In the midst of several months of crazy activity, very little of it physical, here I am. Most of last week was spent in North Carolina. I flew in Sunday and spent most of Monday driving around with my realtor looking at houses on my list. I saw firsthand how misleading photos can be. Almost all of the houses were so much smaller than they looked online and almost all of them were in worse condition than could be discerned from said photos.
The first one had a lovely deck and peaceful view online. But, the house was tiny, in a seedy neighborhood and obviously needed work. The deck felt spongy.
The next few are a blur. We saw the neighborhoods, saw the obvious signs of "needs work" and did not even go in. One home was built below street level - guess where the water goes!
When my realtor walked around the side of one house to get the key, the ground was soaking and he could see water damage. We did not go in. Another house REEKED of air freshener and an air compressor was in one room = mold. Another had obvious asbestos and that is a nonstarter for me. My realtor is legally barred from giving me any hints about the neighborhood, so I had to make that assessment on my own. Seeing mattresses against a fence was a clue in one neighborhood, but, in some, I did not have an idea.
Asbestos remediation is expensive and the seller has to disclose the existence of asbestos if they know about it. None of my picks had such a disclosure. I now know what asbestos shingles look like, popcorn ceilings and other hidden places where it may be found. This has been a very educational experience.
Ultimately, house #3 in my best choices is one that is very old and needs work, but is solidly built on 1.2 acres. I was nervous about it because of the age, but I liked the price. House #2 is in another community, somewhat newer than #3, smaller house and lot, but well cared for. That being said, the care was more superficial than substantive. You just knew there'd be some spend later. It is near a research center and could be an investment towards a good sell-off for retirement.
By this time, I was discouraged and afraid I would not find anything. Did I waste the time and money? I tried not to show it as we drove towards the last house on the list, the next-to-the last addition. So many possibles had been sold before I even arrived! I had to keep the faith that the right house would be there.
As we pulled up, a realtor was parked in the drive. His clients had just left. This house is much newer than any I had looked at all day and, no surprise, more money than any of the others. It's also much bigger. We walked in and looked at everything. Solidly built, spacious and only a few things I don't like. (Built-in appliances in the kitchen will be expensive to replace when the time comes; stackable washer and dryer in a closet will be hard for me to use since I am so short).
As we left, another realtor pulled up. It was such a good thing that I was in the same car with my realtor and not following. Before we'd gotten half a block away, we agreed that an offer should be made. He called the seller's realtor and made a verbal offer while we were less than a block away. Long story short, after some negotiation, by Tuesday afternoon, the contract was signed.
The house is 1500+ square feet, 3/2 including a walk-in shower that I will love. The kitchen is enormous compared to what we have now. The detached garage has been turned into a powered workshop and my partner is practically salivating! The home is a few miles from the VA hospital, good for him, and almost 40 miles from work, not great for me. The primary highway between the home and work has been undergoing widening for years. I am looking at about an hour commute each way. The house is backed by the county wildlife preserve that includes a huge pond for fishing, etc. It's very unlikely that that land will be sold to a developer and that we'd ever have neighbors behind us. The house itself is on 4.26 acres! Plenty of elbow room! Can't wait to put in the raised bed garden!
It took a few days for the real estate website to show the house is no longer for sale. It is now "Off the Market"! We are in the due diligence period. Appraisal and inspections have been done, the survey needs to be scheduled and I am sending tons of paperwork to my lender. Fingers crossed that the loan is funded ~ I am so nervous that something will happen at the last moment and they will withdraw that preapproval.
We will probably leave California just before the end of July for this unbelievable home. I cannot stop giving thanks for this miracle! Nor can I sleep as my brain churns about how to pay for it! It is all good!