Thursday, September 08, 2005

Do Something Cool: Buy a House!

Why have a blog if you don't use it to document in extreme detail something which is exciting to you but boring to everyone else?

I present to you: Dave buys a house. Or at least, Dave thinks about buying a house, sweats everything, and starts down a long road towards financial ruin and/or maturity.

First off, some background. Jessica's friend from school is the current homeowner. She, her husband, and their two kids live there. They love the house but want to move to a different school district (long story -- they were briefly separated and kids went to school elsewhere and they want to keep going there).

So, now they are on the road towards selling their house. Last time Jess visited with her friends, it came up, and Jess expressed mild interest. Last week, we went over there so I could see it. We had dinner, talked, took a walk through the neighborhood, etc.

The dry facts? It's a raised ranch with a finished basement on 0.92 acres in a country setting. Built in 1991. Oil heat, no central air. The "upstairs" has 3 bedrooms, a nice kitchen, a single large bathroom, and a living room with a fireplace. The finished basement has a huge open area with doors opening to back yard, a smaller area that's been made into a guest bedroom, a storage room, a room with a washer/dryer, and the unfinished utility area.

It's close to a large pond and much of the property is wooded, so mosquitos are an issue. It's "lived in" by a family of four, but not broken down. Needs some minor attention, mainly cosmetic. Certainly livable as-is. They're looking to sell it in the mid/high 200s, our price would likely be mid 200s.

There's a lot to like about this place, with the facts out of the way. I am rural at heart, and living on a decent-sized lot near a pond in a wooded rural area is pretty appealing to me. Right now the big things I worry about are:

I'd be much happier if I had a year to save up for a downpayment before doing this. This is the price range we'd be looking at, but we weren't planning to do this for a year or so, so we could save some, adjust to spending less money, and have Jess adjust to working.

Long drive to work (though I can work from home more often), long drive to friends. Long drive from "stuff" (though not that far from necessities -- grocery/etc). If I want rural, though, there are only so many options here, and it's not the end of the world. Not only that, Jess wants to live closer to her family. I always knew we'd be looking at the area near Sturbridge because of that.

In this price range, you won't get everything you want. Is the set of tradeoffs in this house worth it? Specifically, the lack of central A/C or even realistically the opportunity to add it?

The unknown is the big fear. What if? What if the neighborhood changes? What if something goes wrong? What if <...>? The truth, of course, is that this fear will be present -no matter what-. In this case, at least, we can be reasonably confident the seller is being honest with us. I must conquer this fear, because it'll stop me from buying -any- house.

Basically it comes down to deciding if this opportunity is worth shortcuttng our schedule for. At this point, it's sufficiently attractive to move forward -- figure out the next steps, get pre-approved for a mortgage, find out about a housing inspection, etc. Plenty of places to stop this train between now and the final deal, but we're definitely creeping forward.

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