Show me the money

April 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

James and I started our house hunt in earnest this week. Annnd then we put it on hold. For the time being. It all came to a head today when we looked at a foreclosure down in Avalon Park. I was super excited because it was in the neighborhood I wanted, and James was super excited because the house was an enormous 3800 square feet. The price was high, but negotiable. We had high hopes. The photos looked awesome. But what the photos didn’t show was how the former owners pretty much gutted the place after they left. They took all the window treatments and light fixtures. They even took a bathroom vanity. There was a questionable patch in the roof in the garage, and we weren’t entirely certain the AC was working. And just to stick it to the bank, I suppose, it looked like they’d intentionally put scratches in every surface of the Corian countertops. As our realtor was ticking off the cost of all the repairs, James and I wondered if we even had enough saved up just to make the house livable.

This was the fifth house we’d seen, all of which were either short sales or foreclosures. Each house had a major issue that would take some major dough to fix. When we’d calculated how far our savings would stretch to cover a down payment and closing costs, we failed to consider how much we’d need to spend in getting a house up to snuff. And we’re not remotely handy, so anything more than painting the walls was going to require some help. Certain things we can live with – I’m sure we’ll have to – but after a long talk, we decided we’d feel a lot better if we had an extra $5 or $10K in the bank to offset any repairs. Better to err on the side of too much extra money than too little.

So now we’re back to the drawing board. But I think it’s for the best. I’m off to KC in May, and I’d rather enjoy my time with friends and family without stressing over houses hitting the market while I’m away. Liam doesn’t start kindergarten for another couple of years, so there’s no rush. The market is turning around, but very slowly, so I think we’ve got some time to find a good deal. And James and I have a lot of compromising to do when it comes to what we’re looking for in a house. James thinks the bigger the better, while I’m more concerned about the neighborhood. Somehow, somewhere, someday we’ll find a house. Probably just in time for James to get a job overseas. Sigh.

Part of me wonders if we should even buy at all. But here’s what irks me. I love it here in Florida. Absolutely love it. I’m sick, sick, sick of moving wherever James’ OCD job hopping takes him. I’m sick of renting houses that aren’t really what we want. I’m sick of shoving boxes in corners and only half unpacking because we don’t plan to stay. I want to hang up pictures. I want to paint the walls. I want to plant something in the ground. I want to buy furniture and curtains and décor that I know is going to stay put for a good long while.

And James? He wants to apply for jobs in Europe. Which is fine, really! That opportunity would be awesome! We could be so lucky to traipse all over the Continent on the government’s dime! But it could literally take YEARS for this to happen. Or it could happen in 6 months. Meanwhile we’re throwing away money on rent, tripping over boxes in a house not quite big enough for all our (um, his) stuff, and all I can do is daydream about somehow, somewhere, someday. 

And I know owning a house isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There’s the mortgage, the lawn, and all the trappings of home ownership – the pain in the ass homeowners associations, the roof that needs repairs, the water heater that breaks. But I’m terrified that if we don’t have some sort of anchor in Orlando, we’re going to just float away and never return. At least if we have a house, even if we have to rent it out while we’re living the (um, James’) overseas dream, we have a place to come back to. A place to call home. And, really, that’s all I’m looking for.




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  1. This post made me sad! I know the feeling of wanting a place to call home, but honestly, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Just keeping it clean, let alone decorating and planting, is a hard enough job. I’m surprised your realtor is showing you short sales. Ours wouldn’t because they take FOREVER to process and you might not even get it. We did look at some foreclosures, but most of them were really bad, like you said. Most foreclosures are gutted and look like some psycho lived there. Are you allowed to paint in the house you’re renting? Painting is actually more work than I imagined, but I do seriously recommend it. My niece rents and she paints even though it means she has to paint before she moves out. Can you afford houses that aren’t foreclosures? You might find that a fixing up a house is going to cost you the same as getting something that doesn’t need fixing. Good luck!

    • Pretty much all the houses here are either foreclosures or short sales. We figured we weren’t in a hurry, so we don’t mind taking a chance and waiting for all the approvals. But we had hoped that the short sales would be in better shape. I’m hoping once we’ve saved a little more money we can either fix something up or pay a little more for a traditional sale. All depends on what we find.

      I suppose we could paint in our rental, though it seems like such a hassle when we don’t know how long we’re staying. And I’d get zero help from
      James. I think I mostly got excited about finally getting a house, and now I’m bummed we’re setting that dream aside. Chances are if we did find a house, I’d be fretting about the long wait and whether we’d get our offer accepted. I really must take a page from my yoga practice and just be present and content. Why is that so hard to do? 🙂

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