Well over a year ago I bought my first house. It was a long, tedious, and terrifying process. The terrifying part was because I was buying a house on my own with no second income to have as a backup. Just me, myself, and I to depend on. After several delays I finally closed escrow. We had been trying to close before the end of the year but thanks to my loan officer's screw up and vacation we closed after the first of the year.
The house was bigger than I was expecting to get because of my limited budget. I qualified for a healthy loan but didn't want to be house poor so I put a cap on what I felt I could get by on. Thank god I did because several things happened to cut down on my monthly budget. With the reasonable mortgage I was able to survive. Barely, but survived. As for the house hunt I had been pretty simple in my wishes to my real estate agent. What I needed and what I wanted was a big difference. I told her that I needed 2 bedroom, preferably 2 bathrooms. After sharing 1 bath with 4 kids I knew I had to get 2 bathrooms if possible. But again, budget dictated my housing options. My one firm non-negotiable request which had my agents jaw dropping was NO tract homes. Her reply to my request, "You do realize that nearly 80% of the valley is tract homes. Between that and your low house budget we are very limited in options. You are going to have to get used to the idea of maybe commuting a bit further than you had originally planned." I hated the idea of a long commute, especially after living in the L.A. area, but I wasn't willing to compromise on my price limit.
By pure luck I found an area that had homes in my price range and were not tract homes. The bad part was because of my low price cap I was looking at homes that investors were looking at also. We ended up putting in offers on 8 different homes before getting accepted. Four of those offers were submitted the same day they hit the market but investors beat me because they offered cash and short escrow. Frustrated I searched on the Internet for ideas to help me find a house without going over my cap. I LOVE GOOGLE!!!!!! Thanks to google, I found a website that talked about submitting a personal letter along with your offer. I found it two days before I did a walk through of my current
house. I had to work hard to hide my excitement because it had everything on my wish list and more. I told my agent about the letter and she laughed as she had just heard about doing a personal letter at a convention she had gone to the previous weekend. I crossed my fingers and prayed the letter would work this time as I was getting sick of putting in offers. I nearly fell off my chair the next day when my agent called and said I got the house. The owners, who were going to give the house to an investor, read my letter and decided that they would rather have the house go to a family.
Now this house was in pristine condition, except for two things, as it hadn't been changed since the day it was built in 1973. It was as if the house was closed up the day construction finished. The only changes the owner had done since then was in the 80's. I know this because they are in the garage now. The kitchen cabinets, counter tops,
and carpet were changed out. Now this wouldn't have been so bad but they went with oak Formica cabinets and NEON Yellow counter tops. Plus the wonderful fruity wallpaper on the kitchen soffits. The carpet was changed from an avocado green to a lime green carpet. Ick!!!!!!!
My original request list and what I ended up buying is totally different. I was so lucky to get my home. I'll list the differences here so you can see what I mean.
Original request list: (very simple but you wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a house in my price range despite my lack of requests).
Less than $80,000.
2 bath if possible
No tract homes
No smaller than 800 sq. feet.
fixer upper OK
What I got:
1600 sq. feet.
2 car garage.
RV parking on the side of the house
Home sits on 1 1/2 lots.
orange and grapefruit tree
custom built home
all appliances included, and they were in super condition despite being from the 1970's. (The good old day's where manufactures actually built them to last.)
On the day I finally got my keys and moved in I was in a daze. I had been living in a 500 sq.ft. apartment and now had so much room that I actually didn't know what to do with the empty spaces. After doing a happy dance I walked through the house brimming with ideas to make it my own. The upcoming posts are going to go over the changes I have made so far and the upcoming ones. I have searched near and far for ideas that were budget friendly (CHEAP), something I liked, and helped to increase the equity of the home since I'll be needing a new roof soon.
Looking forward to hearing any ideas you have.
Have a great day,