Log in

No account? Create an account
House! - Peter is thinking... [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ website | Impromptus ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

House! [Aug. 18th, 2004|06:13 pm]
[Current Mood |relaxedrelaxed]
[Current Music |Dar Williams - Are You Out There?]

So goteam and I are buying a house. Many of you already know this. We are significantly less freaked out than we were previously, mostly due to a combination of having the inspection go well, and spending lots of time lazing around in our new front yard.

Pictures have been added to, there are now copious pictures of the inside.


On Buying a House*

Buying a house is very very strange. Here is how it happened for us all wrapped up in a first and second person description of the process. We saw a house for sale that looked really nice, and we were like "wouldn't it be neat if we could afford one of those", and then laughed an walked away. Then, on the sly, I did the math and figured out that if we were careful we COULD afford it.

Well. That changed everything. So we started looking around at houses. Unfortunately, the process we were about to embark on was going to be really painful. We could already tell. First, you have to deal with some frantic type-A realtor who wants you to buy as huge a house as possible because their commission is a percentage of the sale price, then you have to find someone to lend you a pile of dollar bills that weighs more than you do, which will probably involve talking to some obsessive hyper-anal-retentive money person.

But whatever. We were initially willing to go through with it because why the hell not, right? The first step was to find a broker. After much searching, we found the hippiest broker we could find — this turned out to be the best decision we made in the whole process. After initial consultations with them and other money people in mid-June, they put us on their daily email list that sends out new listings as they come out.

And that's when homebuying starts to break your heart. Because you see listings like "beautiful house that is centrally located for $10,000 less than your max", so you go check it out 2 days later and find out that it sold on the first day for $15,000 more than the asking price because there were 10 offers made on it. Or you see "wonderful 2 bedroom house in your price range that isn't too far out and the price is right and the yard is huge" and you go check it out and it has 7 foot ceilings, which is great for hobbits, but not so much for 6'2" pmbs. So you decide to not offer. A week later that listing reappears for $7,000 less and you have to suck it up and agonize into saying no, despite the fact that there is an awesome pirate ship (1/2 size) in the yard of the people across the street.

So you keep doing this. Again and again. You will see an open house opening up down the street when you go to drop your visiting friend off at the train station. When you return 1.5 hours later, the house is sold with 3 backup offers. As you ride your bike past, you have a brief conversation with the victorious sellers who provide you with the understatement of the year: "It's a seller's market".

After a month you start to despair. You saw the house with the beautiful 100 year old willow tree in the front yard go in 24 hours for a cash offer. Because it turns out that you are competing with people who have the ability to just write a check for a 13 meter stack of bills. You see an inexpensive beautiful craftsman 2 story with a wonderful yard that is 5 miles out and you start thinking "We could buy this house and have enough left over to buy a car to commute with!" and then you stop, because those are bad thoughts. Eventually the despair enters your bones and you ask for a listing that contains every house on the market, and you go through and realize that there isn't one for you there.

When we got to this point, we were ready to quit. You might not have been, but we were. A week later, we got a call that there was a cute little house coming on the market on Friday, and wouldn't we like to ride by it and check it out. The initial ride-by goes well, so I checked out the inside with Pam (Hippie Realtor Lady) on Saturday. That goes well, so Tracy checks it out with Pam on Sunday. After the Sunday viewing we decide that we like it. And if we like it, we should place an offer. So we head back to the office and we see Dave (Hippie Realtor Gentleman) who starts to vacillate between friendly hippie when talking to us and real estate guy when thinking of the offer. It is amazing. Dave is a pretty unique individual. He has the ability to talk to us about money without giving us hives, but he is murderous at the bargaining table.

So here how it goes: you make an offer and your realtor starts putting in high tech legal attacks. You learn about acceleration clauses - which make the bidding work like Ebay which is freaky in itself - and you learn how to borrow more than 80% without getting stuck with mortgage insurance. As you go home that night you start to ruminate on the rate at which things are happening: there was a slow burn until you decided you wanted a house, followed by a period of about 1/2 that figuring out that yes, you definitely CAN afford one, followed by a succession of periods where you look at more and more houses at an ever-increasing rate. Eventually you are revved up the the speed at which the market is operating, and you are able to see a house and decide to make an offer in one day, which is what is usually required. So you make an offer. At that point, events are moving extremely fast and the whole thing has been taken out of your hands and put into the hands of the professionals who know how to move fast. The next day your offer is presented, and you get a phone call "there's going to be another offer". Another offer? "Activate Plan B." So your offer is presented, and it all depends on your realtor's suaveness. You sit around at home clutching your stomach and getting phone calls that have nothing to do with the house. People call to say hello and you want to shout at them to go away and not talk to you. You get hangup phone calls. Finally you get a call: "Congratulations! Come to the office and sign stuff."

This is all moving much too fast.

But you do it anyway, at the speed of light, relatively speaking. Each successive interval has dropped by half; surely you have hit the singularity, right?!?


The seller wants to close quickly. He took your offer over the other one because you said "we can't offer too much more money, but we can offer to close quickly". Which means that you now have 2 weeks to line up everything. 2 weeks to make sure you aren't getting screwed. 2 weeks to get an inspection and approve it. 2 weeks to verify that the neighborhood doesn't suck. 2 weeks to make sure the neighbors aren't operating a crack house. 2 weeks to bargain about any issues found in the inspection. 2 weeks to contact the city and find out about any easements or boundary issues or tax problems. 2 weeks to get house insurance. 2 weeks to get a loan finalized and your rate locked. On a per hour basis, these prove to be the wealthiest 2 weeks of your life. As an example, I made $193 dollars in the half hour it took to type this up.

