Wednesday, September 24, 2014

House Hell, Part 2

Where was I? Yes, when last we left, we were attempting to buy a home in one of the most expensive cities in the country (I mean, I'll compare Princeton prices with like a penthouse in Soho, and the penthouse in Soho will be more reasonable). Okay, so we bid on this other house, above asking price as we were advised to do, and the guy accepted our offer. Just to back up a little for those of you who haven't purchased property in a while, you can bid on a house, but you first have to be pre-approved for a mortgage, just so that nothing crazy happens later, like you find out you can't afford it.

We were so excited to have the house! It was adorable--two huge bedrooms with slanting ceilings upstairs and a bathroom there too, then another bedroom with an on-suite bathroom, and a square sun room and decent living room, kitchen and dining area. The basement was clean and dry with high ceilings and the appliances were good (all I cared about was that the refrigerator had a water system in it--that's my idea of luxury). We had the inspection--the second inspection of our house-buying adventure and then we had radon testing, and all came out okay. The inspector was the same guy we had for the other property and he agreed that this house was in much better shape. He found some leaks, but said it was sound overall.

This is not the layout of any of the houses we looked at. 

What we didn't realize is that, in Mercer County, if the house is sold above a certain amount, you have to put down 20% or you will have to pay mortgage insurance, which is like an extra $150 or whatever a month. The way the mortgage folks tell you about it is funny---they don't say, "You'll have to pay PMI for the next 5 years."  They say, "You'll pay PMI for 60 months." Sixty months doesn't sound bad at first.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. So, we got the house, and we had the inspection and we started wanting to tell Luke about it, because he was worried about having to change schools. We had these elaborate plans for how we were going to reveal it to him, but we were also cautious because we hadn't yet sealed the deal with the mortgage or gone to the closing.

Have to run. Stay tuned for the rest...


Monday, September 22, 2014

House Hell

Why have I not been writing more? I feel stuck and mute---in the middle of lots of change, and most of it has been turmoil of the domestic kind. It's weird how you think your situation is difficult, and then it becomes more difficult and you go, Hey, wait, that thing before? That was easy. I suppose there is a lesson in that somewhere, but I hope the lesson is not "It is what it is."

For the last four months, we've been trying to buy a house in Princeton, in part because that's where Luke has gone to school since he was in kindergarten and so we want to keep him with is friends, and in part because if I have to stare at this condo parking lot for much longer, I may go AWOL.

In case you are unaware of what the realty market is like in Princeton, the median range to purchase a home is around $750,000. I made that number up, and so it could be higher, maybe more like $1 million at the minimum. Just know that most of the houses you see are millions of dollars.

Here is an example of a house in Princeton that would probably be listed at $3,590,000

We found a house that was much less than that, still a reach for us, but not impossible. Then, we had the inspection, and the guy found quite a few things wrong; nothing calamitous, but we also weren't in love with the kitchen and would need to buy a dishwasher and to rearrange the room so that the oven and the fridge weren't touching and knock down a few walls and we would also be looking at sharing one bathroom and having no closet space and one bedroom with no closet at all.  The shared living space was small, and the floors were uneven and you could tell that he owned a dog. The basement was a disaster, rickety with low-ceilings, and there was no driveway. At the same time, two other houses came on the market for only $7,000 more than the original house, and these places were way better. Like, had actual dishwashers and parking spaces, sun rooms, extra bathrooms, nice basements, were built in the last fifty years and the roofs didn't need to be replaced. So, we got out of the first house and made a bid on one of the other properties. Our realtor said it was a competitive market and so we should bid above the asking price, but within our comfort zone. Since we were already outside of comfort zone financially, we should've said no, but we bid d$15,000 more than asking price, and they didn't take our offer. So then, we raced to bid on the other property, the cute little Cape Cod, and the guy accepted our offer!!! Yay!

I will write more about this tomorrow.