Let’s Make a Steal

So we’re in the game!  We officially made our first offer on a house yesterday; er, well sort of.  Our real estate agent made a verbal offer yesterday morning, and we’re still waiting to hear back (I know, I know–can you stand the suspense?!).  We offered much lower than their asking price, so we have no idea how they’re going to respond.  They might flat out reject us, but we’ll see.  So enough of the boring stuff, do you want to see what’s behind Door #1?!

Well first, some background slash filler:

  • Location: Snyder (a neighborhood of Amherst, NY)
  • Square Footage: 2,087
  • 3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Bathrooms
  • Lot size: 0.22 acres
  • Built in 1950
  • Two-car Detached Garage
  • Asking Price: $209,900
  • Our Initial Offer: $173,500

Why such a low offer?  Well, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking blogging on that one:

Offer 1-Outside

Upon entering, the living room is immediately to the right (the front entrance is just outside the left side of this picture):

Living Room to Dining Room

I love, love, love the dining room door that leads to the sunroom–it’s one of those half doors where you can open either just the top or bottom!

Dining Room

The sunroom just outside the dining room . . .

Sunroom

The kitchen!!  Why hello blue formica, knotty pine, and faux brick linoleum . . .

Kitchen

Our plan would be to tear down this wall so the kitchen is entirely open to the dining room . . .

Kitchen-Second View

Can you tell that the Mr. is loving this kitchen?!  He said the fruit tchotchkes stay or no deal!

Mr. Bunches in the Kitchen

The office, which is 4 steps down from the other living spaces.  Mmmm . . . more knotty pine goodness in here:

Office

The door to the carport from the office:

Office to Carport

The first of three bedrooms . . . I love the bench seat all along the back wall:

Bedroom 1

And I especially love the creepy doll!

Creepy Doll

The one disturbing thing about this house was that it was clearly owned by someone over 85, and yet there were a lot of scary kid things.  Okay, maybe there was more than just one disturbing thing about this house . . . like the broken crib and creepy piano in the master bedroom:

Master Bedroom

But the master was huge, and even had a walk-in closet and its own bathroom! 

Master Bedroom with Closet

Gotta love the asbestos tile in the master bath, huh?

Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom

The second bedroom (any idea what’s hiding under the covers?):

Second Bedroom

The full bathroom in all it’s blue and pink glory (of course, then I guess we’re covered if we have either boy or girl mini bunches someday . . . )

Full Bathroom

This bathroom has a separate tub and standing shower:

Full Bathroom Tub

Full Bath Shower

Did any of you notice the best feature of that bath?!  That’s right: a carpeted floor!  Ugh–I think I just gagged.

And last but not least, the scary dungeon basement:

Basement

That’s our agent, by the way.  There weren’t any lights in the basement, so he was using his iPhone flashlight app (or something crazy like that–c’mon, you know how crazy those Apple people are) to try to illuminate the space.  Note, again, the asbestos tile, but also the concrete around the edges is new drain tile that they put in . . . which probably means there was a drainage problem down there, but maybe it’s been fixed?  Who knows–all we know is if we get to the point of an accepted offer, we might have ten separate inspections done before we go forward.

Now, some of you might still be wondering why we offered almost $37,000 below the asking price . . . you might love the dated wallpaper, water stains, matted shag carpet, knotty pine kitchen, frosted ceiling, 1950s oven, blue and pink tiled bathroom, asbestos tile, rotted windows . . . wait a sec–why do we want to buy this house again?!  ;)  Nah–we’re excited because it has good bones, a great floor plan (once we make some modifications), and a really rad carport!  Plus, as a bonus, it’s located in the school district with the best elementary school in all of Western New York: Smallwood Elementary (which should make many of you happy since that seems to be how you all voted in our poll).

And the neighborhood has sidewalks!

Snyder Neighbors

Okay, so maybe you can’t see them in that picture, but trust me: they’re there.  And it even comes with a furry friend:

Snyder the Rabbit

So everyone keep your fingers (and even toes) crossed for us . . . and hope Door #1 doesn’t end up with a ZONK!

