starting to move?

Then after working half a (slow) day, I hopped on the phone as well, between jobs. This time I spoke to her husband, who was actually enroute to view the home for me. Another great idea popped into my head, with the potential of saving me about $800 in air fare in coming down to view the property myself. Yes, I know buying sight-unseen is risky. Some would say foolhardy. However...

I called Joan and Bob. Joan has been my best friend for many years, and has, to me , a great sense of how homes work well and what makes them livable. Being a former landlord of the other half of the duplex she lived in, she has a sense of repairs and maintenance, and has hands-on experience with many redecorating chores. Bob is a retired building inspector. Were they busy? And might they like to go view this house for me and give feedback on what's good/bad about it? Their opinions I trust way above any realtor hoping for a sale.

With a little back and forth calling to arrange a meeting, they agreed.

Twenty minutes after the appointment started, I heard first from the realtor. He mentioned that it was dated inside, and carpets needed replacing. Some floors were laminate, such as lanai, kitchen and master bedroom. Kool! Being somewhat dated myself, I can live with ugly while the budget adjusts and more money becomes available to make alterations. The pepto-bismol-pink kitchen walls can be painted fairly quickly, and holes in walls from pictures be mudded over easily. Dirty carpets will wait a bit longer, as will wallpaper removal.

Then Joan called, and we talked for over half an hour. She was overwhelmed by the size of the cleanup of dirty walls and ugly carpets, but again I expected to repaint and eliminate carpets. Bedrooms are big enough without being unnecessarily huge, kitchen is adequate, both tub and shower are walk-in. Some repairs are needed: a window is broken in one corner, a screen is ripped, some of the laminate flooring has water damage but I was planning to have tile in the bathroom and kitchen instead, being much easier to keep clean and undamaged in the presence of water. An awning over the front of the carport has had something tall back into it at some point, but that can wait a few years. The bifold doors for the third bedroom closet have been removed, but that can easily become open access den storage/shelving.

Two huge citrus trees in back have been removed, and the stumps will have to be dug and the trees replaced. Maybe one orange, one lime? The screen lanai is shaded by the back pine, and Steve is excited by having his own special smoking area. There's a dog door off the room with cupboards and a workbench, out to a section of the back yard that's fenced off from the rest. The old furnace has been replaced with a heat pump, the roof is about 5 years old, and so is the air conditioner thingy on top of it. Even with the trees there is room on the roof for solar panels to go in and function well.

They sent lots of pictures. So did the realtor. They are distinctly different, one showing everything good about the house, the other showing flaws. Funny. Predictable.

The upshot is: great bones, help from family with cleaning/painting/flooring, and a buy-now price. As a matter of fact, it's an approved short-sale, with a time limit expiring in two days before it would go in to foreclosure if there were no pending offers, at which point it would disappear off the market for months. It was time to decide.

I did.

We did.

A call to the realtor and documents were written up and send on-line, along with a link to a site where I could e-sign. Since there were only about 18 pages of them to be read, it took a while. By about 11:00 PM last night, the signing was done. Today I'll hit the copy machine to create copies of the statements which show where my cash assets lie, proof that I can, in fact, buy this property. I also get to cut a check for $2,000 earnest money and put them all in a Priority mail envelope to hit the title company tomorrow morning.

Assuming the offer's accepted, I close March 15th, exactly on time for when I can tap two of the funds without penalties for early withdrawal. On the plus side, I will close out the US Bank IRAs where they changed the rules on me and decided they were entitled to tap $30 a year from them for "managing my retirement account". Yes, there's a penalty. There's also an end to the aggravation of dealing with them. I call that a win-win.

I think I finally fell asleep about 2:00 AM.

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