Monday, April 11, 2005

"Backyards Are Overrated."

As someone who's lived in both houses and apartments, played in both grass and brick-strewn empty lots, I agree. But that doesn't mean I don't want one!

The house search took a big step forward yesterday as we went out for the first time since our mortgage was approved - my Army years finally paid off with a nice VA mortgage! - jittery with the knowledge that the game had officially begun, and saw a house that we liked. A lot, actually.

The two main drawbacks are that it only has one bathroom, and a small one at that, and a swimming pool. Pools are nice...in other people's backyards! The maintenance sucks and realistically, you can only use it 3-4 months/year in this area. The rest of the time, it's an eyesore. It's a big backyard, though, and the kids will love growing up with a pool, so it's the lesser of the two drawbacks. The bathroom, though, is a big deal. It's small, apartment small, and while there's the possibility of adding one in the partially finished basement, it's an extra expense that will be needed almost immediately.

The positives, though, are pretty strong. Great location, spacious lot, nice interior layout that's big enough to fit our needs (my sister will be moving in with us, trading room and board for after school/daycare pick up services), the aforementioned partially finished basement (for my growing comic collection that I'll no longer be able to afford once we buy a house!) and a half-finished attic. It also has the first master bedroom we've seen worthy of the descriptor, and a great kitchen with a breakfast bar.

Their asking price is at the top end of our limit, the very top, and it's been on the market for three weekends, a long time in Bloomfield where many houses are snatched up within 2-3 weeks, frequently with sale prices HIGHER than the original listing price! The owners are relocating after the school year ends and I did a search of home sales records and found they bought the house 18 months ago for almost $60k less than they're asking now, which I'm hoping means we can get them to drop $10-15k since we're already approved and ready to go and can accomodate their likely need for a delayed closing. That they've been difficult about showing the house works in our favor, too, I think.

The flip side is that it's only April and it's still early in the game. There's not a lot on the market right now and there's a chance we might see something we like better in the next couple of weeks. Of course, there's also the chance we won't and we'll end up with something less than we'd like, or need, and probably for more money!

What to do? What to do?

4 comments:

Dyanna said...

Good going on the VA mortgage - rates have gone up a lot lately. We looked in Bloomfield and all up and around that area, but we saw more for our buck the further south we went.

Dunno if Union County was an option but you might want to consider it should this specific house not work out. :-)

Of course that means you'd be closer to US, so I dont know if that might scare you away. BOO! whohahaha!

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Sure, you get more for your buck the further out you go, but that's the tradeoff...you have go further out to get it. For that, we'd go get a mansion in the Poconos! We'd just never see the kids again.

For us, Bloomfield has the best combination of affordable housing, proximity to NYC, diverse population and, most importantly, a really good school system. It also feels more like a small town than a strip-malled suburb, which is important. Whether the house we saw on Sunday is The ONE or not, Bloomfield is definitely the town.

Xia Diaz said...

Go for it, besides I'll need a place to crash when I move back up!! (Just kidding!)

Rich said...

!

You suburbanite scum!

Bloomfield is all close to me n' shit. Well. Not CLOSE, but it's practically my old stomping grounds.

As a pool owner (well, quasi...it's my folks', but somehow it ends up my responsibility)...I can honestly say that the presence of a pool is enough for me NOT to buy a house, unless that sucker is inground and screened in, with one of those maintenance-free chlorinator/pool pump combo jobbers.

Don't be afraid of a new bathroom though, dude...if this trend continues, those little home improvement deals often pay for themselves in a year or two of equity-building. Maybe less.