Friday, April 30, 2010

Final Extension

Last night we received another extension form from the sellers of Multnomah extending our inspection deadline until Wednesday. Since they granted the extension, on Monday our realtor will be meeting a builder at the property to get a "real" quote for the necessary repairs. Since the builder was suggested by their realtor, our hope is we'll be able to come up with a mutually-agreeable price for this purchase.

So, more than likely, nothing further will happen on this until late-Monday. This is surely the last extension and we should know by Wednesday if we're buying this house.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another Extension

We have been back and forth with the sellers and it seems somewhat likely this house purchase is going to fall through. Today is the current deadline for Jeff and I to back out without losing our deposit, or to extend the inspection deadline. We're trying to extend the inspection deadline so we have time to adequately respond to their counter we received last night at 8:30PM.

Last week we asked the sellers to reduce the price another $15K. We had a eco-cool builder out there and he gave us a no-doubt high guesstimate of $60K for the needed repairs on the house. He couldn't see what was in the finished areas and so surely allowed for some unseen damage repair. He was also accounting for the fact that we wanted real, structural repairs, not cosmetic touchups.

This week, the sellers had their person out and he said he could make all the requested repairs for $6K! Really??! They can't be serious. Based on the shoddy roof installation, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

So, today we are trying to find another builder satisfactory to all parties who can go out and give a "real" estimate to repair the foundation damage and the pest damage. But if the sellers won't extend the deadline for us to do this, then we'll just sign a document backing out of the purchase tonight.

This is very disappointing for us. We've been seeing a light at the end of a tunnel, but it turns out it was a train (again).

You would think it would be easier to buy a house... I guess my expectations are just too high. Unfortunately, I have an affinity for historic fixers because then I'm not paying for the previous owners remodeling, but then I expect the price to reflect the unimproved condition. We're not finding that to be the case.

Update at 8PM:

The sellers extended this transaction until Wednesday. So, this transaction marches on. Our realtor is going to go out on Monday to meet their realtor's recommended contractor to hopefully get a firm estimate for what the foundation and pest repair would cost. We don't trust the seller's guy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Still Waiting

We're still waiting to hear from the sellers about whether they'll accept our revised price. If they don't get back to us by tomorrow afternoon we'll have to terminate the transaction or risk losing our $5,000 deposit. Clint, our realtor, has high hopes we'll hear this evening, as he says the sellers met this afternoon. I'll post later tonight if we hear either way.

This week, I've been working on the tough tasks on my list this week; those tasks I've been putting off for too long. I've been collecting estimates to redo the plumbing in this house here in Redwood City. And I've scheduled a bunch of Kaiser appointments. I figure we'd better take advantage of our medical insurance while we still have it. I've also started pricing storage spaces in Oregon. It will be time soon enough to rent one and start shuttling stuff up there. There's just so many things to do before we move.

I did spend a few hours cruising around on the Portland MLS again in anticipation of the sellers rejecting our offer. I used to like cruising around the MLS more than I do now. I'm getting a little tired. And this time I cruised around the Salem MLS as well. There are a few promising prospects down there, but nothing I love. But the house prices are about $100K less, so it might be tempting. (Just for kicks, I also cruised around the MLS in Wisconsin; boy am I jealous of their house prices. There were some pretty nice houses for less than $100K!)

Maybe we'll just rent.... Really not a feature as I'm very sick of moving, but it may work out in the long run, especially if we find jobs in places outside Portland. But finding a rental with no jobs and two pets is gonna be a hassle.

Or maybe we'll just buy a very inexpensive house (less than $200K, which is cheap in Portland) and live in it until we find jobs and then buy another nicer house once we find jobs. Then we can keep the first small house as a rental property. It would be nice to have some passive income that isn't subject to Federal Reserve manipulation.

Update at 11PM:

So, the buyers want to extend our offer to Thursday. In other words, they don't know yet. I'm not sure what we'll do tomorrow. I have to talk to Clint about what their extension means for our deposit. I thought we already had until Thursday to figure this out.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Changing Schools Again

I have been working on a paralegal certificate for a couple years now. I started at DeAnza College in Cupertino then stopped going when we planned to travel for a year. Then when we moved to Redwood City, I transferred to Cañada College. I was hoping to finish my paralegal certificate at Cañada College this spring, but I think I may be just a bit short on units (3 units of a Word class). So, I have a choice. I can try and keep working on my certificate here in California during the summer or I can just transfer to Portland Community College. PCC requires more total units for the Paralegal certificate than the program here, but they also have a much better selection of classes.

I was impressed about how many classes PCC was offering, until I realized tuition there is about three times more expensive than I've been paying at community colleges here in California. (No wonder the California schools are going broke.)

