Saturday, March 6, 2010

Purchasing another home

     The last 10 days have been an emotional roller coaster.

 At our respective advanced ages of 73 and 66 respectively, my husband and I are looking for a second home in Indianapolis, IN.  Our son is a professor of surgery there at University of Indiana in Indianapolis. He has a family there. And there are our two grandsons. We go down there every several weeks to couple months and stay with them to participate in the development of those boys. We have always felt welcome in their home. My daughter in law has never done anything but to welcome us and maintains strongly that she wants us there. But we still feel sometimes that we are intruding. Sometimes we would like to stay longer, especially when the two grandsons get older and have school events for us to see. So that is one reason for us to consider purchasing a place there. A second reason: we know we at some point need to downsize. We have lived here now for 12 years and have managed to add more "stuff" to the stuff that we moved here from our ranch home. I don't want to stick our kids with the same mess that my folks had accumulated. Also we will not be able to maintain our large home and lot ourselves as the years advance. And if something does happen to one of us, the other will likely need a smaller place closer to family. So we think that if we purchase a condominium in Indy near some water, maybe it will be more attractive to us and might wean us away from that Lake Michigan view here. Over the last few years we have occasionally house hunted there but not seriously. But now with the economy cooperating in producing a buyer's market, we have looked more seriously.   

         Several months ago we found a condo on a small lake that we liked. It was move-in ready, we thought. But then at the second viewing when we were thinking of giving an offer, our real estate agent showed us a letter that stated that some major support work had been done on the cement slab it is built on and in the crawl space under part of the home. Now we had some investigative work to do. We found out that the home had a 5+ inch difference from one side of its floor to the other. That is pretty extreme. Yet we couldn't see any sign of cracking that would indicate this was recent. Some piers had recently been sunk along one side to try to stabilize it. Well, we didn't think we wanted to risk structural problems, but we went back and looked at the house again. This time we saw all the cracks in the marble tile floor and the missing grout. The kitchen and hall floor had moved a lot. So that house was out.

     Two weekends ago we were visiting our kids in Indy and went looking at homes again. The realtor found this single family home on Crystal Lake (Indy people call this a lake; here we would call it a pond). It actually is a bunch of ponds that fill old stone quarry holes. The house is a two story with the master bedroom downstairs and 2 bedrooms and a library/den upstairs. It is a single family but the landscape and snow removal is supplied by an association as with a condominium. We liked this house a lot and went back to look at it a second time. Though these homes are pretty close together along the lake shore, this one sits at an angle on a cul de sac and therefore will always have a little more space around it.

 The views from the windows are nice, but we noticed according to the platte map, the neighbor had placed about a dozen evergreen trees and a couple deciduous trees in the common area between us and the lake in order to shield his deck area from view. Those trees were not much of a problem now but would grow up to cut off about 30% of our lake view -- that portion that we should see out of our family room and dinnette -- right where we would sit to have our morning coffee with a water view. Well, offers and counteroffers flew back and forth between us and the owner who now lives in Great Britain. We finally had an agreement that if the homeowners' association agreed to have the trees removed, we would buy. Those trees were not supposed to be placed in the common area. Our potential home had a guaranteed lake view. But, in spite of multiple telephone communications, we received word on Monday that the homeowners' association would not do anything. They didn't want to take on the other owner and didn't feel that we had a problem with the trees because they were not tall enough to interfere with the view at this time. They advised us we could come back to them in the future if the trees became a problem. Great! We were upset; we had sort of formed a small attachment to this property, imagining where I would put what furniture, thinking about buying a pontoon boat for the lake, etc --something you are not supposed to do. But we turned down the offer and let it run out due to the concern about the trees and the fact that the association didn't want to do anything about what another owner had done in the common area.

     My husband spent a lot of time on this deal -- a whole 10 days. With his usual meticulous nature, he had a lender lined up, and an inspector. He did a lot of research on both properties. The realtor who had the listing is a very large company in Indianapolis, perhaps the largest. We had an agent from a much smaller firm. My husband also was dealing with a smaller bank as well. He made a statement that I had never heard him make before, though he said they used this statement all the time at his workplace years ago. Cover your ears! This is not a gentle pretty statement. He said "Elephants always like to fuck elephants." He meant that this very large real estate company would probably not do anything about the trees or the purchase. He was already figuring that the deal would go sour.

     Here's the view of the little lake. It's nice but you can see the right end of the trees at the left of the picture.

     We're still contemplating what to do. My husband wants to look for a small single family home on some water, something that does not have an association to deal with. But we both are still thinking of this home on Crystal Lake even with its trees. We now plan to drive down to Indy next week and see if there are any other homes to look at. And we will make some kind of decision then. I don't recall us agonizing over all the several properties we have purchased in the past. Not over our original ranch home (although my husband reminded me that he kept a budget for months to determine if we could afford that first place), not over the Lake Michigan property on which we built our current castle, not over the duplex in Madison, WI where our older son lived while going to school there,  not over the condo in CA where our younger son lived when he went to school,  and not over the various rental units that we have owned over the years. Why are we agonizing so much over this one? I don't think it is financial. Our first home was purchased when we were very financially at risk, my husband with a new job, and me still finishing medical school. So why are we so uncertain now? I have concluded that it might be a feature of being older. Maybe we are just more set in our ways, less flexible. My husband volunteered that he is worrying about the economy, about building that is still to take place around that home, and just a lot of what-ifs. I don't know. It is just different this time and we don't seem to be dealing with the possible changes very well.

     I am reminded of our attempt to purchase a large home in Milwaukee where the grounds were also maintained by an association. We also fell in love with that home. But the offer was not quite turned in expeditiously because our agent was on vacation. And a sister in law of the listing realtor wanted the house, put in a bid just over ours that arrived before ours and got the house. We were very disappointed that time also. But what happened? We began looking at Lake Michigan properties and did our tea rdown and built our current castle, which we just love. So maybe something else entirely is in store for us. Will keep you all posted about what happens!

No comments:

Post a Comment