I’m currently in the middle of purchasing a new home. During the last few months, most of my free time has been devoted to finding (and now buying) my home. It’s a scary decision for me for several reasons, the economy as a whole is not great and I hate debt. Owning a condo with no plans to sell it (I will be leasing it) makes everything rather nerve wrecking. Did I mention I was risk adverse?
Well so far I am on my third house offer, not to mention the one that got away (Eastern Market in Capital Hill). I’ve bid on a cute/small townhouse in Capital Hill that was beautifully finished within an inch of it’s life; one I fell in love with in the heart of old town, and now my soon to be new home which is in a wonderful neighborhood. I am not in love with the house I am buying. I am in love with it’s possibilities.
Possibilities, I love that word. The home is on a large lot with a large maple tree that canopies the backyard. The lot is big enough for me to build an artist studio in the backyard and will still have enough room for parking. It’s also not nearly as expensive as the the other two places which means had I rented instead of buying, my rent would be about the same cost-bonus.
What have I learned about the process? Well this market is pretty crazy in the DC area. Will housing prices continue to fall? No idea. I believe that there is a small window of time that rates will stay this low; coupled with a drop in home prices I think this is a good time to buy. But I do understand that house prices may drop more. Since this house is in a desirable area I doubt they will slide further south but you never know. I am prepared to stay in this home for at least five years which should help with volatility as well.
I have looked the tax records of both my current home and the two I placed bids on in Virginia. What I noticed is that the city I live in assesses properties frequently which can be good or bad. Each one I’ve looked at has moved in both directions but generally the trend has been to slowly increase in value. That’s fine by me since I don’t view a home as a finical investment (even though it is one) but rather as a place to live and be.
The home I am purchasing needs some repairs, the siding on the outside has a few issues, a joist (only one thank goodness) needs repaired and the supports require a masonry footing (wasn’t done before for some reason). I plan on insisting on the code items to be repaired and the joist to be replaced (vice asking for a reduction of the agreed price). The kitchen was recently redone (nicely) and the heater/central air are new the wood floors are original and show it with some wear and tear but they are nice. the best thing I like about the place is that, for once, I will have a large enough space for a dining table that I bought in New Mexico as well as a great office space and laundry room on the second floor.
When we found two floorboards moved a bit I bit the bullet and paid for a structural engineer *expensive but well worth it). This man looked at the crawlspace (where the soft floor boards were) as well as the wall and fireplace. I am looking at removing the hall wall -which the neighbors have all done) and am considering whether to remove the fire place as well. So he gave input on that as well. The engineer cost $350 with another $300 if you want a written report. The hosue inspection cost another $500. Although this makes me wince-it will save me money and I believe both can save a buyer money and heartache in the long rung. Once you buy the house it becomes your problem so best to know in advance.