The Homes We Almost Bought

>> 11.10.2011

Before there was ever the mystery un-blogged under contract house, there were three houses that we tried to buy. Of course, I looked at hundreds of other houses online and we visited several without actually submitting contracts, but there were only three (well, four including our house-to-be) that were worth putting in offers on. Now that all three of these have sold, I thought it would be fun to share slightly disguised MLS photos of them and their final sales prices compared to what we offered. And, of course, I'll give you a little insight as to why we went for these particular homes. The funny thing is that they're almost nothing like the house we ended up with!

House #1
A 2,325 sqft foreclosure (rare for the neighborhoods we looked in)
Pros: Good location, great view, wood floors downstairs (stained carpet up), lots of space
Cons: It is partially down a steep hill (bad for our cycling and running, future kids), not really part of the neighborhood because of the hill, larger than we wanted and McMansion-like, history of water damage because of the sloped driveway, the yard was tiny and not fenced in
List price: $334,900
Our offer: $300,000 The day we made our first offer, two other people came in and created a bidding war. We still weren't sure about the location and didn't want to overbid because of "the war" so went in at a price we wanted to pay. Obviously, it didn't work out for us and we're happy we don't have to deal with that hill!
Sold for: $330,199

House #2
A 1,584 sqft ranch home in great neighborhood
Pros: Location, lot size, great layout including formal entryway, a ton of potential

Cons: we would not be able to move in without doing a ton of structural updates including foundation and electrical work, almost every square inch of the house would need work
List price: $299,000
Our offer: $250,000 This was a solid offer based on the neighborhood comps, but the seller only came down to $290,000. We came back with $265,000 and pointed out the work that needed to be done. He came back at $274,000 and would not budge so we walked.
Sold for: $260,000 Yep. Our realtor said that we probably did all of the work convincing him that he was priced too high and let the next buyer get all of the rewards. It's okay in the end because it was the farthest north that I wanted to live and it needed a TON of upfront work that Nate wasn't especially excited about doing.

House #3
A 2,080 sqft mid-century home on a quiet street

Pros: curb appeal, mature trees, school district and neighborhood (several $500k+ homes), lot size, a ton of potential, newish roof, obviously cared for
Cons: bottom of a hill, not walkable at all, needed a lot of immediate work, parts of the layout were strange- no windows in dining room and small master bathroom

List price: $339,000
Our offer: $305,000 and no counter offer. We then came up to $320k, but didn't feel comfortable going any higher based on the location and the amount of work we would need to put into the home.

Sold for: $330,000

 Again, the house we ended up with is almost nothing like the three above! The one common factor among all of the homes is that they're all the worst (read: cheapest) homes in the best neighborhoods. I will say that house #4 tops them all as far as location goes- and it's all about location-location-location!

How many offers did it take before yours was accepted?


Kim @ NewlyWoodwards November 10, 2011 at 11:09 AM  

This is so interesting! I love following along and reading your thought process. House hunting can be quite a process, but it looked like you two are pros and really stuck to your guns.

With our first house, we put offers on two others before getting ours. (All were blind-bidding HUD houses, so it was a bit stressful at the time.) It was definitely for the best though. I think we got the best one.

Our rental house was a random find and we offered almost half the listing price and they took it. Sometimes that happens.

Our current house was the second house we'd put an offer on. The first was a short sale and was lagging, so when this house came up, we dropped the other offer and went for it. Ended up for the best.

threeacres November 10, 2011 at 12:47 PM  

It's fun to walk through the house buying process with you guys even if it's after the fact. Seems like you're looking in a really diverse area or maybe just a bunch of completely different areas to have that range of house styles and prices. I cannot wait to see the house you did get!

Jenna Scott November 10, 2011 at 1:29 PM  

My hubby and I went through a year of looking/offering. We finally found one we loved, made an offer, and waited 8 months for it to move nowhere (short sale home). We ended up going on a drive one day, found a new neighborhood, and bought our house made to order (kind of, track home-with options) that same day. 3 months later, we were home owners!

Tanja @ Postmodern Hostess November 10, 2011 at 5:13 PM  

It sounds like you guys made the right decisions in walking away from all of those places.

We've clearly lucked out since we got both of the places we've put offers on. On our condo, we offered above asking because there had already been a bidding war, but we knew it was still below market value (and the appraisal backed us up). On our house, we were the only ones making an offer, and we were shocked that the sellers didn't counter back on price at all (as we'd been anticipating they would do), and instead just shortened the escrow period (we'd requested 60 days, and they asked for 45).

We've found that it works really well to give people minimal time to respond (a little less than 24 hours), so that they can't try to get other offers and use them to squeeze us. :-)

Jo Ro November 10, 2011 at 5:42 PM  

I paid asking price the morning after it went on the market.

It was priced right & I swooped.

m @ random musings November 11, 2011 at 6:19 AM  

I was in a situation like your house #1 with the first home I bought. The seller's agent was super high-pressure trying to get me to up the offer, which is why I walked away instead.

A couple weeks later I was driving home and found a fsbo that was better than the other one.

Sara @ Russet Street Reno November 12, 2011 at 9:29 PM  

Yikes! Really nice big houses around us are selling for 160-200k. It's crazy the price differences in different areas. Thanks so much for sharing this! I'm dying to see what you ended up with!

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog November 14, 2011 at 4:15 PM  

@Sara~ Don't get me started on Austin prices! I think that there are something like 1,000 people moving here every week so prices of central homes are going crazy. The houses I looked at were the bad ones so you can imagine how high the good ones go for.

Jordan@the2seasons November 16, 2011 at 8:57 AM  

I really enjoyed this post. When we bought our house we didn't want to get emotionally attached.

We really liked 3 houses the same. We wrote 3 offers and had our relator go at house now 1 and offer. It was a low offer on all houses but if they said no we didn't want a counter we were going to the next house. So basically the houses didn't know if they were house #1 or #3 and they knew if they didn't take the offer we were walking. It worked we got a great deal and we love our house. This is the biggest investment I will ever make so we wanted a good deal.

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