I spent my morning first applying to go to PCC, and also plotting out my schedule to finish there. It looks like I could finish with six more classes, assuming some very conservative transfer estimates. If they transfer more of the California classes, then I would just need four or five classes in Portland. Of course, I may have to take more if they require a certain percentage of your paralegal classes be taken at PCC. Though, I couldn't find such a requirement anywhere at the website.

Summer quarter starts on June 21. I'm trying to figure out if I can get my act together and get up to Portland by that date. I'm currently considering 12 units in the summer quarter (4 classes). That would only leave a couple more in fall quarter.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Good Productive Day!

This morning Shasta and I went for a 3+ mile walk with our walking buddy, Heather. It was a beautiful day, though rather too warm for me already. If today was an indication, this summer will be hot. ☀ So much for walking; I'll have to figure out how to exercise inside our air conditioned house. I'll probably have to resort to exercise videos, or maybe—gasp—cleaning and sifting! ☺

After the walk, I went off to the San Mateo Law Library to finish up the research for a recent assignment in Advanced Legal Research & Writing. I found a really fabulous article that was exactly what I needed. It made it almost too easy to research cases and write up my assignment tonight. I'd feel guilty if I hadn't already spent nearly seven hours at the library researching this assignment. I'm hoping now that I'm done with this project, I'm done with the class work. I'm hoping anyway...

I scored one piece of great information today: Google Scholar includes decisions from at least some Federal cases! Woo hoo! That meant I didn't have to pay 15¢ a page to make copies at the law library! In fact, since I could access the cases online, I didn't even bother to print them out. I just opened them up on my computer and read them on-screen.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Our Dog Child is Home!

We're very happy to be reunited with our fuzzy baby! We enjoyed playing catch with her in the front yard this evening. She's getting very skilled at catching frisbees and flying squirrels midair.

After driving out to Santa Cruz to pick up the dog, I spent the afternoon working on my legal research & writing class. We were given an assignment at least two weeks ago to go research at the law library. While I got started on the research, I never actually sat down to write up the memo we'll have to turn in. I worked on that today. I think I'll need to go back to the law library tomorrow and spend a few more hours searching for cases.

We picked up our CSA produce tonight. We finally remembered to take a photo. (I've forgotten the last couple of weeks.) Strawberries are in! Yum, we picked up our delivery just a couple hours ago and we've already eaten the strawberries. Jeff is doing his cooking routine this evening to process the veges for storage.

Our realtor Clint has written up the addendum for the sellers on the Multnomah property for our signature. So, tomorrow we'll be delivering the message that we'll only proceed if they discount the property another $15K. I don't have any clue how long they'll take to agree, or not. Hopefully we'll know by Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Are the Sellers Motivated?

We're about to find out. =)

So, after having our builder and a mason out, we have much more information about what this house needs to be restored. We are torn about what to do about this house. There is the worry that the right thing to do would be to walk away from this money pit, but we've both fallen for the neighborhood. On Sunday we dropped back by the house and visited with the neighbors and they're really nice.The foundation isn't as bad as we feared, according to our builder. We should be able to reinforce the weak area and it should last a while longer. Though, the roof is much worse than we realized. The installation was so shoddy that we're actually going to have to remove it and install a new roof.

Anyway, we're planning to go back to the sellers and ask them to cut the price another $15K. In our estimate (actually our builder's ballpark estimate), it needs about $60K worth of structural work to fix the pest damage, weak foundation wall, crumbling masonry, and replace the roof. We think it only fair they should defray at least a portion of that expense. If they refuse, we'll just have to walk away—again! But we really don't want to.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Home Inspection Done

It took about 4 hours to have the home inspection done today. In addition to the many problems we already knew about, the inspection also found a number of problems we weren't aware of.

The 96-year-old foundation on the house has issues. The inspector showed us an exposed section on the back of the house where he could basically shove his pocket knife into the cement. While there aren't many visible cracks, the concrete is very soft. So, now we're trying to figure out what this means for the future. How soon does this foundation have to be replaced?

The inspector also found some pretty extensive termite and beetle damage. In fact, there is a large beam under the front of the house that is practically hollow. He was almost able to insert his finger into the soft wood. We were also unaware of this damage before this morning.

While we were walking along the side of the house looking at a sagging roof, I tripped over something sticking out of the ground and I fell backwards into the neighbor's fence. It was so rotten that the fence just came down. Unfortunately, I managed to fall on a nail which punctured my hand. Ouch.

On Monday we have two more appointments. It's possible we'll have enough information by then to make an informed decision.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Waiting to Go

I've got everything packed and I've finished everything on my list and I still have about an hour before I leave to pick up Jeff, so I figure I may as well do a quick blog entry.

