Okay, that title is a little misleading. We have a signed purchase and sale agreement on a home. I wrote at far too much length in a multi-part series at: Buying a Vacation/Retirement Home (Part 1 of ?).
The process for looking in a home in a historic place like Newport, RI (and surrounding towns) brought us to look at probably over three dozen homes. It was a polarizing experience for us. My analytical side was looking for value in terms of objectively measurable numbers like price per square foot. My wife was looking for the, "Can I see myself waking up and having a cup of coffee each morning?" value. I think we both recognized that each side has its merits. In fact, I'd lean towards her side being more important, but I wanted to stand my ground on getting a good value. After all, with an unlimited budget there are many great places to wake up and have a cup of coffee.
On this trip, we found a three places that fit both of our objectives. This is a big change from the one that stood out last time. (I'm not going to count another house that stretched our budget too far, but still a good "value" in terms of price per square foot and aesthetics). We felt like we were on an episode of House Hunters.
- One was really close to the beach, 5-10 walk, but the floor plan wasn't what we were hoping for. It wasn't in "show" condition as the current renters were there in the midst of the chaos of dealing with 3 small children. It would have needed a little work including some new kitchen appliances. In addition it stretched our budget quite a bit.
- Another was a 15 minute drive to the beach. It also was in a bit of chaos at the time of the showing. The kitchen as new, but other parts of the house needed some work. The price was favorable - due in part to the condition and the location of course.
- The last place was about a 5 minute drive to the beach. It was a little smaller (300 square feet) than the above two. However, it needed the least amount of work. In fact, we really couldn't see doing much to it at all. We would prefer a bathroom to have a different color vanity and a larger deck. It would be nice if there was already a fence in place for our dog. Everything else looked like it had been done in the last 3-4 years. It's asking price was a little higher than the average of the previous two.
I'm betting from that description you can guess which one we went for. It was the third one. While the first one seemed to have the best location, we believed the third place was really the best. It would have been great to walk to the best, but when we looked at other factors like distances to shopping and schools and the neighborhood itself, it passed the first in terms of location.
We eliminated the second house due to the distance from the beach. My wife brought up the scenario of dropping hypothetical kids (since we have no real kids) off and picking them at the beach. That would be a half hour trip there and back... and then another half hour trip. It would be an hour out of your day. That might not be the most common scenario, but it was a good the point in my mind. With the third house, such a scenario is 20 minutes (4 trips of 5 minutes each). Plus hypothetical kids could bike to the beach when they are old enough.
Finally the third house, the one we agreed to had the most amount of land. My wife was on the deck while I walked out and she said, "You are getting too small, I can't see you." It was clearly exaggeration on her part, her point was again quite valid. This was a huge selling point.
The last obstacle was to agree on a price. The asking price was already pretty good and it hadn't been on the market long. When considering the condition of the home, we didn't feel like we comfortable going too low. We went the lowest we thought we could, while trying to make a strong offer with the other terms of the agreement. It turned out it worked. Their counter was lower than we anticipated. This put in position to try to recounter with our dream price, but we decided to go a little up from there and hope they take it. At that point, the difference was only going to be about 1% of the house's price anyway. They accepted our counter offer.
Now it's time to get a home inspection and a mortgage. I don't anticipate either to be as much fun as the house hunting was (though the inspection should go well.)
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