First of all, thanks to everyone this week for your support as I documented the process we’ve been immersed in for 7 months. If you’re just joining in, catch up on our lives here:
- 7 months ago, we found a house
- 5 months ago, we spent a lot of time trying to buy the house
- 3 months ago, we were denied the house, and I was a very emotional, fragile shell of an Emily
- 3 weeks ago, we found another house
We never even got to the home inspection part of the home buying process with the first house we found last September. After 5 months of waiting on approvals and then learning that our offer was not selected, we slowly began to start from scratch. We were lucky to find a house just a few weeks ago, and even luckier to learn by last Saturday that both our lawyer and the seller’s lawyer had approved the contracts, making us the sole offer officially under contract. Cheers! We had already had a home inspection by this point (sometimes it seems like things move in an out-of-order chaotic pattern when you’re buying a home) and today, I’m ready to bring you up to speed with the rest of the details. Spoiler alert for all of you who thought we might have already closed and moved: we’re still in the process of getting to that point! In fact, a move might still be a month off!
There were a lot of differences in the process between the house we found last fall, and this new house, being that one was a short-sale, one was being sold by an actual human; for the latter, our finances were in much better shape and allowed the bank to pre-approve us quickly; for the prior, there was a nerve-wracking bidding war. With that background, we decided to hold off on sharing any home-related news on the blog until we knew we were out of “danger” and in a better, contracted position as a buyer. Still, anything could happen, but I’m not losing sleep at night like I was the first few weeks.
When we learned that we had an agreed upon offer, we acted quickly to get into the house for a formal inspection, because as with many offers, we had listed several conditions that needed attention before closing, the inspection being one of them. I still don’t understand why people would go without a home inspection, I even see families on Property Brothers allegedly removing the home inspection contingency from their offers just to get the house, and maybe that’s a sign of the competitiveness in certain markets, but it isn’t here. Or at least, if it were here, I wouldn’t settle without the contingency. Not only is it a great opportunity to spend time with a home expert and allow them to show you things about the property that a novice would never notice or think to focus on, but also answer questions and serve as a sounding board for what you might be planning to do with the house. It’s likely that a good inspector will be able to track and identify the purpose of every wire and pipe through the basement floorboards (if visible), they’ll be able to weigh in on electrical situations, and help provide a scope of costs to update issues in your home. They’ll advise on the condition of your roof, and strategies to eliminate moisture in the basement, and tell you flat out if it’s the type of home that’s going to cost you loads of money to repair. And they can tell you this without any liability (I’m pointing this out because while they’re a great resource, you’ll still want to check with a professional before moving walls or planning an addition.) We went into it knowing the general condition of the home, and hoped the inspection it would identify anything that might be dangerous or hazardous, and leave us with plenty of inspiration to make simple repairs ourselves to immediately boost the property value.
I know a lot more about homes in 2013 than I did when I was buying my home in 2009, but even still it’s not far-fetched to state that Mike Holmes had instilled a not-insignificant amount of terror in me, in both of us really. His shows give me the heebie jeebies, and I love them. I did everything I could with my networks to try and fly his right-hand man Damon in for the inspection, but no luck. We love that dude. In shopping around for an inspector, we took referrals from friends and talked to different companies, but ultimately decided to use the company that I had selected for my first home inspection 4 years ago. After looking again at his reporting of that inspection (yes, I saved it), it was both comprensive and thorough, pointing out everything that was wrong with the house that we have in fact realized is wrong with the current house (i.e. there have been no surprises). Furthermore, his business had expanded greatly since I worked with him, which gave me the impression that he was continuing to do great work and excelling at his business. He was still the primary inspector in our area, so we were able to meet with him instead of one of his team members.
He, Mark, met us at the house last Thursday afternoon for our nearly 3-hour inspection. We had special-requested a thorough chimney inspection and radon testing, and we had a chance to explore areas that we hadn’t seen on our initial walk-throughs, including the attic crawl space, the rafters of the garage, the roof of the house, and the two-story barn. We learned that the house had two septic tanks (what the hell, one scares me enough, thankyouverymuch) and had a chance to look closely at a set of original blueprints that the homeowners had left for us to peruse, so we actually know exactly where the tanks are located in relation to the house and certain parts of the yard (you know, in case we ever want to dig into the ground).
Our realtor was at the inspection with us too, which was great, because he was able to hear the feedback upfront and help us filter through the long list of items that would need to be repaired. We left our inspection feeling reassured that were making a good decision with this property, knowing what we needed to attend to urgently for safety reasons, and what we could begin to repair over the coming years (i.e. not urgent).
I also used it as an opportunity to take another 4,000,000 photos with my actual camera as opposed to my iPhone (my hard drive is now host to 8,000,000 photos of both homes we love) so that we could swoon over it while we’re away.
We were asked to write another letter to our seller, this one outlining the things that we hoped to have repaired by the seller (or credited in dollars at closing, so we could repair) as a result of our home inspection. Our realtor was a big help in helping us recall all of the details. Our overview wasn’t exhaustive–included minor electrical fixes, chimney repairs, venting, fire walls, and sump pump details, but omitted things that the sellers had openly disclosed during negotiations–because we knew in advance that an exterior light didn’t work, so we mandate for it to be fixed for us to be sold on their home. We chose not to bring up easily fixable details about the grading of the property, or glazing of windows either. We can do that stuff in a pinch in a weekend. And good news, there were no radon issues in the home, so I can sleep better knowing that.
We spent the first part of the week waiting (and rejoicing over the kind thoughts that so many of you have sent our way, it’s so nice to know 1) we are not alone, 2) that people are excited to read about our process.
By yesterday, we had learned that the sellers were not willing to credit us for everything that we had listed, but that they had still made a fair offer to discount a few thousand off of our price. Every little bit helps?
Nothing has changed on the mortgage side of the process; as of yesterday afternoon, our paperwork is still with an underwriter (who I keep embarrassingly mis-referring to as our undertaker) and in the coming week, we anticipate the results of an FHA home appraisal to help the bank to decide if our offer is valued appropriately for the mortgage we are requesting. If it isn’t, we have more negotiating and heavy-decision making to take on. The house is in no way ours yet, so I’ll continue to hold out sharing pictures, but I hope we can get to the point of sharing them.
Thanks again for your excitement and interest, your response has been more than overwhelming and it’s so reassuring to know that you’re rooting for us.
Read the next installment of our story right here.