Saturday, July 24, 2010

a sign?

I have been thinking that if I'm supposed to switch jobs, or do something in particular, or even buy a particular house, then I will have this feeling of certainty. I know I've had that before about important decisions.

I saw a job posting the other day. All my experience is relevant. The job sounds like a direction I might really like (or maybe I wouldn't?). It does sound like they want someone a lot more senior than me, so maybe I would be rejected and my dilemma solved. My current job, and the people there, have some drawbacks, but I love my immediate colleagues and my boss, the work is varied, the hours are good, everyone is would nice to work outside DC proper. It would be nice to be able to buy an older house further from the beltway! (You notice the theme here?) I could change jobs for something "better" and lose these very important intangible perks.

So I don't know...

But the other day I was thinking about houses. I've seen benefits and drawbacks to the many with which I've been infatuated. I realized the other day, though, that few of the locations have been perfect. There's the one teeny town that I absolutely adore, but it would make for a really hard commute. There's the "castle" house with too much freeway noise, but close to the metro and that super-awesome church. But maybe too much crime in the area? Not absolutely sure. That one was probably the best location across the board, but not perfect.

Do you remember the first "my house"? I visited it with the realtor last year. It's the perfect distance from the metro and the lovely church (albeit unfortunately in opposite directions), in an awesome neighborhood, near friends, pretty street. Of course, it needs a major overhaul, has been sorely neglected (to the point of current safety issues), has a concrete-block foundation instead of a basement, and has only one bathroom. It was also being sold in conjunction with the two adjacent lots - for over $1 million. The homeowners apparently thought that half an acre of land in this area is worth that much even without a viable property on it (the market data does not bear them out, BTW). I asked the realtor about buying just the middle third, but his clients wouldn't budge.

Besides, the house isn't perfectly centered on the lot, so when a house is built to its right, they'll be only a few feet apart (everyone builds to the edge of their lots in this area). Oh, and I think it wouldn't even have land next to it enough for a driveway! I want a driveway.

I should note here that it does have a lot of awesome things - a finishable attic, three good-sized bedrooms (and a fourth that's tiny), a good-sized kitchen (gut job, but good configuration), fireplaces (don't work) in the LR and dining room, tall ceilings, an extra room downstairs for a library, a two-story porch in back (that's, um, not safe to walk on right now). And the location I mentioned - the only one I've seen that actually is the perfect location.

The other day I was reminded of the house and went back to see whether it was still for sale. (At the price they were asking, it was categorically impossible that it would sell; they seemed too stubborn to budge; and it wasn't just a matter of opening a dialog with the realtor, because I did that. He still emails me every so often.) It had been pulled from the market, but at last listing, it was still on for over $1 million.

Today, I opened my daily, futile, look for good new possibilities. And saw...the house. But just the lot with the house on it! And, advertised at 1/3 what they were asking for the triple lot. I know there's a really close comp on the same street that sold for 10% less, and that was last year. But's almost like feasible...

I mean, it needs so much work that I might just not have the budget for it after the purchasing. It needs another bathroom (or two); the fireplaces restored; the 1970s kitchen gutted; the porch's structure reinforced; the siding repaired. And tons of basic cosmetic work.

But it could be a sign...?


  1. The house? For sale at a reasonable price? I think it's a sign :-D

  2. Ooooh, how....interesting? Buying a house is such fun, and I remember being obsessed with it when we bought our first house. Now, of course, we couldn't sell it if we tried, (at least not for what we owe) and so we're renting it out and renting our current home.

    I will say this: whatever your budget is for renovations, plan on doubling it. At least. If it still fits in your budget, then GO FOR IT.



  3. Jo's comment about budget is right on. If you think it'll cost you $50,000 to renovate, then it's probably going to be at least double. When we moved into our (1979) house, there were a couple improvements we knew we had to make. What we didn't know about were all the OTHER things that would turn up over the next couple of years - pricey, pricey things - that didn't show up in a home inspection. We've probably spent $50,000 (or more) on our property in 3 years, and the only planned renovations were the master bath and basement, and floors. The rest were things that kept turning up, and so things we planned on doing never got done (carpet, new AC/heat pump). And we did 99% of the work ourselves - I can't imagine what we'd have paid to hire contractors *shudder*!
    Anyway, I'm not trying to talk you out of buying a house and renovating, but knowing what you're getting into ahead of time is always better :).

  4. It's definitely a sign!!!!!

    Btw, did you post pictures of this property? I can't remember, darned adrenal fatigue!

  5. I hope it's a sign. Just make sure that like Jo and Call Me Mama said that you give yourself extra cushion budgetwise on renovations.