I'm feeling much more stress this time; I'm not sure why. I'm not sure if I'm uneasy about the house purchase, or if I'm uneasy about Jeff quitting his job soon. It's pretty scary to cut our roots and just move, with no idea how it will turn out.

As far as the house, I've scheduled several appointments over the next 4 days. We have a full house inspection Saturday morning. On Monday we're meeting with Green Hammer Building Contractors to discuss the energy upgrades we'd like to do to the house. We want to seal it up tight with insulation and other energy saving upgrades. And we're hoping to redo the kitchen and add an attached bathroom upstairs.

Also on Monday, we have a Mason coming out to look at the crumbling brickwork to give us an estimate for repair. That one will help determine if we decide to call this house ours. On Tuesday, we are having someone come out and try and locate an old oil tank on the property. The sellers claim there never was one, but we want to be sure.

We still need to schedule a sewer scope, but I figure we can probably wait until after the inspection. If the inspection shows us some very serious problems, then we'll pass on this house. The price, frankly, isn't cheap enough if there are major problems. But we're not seeing them, so it may be fine.

I did go off galavanting to Monterey yesterday. On the way, I dropped Shasta off at boarding in Santa Cruz. It was a lovely drive and we had beautiful weather. It's probably just as well I went out and looked first, because I didn't end up buying the set. The furniture was exactly the brand and finish I was hoping, but the sellers only had a headboard for the queen size bed. They didn't have the footboard or rails. I was very disappointed; I like the finished furniture look of the footboard. The seller seemed pretty disappointed, too. While I was there, I even called the furniture company to get a price for the missing pieces and they said $700! Seriously? $700? In this economy? Anyway, it turned this good deal into not such a good deal, so I passed. At least I had a nice day with my Mother. =)

I finally had time this morning to take a long walk with my walking buddy, Heather. We actually walked 2 miles from her house to Hobee's for breakfast and then back again. It was a nice walk and I'm glad I got a chance to visit with Heather again. After breakfast, I spent the rest of the day working through my To Do list getting ready to go. I hope we're not forgetting anything!

During this trip in Portland, we're staying with our friend who doesn't have a wireless connection, so we'll be mostly offline until Tuesday night. We may sneak over to the Multnomah Library to use their connection, but we won't have it at the house. I'll let you all know how it goes as soon as I can.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Inspections Begin!

The sellers have now verbally accepted our counter offer. Our realtor, Clint, told me they had wanted to counter back at a higher amount, but he warned them not to, so they just accepted our offer. (Good call!) The forms are still shuttling about collecting signatures, but this looks like it will probably move to the next step. We'll know for sure tomorrow.

Next step: Inspections! We have 12 business days to complete whatever inspections we want to do. So now I need to start calling around and making appointments. And I (or we) have to go back up to Oregon, obviously. Though, we could stay down here and try and do everything remotely, but I'm sure we won't be as satisfied with that situation. It's always nice to follow the inspector around and ask questions while he works.

I am cautiously optimistic our search will finally be over. Though, I still clearly recall the house purchase that fell apart last year when the inspection came back with so many unexpected repairs needed.

I've been cruising around and it looks like the house has been in the same family since at least 1938. Interesting!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Counter Offer on Multnomah

Surprisingly, the sellers countered our offer, so I guess their original offer wasn't so much better than ours! We originally offered $380K firm. But they countered at $395K. We discussed rejecting it just on the principle of the thing, but we countered with $385K. We're ready to be done house shopping.

They officially have until tomorrow at 3PM to answer our counter, but based on their last answer, they don't worry about those time limits so much so it could be later in the week. I'm quite sure the sellers are trying to work the other buyers to get their price up, so who knows what will happen.

We're getting much better at not getting our hopes up when we make offers. We are already discussing for which house we should make the next offer, sad to say.

We did our grueling 12.5 hour drive again today. It went fairly well. We were both tired from getting to bed much too late last night and we're both nursing mild colds. But luckily the trip was uneventful. Though the weather was odd. It was nice in Oregon, then started raining when we crossed over into California. Then it pretty much rained the whole rest of the trip. It's good to be back to our own bed where we can sleep with our dog child!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Another Hopeless Offer

We made probably another hopeless offer today. We found the fixer in Laurelhurst this week, on Multnomah. It needs a bunch of cosmetic work but the structure seems to still be in good shape. All of the woodwork has been painted and needs to be stripped. The house needs a new kitchen and I would put in a new bathroom attached to a bedroom to make a master. It was once a grand old house and could be again.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tough Decisions

We've spent a couple of days now in Portland looking at houses and driving around looking at property on which to build. We're having a hard time deciding what we should do. We found a couple of once-grand houses that now need work, but they seem priced too high considering the work they need. We struggle with valuing them correctly. We're not so good at accurately guessing the cost of those repairs and I have a hard time being realistic about the work necessary because I'm so good at imagining them all fixed up and beautiful again.