So let us know what you think–either leave a comment on this post or take our poll:

 

Let’s Make a Deal images from here and here.

What were they thinking?!

In our house hunt, we’ve now looked at 50+ homes.  Yeah–Five-O.  No, I’m not being dramatic.  I literally just counted all of our listing sheets, which, considering that we’ve thrown away a lot of them, means that I’m seriously under-estimating how many properties we’ve seen.  And while some have been great decent, others have been down-right crazy.  So here’s a compilation of some of the weirder things we’ve seen:

Some type of pen for an animal?  This was in the corner of a scary, dark basement . . . any ideas what (or maybe who) was kept in there?!

Basement Animal Pen?

A monstrously over-sized shower head . . . did Kramer live here?!

Largest Shower Head Ever

Every single house we have been in has had wood paneling in at least one of the rooms.  Every.  Single.  One.

Paneling

Here’s a basement interrogation room (again, this makes not only my wood paneling point, but it also circles back to the weird items in basements).  Isn’t this straight out of a scene in a 70s cop movie or something?  Is that a blood stain in the bottom left?!

Basement Interrogation Room

In case you didn’t catch these in the picture above . . . gotta’ love the Bambi figurines!

Tchotkes!

Anyone in the mood for a peach?  How about an orange? 

Orange Bedroom

How about a quick game of shuffleboard?  In my basement.  On asbestos tile.  Near the scary coal fireplace. 

Asbestos Tile Shuffleboard

And finally, my absolute favorite . . . the closet bathroom!  Yep–that’s a closet.  With a toilet.  A blue toilet.  In a closet.  A closet with bi-fold doors.  And a toilet.  And to make it even awesomer, there’s carpet in there.  Because who doesn’t love carpet in a bathroom?  Sold!

Closet Toilet

House Conundrums, Part II

Alright, for those of you who have been following along since the beginning, we’re having house troubles . . . as in, we can’t decide what to buy for our new home in Buffalo.  Part of the problem is that we seem to be on a rollercoaster ride of determining what’s important to us.  Soooo, instead of thinking for ourselves, how about you do some thinking for us?  Take our poll and let us know what you think . . . you can choose as many qualities as are important to you, but please don’t pick all of them (because then you’d be scarily too much like us and therefore stuck in a world of complete indecision–awesome, eh?).

 

Oh, and if you have any other suggestions, just comment on this post–we welcome any and all advice.

And just for a bit of eye candy as a reward for taking our poll . . .

House Conundrums

While we’re eager to explore and take in all that Western New York has to offer, we’ve been a little one-track-minded lately.  All we can think about is our house hunt . . . we have been going near crazy trying to decide not only what we want, but also where we want to live around Buffalo.  It’s so different than being in Boston, where we felt trapped by how over-priced and ridiculous the housing market was . . . we lived in a 1,200 square foot condo that came with, wait for it, a parking spot!  Now, for those of you not familiar with Boston, you’re probably thinking, ‘Really?  You’re bragging about a parking spot?’  And yes, yes we are.  Because that parking spot was AWESOME.  When it snowed 80+” this past winter, we threw caution to the wind and actually drove places (instead of walking snowshoeing or taking the T) because we knew we had a place for our car to come home too.  Trust me, if you haven’t lived through feet of snow in a crammed city with no parking, then you have no idea how awesome a parking spot can be.

Okay, phew–enough about parking spots.  Can you tell I’ve been a bit scarred by Boston’s parking situation?  Of course, there’s no shortage of parking here–in fact, it seems everyone has lots of cars . . . I guess if you fill your driveway, then there’s less you have to shovel?

Back to our house dilemmas . . . basically, there’s a lot to consider:

  • Location
  • School District (we hope to someday have some mini Bunches)
  • Square Footage
  • Outside Space
  • Neighbors (we’d like to live near folks similar in age or at least life phase–having kids, etc.)
  • Age of the house (we’ve heard stuff built in the 1960s and earlier is much more solid than stuff from the 70s, 80s, and 90s)
  • Layout (open is better)
  • Some other stuff we’re probably totally forgetting right now . . .

