You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”
— Once In A Lifetime, Talking Heads
To answer that question, we have to begin about three weeks before Christmas.
Being that my wife, Bethany, and I are always looking out for property investment opportunities, our realtor Kevin has set up email alerts for us for various areas of the city where we might be interested in buying. So if any house or multi family property that comes on the market with the parameters we’ve asked him to set , we get an email alert letting us know with a link to the listing.
When we first saw The Hague House and saw the price, we clicked the link immediately to take a look. It was a lot less than similar homes in the neighborhood. The only “problem” was that the pictures on the listing made the house look really nice. Why is that a problem? Because it was so well staged that it looked like the homes that have sold for 400k+ in the same neighbohood. This was priced at $249k. So, all we could think was, “There’s a $100k problem there that is not in the listing.” It was the only explanation we could imagine. So we took a pass without further investigation.
Then, a week before Christmas, Bethany and Beatrix we’re driving by and noticed that the realtor was having an open house. Curious, she decided to stop and take a look.
The reasons for the price became a bit more apparent. The house was now empty so it was easier to see the reality. The kitchen was no great shakes and needed a fair bit of work. There was a bathroom and enclosed porch off of the kitchen that were kind of dumpy. It had been a rental property and many of the fixture choices (lights, etc) reflected that — a “just enough” sense of overall maintenance. And, perhaps the main thing, no off-street parking. That alone would (and probably did) chase most buyers away.
Bethany messaged me and suggested we go take a look together (which we did). As folks who have done this sort of thing before (the house my Dad lives in we bought for $7200 in 2011 and rehabbed) none of the issues we saw were show stoppers and, in fact, it was exactly the sort of opportunity we look for.
We walked away that Wednesday before Christmas pretty sure we were going to make an offer but needed to do some due diligence first. Thursday morning Bethany called the city and got a sense of the possibility and cost of getting a curb cut to put in a driveway next to the house. She found out that was doable. We discussed it a bit more, came up with a plan, and called our realtor to arrange a private look for the next morning.
On Friday morning, we took one more look to be sure and told our realtor to put together an offer for $222k (it’s been on the market for weeks without bites, might as well start with a lowball expecting a counter offer or a flat out “no”).
On Saturday we left for a weekend overnight trip. On Sunday morning our realtor called with a counter offer and a bit more information about the seller and the reason for the price. I will not disclose the details there but suffice to say there were still no show stoppers and the price made sense in overall context. The counter offer was for $230k. Bethany and I discussed it some more on the ride back home and countered the counter with $228k with the seller covering the closing costs. On Monday the offer was accepted and on Christmas Eve, in the middle of making lefse and preparations for hosting dinner we signed all the the paperwork via email.
Because the seller used the same banker at the same bank as we do and that bank uses a title company that they have a relationship with, we were able to sign all the documents electronically and do the closing all via email by Friday afternoon. The house keys were dropped off to us the following Monday.
So, to recap, it took one week between our initial offer and closing and we did not even have to go anywhere. Smooth to say the least.