We're also struggling with the trade-offs of living in town versus living in the forest areas that surround Portland. In the forest, we'll get a bigger lot loaded with trees, but it doesn't come cheap. And we'll always need to drive where we want to go. For a while now, we've been imagining a life where we can get down to one car and take advantage of Portland's legendary public transportation; that won't happen if we buy one of the out-of-town lots. It is unfortunate we have so many competing and incompatible desires.

Tomorrow we're going off with the realtor again to revisit about four houses from Tuesday. One of them, the fixer on Multnomah, is somewhat in the lead of the houses we visited yesterday. But we've been told there was an offer yesterday. We're debating whether we just move on and let the buyers negotiate uncontested, but we're also wondering if it would be worth at least writing up the offer with the dollar amount we're willing to pay. How do we know if it's more or less than the current offer; the only way to find out is to write the offer. Perhaps Multnomah will go pending tomorrow and then that decision will be taken out of our hands. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

It is possible we won't be making any offers on this trip, as I'm not really enthused about any of the current choices, except, of course, Rupert. And, about Rupert, there's still no definitive word. We are keeping the communication open with the sellers, but there has been no forward progress. We are no longer in contract and if they were to get a higher acceptable offer they would be free to accept it. Likewise, we are free to make offers on other properties. We continue to watch and see what happens. Perhaps it will eventually go into foreclosure, then maybe we'd have another shot at it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Beautiful Drive to Portland

We set off this morning at 5:31AM from Redwood City, CA. We drove pretty much straight through to Portland, OR and we arrived at 5:29PM! We had to stop for gas twice and we grabbed a quick BBQ lunch in Roseburg.

Shasta was a perfect dog child. She mostly slept the whole way, except for once when she asked us to stop at the next rest stop.

The weather around Yreka, CA was absolutely beautiful! Mt. Shasta was hiding behind the clouds, unfortunately.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mom's 65th Birthday

Yesterday was Sharon's mother's 65th birthday. We celebrated it by having a little family gathering for her at my brother James' house. (Thanks James for hosting another gathering!) We took a bunch of family pictures, but they were all on James' camera, so it will be a while before I get a copy!

We got there a bit early to help prepare and we brought Shasta. Shasta had an amazing day with all the kids, especially Lizzie (shown in the pictures below). Shasta was so tired when we got home last night that she didn't even have the energy to jump up and sleep on our bed!

Happy Easter Everyone!

This morning we were supposed to go out for an Easter brunch at Olive Garden, but we've decided to skip it. Sharon just doesn't have the stomach for two more big meals today. Instead, we're going to spend this morning packing for our trip tomorrow and drop in on the family gather after brunch over at Aunt Sarah's house.

This evening we're going to Sharon's father's house for another gathering. Hopefully the weather will hold and we'll be able to bring Shasta to play with her "cousins" again. Having her tired out this weekend is a good thing, since she pretty much has to sleep in the car all day tomorrow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

More Portland House Shopping

After 3 years of steadily looking at houses, I admit I'm getting tired of trying to find one. We've basically given up on Rupert. It sounds like even the sellers' realtor can't get ahold of the sellers. I guess they intend to let it go to foreclosure. Oh well. So, our search continues.

We have a busy weekend scheduled full of family activities. Tomorrow is my mother's 65th birthday and we're having a small family gathering in the afternoon. And there are two family meals on Easter Sunday.

Then, Monday we're driving back up to Oregon. Our house shopping list for this trip include these properties:
Multnomah Street--This is a fixer in Laurelhurst. Way at the edge of Laurelhurst which is not really a feature; I'd like to be close to the park. But it at least has the historic woodwork, painted, but it's there.
SE 67th Ave
NE Hazelfern

We're also going to look at a few pieces of land this trip. We're seriously considering just building a house. Then we could spend all our money building the new "old" house we envision and wouldn't have to spend money remodeling. Here are three pieces of property we're hoping to visit this week:
Germantown Road
Groveland Road
Ramsey Drive

I actually doubt we'll be making an offer this trip, except maybe on land. I think we've agreed we'll be better off if we wait until May, when the First Time Buyer Tax Kickback ends. We won't qualify for this credit due to selling a bunch of Apple stock to buy the house, so we'll probably be better off waiting until the house prices drop this summer (assuming the government doesn't again extend the credit).