I think I broke it, and negotiations
Dec 14, 2006

Prizewagon is down. Their servers appeared to have crashed. Oddly enough, this happened at the exact moment that I won a hand in the tournament I was playing in. I can only conclude that this is the result of some vast conspiracy aimed at preventing my success at online poker. Yeah, that must be it. Anyway, on to real estate negotiations. We actually ended up going into negotiations on two different places (not at once). The first one, was a fantastic 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse in Porter Sq. By some strange fluke it just barely happened to be in the high range of our price range and was an absolutely beautiful gut rehab. We still decided to make a very low offer because of the state of the market, and because we really didn't want to go that high if we didn't have to. After several rounds of negotiation the seller had made an offer that was very close to what we wanted, but just slightly higher. We decided to push just a little bit harder and countered with our actual target price. To be honest, I think the seller would have taken it, but their agent didn't want to. Instead, the agent delayed and brought in one of their own clients who must have made a much higher offer because we weren't even given the chance to match it. I can only assume that the actual buyer must have offered close to the original asking price whereas we had gotten the seller down by about $50,000. Suckers. After losing the townhouse we started looking again. The next thing we found was again at the very high end of our price range. But, rather than a townhouse or a condo, it was a single family house. And not one out in the middle of nowhere, but literally just a block away from the Porter Sq. T stop in a very nice residential neighborhood (actually only about two blocks from the townhouse). It was listed as 1,500 sq. ft., 3 bedroom, 1 bath. The catch? It had been built as a farmhouse around 1900, and it looked like the only upgrades since then had been installing indoor plumbing. Despite that, it was a beautiful house with huge investment potential. Investing maybe $20,000 into it could have finished the attic, bringing it up to around 2,000 sq. ft. and up to 5 bedrooms, converted two of the bedrooms into a master suite, and upgraded the kitchen to something modern. The problem was that we wouldn't really be able to afford to put in that investment for a while. So we'd be forced to live with it as is for probably around 2 years, and on top of that had to make bigger mortgage payments than we really wanted to (which wouldn't really have been to bad because it had a four-car tandem driveway that could easily have been converted to 3 parallel spots and rented out). It also had an old oil heating system, so we would have had to pay for that all winter on top of everything else. It would have been a great investment, but eventually we decided that it was just a little more than we were willing/able to take on just yet, so we let it go. The next one we found was the one we've now basically bought. Unlike the other two, it's at the low to middle of our prize range. Previously we had been looking at 1,200 to 1,300 sq. ft. condos, but this one, at only 980 sq. ft., actually feels bigger than those thanks to a very good layout. Everything in it is modern and it needs no work. It's the third floor of a three-floor building that had just recently been converted from rental units and the other two had sold within the past 6 months. It's actually just up the street from the townhouse we first made an offer on as well, so a very good location. The only problem, which originally had actually been a deal breaker for us, was that the kitchen hadn't been updated since the 60s. But it was still in working order, and after our experience with the house we had realized that we weren't actually afraid of doing a little work on the place. So we decided to make an offer on the place. Negotiations (obviously) went very well, and we were able to get the seller to agree to almost exactly the price we had as our target. Having seen what we've seen and realized what is and isn't possible for us, I think this place is actually just about perfect for us. It's in exactly the neighborhood we want, it's just about the right size, and it'll last us for at least 5 years, which is pretty much the amount of time that we're likely to want to stay there. Having found this place, I'm actually kind of glad that we didn't get the townhouse and that we decided the house would be too much. The next step: inspection. The inspection was actually, to me, one of the most interesting parts of the process. I'll write about it in my next post.
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