Cindy's Moving Adventure

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


After some more weeks of searching and going through either a decent house in a bad neighborhood, or a house in a good neighborhood that needs a lot of work and typically has a major problem (like a functioning septic system), we have decided to come back to the first house and up our offer. So we have increased our offer to $80K, and yesterday we had a verbal acceptance of it and today we are signing the papers and finalizing the deal, so it looks like the smaller single home in a very nice neighborhood will be Cindy’s new house. Keep praying that this will all work out and come to the closing table without any problems.

Our biggest concern was over-paying for the house, since we have no real comps to look at. However, after looking at other houses where we were going to spend around 70K to purchase and another 5K to fix up and then have to worry about Cindy’s safety; it seems like the better plan would be to up our offer and get a house that does not need anything beyond some fresh paint and it is in a worry free neighborhood, and less than 10 minutes from Cindys employer, Wegmans. Plus with Cindy most likely living there for a long period of time, the comp issue became less a concern.

Special thanks goes out to my friend Troy. Troy and I have been partners in various real estate deals over the years. We would buy foreclosures and fix them up, putting in new kitchens, bathrooms, carpet, and paint, and put them back on the market. Troy has also agreed to help float a loan that amounts to half the purchase price of this house, even though he knows this deal is not like the ones we have done in the past. There is no large pay off down the road, there is no monthly income derived from the rent payment (the mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and water/sewer/garage fees will more than likely be higher than the rent being paid as Cindy transitions down here), he is doing it because that’s what friends do for each other, and my family appreciates him very much. Around here he is known as “Uncle Troy”, the picture you see is one of him when he came to visit Jenn after Katie was born in 2000.

Steve and Jenn

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Opened a bank account...

As gifts come in to help with Cindy's move, we found it necessary to open up a bank account yesterday to keep the money in.

Right now it has a tidy sum of money in it. We'd like to extend special thanks to Aunt E and Noel Hotchkiss, who have both made generous monetary gifts. These will be used toward purchasing a decent used car and paying for the first year insurance on the car. I'm thinking hot pink is about the right color for Cindy's lively personality... ;-)

The sad news...

Well, it's official. We aren't getting the "dream house" for Cindy. Unfortunately the owner of the house refuses to budge below $81K, and we just aren't willing to pay that much for it. I think he'll have trouble finding anyone to pay that...but that's his problem.

We've also abandoned further consideration of the second property that Steve was considering (much to Jenn's joy--she wasn't very thrilled with it!) because it has some major septic issues--basically the only way to fix them would be to have a holding tank which could cost several hundred dollars a month in pumping fees.

So now we are looking at another property with a much more reasonable listing price. This one is about 10 minutes from our house, 20 minutes from Wegmans. We've only seen the outside of it so far and the interior pictures that are on the Multi-Listing-Service website. It is a cute 2 story single house with 3 bedrooms on a wooded lot. One of the bedrooms is larger and has a deck coming off of it, while the other two bedrooms are small-ish. The kitchen cabinets need to be replaced, and all of the carpets need to be replaced. We've put in several kitchens over the past few years, so hanging some cabinets does not scare us off, and would give us the opportunity to customize the kitchen to Cindy's shorter stature. There isn't a picture of the bathroom, so that could have some undesired surprises in store. There are possible issues with the septic system, but the lot size is larger, so a new drainfield is a possibility. There is also public sewer scheduled to come in sometime in the next couple of years.

Please keep praying! We will keep you posted.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

House Offer Update

Well, as most real estate transactions go there is usually more to the story than at first glance. The house is up for $89,000. Which for a 1 bedroom, 550 square foot house, is kind of pricey. But it is a great location, less than ten minutes from Wegmans and fifteen from us. We thought because the county records are showing a sale in 2001 for $43,500 and another sale in May of 2005, for $45,000 that our offer of $65,000 … with no inspections, radon, or mortgage clauses, and closing in 30 days would give them a tidy profit quickly, and everyone would be happy all around.

While the county records show one facet of the story, the rest is this: a guy bought the house in 2001, and in 2005, what we thought was a sale again, was really a transfer of title, from a brother to a sister. Apparently he needed some money to help with a custody battle, and he transferred the house title to his sister, and she gave him a loan. So they say the house has about $81,000 in loans against it, and that is their number. We can’t really find any comps to justify $80,000+ … so that is where we are. We raised our offer to $70,000 and the ball is back in their court.

