House Hunting: The Craftsman We Almost Bought


I thought I'd share another house hunting update, because I've always been interested in hearing other people's house hunting stories. The reason I was so absent on the blog last week is because we came this-close to buying a house. Remember the Craftsman I mentioned? Well, we put an offer in on it two weekends ago, and it was accepted! We were super excited because it had so many of the things we wanted--lots of natural light, a big front porch, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fairly open kitchen, and a cottage in the back that could bring in some extra cash. It was even three blocks from a park that overlooked the water, in a walkable neighborhood filled with beautiful historic homes. There were a lot of things that felt right about it. So we met with our lender and turned in loads of paperwork, we wrote a check to the escrow company, and ordered an inspection. This was the farthest we'd gotten in the house buying process so far, and it was exciting to be so close to the finish line.

The Craftsman we almost bought

Alas, the inspection turned up a lot of issues that we did not foresee. Remember how I said it was updated and move-in ready? Well, I spoke too soon. Our inspector found (among other things) that there were rotting support posts, a crack in the foundation, and possibly other structural issues. The upstairs had knob-and-tube wiring which would need to be updated, and the sewer pipe had a leak. Those were just a few of the major things--there were also lots of little issues. We expected that with a nearly hundred-year-old house, we'd have to spend some money to fix it up...but foundation, electrical, and plumbing issues combined were more than we were willing to take on.

Especially since the cottage itself, which had seemed like such a plus, turned out to be in pretty bad condition. We hadn't seen it until the inspection day, because we had to give 24 hours notice to the current tenant. The minute we walked in, I knew we were not going to be able to rent it out right away. There was mold on the bathroom walls, rats living in the crawl space and attic, and the whole place stank. It would have taken significant work and money to get it fixed up. So what we thought would be a money-maker turned out to be a potential money pit. Booo.

Even with all its issues, we still considered trying to negotiate for a lower price, since we loved so many other things about the house. But in the end, we realized that it had a lot of the same things that made us walk away from the farmhouse fixer-upper...so we decided to back out (and get our earnest money back!).

I'm soooo thankful that we got an awesome and thorough inspector who found these problems before we moved into the house. The Craftsman wasn't meant to be, but it gives us another point of comparison as we continue looking for the right house.

Homeowners, I'm curious, how many houses did you put offers on before you found "the one?" Did you ever back out because of what an inspection turned up?

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  1. Posted by Caitlin on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

    Oh my gosh...we just went through the same thing! But, after 2 years, 6 offers, and a lot of soul-searching and compromising...we just moved in!!! It's so frustrating and emotional...but will work out JUST the way it should!
    • Posted by Aileen on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

      Oh man, 2 years! I can definitely see why you decided to go for it. That must have been super hard to be in limbo for so long...house hunting is such a roller coaster of emotions! Congrats on becoming homeowners, at last!!!
  2. Posted by Whitney on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

    I love reading your house hunting stories because we are in the same exact boat right now, although we have yet to put an offer in. We came this-close to putting an offer in back in January and then our bank ripped the carpet out from under us. So now we're still searching (this time with a new lender). We recently found another house that we really like, but there are a lot of questions that we need an inspector to answer for us. I have a feeling that it may turn out like this money-sucker Craftsman, but fingers crossed it doesn't. House hunting is such an intense emotional process!! You want to get your hopes up, but you really can't. Good luck with your search!
    • Posted by Aileen on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

      It's so nice to meet other people that are looking! It's a tough time to be house hunting right now, so we gotta give each other moral support. :) Fingers crossed for you and the house you found! It's definitely HARD not to get your hopes up. I felt pretty sad and disappointed after we backed out of our offer, because I'd already started envisioning what I would do with the house (I even had a secret Pinterest board going!). Lesson learned...wait to get excited until the inspection is done.
  3. Posted by Anna on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

    We made an offer on 2 houses before finally getting our house. The first one was accepted and we ended up pulling out after the inspection turned up some issues that would have cost a bit extra to fix. The second house we were barely outbid; there were several competitive offers on that one. The third time we made an offer, we were the only offer, and we were so quick that the homeowners asked to rent the house back from us after closing because they needed time to find a new house! A good inspector is a must. Next time, we will charge more for rent and require a "cleaning deposit," it's sad but they don't have any motivation to take care of a home when they're no longer the owners.
    • Posted by Aileen on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