The hardest grappling point thus far has been location, and you know what they say: location, location, location!  So we need your help–we’re torn between two different areas: Amherst/Williamsville/Clarence and Orchard Park/East Aurora.  Initially, we were dead set on the Amherst/Williamsville/Clarence area–mainly because the Williamsville School District is the number one school district in WNY, and the Clarence district is number two.  (Quick aside–the school districts are sort of odd in that they aren’t based strictly on the town limits . . . so the Williamsville district includes East Amherst, the Village of Williamsville, and some of western Clarence.  Yeah, totally confusing . . . it’s taken us over a month to figure this much out, and we may still have it wrong.)  And initially, we had entirely decided against even looking in Orchard Park/East Aurora because they’re South Towns, which, in this neck of the woods, South = SNOW:

So even though that’s just a graph of the 2008-2009 season, I think it’s pretty representative of what we’re going to be dealing with.  Amherst/Williamsville/Clarence are just northeast of Buffalo, so they would be in the green area; Orchard Park/East Aurora are southeast of Buffalo, so they’re in the yellow area, and on the cusp of the red . . . I know, scary, right?!  (Although not as scary as that big brown dot in the upper right!  Kill me now.)  And now you’re asking, where’s the dilemma?!  It seems straightforward, right?  Wrong.  The problem is the South Towns have a lot more charm, a lot more space, and a lot less congestion (Amherst’s population is 110k+, whereas Orchard Park’s is 27k+).  Oh, and Orchard Park’s school district is usually number 3, so a close runner-up to Williamsville and Clarence.

But A/W/C has a lot more homes for sale, and a lot more in our price range, as compared to OP/EA, e.g. this 2,800+ square foot beast on a secluded cul-de-sac:

So why did we even venture to the South Towns to look when there are homes like this?  Well, the answer is because of these:

Yep, that’s a foundation crack.  But no, that’s not from the home above, it’s just a demonstrative shot of what these cracks look like from some other house that we’re not going to buy.  See, there are a lot of these cracks in A/W/C–so many, that Amherst asked the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study of the area’s foundations back in 2003, and this is what the results of the study showed in 2005: Amherst Foundation Issues.  Basically, all the little dots are where there have been foundation problems.  Apparently, A/W/C has sandy soil, so some foundations have been sinking as the soil expands and shrinks with the changing weather conditions.  And hence, the foundations crack.  And sink.  And shift.  And in one house we saw, practically cave in on themselves (don’t worry–we got out of that one in a hurry).  In most cases, it costs around $30,000 to repair a cracked foundation, but in some cases, that number can reach into the hundreds of thousands.  Can we say Money Pit?!  But our realtor has assured us that as long as the cracks are vertical, the repairs are far easier and less costly . . . even so, it got us nervous.  And we headed south.

And while we tried with all our might to hate the South Towns and to picture them covered in feet and feet of snow, we just couldn’t do it.  For one thing, the South Towns have one thing A/W/C entirely lacks: hills.  That may sound strange, but you have no idea how much you miss hills until you’re in Kansas Amherst.  Driving around A/W/C is kind of like driving around marshlands–totally flat, lots of standing water, but with some pockets of great homes and schools tucked between some tired and crowded neighborhoods.  Whereas OP/EA has rolling hills, wide open spaces, and quaint village centers . . . kind of sounds like a country song, right?

So now it sounds like OP/EA should be a no-brainer, right?  Wrong again.  There are just far fewer homes in our price range.  We drove around there a lot this weekend, hoping to find THE ONE, but instead we found the-one-if-we-want-to-double-our-budget:

Granted, that home is 3,800 square feet and on 1.5 acres, but still–you get the idea.  As of now, there are only a handful of homes in OP/EA that are within our budget and meet our other criteria (we’ll detail the criteria soon), so we’re feeling torn.

And that’s where you come in–we need help.  Please comment on this post with what you think we should do . . . any home-buying advice would be much appreciated, particularly as it pertains to location at this point.  Our heads are so foggy and we’ve gone back and forth so many times . . . just help us, please, before we entirely lose our sanity and move to that big brown dot.

Image of snow map from here.  Foundation study from here.

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