Friday, February 25, 2011

House Hunting: Officer Next Door

Sometime last year, we decided that, once again, it would be good to start looking at houses. We were focusing on a HUD program called "Officer Next Door" that sells home to police officers, teachers, paramedics and firefighters for 50% of the listed price. There's a few stipulations but the main things are that you could not currently own a home when you purchased through the program and you had to make the home your primary residence for 3 years.

The available houses are posted each Saturday and you have between Saturday and Wednesday to put a bid on the house. The winner is drawn out of a hat (since everyone would pay the same price for the house) and winners are announced Thursday mornings. Our realtor is a friend/colleague of Mike's and he was great about taking us to houses whenever one popped up that we thought might work for us.

The houses that come up on this program are interesting houses, to say the least. They have all been foreclosed on and most of them needed tons of work. Each time we would walk in a house we would take a deep breath and get ready for the mess we were about to see. We would talk about all of the needed repairs, the cost of the repairs, the distance of the house from Mike's work, the comparables in the neighborhood for resale, the neighborhood and if we really thought we could make that particular house work for three years.

There were SO many houses and SO many issues. We saw creepy neighborhoods, boarded up pools, crazy painted walls, a garage that looked like it was going to fall off the house, messed up foundations and more outdated kitchens than I ever care to see again.

I was kind of drawn to the ranch-style houses and older homes because of their charm (always have been) so the search wasn't all bad for us. I definitely I had fun seeing all the craziness and finding the good parts of each house. There were lots of neat things about some of the homes and I was looking forward to some good demolition on some of those bathrooms and kitchens!

We would check out a house (and hope our kids didn't get sucked in a time warp in some of them!) and depending on the condition I would spend the next couple of days talking with floor people, roofers, painters, pool people, landscapers, carpenters and sometimes most importantly, the people in that neighborhood. Then we would make a decision about whether it was prudent to put a bid in.

There were so many prayers, so many pros/cons lists and so many disagreements between Mike and I. With each house we would talk ourselves into getting excited about the potential and every single time it was the same answer--"You didn't win the bid" (and most of the time I breathed a sigh of relief!).

It would have been an awesome opportunity for us financially (imagine only paying half-price for a house that you can sell for full-price after three years!) but ultimately, we decided to continue looking there but expand the search to other homes as well.

1 comment:

Anita/Nana said...

The "blue" house was just scary!