It’s Never The Last House

Just as I received word that the property on which I placed a backup bid closed, my agent informed me of a property that was being prepared for market, several blocks north of my sweet spot but on a great street and allegedly with a great view of Puget Sound.

I love off-market properties, because they afford you a bit of bargaining power before the place goes on the market. For instance, the seller doesn’t need to pay to stage the place. Also, if they haven’t signed on with an agent yet, they can save at least half of the 6% commission. Furthermore, in this down real estate market, any offer from me is doubly strong, because I can close quickly and am not overly affected by the radically reduced amount of mortgages available since the sub-prime collapse.

On to the Property

My agent arranged for me to see this new place, and upon arriving, we met the real estate agent who the seller was thinking about working with. She had not officially gotten the listing yet, but she smartly had the seller sign a one-day listing agreement in case I decided to put in an offer. This is an extremely important step for a prospective selling agent to take in ensure she gets her 3% in the event of a sale, and it doesn’t require the seller to commit to her long-term.

The house has a lot going for it. It’s a mid-century modern home on a prestigious street with great bones and a nice view of Puget Sound through several tall trees. It has a beautiful butterfly roof which creates a nice, sloping exposed beam ceiling on the inside. The entrance and main floor are on street level and the daylight basement below provides extra bedrooms and other space. It’s definitely the nicest house I’ve seen in my price range, but it needs some serious work.

The house was designed around 1960 and hasn’t been updated in awhile. The owner is an elderly gentleman who is apparently a bit crotchety and refuses to sign the Seller’s Disclosure Statement which makes me instantly suspicious, given the guy is a civil engineer. According to the selling agent, the guy simply decided years ago that he should never have to sign these things for properties he sells and that basically, “it is what it is”. I’m not letting this strange circumstance keep me from buying this house, but it’s certainly going to cause me to triple-check everything.

More importantly, however, the house has a few characteristics which I need to get cool with in order to pull the trigger. Number one, it’s probably too nice of a house to tear down, but possibly not nice enough of a house to make perfect upon an extensive remodel. The biggest issue would be going up a story. From the roof of the existing structure, the view just explodes. It goes from a 90 degree view of the water between trees to a 120 degree of the water and a nearby lighthouse above the trees. The difference is dramatic. If I buy this house, going up a level is an absolute must.

The other thing about the house is that the arrangement of rooms is not ideal. Currently, a lot of the square footage is buried in the daylight basement (with no view) and the master bedroom is pretty small by current day standards.

I’m going to take the evening to think about this and perhaps put a bid in tomorrow. Bid or no bid, however, this house has reminded me of something important to consider when you’re house shopping: whatever house you’re looking at, it’s never the last house. There will always be another one around the corner. Seeing this house lessens the emotional impact of not getting the previous one tremendously.

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