So the house we're buying is a foreclosure property. This came as something of a surprise to us, because when we initially started our housing search, we had decided not to even look at short sales and foreclosures, since Kevin had researched and found that on average, those took six months to a year to close, and we were on a faster timetable. (Or so we thought!) But when this house turned up in the listings, dropped to an astonishingly low price, and when it was clear that we were going to be renting at least for a while regardless, we decided to consider it. And as it turns out, short sales take a really long time (because you're negotiating with the homeowner, who then has to get approval from their bank, which can be very slow), but foreclosures can be very fast. Like, 24-48 hours fast. This is because you're dealing with the bank directly, which at this point is pretty motivated to get rid of the property.
Ours didn't happen quite that fast, but close. We saw the house, we decided that yes, it would need a lot of renovation work (especially since it had been sitting empty for a year, and had cracked pipes in the basement, etc. and so on), but that aside from that, it was exactly the kind of house I'd really wanted all along, a charming large-ish Victorian. There were some things about it that weren't ideal (primarily that there are a lot of condos on the block, so it doesn't feel quite as kid-oriented as we might have liked), but there was a nice five-year-old boy next door, and rumors of a three-year-old up the street, and aside from that, the location was very good. So we thought about it for a few days, and then decided to put it an offer. We went ahead and offered asking price, because a) it was so low already, and b) our realtor (we switched to a normal realtor for this purchase) heard there was another offer coming in on the house, and c) banks tend not to negotiate quickly, so if they'd turned down our offer, we'd probably lose anywhere from a week to a month on putting in another offer. And, about ten days after we put in the offer, the bank said yes.
We bought the house as-is, so no inspection clause, etc. We did do an inspection, and found all kinds of things that need fixing, but we did expect that. So plan on hearing a lot of blogging about replacing knob-and-tube wiring, replacing pipes with copper, tearing down and rebuilding a garage, repainting (with richer colors, but probably still in the blue/purple/green family), refinishing floors, moving around walls, etc. and so on. It's a big project. A huge project.
And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Umm, Mary Anne -- didn't you just have a baby???" Never mind the job, the writing, the other child, etc. and so on. But let me point out that a) Kevin is on paternity leave this fall, b) I have a very light teaching schedule this fall, c) we do have forty hours a week of childcare with Jarmila, d) we're not trying to live in the house while it's being renovated, and e) we're not trying to do the work ourselves. We'll be hiring a general contractor to oversee it all, and yes, that still means I'll be going by the house daily to check in on things, answer questions, make decisions, etc., but it should be a manageable level of work. I think.
In the end, the budget for this renovation + cost of house should come in somewhere around what we were prepared to pay for each of the first two houses we offered for, and significantly less than the third house (which really was stretching our budget pretty hard). Now, I've been told that renovation projects generally come in a third over budget + a third over estimated time to completion, which will be annoying if true. But it won't financially break us if that happens. So while this is maybe a little crazy, as decisions go, it's not as crazy as it maybe initially sounds. Especially when you consider that the end result will be a house that has the shape we want, the character we love, systems updated entirely to code, and the finishing details we've chosen throughout.
I'm actually tremendously excited about the whole house project. Not to mention the garden! Now all we have to do is close on Friday, as scheduled...