Surely it can get no faster, more tense, and more hectic than this? Well, we shall see...

...in the meantime, the house is turning into a pit, the cat is screaming at me about feeding him irregularly and late, I fell way behind on grading, my Java gig has lain dormant for about a week, and I haven't done any research in a long while. Time to play some catch-up.

* - tense in this description will be strange

[User Picture]From: dmyersta
2004-08-19 09:37 am (UTC)
I can oh so sympathize. That was part of the reason the process took us from Oct. to June because we decided we wanted *this* house, thank you, and it took a while to get people to change from the "this is what you want/have - which house fits?" paradigm to the "this is the house we want - what does it take to get it?" paradigm...

(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: joyquality
2004-08-19 10:48 am (UTC)
On some of the pictures, I thought "man, the ceiling seems really low." Then it occurred to me that the pictures were taken by someone much taller than me.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: akjdg
2004-08-19 08:31 pm (UTC)


That sounds very familiar. Doncha just love it?

Your house looks awesome. nice exterior lines, nice happy yard, nice woody floors, and ooo, those trusses. 2x4s of the big old kind, with handmade plywood plates. When was it built?

Alas, my picky eye saw a few things, not in any way negative, on the contrary, they give you something fun to think about!

1) Is there any insulation in your attic? It looks like drywall on the bottom of 2x4 bottom chord onn your trusses, but there's 'stuff' sitting on the drywall, which seems doubtful.

2) How far away is the nearest support for the gas line feeding the furnace? I didn't see any, and Oregon is still (me thinks?) earthquake country, might be something to consider. Perhaps your local codes don't require anything.

3) Earthquake restraints on the hot water heater? again contingent upon your code and seismic design designation for your area.

Looks like you're very nicely situated between two parques. Simply awesome! And remember - its not debt, its a house!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: pmb
2004-08-19 08:50 pm (UTC)

Re: Yess...

We have 12" of blown-in insulation in the attic

"Support for the gas line feeding the furnace" is not a sentence fragment I understand. I know what all the words mean, but combined they confuse me. Do you mean like a check valve? Or more like physical holders so that the line won't whack around too much if shaken?

Oregon is not an official earthquake zone, or at least Eugene isn't.

Another thing you might find interesting is that the house is on expansive clay soil. Things like that can give civil engineers hives, or so I am told.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: akjdg
2004-08-20 03:12 am (UTC)

Re: Yess...

Ahhhhh, that feels good.

12" of blown insulation in your climate is utter happiness. (Huckledee buck, its utter happiness in my climate!)

Your superior parsing abilities successfully deduced the meaning of "Support for the gas line feeding the furnace". I do indeed mean physical bracing or supports that keep the darn thing from flopping to the point of failure in the face of abnormal accelerations such as those resulting from tectonic motion. In subsequent pondering, I doubt this is much of a concern. Gas piping is absurdly strong for what it carries (except for the explosion part, of course). Rated to perhaps 200 psi, the poor stuff is fated to carry a wee 3-5 psi. Sad, really. (Oddly, in a recent purusal of the Int'l Residential Code, I think it said you can use PVC pipe for gas. Freaky, that.)

Ah, everywhere is an official earthquake zone. It's just a matter of degree. Scary spots (SFO, ANC, LAX, etc) are some flavor of '4', which means 'screw your hat to your head, pops, itsa gonna be a BEEG one'. The other end of the scale is Chicago, Houston, and most points in between (designated a '1', where airborne livestock is a bigger concern. You are probably in a 2 or 3. I'll check dumain.

Mmmm, expansive clay soil. If only it were expensive clay soil, and you'd have a gold mine. As it is, maybe you can water the foundation if you want a better view. Of course, depending on the bearing pressure of the house, you could sink instead of floating upon the clay. Not really, but yeah, whatever.

That brings another question. Given that you receive an average of 36" of precipitation annually, and you are in clayey soils, how does your crawl space (I presume) look? Is it dry and well ventilated to the exterior? Is there a moisture barrier on the ground inside? Have you any dead bodies down there? Or more likely, do you have slab on grade, making the query moot?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: pmb
2004-08-20 08:52 am (UTC)

Re: Yess...

Our foundation has formerly has some issues - there is past evidence of standing water, but not cracking or anything like that. In an effort to make the house as sellable as possible, the seller has installed two (yes 2) high quality sump pumps at the two most vulnerable corners of the house, the operation of which we have verified with the home inspector.

Your questions is not moot at all - the foundation is now most dry, and it has always been well ventilated. We have an addendum to the purchase agreement that our realtor is negotiating in which we ask the seller to remove all the dead bodies from the crawlspace prior to closing or to give us the cost of said operation in credit.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: goteam
2004-08-20 12:35 am (UTC)

Re: Yess...

...it's not debt, it's a house!

That will be my mantra in all future dealings with our mortgage broker (who, as I've mentioned before, is a really cool person for someone who works with money professionally, but I'm still reallyglad I don't have to do her job). Thank you for the words of inspiration and warm fuzzies.

As far as I know Eugene doesn't have any earthquake-related building codes; Portland gets all shook up every now and then but we're pretty far out of quake range (not that it stopped the Glenwood from putting its new grills and ranges on restraints that could probably hold up a semi...)

We're wedged between a few backyards, one of which ends in a forest near-pure blackberry madness a few feet behind the house. Not that we mind the "forest in our backyard" feeling, oh no, even if it's not our backyard but the neighbors'!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)