01 November 2013

Is Buying A Fixer-Upper A Trick Or A Treat???

Yesterday (which happened to be Halloween), our family went on a walk-through of a house for sale.  A house that's been for sale, apparently, for a while.

The Back Story

This house was owned by an older woman until about 5 years ago, when she kicked the bucket, leaving the house and a hefty mortgage to her kids.  After a couple of years, they were able to unload it on a guy looking to 'flip' it.  He did a lot of awesome stuff to the house, a couple of really dumb (ugly, IMO) things, and there are a lot of instances where a $5-$25 dollar repair/replace/fix would finish off a room perfectly, but they aren't done.  Therefore, every room seems unfinished, even though, in one bathroom for example, the only thing it needs is a toilet paper holder.  Everything else is perfect.  WTF?

Anyway, this guy bought at the top of the bubble, poured a ton of $$ into the reno, and then was just way over his head when the bubble burst and the market continued to stay crappy for a good long while.  Now it's 3 years later, and the bank owns the house.  A year or two ago, they turned down a $300,000 cash offer.  Now they have it listed at $275,000, and still can't unload it (going on two years now).  Why?  Apparently, financing a house that needs work is tricky.  I won't get into the speculation on that though, it's too much mystery.  We won't really know until we try.

What Works

Here are the things we liked about the place.

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Great deck with a built in grill.  I'm not crazy about the ugly square columns or the weird, 1.5 foot tall wall around it, or the fact that it takes up a lot of space I'd rather have as yard, but it's still a great deck.

Bike riding space, decent garage.

I like this entrance.  There's a huge coat closet to the right of this pic, and I like the double door thing.

Balcony of the master bedroom - something Matt's always wanted.  It's ugly now, but wouldn't take much to make it nice.  Don't like it on this side of the house, though.

Nice big room.

Awesome little closet.  I'd totally take off the door and make a little reading nook for the kiddos.  All the closets were pretty big.

Big family room.  All this downstairs level looked pretty nice.

Cool fireplace!  (I know it's sideways.)

Love the new flooring here.  Another big family/living space.  The dining room is through that opening in the back, and it's similarly appointed.

Hey, a wet bar!

Nice big kitchen, with a bay window perfect for a breakfast nook (something I've always wanted).

What doesn't work

Turns out, THIS is supposed to be the third bedroom.  In the front, lower level, light years away from the other bedrooms, plus it's as big as a NYC bedroom (maybe 9x11) - in Fairfield, CT, that's called a closet.  Let's be generous and say this room can be a 'sun room' at best.

Really unfinished basement.  But apparently the guy fixing it up planned to put an awesome bar down here.  Potentially awesome, but for now, ugly, ugly, ugly.  And not safe.

What is just silly

One uncovered outlet?  One?  Really?

Toilet paper holder.  That's all it needs!  


So far in life, this is the closest I've ever come to buying a home, and I'm already mentally backing away.  I just can't bring myself to the idea of owning a home.  It seems like only something my parents can do.  Surely we're not old enough to do this, right?

Clearly, we'll look at more homes, we'll see what our 'options' are, but there are a lot of factors at play, and most of them make me want to avoid this whole process altogether, and just sign another lease.  Downstairs neighbors be damned!

Gratuitous Kid Pics

Of course, we went trick or treating in our would-be new neighborhood!  I told the kids 'burb candy was way better - and I was so right (I write, as a snack on a stolen Twix)!


  1. That house was so awesome until the third bedroom showed up. bummer. big bummer.

  2. I know, right?? Would require some renovation, clearly, but if it'd had a real 3rd bedroom (and an upstair bath), we'd already have an offer in. Stuff like finishing the basement can wait, and the rest is simple. Assuming it's not invisibly falling apart at the seems. Never really know without the inspection.