09-07-2008 02:38 PM
I was curious if there's anyone else out there like me, who researches every little detail to ensure you're well educated on what your payments will truly be.
Putting aside the current market, shady listing agents, and constant let-downs. I still remain optimistic we will find 'the one' (again, as we found it and didn't get it twice).
When I look at a home, I first come to Redfin to check sales history. With the various city changes, I check alternate cities, too - so I don't miss a former sale (like Ladera Ranch used to be Mission Viejo; Wagon Wheel was Coto De Caza, Newport Beach was Costa Mesa, etc.).
First, I calculate our mortgage payment. Then I find out the taxes and add that, too. Then I check MR's and HOA's. If the total looks good, THEN I will schedule a viewing. If I really like the house, I request utility costs. If there's a pool, I want to know how it's being heated and I will typically want water bills, too. I request utility bills from the hottest three summer months, and the coldest three 'winter' months. This gives me a good idea of what I'm really going to be paying (as I already know what the rest will be).
I didn't start this until we rented this old clunker house and we turned the AC on and used it off and on for a month. There's also an outdoor jacuzzi here. Our electric bill went from $250.00 (which is high in the first place) to SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS!! Having that said, this house was built the year I was born (1977). Due to being a slight home ageist, we're looking for newer homes.
We're very fortunate that our age we can look in the high 7's to mid 8's range and put down up to 40% (we plan to buy all new furniture, or it could have been more). My partner works very hard, so I go out of my way to make sure I know every little detail before I even consider telling him I found something I think we'd both like. My eyes are a bit more creative than his, so this process has been quite disheartening. If I see something ugly - I visualize it pretty, he calls it gross.
Anyway, do other people check utilities or am I just weird? I want to ensure we can make payments, still save money and live comfortably. Knowing every detail actually helps me in this matter. If I turned the AC on in a new home and ended up with a bill like we have here I'd probably cry. I haven't used AC since then and drained and shut down the jacuzzi, and I can assure you - this house has windows on only one side leaving no airflow here and I found new areas on my body that I didn't know were capable of sweating. When I say we want to live comfortably, I mean that both literally and figuratively.
Hopefully if you guys don't think I am weird and that maybe it's a good idea, others can try the same thing, too!
09-07-2008 09:53 PM
I have not checked utility bills on any of the 4 homes I put an offer on this year. I know pools are maintenance & energy hogs and I would not get much use out of them so I have ruled out homes with them.
I try to make sure there is gas to the home so that I can change to gas dryer, waterheater, etc. if needed.
It sounds like maybe you are overanalyzing each home...but I guess that could be a good thing. I do not think I'd go as far as you with getting bills, etc., at least until I have my offer accepted. Then I would probably request them and if I saw any really bad surprises I would probably try to use it to negotiate a little more. It seems like a lot of work you are going through for a home that you might not even buy, when you consider the number of shortsales that do not end up resulting in a purchase.
09-08-2008 02:40 AM
wow. I AM THRILLED TO KNOW I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE AND I HAVE BEEN DOING IT FOR 3 SOLID YEARS. DIDN'T GO AS FAR AS BILLS BUT MY CONSTANT COMPARING AND WATCHING FORHOMES ALL THROUGH LACO TO SG TO RIV CO TO CASTAIC TO SIMITO SD-NAME IT- IS TAKING A TOLL (I'M NOT YOUNG AND PART OF PROBLEMS IS HUB REALLY DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE GORGEOUS TO LOOK AT GRIM TO LIVE IN (NO AC) DANA POINT APT COMPLEX 2 MI FROM BEACH. NOT GIVING UP I KEPT CONSTANTLY COMPARING LOAN BROKERS, RATES ET AL TRYING TO TIME MARKET. HAVE ALSO FOUND 4 PERFECT HOMES DIDN'T GET AND AM STILL AT IT NOW W/INT RATES UP AND TIGHTENING LENDERS (WE ALSO ARE FORTUNATE TO HAVE MONEY & GREAT CREDIT) EVEN SO CAN'T GET HOUSES WE COULD BECAUSE HAVE KNOCKED OUT ABOUT 200K IN "QUALIFICATON". I NOW AM SO FURIOUS I WILL ONLY LOOK AT HOMES REOD IN 3'S AND OMG FINDING THEM (OF COURSE NOT CLOSE TO LA BUT NOT IN BAKERSFIELD EITHER). I THINK THE OBSESSIVE ONE AND I WOULD PROBABLY NOT HAVE GONE THIS ROUTE IF WE HAD HAD A FULLTIME JOB. MY NAME FOR THIS IS "DRIVEN:" -- HAVE ALWAYS FOUND PERFECT HOME 5 HOMES TO THIS BUT THAT LAST ONE WAS IN 90'S SO IT IS HARD TO COMPROMISE -- BUT OUR TIMING HAS GOT TO BE RIGHT.
