Monday, May 29, 2017

The Plan for Wednesday is....

Two showings:

An official showing of the duplex, the gorgeous property right here in Hartford. The yard is a bit small but it has a large upper deck with a view all around (except north). It has a 2.5 car garage with 2 separate garage doors with openers. It has a rather long driveway, so it would mean using a snowblower. My daughter gets up at 3 am. It is still on our wish list. My daughter has a 401k, and she is gifting us what she can. We will still be about $2000 short for cash to close. Drive time to work...2 minutes in good weather.

Next, a showing at the house on the river in Hustisford. We know it needs the wood replaced around the porch and deck. Other than that, we have no idea. It isn't a duplex (taxes list it as a single family home) but it has an upstairs bathroom and mini kitchen. It also has a guest house, which I mentioned before. We don't know what we will find. Mold? Junk? Doable? Price reduction? It would have more room for guests than the duplex. It could be a fun place to live....think....fishing, a small boat for exploring the lake....water front property! Many possibilities, yet many possible road-blocks. It has no garage, but the driveway is short and the parking area is just off the street. Drive time to work...12 to 15 minutes in good weather.

It will be an interesting day!

P.S. I just noticed they have an open house scheduled for Saturday, June 3rd. We are seeing it on Wednesday. I imagine they will hold off accepting any offer until after the showing. Who knows what will happen.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Disconnected Decisions

We learned the hard way, do not become emotionally attached to any property because there are several things that can prevent a sale.

  • Not enough money for closing
  • The sellers could reject the offer
  • It might not pass inspection
  • The bank won't finance what the sellers are asking
*** Remain Emotionally Detached *** until the papers are signed and the keys in hand.

Today my daughter and I drove out to Hustisford to look at a property that is listed sort of at the top of our comfortable price range but still below what we have been approved for. Here are 6 pictures. I didn't want to intrude because the people were home.

120 feet of Rock River waterfront. It's been raining a lot, so you can see there is no flooding.

A small guest house (white and green building) It has its own mini kitchen, bath, sitting room and bedroom.

We walked to the middle of the bridge over the Rock River

The land across the river. This would be the view from the house.

Looking down the street, toward Lake Sinissippi. Yeah, you read that right.

Looking south across the street. There is a narrow park. Some people were fishing. We saw several large fish jump.

My daughter and I were laughing...would we live on a street named Tweedy next to a lake called Sinissippi in a town named Hustisford :D

Drive time, 12 to 15 minutes. I requested a showing for Wednesday. We shall see...

Friday, May 26, 2017

Research, Research, Research

The condition of a home isn't the only thing one needs to look at. Some pre-screening can be done by using Google Street View and Google Maps in Satellite mode.

This listing has been up awhile but I looked anyway.

Hmmmm....farm fields next door?

Let's look in Google...what is across the street?
Ugh!! Really?!?! Can you say "stink and flies"?

We found this gorgeous Hustisford listing, right in our price range!

But...sadly...farm fields all around.
Fartilizer, oops, FERTILIZER drift (Freudian slip?), pesticide drift, herbicide drift, dust from plowing, planting and harvesting....nope, I can't deal with any of that. The farms are all around and the tree line is not wide enough to provide a buffer.

Then there is the overpriced dumpy house in Hartford with the leaking foundation we looked at.

And the view across the street
Lovely

The difficult search continues. Unfortunately for most home-buyers today, inventory is at an all-time low and the number of buyers is at an all-time high. Many houses end up in bidding wars with potential buyers putting in offers above list price. The seller happily gets to choose between maybe a dozen offers.

Duplexes tend to sit on the market for some time. They come with a different list of issues. Since they are not single-family, none of the home buyer credits are available. Also, they require 5% down.

Homes that need some repair but are not considered a "fixer-upper" by the bank can be considered, and they tend to sit longer. There are not many in that category. More likely they will be full-blown fixer-uppers requiring a cash sale.

Odd-ball houses tend to sit longer. For instance, we were thinking about looking at this one in Hustisford, until we figured out there is no way to use the upper bedrooms. There is no bathroom upstairs, and the only way up is by the outside stairs. 

Beautiful property, nice house

A screened-in porch!

Oops! What where they thinking?

So....what do you tell your guests? "The guest rooms are upstairs. There is no bathroom, so you will need to come downstairs, outdoors, in the pouring rain or dark of night, and come into the house to go to the bathroom."

Or...."Here's a bucket."

It would be hugely costly or maybe structurally impossible to put a bathroom upstairs. 

Hartford has lots of older, 2 story homes built in the 1900's. To be updated for modern times, they need new windows, re-wired electric, insulation, new siding, new roof, first-floor laundry (or indoor access to the basement. Often times the bedrooms are too small, such as the common 9x9, and often there is no bathroom upstairs. 

Nice, but the bedrooms are way too tiny

Bigger, but all-wood siding needs scraping and painting, and there is a lot of it.


The search goes on.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Racing to a Dead End

Yesterday evening we met our real estate agent at her office so we could sign the Buyers Agent papers. Before driving to her office we passed a newly listed Ranch in Hartford for $145,000. I grabbed the address and texted our agent. She had details of the property for us when we arrived and she set up a showing for this morning at 10 am.

