Saturday, March 17, 2007

In Which the Universe Is Abruptly & Inexplicably Kind to Us

So I get home on a Friday, one weary and demoralized traveler, and as soon as I get into my PJs, I check the MLS. Matt's found a house. It's a few blocks from downtown Elgin, sits on a 0.45 acre lot, is 30 minutes from Austin, has not one but two outbuildings/workshops, &c., &c.

How's that for luck?

And while it doesn't have a fireplace, it does have a pretty stone facade and--yay!--high ceilings! AND it's from 1935, which is very cool. It also has 2 stories, which feels slightly more grown up to me than just one story, for some reason.

So we got together with our realtor ASAP to tour the house. We also looked at a few other options in Hutto and Taylor, and once again, our first choice was just phenomenally better than anything else on the market. So we wrote up an offer lickety-split.

The next day, we find out that while we were the first offer, a second offer was made on the same day, and that this second buyer knew that there was already one offer on the table. Our realtor asked us if we could go any higher, and, despondingly, we said, "No can do." So then we sat around and waited to have our offer rejected. But he didn't reject it! He accepted! I was floored. Flummoxed. Flabbergasted. And also agog. We were really finally going to be homeowners.

And so the usual option period fuss began--inspections and lots and lots of paperwork for the loan company, negotiations, and repairs. Imagine our surprise when we heard that the same day the seller accepted our offer, he received two more offers. That's four offers in the space of two days--and the home had only been on the market five days.

So unless the house burns down, we're not too worried about resale value.

We did, however, have to get through the inspection without any major snafus, and we knew there wouldn't be much room for negotiation--the seller had accepted two of the other offers as backups.

Since we're going FHA (and what a bother that's turned out to be--bloody persnickety folk, the FHA), we had to have both a standard inspection and a termite inspection. The standard inspection was fine--there were some fairly small issues, but nothing major--in fact, we were told that the house was in unusually good shape for its age--the plumbing, wiring, and AC had all been replaced within the past 8 or so years. Dandy!

But the termite guy found evidence of a little bit of past termite activity in the house and outbuildings, as well as moisture under one of the bathrooms. Even though there were no active termites, this was a deal-breaker for the loan guys. The house and outbuildings had to be treated or no moola for us. We moaned and fulminated--who cares about the outbuildings, for crying out loud?, we exclaimed. We plan to tear one of them down, anyway. And we want to pull out the leaky shower in the mudroom--do we really have to pay to have the lousy thing fixed? As a never-before-homeowner who grew up on the Gulf Coast, I was under the impression that all termite treatments involve tenting the house and cost many thousands of dollars. Almost all of our modest capital is going to closing costs--how can we possibly swing several thousand over and above that?

But our clever agent thought, "why are we bothering with the outbuildings? they don't constitute part of the value of the home." So she contacted the lender and they came up with an ingenious solution: Have the termite guy remove all reference to outbuildings in his report, and we're fine. We still had to treat the house and fix the stupid shower, but excluding the outbuildings made a huge difference in price. I don't entirely understand the lender's thinking (if it's not on paper, it doesn't exist?), but, hey, I'm not going to complain. In addition, these are apparently some slightly less pernicious termites than the ones I knew from New Orleans and Houston--you just shoot some chemicals into the ground and you're good to go (insofar as shooting poison into the ground could be considered "good," anyway, but that's another subject.)

Meantime, we asked the seller to pick up these costs. Understandably, given the plenitude of offers in his pocket, he drew the line at the termite treatment--we had to pay for the plumbing repair, which fortunately turned out to be minor.

Repairs made and defunct termites rendered even more defunct, we had an appraiser out two weeks ago and it appraised right at selling price. Sometime in the next few days there is to be a survey, but as we've already been "cleared to close" by the lender, the survey is apparently icing on the cake, not another agonizing test of our house's merit.

So we had several weeks of alternating despair and elation, but now (thank goodness), we seem to be coasting serenely towards closing. It's all paint chips and fabric swatches and studying up on how to remove tile counters and refinish floors.

Today I bought the fabric for the guest room curtains (Brown "silk" with very stylish desaturated aqua embroidered flowers--so trendy!), and priced faucets, countertops, and light fixtures at Lowe's. What fun! Bathroom renovation, here we come!

1 comment:

cgc said...

I'm showing off your house to my co-workers :) Since I live in the 1970s and won't be escaping anytime soon, I have to live vicariously through you. Speaking of - hard to live vicariously when there are no pics of most of the house. Get to it, girl ;)

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