We've gone way past "planning to buy a house" and are now well into the actual buying process. For those of you not following at home, here's what you've missed since the last post...
Once we got our preapproval and talked to a realtor, we were able to start seeing houses. Our first pick was apparently already under contract... but as things turned out, that's just fine.
A little over a week ago we finally got to go officially looking at houses. We had 3 of them scheduled to see the first night and the first was on the northside of Corning. It was big (2300 sq ft) but it was old. Literally everything inside would need updating soon if not immediately (kitchen). I'm pretty sure all but 2 or 3 rooms had wood panelling (which we actually expected) - and while that could easily be painted to lighten the rooms, the various colors of shag carpeting upstairs in the bedrooms could not.
As nice as it was to finally get to see some houses - the first left us very unimpressed. As we got in the car to head to the next house, this was the first thing out of my mouth: "Well, at least we don't have to worry about buying the first house we see."
House number 2 was in Beaver Dams. It was a bit off of the main road but not terribly far from anything (about 15-20 min to Corning and 10 min to Watkins). The house was a bit more up to date, with a little nicer garage, and some newer things inside. The layout was kind of strange but the house did have some potential. The only surprising thing was how small the lot was for being "out in the country." Only problem was nothing in the house actually pulled us in. It was OK but it wasn't great. Part of that was the location and part of it was the inside.
But that's OK, we had another house to see that night (and who knows how many more after that). House number 3 was actually a late addition to the list - we were supposed to be seeing a different house that was pulled off the market. So the third one ended up being a house that Jen and I found when heading up to the lake. We were driving around Montour Falls to drive by a different house and found this one and almost immediately emailed it to our realtor.
If you've been following Facebook or talking to either one of us at all, you'll already have seen the house. It's this one in Montour Falls. The odd thing about going to see it was that at the time, there were zero interior photos posted online - nor anything remotely helpful in the description. We were going into it somewhat blind. The issue for us was that given the location, lot, appearance, and garage, we were already thinking the place would have to be a complete dump inside for us NOT to really like it.
As soon as we walked in we looked at each other and I think we kind of knew that was our house. We didn't even get completely inside the door. It was nice. It IS nice. All new paint, carpeting, wood trim on everything, a nice staircase to the upstairs... we were sold in the doorway - and I hadn't even been in the garage yet!
There are 3 minor downsides to the entire house that I can come up with. First: the kitchen. It's old - but not nearly as old as the first house. It's like a cheap 80s kitchen - but it was much bigger than what we had and still completely functional (eventually we'd like to replace the doors on the cabinets and paint). The 2nd thing is the bedroom sizes - they're not great - but they're doable. We are actually considering opening up the upstairs to make a massive suite - but who knows. The third option is just the commute to work which goes from about 5-10 minutes to around 30 minutes. That just means some carpooling!
We decided to do a 2nd viewing and take her dad along for a 2nd opinion (he used to be a contractor). But we also found out there was other interest in the house (it had only been on the market for a few days at this point). We found out the next day that there was already 1 offer on the table and a 2nd interested party - but the seller's agent said they would wait for us to decide. The following day we looked again. Nothing had really changed and after a third party approval from her dad, we were ready to offer.
Unfortunately, now there were a total of 2 offers on the house - and we hadn't even sat down to write one up yet. Knowing that there were 2 offers already, we had to consider some strategy in making our offer. Chances were good that one of the other offers was already at the asking price or higher - so we getting any kind of deal on this place was out of the question. Well, I say "deal" based on the asking price - not necessarily based on our perceived value of the house.
One of my major concerns was putting in an offer that came up short but not getting a chance at a counteroffer. So we added a contingency to our contract that we would beat any competing offer by $500 up to a certain price. So we had an initial offer and then a maximum offer. We were also considering asking for some money back for closing - but that went out the window with the other 2 offers on the table - and if we had asked for anything at all back, we would have lost it. The only reason we did get it is because the other offer (that was higher than our maximum) wanted $2500 back for closing. So their offer minus that $2500 was lower than our maximum. So we won.
At this point in time we're knee deep in the entire buying process. Lawyers, contracts, mortgages, inspections, etc. All planned and/or in progress. So much more to come...