Immediately we noticed the house didn't look as nice in person as it did in the pictures, and it was smaller than what the listing implied, because they included the "finished" basement in the square feet.....which had water trickling in behind the paneling along the back wall.



Our agent's husband showed us the house (they are a team), so we spent some time talking about what we are looking for, and what we noticed about the house we were looking at. We discovered that it is possible to buy a house that needs some fixing, but which is not actually a "fixer-upper". However, we didn't like this one at all, and it was agreed that it is worth much less than the listing price. Plus...that foundation wall....need I say more?

We no more than got back home and my daughter was texting me that a duplex for $160,000 just listed 15 minutes ago and there were no pictures. She gave us the address, so we drove over to look. A man was walking around to the front and we asked if we might take a picture. He said of course. It turned out that he was the owner, and he invited us to view the property. 

We were astounded. It is immaculate, fully updated, sturdy, well built, strong, clean, gorgeous woodwork. Every inch of that house said "Welcome Home", from the downstairs enclosed porch to the upstairs kitchen and balcony. Already we were living there in our hearts. We were mentally siting on the balcony watching sunrises or sunsets. I was nearly in tears.

We wanted it, right then and there. I called our agent. She needed to see it, and since she was driving from Menomonee Falls, it was only a short detour. She called us as soon as she was heading to West Bend, and we took off to meet her there. 

She looked at the loan approval we had. Something was confusing, so I called our loan officer. He talked to me, then the agent, then me. The numbers were different because it's a duplex. First time homebuyer credits only work for single family homes. We were $4400 short for closing costs. Our loan guy crunched numbers, he went through every program they have. There was nothing he could do.

Our loan guy felt bad. Our agent tried to console us by telling us something else will come up. She said she sees a lot of disappointed potential buyers who miss out simply because 6 offers might come in on a property all at once. So we thanked everyone for trying so hard to help us and we vowed not to give up hope.

Here are a few pictures I took of the duplex.

Balcony

Flowers everywhere

 Clean, dry basement

Dual electric

Super thick, sturdy basement walls, European style...hubby loves it

Adorable dining area downstairs

Enclosed 3 season porch

Lovely woodwork everywhere. Large room upstairs

Upstairs pantry

Upstairs kitchen

Dual central air

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This and That

I got the petunias planted. It's chilly out, and it looks like it might rain again. I'm leaving the succulents out on the window sill. Because of the roof overhang and the east location, they don't get much, if any, rain, and it's not freezing, so they should be fine.

Tuesday evening hubby and I are meeting the real estate agent in West Bend. We are thinking this is a good time to sign the Buyer Agency agreement. Although in signing it we agree to work with this agent, she is a team with her husband, who had many years experience in construction.

Wisconsin law explained:
"In the traditional buying process, a real estate agent working without a Buyer Agency contract is, by law, working as an agent of the seller. An agent working without a Buyer Agency contract must still be fair in his/her dealings, but is prohibited by law from giving the buyer critical advise such as a professional opinion of a price or in suggesting negotiation strategies."

The contract includes professional opinions, advice and critiques of the seller's property beyond disclosing defects, plus negotiations, writing documents and assisting in transactions.

I'm still reading the fine print, but basically, if we don't sign it, the the agent only works in the seller's best interest. Since it's a seller's market out there, we figure we need someone on our side.

We need all the help we can get. The market is hot for move-in ready houses. Typically they stay on the market for about 5 days. The houses that stay on the market for a long time need repairs. Banks won't give a loan on a house needing repair, so those types of homes can only be purchased by an investor with a cash sale, unless the homeowner decides to fix them.

A short sale or foreclosed home is not out of the question, again, professional help is needed here.

The median home price in Hartford is $217,000. We have been approved for up to $200,000. We would rather stay under $150,000. It's going to be an uphill battle.

We have decided, for several reasons, that Hartford is the best location to focus on. Hubby's and my daughter's work is only 2 minutes away. Hubby's family and friends are only 2 minutes away. He visits often, almost daily. Internet is fast. Home prices, though high, are still better than some areas not far away, except Neosho. Home prices in Neosho compare to Hartford, or are slightly less. However it's a tiny community, so not many come up for sale. Neosho is 5 minutes from my hubby's work.

With a sigh, I give up on the duplex with problems in Woodland. I fell in love with the view. It was not to be. The place is too tiny. There are other issues. There is no Internet. We rely on Internet to keep in touch with family.

View, I love you. You broke my heart.


More on Buyer Agent, from First Weber

We are considered Milwaukee Metro, here are some blog entries about the market here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Well... crud

My ACTH test came back, even higher...80.8

My previous numbers were 68.5 and 59.7

So....I'm sure I will be hearing from the Endo Doc. Since my cortisol seems to be in a normal range, I have no idea what this means. Usually it's a combo...high ACTH/low cortisol or low/high or something, but not high/normal.

I am thankful I have really good insurance. Zero deductible, zero co-pay. Medicare is $109 per month and Blue Cross Blue Shield of California is $181 per month. I kept it because Wisconsin does not have plan F.

