Friday, October 22, 2010
Bought a House Online: Part One
Under most circumstances, I wouldn't consider buying a house sight unseen. However being able to do so made life so much easier. First off, my mother and I are the primary caretakers of my 87 and 88 year old grandparents. They are doing well, but we would never leave them alone for the time it would take for us to go the 1200 miles to Kansas and house shop. And, neither one of us wanted to take on the responsibility of house shopping alone. We'd resigned ourselves to renting and then house shopping after we were there--a process that would require finding the right rental property, then the right house, and moving twice. Moving once is no fun, but twice?
At the same time we were mulling over how to get this complicated move done, we were looking at houses online. We told ourselves we just needed to get a feel for what was available so we could hit the ground running after we arrived. Then we came across a house that would be perfect for the four of us. It was nice to know something like we wanted was available. After that we began to worry that it would be snatched up before we got there. Hmmmm.
So the conversations went something like this:
"It would be so much easier to move only once...."
"Yes, but wouldn't it be dumb to buy a house without seeing it in the flesh?"
And we'd agree that it was, and then try to ignore that beautiful house and the 30 pictures of it on the real estate agent's website.
However, it wasn't long before we asked ourselves what we would need to know in order to feel comfortable purchasing a house sight unseen--except through cyberspace. Here's what we decided:
1. We'd need to know about the neighborhood. Fortunately, we weren't totally disadvantaged. Newton is a town of only 20,000 people. My mom and I were somewhat familiar having passed through Newton on our way to somewhere else, but my grandparents had been there many times, and in fact they had friends who lived there. Upon further investigation we discovered that their friends lived only 3 blocks from the house we were considering. Okay, we had confirmation that the house was in a nice neighborhood.
2. Is the house as pretty in person as it is the pictures? Maybe the photographer is only showing the best stuff? I doubted it because 30 pictures is a lot, and it would seem unlikely that with that many photos they could be hiding much. Still.... So we asked one of those trusted family members we're moving 1200 miles to be near if she would go look. Bless her, she had no problem at all doing that. We got a wonderful report back. The house was beautiful and she wouldn't hesitate to buy it.
3. So is the beauty only skin deep? We hired a home inspector to check out the things that aren't cosmetic. He did indeed find a wiring problem in the basement, and an issue with the sprinkler system. We brought these to the sellers' attention and those issues were fixed.
Those were the three major questions, and for two out of the three, we relied on friends and family to determine the answers. Without the help of trusted friends and family, this wouldn't have happened. It was a perfect set of circumstances that made this doable.
Here's where we are~the closing was done as of today. We are now the new owners of a house in which we know what a lot of the rooms look like due to the pictures, and we know the size of the rooms, but don't have a clear picture of the layout of the house. So while I feel comfortable that the house is in good shape, and will suit our needs, there's still some mystery about the place. Needless to say, there is a sense of adventure about the day we roll up in front of our new house.
I'll do "Bought a House Online: Part Two" after we get there. Then we'll find out if there is anything else we should have considered.