Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
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House hunting desperation

You guys, it's been a rough week or two for real estate over here. I've been sharing some maybe-ups and downs on Instagram so follow along over there for quicker updates but I thought I should go into more detail here.

Warning--this post is long, feel free to skim!!


The 1930's house

I shared back in October that we'd been talking to the owner of a great 1930's home in my parents' cute neighborhood. He was planning to do it for sale by owner, and had several couples like us available through word-of-mouth in the neighborhood. It wasn't a sure thing but we decided it was important enough to try to buy that house that we would sell our fixer upper (and because we had so much equity in it in just a year) and have the cash ready for the down payment on the 1930's Tudor house. It's a big, beautiful, historic character-rich, 10+ year house for us and it's basically our dream house right now. And it's less than 1.5 blocks from my parents, some key childcare providers for the baby that's due in April!
Not the actual FSBO house, but another 1930's one that's for sale in our neighborhood (but this one is like a mansion 3x the price)

The seller of the 1930's house has been very slow to clean it out and get it ready to sell. The months have been ticking by and we've been being SO patient (by my standards--this is dang hard for someone like me in particular) and we've been living in my old bedroom with our stuff in storage. This seller is also not super responsive and even when we've met with him several times, he's not able to commit to dates or even price. We made him an official offer by email, then ran into him in the neighborhood a month or so later--he said it was a "beautiful email" and "good offer" and he would get back to us in January.

We finally got a hold of him again the other week. With some bad news. He said they've decided to list the house with an agent after they finish cleaning it out and decommission the oil tank. I won't go into detail, but that house is NOT ready to go on the market. Missing patches of drywall, window sash cords need to be replaced, the yard is a mess... it would cost him a year plus at this rate, or thousands of dollars, to repair that stuff. We gave him an as-is offer. (We haven't told him this yet, but we would even take the house with the leftover stuff still in it. He had an estate sale and doesn't want the stuff that's left, just has to get rid of it. Heck, we can do that!) He also had the house appraised to see what the top price would be to avoid a bidding war, and we offered him full price minus commissions since doing it FSBO, as we had discussed. So listing with a realtor won't get him more money, and I swear will cost him a lot to do those repairs first.

We said we wanted to meet with him anyway. We want to try to convince him that here we are, a sure thing, "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" or something. We want to find out what he hopes to gain by using a realtor--and maybe we can do him one better. We planned to meet him last Saturday but he was super sick, so we are rescheduling--time still not set at the time of this post, but hopefully this week or next Saturday latest. [Update: Now the meeting has been canceled since he is not ready to focus on his house and sell any time soon.]

The first backup

We knew we'd need to be open to other houses, but nothing has been as good as the FSBO so we haven't made any other offers. Until last week when we heard he was listing with an agent, and we can't wait that long and don't want to compete with other offers.

There was a 1962 ranch house, 3 bed 2 bath but only 1300 SF, on the market for a long time just outside the neighborhood we want to be in. Beautiful original floors, original not-messed-with floor plan, 2-car garage. Would have been totally livable. And I could have redone the kitchen in a very cool midcentury-inspired trendy flat front look.
See? It's begging for a kitchen remodel and it's small so I could do it on a budget!

We thought it would be a good backup (since there is really nothing else listed in the neighborhood right now) if the 1930's house definitely fell through.

But then, coincidentally, they got another offer just a few days before we were going to meet with the FSBO owner. Aack. We toured it and weighed our options. We would have 3 business days to put down the earnest money, and an inspection period, so might not lose any money if we found out we were magically able to convince the FSBO guy to sell us his house before we had the inspection on the 1960's one.

So we made an offer! But we weren't totally sold so we offered a little less than asking. They picked the other offer. (We're in backup position.) So much for that.

The backup to the backup

But, we still need a backup. There's just not a lot on the market right now so this weekend we looked at a very boring, very poorly decorated, 2006 detached row house on a small infill street. It's been on the market a while and is quite cheap, compared to everything else, and I think I could make it work for us with paint and some handy DIY projects like I know I can do. It's clean, safe, doesn't need big ticket repairs, and has AC. But it's on a super boring street, not the greatest location, and it's a bad sign for resale in 2-3 years that it's been on the market for so long (but decor would help).
So ugly. So boring. Reconfigure the island, paint everything white? It would help, but still.

If the market crashes, I do not want to be stuck in that house.

We'll keep watching the market the next couple weeks, and maybe something slightly better will pop up... but Jason is really not into the boring backup house and I'm worried about the market crash risk.

The apartment backup

We don't have to buy something right now, but we do want our own place when the baby arrives in April. One option is renting an apartment for a while. We toured one of those this past weekend, too. It's literally ONE block from my parents' house and in a super charming garden-style 1930's or 1940's building. Two bedrooms, 700 SF, laundry and storage in the basement, very nice place, and not too expensive. And location, location, location. [Update: That unit now has another application in on it. There is a 1-bedroom available, but I really don't think we want to try 1-bedroom living with a newborn up for a year. We could find something else less charming a little farther away.]

However, we hate moving, and would probably still need to keep our storage unit for some stuff. We'd like half-move and keep some things with my parents or in the storage locker. AND, the place typically does 1-year leases. I don't mind living in a charming apartment for a while, but I really hope we find a house in less than a year and wouldn't want to be tied down--or we'd need to just plan to pay the fee for breaking the lease, not sure what that is yet.

The desperation

So many unknowns right now. Where do we want to live in 2-5 years? What about 10 years? (Don't know on that one. Jason has 2.5 more years of PT school left, and then we'll hopefully know where his job will be and what our budget will be then.) Is it safe to buy a 2-5 year house? Will we find any of those that we like in the next 6 months? We're trying to focus on how lucky we are that we have money in the bank, a roof over our heads, and several options--but the baby on the way and then having a new baby for a while are making us feel a little trapped.

That, and, we really miss having our own space. We're sleeping in the full-size bed I had as a teenager and it's not very comfortable for this pregnant lady. We miss our queen-size mattress set in storage!

We miss our own spot to sit quietly and drink our coffee on weekend mornings, or catch up after work.

We love my parents, but we miss the flexibility to leave our mail out on the counter or put a whole pot of leftovers in the fridge at one. (Cat politics and the fullness of the fridge are the main issues giving my mom anxiety right now. Our cat is competing with their boy cat and it can be... messy.)

So, on the one hand we're in a really good place. Not tied down to the sale of our house and we have a bigger house budget than we've ever had before. On the other hand, we're in a bad position because we're feeling desperate and really need to move in the next 3 months.

So what's next? Our steps are 1) meet with FSBO guy once more and beg. Please sell us your house!! 2) If that doesn't work, lock that 2-bedroom apartment down and see if maybe they'd do a 6-month lease for some very qualified applicants who can move in right away. Keep looking for the next house. 3) I don't know.... what are our other options?! I guess we have another 1.5 months or so where we could stay at my parents' place and wait for something else to come onto the market, and hope for a 30-day close. But man, that is cutting it close and I'd love to start decorating a nursery! Risky!

If you read all of that... wow, thank you. If you skimmed it, I totally understand. I'd love to hear any thoughts or advice about this kind of situation! Would you buy ANYTHING just to build some equity and get some roots down for a couple years? Would you rent and be picky?

Here's hoping I have some better news soon!

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