Knowing I wanted to be out of my current rental by the time this year’s lease expired, I started driving around the county and nosing through open houses a few months ago. I was even more or less settled on the areas and type of house I wanted to end up with. I wanted more than an acre, something mid-century, and well outside town limits. For the record, December and January are probably not a great time to be out poking around looking at houses – there just isn’t that much of a supply on the market and no sane person wants to move in the middle of winter. Even so there were some contenders, but nothing that screamed “buy me now.” I bided my time, assuming that more inventory would arrive on the market with warmer weather. I even toyed with the idea of buying a big lot and then building a small house to suit, before realizing that I house built to my own crackpot specs would be damned near impossible to sell to anyone else.
The funny thing is I thought I knew exactly what I wanted. I’d only been working with my realtor a week when she casually mentioned that I should look at a house down on Elk Neck. It was an eyebrow raiser. Sure the pictures looked nice enough, but the house barely ticked off half of the things on my list. It was one story, on slightly less than an acre, and (terror of terrors) ruled by the covenants and restrictions of a very active home owners association. In fact I almost passed on even looking at it for those reasons until curiosity got the better of me. A house in that neighborhood rarely stays on the market long – and this one had been on the market for almost eight months and $100,000 in price reductions. Honestly, I assumed it was a murder house, or infested with mold, or possibly built on some kind of ancient Indian burial ground.
After the first showing, we were both utterly confused by why this house was still on the market. It was only during my second pass through the master bathroom that it occurred to me – uh, why isn’t there a shower in here? So there it was. The reason the typical yuppie buyers in that neighborhood had been taking a pass on what was otherwise a tremendous home. I proclaimed the design choice “very weird,” and moved on.
Three hours later the seller’s agent called my realtor using phrases like “extremely motivated,” “willing to negotiate,” and “credit for bathroom renovation.”
That conversation let to three days of back and forth discussion, deep research on bathroom renovation costs, another showing, and by the end of the week an offer I was sure would test the depth of the seller’s motivation to be finished with the property and move on with his life. There was a counter offer, a counter counter offer, and finally agreement of nearly all the substantive terms I asked for. I’m still a little shocked they agreed to all the concessions written into the contract.
It wasn’t the house I started out looking for a few months ago, but assuming it passes through the gates of inspection and financing it’s the right one.