09-08-2008 07:36 AM
We have been looking at homes for over a year now and put offers in on 3 which didn't work out. We are probably looking for something with a pool/spa (since we found out it would cost over 90k to have one installed) and more room than we have now. We also don't want anything that needs work done to it (we have been there/done that and would rather get something where someone else has gone through all the pain of remodeling/updating). We also refuse to be upside down going into the deal. We plan on staying and there is little chance we will move again. Anyway, the home we wanted the most ended up selling in just a few days and we offered more than 30K over the asking price. The other party offered just 5k more than we did (I actually cried when we found out). The other 2 homes had sellers that refused to come down on price and despite counter offers back and forth we never were able to come to an agreement. Anyway, I just want you to know that you are definitely not alone. I haven't gone as far as to ask for utility bills, but have done extensive research on pool equipment/AC costs.
AC: we put AC in our house just 10 years ago and our bill is huge. If we end up staying here we are going to put a new energy efficient AC in. This would probably pay for itself in utility bill savings within a year or so.
Pool: From what I have been told by a few neutral parties, pool equipment has come a long way too. The newer equipment is pretty nominal compared to equipment of even 10 years ago. I know that there are many other headaches that can come with an older pool (resurfacing, leaks, etc). Thankfully, there are starting to be more homes on the market with pools that have been added recently. I have been told that it is far less expensive to remodel/update a pool than it is to have a new one installed so you always have the option of updating the equipment if you find a great deal.
Good luck in your search and know that your aren't alone. This past 1.5 (actually almost 2 now) has been exhausting and there have been a few times I have had to just take a break from looking at anything, except the first 5 minutes of my day are at the computer checking to see if I have gotten any "just listed" emails...
09-08-2008 10:24 AM
Oh, no doubt. We've pretty much eliminated short sales, albeit we do have an offer on one as our 'rebound' (we already know it's the best offer). I know if you get one, your have better chances of getting a good deal - but to be quite frank, I'd rather have the extra 'security' and sanity that comes along with a normal sale. I'm going back out today to check out 5 homes, 4 being normal - one being a REO that is legitimately priced (I typically ask my agent to ask what they 'really' expect to get for it).
I obviously don't do this with brand new homes, but for the most part - the older the home, the more indepth I look into utility costs.
In regards to getting married, I've been perfectly secure for nearly seven years. I wouldn't rush my wedding due to a lack of trust regarding our home - if I had trust issues, I probably shouldn't be getting married. Nonetheless, we're both protected and have no concerns.
I'm hoping to find something I like today, as living out of boxes has become cumbersome. I know we'll probably end up paying a bit extra for a normal sale, but since it leaves doors open for negotiations and quick response times; that's a price we're willing to pay. It's hard to stay positive after bad experiences, but I think sticking to it will work out eventually. I know next time around we'll be much better prepared! Even now we're always prepared with our offer package, current approval letter, bank statements, proof of funds, proof of proof of funds (lol, they asked for it - deposit sources), etc.
It may take us longer, but we don't want to end up like the people whose homes we're walking through now - hence my being extremely cautious. We know which loan we want, we know how much we plan to spend every month including utility costs, and how much we will be putting into savings every month which should get the house paid off in 15 years an have an additional ~150k saved up in the event something needs repaired, otherwise it will go toward upgrades prior to reselling it.
In the event it wasn't obvious, I'm borderline OCD and try to plan for everything, and I even plan for things that we don't plan on (emergency funds, etc.). Due to my healths instability, it's kind of necessary for me to plan for every possible scenario that could play out. On the flip side, if nothing bad happens, we have lots of money saved up for something fun, like that trip to Ireland I keep asking for!
Thanks for the feedback, despite how neurotic I sound - I am actually a calm person, hehe. I guess I better get ready, my agent will be here to pick me up in 30 minutes. Wish me luck!!!
Good luck to you all.
09-11-2008 07:22 AM
Hah. I decided to go with my instincts per my grandmother. I got crazy. I have no idea! *bows* It's funny, my agent said three times as I was certain I found 'the one' - "This isn't it, I don't even feel comfortable writing your offer, you don't have the look". This house, he knew it - maybe it's because I hopped through the house like tigger, clapping, saying "THIS IS IT, THIS IS IT!". They did give me this past months bill, and it looked good - been vacant with AC running to show comfortably.
Home inspection is today.
I've had like 3 hours of sleep.