Steve looked at another house for a plan B, but it is a real beater. Nice neighborhood, but there is a roof leak, with lots of drywall replacement needed and a new roof on a section of the house. Plus every room in the house will need some type of cosmetic work, as well as most of the exterior of the house. The biggest unknown is there are questions about the septic system and its viability. But, it is a foreclosure, and priced at $69,000, and banks don’t like to hold properties, so they may take something in the early 60’s, but there would be at least $5,000 - $7,500 worth of known repairs to do, not included the septic issue.

So keep us in your thoughts and prayers as the Lord leads us to the perfect house for Cindy to live in down here in Allentown.

Steve and Jenn

Greetings from Aunt E!

We received a wonderful gift packet today from Aunt E. & Kelly, from sunny California. It was packed full of gift cards to help facilitate Cindy’s move to Allentown. She will have loads of fun using the Target gift card to help decorate and funish her new space, her bath and bedroom using a card from Bed, Bath and Beyond, and a card to take a break from shopping and have cup of Java from Starbucks! Thank you Aunt E! She also sent along a pic of her new digs!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Well, this show might just be going on the road!

As many of you know, Cindy has been trying to find a way to move closer to Steve and me for a while. With her getting a job at Wegmans, an excellent employer who is willing to transfer her to a store in our area, it has become a feasible prospect.

Or so we thought. This spring Cindy visited, and we began the arduous process of apartment hunting. Unfortunately, the selection of apartments in her price range was less than stellar, and then when that selection was weeded down to only include those that would accept her government assitance, the selection was even worse. Then there were income requirements. Though she *could* pay the rent at a specific price level, the income level those apartments required was several hundred dollars more per month than she earns. Looking at apartments at a lower cost just wasn't an option, because the quality of the apartments quickly deteriorated. Even at the price level we had settled on, we were looking at apartments in neighborhoods that would be far from our ideal choice.

So we tried to think creatively. The first option considered was moving ahead with our plans to put a bathroom and bedroom in our walk-out basement, significantly expanding the project to actually create a small apartment in the basement.

Though that might work, finishing our basement is a project we certainly weren't planning on embarking on for a few more years, and we weren't quite sure how the cramped quarters and lack of privacy would work out for Cindy. We had enough trouble convincing our 4 kids to give our former neighbor who had a parrot and cats privacy, we could only imagine how having "Aunt Cindy" in the basement with two cats would work out!

So Steve hit on a brainstorm....what if we bought a small house, then rented it back to her? We felt it was something that we could do. So apartment hunting quickly became house hunting.

Many of the houses we looked at weren't much better than the apartments. Crowded neighborhoods with no parking, and lots of loud music. One house was very cute, and had a nicely manicured fenced yard...but the owner neglected to deactivate the alarm, so we were quickly looking through the house with the alarm blaring! Other houses ranged from "okay" to "gross"--including one that sported a back yard that had been converted into a semi-enclosed porch--complete with a green corregated plastic roof and miscellaneous garbage stuffed under the "porch/yard."

So when we finally came upon this cute little house, the decision was easy. Quiet neighborhood, single house (vs row house), off street parking. Very easily accessible to Wegmans and other points of interest.

The house is a cozy 550 square feet. It has a new kitchen that is an open concept with the living room. A small bathroom and moderate bedroom are in the rear of the house. A bit of weed pulling will expose a nice patio in the back, next to a storage shed. Flowers are already planted in the front of the house, though they could use a bit of TLC. The house is only 13 feet wide, sitting on a 20 foot wide lot, so the side yards are only about two passes of the lawn mower. It's basically an apartment mascarading as a house. ;-)

So folks, we ask that you be in prayer about this. We submitted a written offer on the house today. The house has been on the market over 70 days, and what we have been told is that there have been a few verbal offers that were rejected as too low, but nothing written. We are concerned that the basic problem is that the owner may be thinking he can make more of a profit than is really reasonable. He bought the house in May 2005 for "x." Now he has it listed for "x times 2." Yikes! At best, the only improvements he did was to put in a new kitchen and new carpetting--maybe $3-4000 in improvements. But that is iffy, they may have already been there when he bought it. We have offered "x times 1.4." Quite frankly, I think that a 40% profit in a market that is only supporting about an 8% profit is MORE than generous. We'll see.