Saturday, January 12, 2002

Adventures in Home Buying

As I mentioned yesterday, we closed escrow on our first house; it's very exciting and a little frightening.

We first saw the house probably in September or October when we'd been looking for a few months. I wasn't entirely crazy about it at first, probably because it was a bit more expensive than we wanted to spend, though it was a 3+ br/3 ba. The + is a half room they had staged as a baby's room; it used to be the second bedroom in a 2/1 before the master bed/bath were added in the 70s on top of a downstairs bed/bath addition in the 60s.

I guess it seemed a little funky or something. Anyway, I wasn't crazy about it, so we kept looking. In early December, we got a pre-approval from e-loan and called our realtor to say we wanted to see it again. Interestingly, just that morning the owner had decided to lower the price by 30k. We went to see it again and decided that we liked it enough to go for it. But our realtor was also the seller's agent, so she recommended someone else from her office to represent us.

Initially, we made a pretty low-ball offer; the house had been on the market for a while without getting any serious offers and there has been a clear dip in the market after 9/11, though I don't know how long that will really last. Unfortunately, 2 other offers came in before they were going to open ours, so we increased it to a little shy of the max we were willing to pay.

Evidently one of the other offers wasn't even worth considering, and the other was a little more than ours but probably had more contingencies. We also had the advantage that the seller's agent knows us and our family (she bought both of the houses my parents have owned as well as my aunt & uncle's place); I think she convinced the sellers that we were a better risk despite the difference in the amount of the offer.

Then we had a bit of trouble - she told our agent that they were countering at an amount that happened to be exactly what we had decided was the most we were willing to pay but when we got to his office to sign the papers, they'd actually written the counter at 5k more than that. We assumed the counter was wrong since it wasn't what she'd told our agent, so we changed it & initialed the changes. To make the long story short, just when we were about to call our agent to tell him that we were OK with the extra 5k (less than 1% of the total), he called to tell us they'd accepted our price. It seems the seller's agent had been trying to convince the seller to go to the lower amount and they'd insisted on the higher and she told our agent the lower by accident. Somehow, she later convinced them to agree...

Soon after we went into contract, we left for Tahoe. This was Dawn's second time joining some friends and me on a bi-annual trip to Tahoe for New Year's week. Had to make plans for inspections and such... and it's hard to sign things when you're hundreds of miles away and don't have a fax machine. So we took ours with us. Our inspectors did find some serious stuff (called Section 1), including some more pest damage and a leak in the (flat!!) roof over our bedroom. The seller agreed to drop the price of the house by the amount of the critical repairs so that we could use the extra money from the loan to make them.

So, now we're home owners and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. We took possession yesterday and had pizza with two of our best friends, Tani and John. It was very nice, but now the work begins. The first order of business is to go in tomorrow and put up shower rods & curtains and such. Second is the section 1 repairs, RECO, seismic retrofitting, and new locks, all of which we want to have done before we move in the middle of next month.

Friday, January 11, 2002

Close of Escrow and First Dinner

As of today, we're officially homeowners! We're taking Rachel (who is not quite 4 months old), a card table, four chairs, and two friends and ordering pizza for our inaugural dinner... and now the real fun begins.