Speaking of health insurance reminded me of a recent conversation when we were visiting family in Indiana. My SIL's health insurance deductible before the ACA = $500. After (with) the ACA = $15,000. My daughter said her deductible went up by $10,000. Before the ACA her lab tests were covered. Now they are not. She cannot afford to get the tests she needs, so she went off a medication. She won't be eligible for Medicare for 20 more years. Basically Obamacare is catastrophic insurance, because it doesn't pay much of anything else, at least in Indiana.

This is part of the insurance train wreck that put the ass hole in office.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Found It!

That petunia I was looking for.....found it at Hahn's ACE Hardware! My daughter and I froze our butts looking.

Here it is. It does have a yellow eye, it's just hard to see in the lighting

 This is the brand

 I also bought these. I think the middle one is white

There are so many fancy petunias out now, deep, dark, nearly black, blue with white dots, white edges, green edges, pinwheels, on and on! I'm out of room!

Back to Work

Hubby's vacation is over. It was great to have all the time together, and the week we spent helping my daughter and her hubby in Indiana was particularly rewarding. We all had a lot of fun in between the hard work.

Wednesday was hot and muggy with thunderstorms. Thursday turned chilly and breezy. I had some plants outside. but brought the small ones in, simply because it was going to be in the upper 30's and I wasn't sure if it was a good idea to leave them out. I brought the ones on this side of the screen inside. It's not supposed to freeze, so the others should be ok.



My daughter in Indiana has the prettiest petunias. I can't seem to find them anywhere, probably because the stores all carry plants from the same grower. When I get the change I will check out the local hardware store. Anyway, the petunia I'm looking for is pink with a white center and a yellow throat. The ones I'm seeing are missing the white center.


The cortisol test came back normal (chewing on the cotton swab). The blood test that went with it is also normal. That's good news. I'm still waiting for the other blood test for the ACTH (the test I had before that flagged high).

Our real estate agent set up a sharing portal for us, where she can upload listings and we can view and comment on them, or request info. We are concentrating on Hartford, even though it's more expensive. We have discussed options quite a bit, and staying here is the better option because friends and family are here. It's taken my hubby quite some time to "find himself" here in America, and I would have to say that Hartford is working out very well.

Hubby only worked half a day yesterday because he is training and translating for a new hire who only speaks Albanian. After he came home, he and I went shopping. Hubby bought me a new purse. He wanted to buy me two different ones, but I didn't think the other one was practical, so I talked him into just the one. He wanted to buy me shoes, too, but they didn't have my size in the ones I liked, and I didn't feel like hunting them down in other stores.


That's about all for now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Catching Up

We drove down to Indiana on Saturday, May 6th, to help my daughter get her house fixed to sell. My hubby is on vacation, and my daughter and her hubby both asked for a week off, which worked out great. We got a lot done, or I should say, they did. I did manage to tape and cut in the bedroom so my daughter could roll it, and I helped her wash the windows. I had to stop after sanding in the hallway because my bum arm and shoulders started to ache. By "bum arm", I mean the one with 7 lymph nodes removed, which causes my arm to ache if I do too much. It's a lifelong thing. My neck was also getting pretty darn sore, and the dust was giving me asthma problems, even with a dust mask, so I quit.

Hubby and daughter's hubby were busy with the floors. My hubby laid the ceramic tile. They all cleared out a lot of stuff, so to the dump, some to storage. They said the help put them ahead by a few months. It's pretty hard for them to get anything done because they have his kids every other weekend and they have softball games. They also have games on Monday and Tuesday afternoons after school. That leaves them 3 days a week and every other weekend.

My daughter needs to sell her house so she and her hubby can start building their home. Currently they are squished into a 2 bedroom apartment.

We had a good time, went out to eat every night....not something I usually do.

My daughter bought me some succulents for Mother's Day :)


We also spent some time petting my daughter's kitty, because he was a bit upset with all the commotion going on. They will try to squeeze him into their apartment until we get a house. We offered to take him, but we can't yet because our apartment is "no pets".


And my younger daughter had this in our apartment waiting for me to come home :)


We came home Sunday, May 14. Monday hubby and I had a meeting with a realtor. It was a good meeting. She will call us if something comes up in our price range.

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 5th

May 5th was the one year anniversary of my neck surgery. I am doing well in that respect, I will always have a range of motion (ROM) limit and my neck can still hurt a bit if I try to push that ROM too far. Sometimes my shoulder get achy. Oh well.

Also, on May 5th I had an appointment with the Endocrinologist (hormone doc) in Menomonee Falls. He asked lots of questions. He listened carefully to my answers. He understood why I was concerned (lost 3 family members because they chose to ignore their bodies). He said my numbers can be off because of stress, but....he will test me for something rare. I have 2 swabs that at exactly 11 pm I chew one for 2 minutes and place it in the vial. The next night I chew the second one. The following morning I get my blood drawn at the lab (here in Hartford) at 8 am, The results will be sent to the Endo doc in Menomonee Falls.

Not a lot of news for you now, and I won't be checking in for a few days.