      I'm encouraged that it took you a few tries to find the right house! I'm hoping it all works out for me, too. Also, that's super infuriating that the previous homeowners didn't take good care of the house once they'd sold it...how lame. At least now you have your house, and you can make it beautiful!
  4. Posted by Debbie on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

    What a lovely home. So sorry it didn't work out for you. I'm glad the inspection was complete so you could make your decision. Thank you for sharing. Hope the weekend will give you another lovely place.
    • Posted by Aileen on Thursday, April 7th, 2016

      Thanks, Debbie! I hope this just means that there's an even better house out there for us. :)
  5. Posted by Shirley K on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

    Our first couple of houses were new builds, so those were pretty issue-free. We only made one offer, which is the house that we are currently in, but this was about five years ago when the market was down, and the housing market where we are isn't quite so hot as other places. We did go into knowing there were things to address because of the age of the house and the house being vacant at some point before - new pool surface, roofing, etc. But even with all that, doesn't sound as daunting as the Craftsman, although it looks so pretty in the picture!
    • Posted by Aileen on Thursday, April 7th, 2016

      That's awesome! I wish we would have been a position to buy five years ago. Part of me thinks we should wait until the real estate market slows down, but who knows when that will be? It's so hard to predict...
  6. Posted by Jen Spadaro on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

    Oh my goodness! Pretty stressful stuff. : (

    Our first home we were working with a more modest budget for the area and every house we saw was just not right. And I see potential in homes, but most just didn't even inspire me to see the potential. (I'm sure you've been in some homes like that too) then we found our 1890's home, it was a foreclosure and made an offer. Inspection looked good, we lived there for 5 years and just sold it in December, again the inspection was good. And we had no issues while living in the home. Sometimes ppl are afraid of old homes, but the craftsmanship was just better, so if you get a home that's been taken care of and updated, old homes can be great.

    Our recent move we made an offer on one house but contingent to us selling our home. They wanted full asking if we wanted a continent sale and there was work to be done so we just didn't feel the home was worth the money. We never made an inspection because it wasn't accepted. Then we bought a new construction home and it really all worked out perfectly.

    Good luck on your search, and keep sharing!
    • Posted by Aileen on Thursday, April 7th, 2016

      Yeah, we are definitely working with a super modest budget for the greater Seattle area. Most of the houses in our price range are really uninspiring and small, or need SO much work. I'm glad to hear you were able to find an old house that was in good shape! I LOVE old houses, and I agree on the craftsmanship. The reason this house had issues is because its owners had tried to dig out some of the crawl space to enlarge the basement, and in doing so they undermined the foundation. They also poured new concrete over the existing support posts, which is what made them start rotting. So it's not the house's fault...just stupid people. :)

      Thanks for the support and well wishes! xo
  7. Posted by dianna on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

    House hunting is SO EMOTIONAL! we put in several offers and things always didn't work out. And in those moments, I was really sad, but it's so true how they say the right one pops up when you least expect it.

    We found our home in the middle of winter...a diamond in the rough. Within four days of it being on the market, we were in contract. I knew the second I walked in that it was the house for us. After we decided to be honest with ourselves, we admitted a fixer upper wasn't for us. We didn't have the time or money to have projects every weekend. We needed move-in ready. And we wound up doing fun things to the house. Painting, lighting and eventually updated the bathroom. But other than that, it's been in great condition and we just moved right in and started living. I drive by houses we made offers on and I'm SO GLAD we didn't move into ANY of them!

    Good luck...your home is out there waiting for you!
    • Posted by Aileen on Thursday, April 7th, 2016

      It really is! We have to decide whether to re-sign our lease at the end of May (our landlord won't let us do month-to-month, lame) so I'm feeling extra stressed about it. Hoping the right house pops up SOON! Although I am definitely willing to wait if necessary--buying a house is way too big of a deal to force it.

      I also feel the same about a fixer-upper...we just don't have the skills, money, or passion to do major structural work like that. I'm excited about cosmetic projects, like remodeling a kitchen/bathroom, painting walls, or redoing the floors. But electrical and foundation work? Too scary/too much of a time and money suck.

      That's super encouraging that you found your house eventually, AND that it's better than all the other houses you put offers on! Hope the same happens for us :)