I feel bad.
We're so sick of house hunting and it's made our friends and family sick of it too. It's become the daunting question that no one wants to ask, like a big elephant in the room. "oh hey guys, errr...have a place to live yet?"
So, you may be thinking..."what the heck is taking so darn long. You did move to Michigan, right?!! Isn't it, like, super cheap there!? Aren't you by Detroit? Aren't they giving away houses there?!!"
1. Don't diss Detroit, I love it.
2. Michigan is on the up and up, just a side note to give the mitten some love.
So let me give you a picture of what we're working with:
1. You want what, for WHAT?!
Obviously, A2 is a college town of a top university, so the real estate market is completely different than the rest of the state. This is great for resale, but difficult for purchasing. We quickly discovered that anything that could be say, $150,000 in our hometowns, would be at least 20% more in Ann Arbor. At first, there wasn't a huge sticker shock considering we lived in A2 for undergrad, and knew the market was more expensive. Also, Charlottesville was pretty inflated because of the university presence.
Here's the kicker: The market is continuing to improve, to the point where houses that were listed in Spring, are now listed for at least 10% higher. We've seen over 80 houses, and I haven't walked into one yet that I (or our realtor) felt was fairly priced. Finding the balance between the purchase price, the updates involved and return is difficult. The majority of time, we would never get our money back if we updated a thing = bad investment.
On top of that, there is so little inventory on the market in the summer months, it continues to push the prices up.
2. How many offers?!
I'll be honest with you.
We've put offers on three houses. THREE. The first house, we were $16,000 over the asking price and still didn't get it. The second sold for $10,000 over the listed price.
You can imagine the frustration and roller coaster of excitement and disappointment involved. (Also some tears.)
The next issue (which I'll talk about more in another post), is space. B R E A T H I N G ROOM!
There is something really fun about the thought of riding my bike to the grocery store, parking on the street and having charming curb appeal; the typical hipster Ann Arbor wife. In reality, we'd suffocate. I may be a curious person, but I don't want to look in my neighbors windows all day long.
Ann Arbor has some GREAT neighbors, full of charm, mature trees and space. Then you have other areas where the houses are so close they may as well be stacked on top of one another. No personal space to relax or area to have a bonfire in the backyard. Then, there are some areas in the in-between. We've felt a pull in each direction! Well, at least I have. Kyle has hyperventilated in at least two neighborhoods before he even saw the house.
4. The Difference of Value.
Kyle values land. Plain and simple. He wants to be able to walk out of his backdoor and hunt his land. I'm not so much on that spectrum, but I would ideally love a big backyard. The majority of buyers in A2 desire location (duh!), not land. So value is obviously placed on location to downtown and the University. The price that reflects the location is hard for my woodsman to swallow. When you personally don't value something as high as the market does, it's more difficult to spend you hard earned money on it.
5. We like your house, can we buy it?!
I'd LOVE your opinion on this. Considering there isn't one home on the market in the neighborhoods we'd like to be in (and if there is a home, it's way out of our price range), our realtor suggested writing a letter to the owners of the houses we love. Essentially, asking if they'd consider selling it to us.
Supposedly, one of Kyle's colleagues had this happen and they sold their house to the people interested! I can't decide if it's desperate, strange, stalker-ish or a compliment.
At the end of the day, we know that no matter what house we are in, it's not the structure that makes it our home. I'll talk about this more (maybe this week), but this has also been an incredible time for the Lord to teach us what we value and where our possessions lie. As crazy as it's been, and as much as I hate having boxes in every room, I somehow find myself being more thankful for each little thing that makes life so full, no matter where our heads lie at night.
I feel bad.