One Very Close Shave

So, I’ve been house hunting in the cutthroat Seattle market. After three rejected bids, two of which were soul-crushing, I was sorely tempted to give up. But I don’t really have that luxury. If I don’t lock down a steady mortgage payment, my rent is bound to increase way beyond my means. So I resigned myself to seeing this putrid process to its bitter end.

It’s kind of like being nauseous on the interstate during rush hour. You want to pull over and barf, but you fear for your life. So you take the risk, instead, of possibly vomiting down the front of your shirt while going 70 miles per hour, and just pray that that doesn’t happen. Yup. That’s house hunting in Seattle in a nutshell.

But I kept putting my rejected and dejected little self out there. I saw a ton of dumps. I also saw a lot of really nice houses that were ultimately competitively bid right out of my price range. Then I came across bid number 4. This was a nice enough house, but not so nice that it would break the bank. More than enough room. Fenced back yard, sort of. New kitchen appliances. A lot further out than I ever intended to commute. And carpet, unfortunately, and the smallest bathtub I’ve ever seen in my life, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers, right?

As we were leaving the house, the woman who lives across the street called us over. She said, “You know, they’re hiding mold.” Oh goody. A neighbor who is bat shit crazy. I definitely didn’t get a mold vibe from this house, but that’s what inspections are for.

So I put in my bid. And I was the only one who did, so I won! I have the crazy neighbor to thank, no doubt. She most likely scared everyone else off. Trust me to have a guardian angel who is nutty.

The next step was the inspection. The house was built in 1920, so I knew there’d be a few issues, but I really didn’t anticipate anything major. I resigned myself to the two page long list of cosmetic repairs I had already compiled. This house was going to be work, no doubt about it. Sigh.

On inspection day, I was thrilled to notice that there is a great big tree between my front porch and the crazy lady’s house. I had thought I’d have to stay in the back yard to avoid her. Maybe not. This was good news.

While I measured rooms and calculated how much paint I’d need to make that lovely old picket fence white again, the inspector crawled into the attic and into the crawl space beneath the house. He came out looking grim. But I let him complete the inspection, knowing he’d give me a full rundown afterward.

Oh, and he did. Did he ever.

First of all, there was a two-inch thick carpet of rat poop in the attic and below the house. Knowing that for every cup of rat poop, there’s usually three cups of rat pee, I began to have visions of hantavirus dancing in my head. They’d have to hire professionals to pull out all the insulation and the vapor barrier and remove all that soil…

But wait. There’s more. Apparently, the clean out cap was missing on a pipe under the house, so every time someone had flushed the toilet for, oh, YEARS, the sewage was sprayed all under the house. Yummy. Nothing like a hazmat situation to make you want to move right in!

And then there was the rotted joist, and the abandoned section of chimney that was crumbling and threatening to rain bricks upon my head at any moment. And none of the wiring was up to code. And the sink was leaking.

And crazy woman was not the only character in the neighborhood. I tried to introduce myself to a few neighbors, and got a really hostile vibe.

Needless to say, my little voice was telling me that this was not the house for me. But such was my desperation that I still tried to ignore it. I wanted this whole process to be over.

Fortunately, I have the best realtor on earth in Cris LeCompte. While I fitfully slept, he found another, much better house for me to look at, because the situation was bothering him, too. And when I saw it, I had no reservations. My little voice was no longer screaming in my ear. So I bid on it.

I also withdrew my bid on the rat house. And it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Yes, I had to spend $420 for the inspection, but that saved me from spending $295,000 on a nightmare of a money pit, so I consider it money well spent.

Now I’m buying a house that feels like a home. Woo hoo! More on that in another entry!


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5 thoughts on “One Very Close Shave

  1. Carole Lewis

    Oh. my gosh. I know you love Seattle. East TN and NC, while beautiful and friendly, they do not have the same job opportunities but, the housing communities are booming and affordable. While San Diego, Atlanta and other major cities are not cost friendly for the ones that work there. I applaud you for your strength in the pursuit of happiness. It is certainly a challenge nowadays.

  2. Tracy Miller

    Wow! Thank God for inspectors. When they get it right 🙂 I paid for a regular inspector and a structural engineer when I bought this house in November. They thought my yard wetness was due to drainage issues and extensively diagrammed out fixes. I found out later, on my own, that city water line was leaking into my property, causing a perpetually standing lake. Fortunately city corrected problem at their expense. My other house in Eureka Springs has a shared sewer line with neighbor being tapped into my line. No inspectors have caught this before, Was discovered when I filed a claim with my sewer warranty and plumber figured it out . Warranty was cancelled. This is turning out to be one of the biggest headaches I’ve ever endured as a homeowner. So my advice to you…Get all the inspections you can afford!

    1. Most definitely. I’m so grateful for inspectors. Because it’s the problems that you can’t see that can ruin you AND your house. Many people here are so desperate to win house bids in this market that they are waiving inspections. I’ve actually lost a couple bids because I refused to do that. It’s INSANE. Talk about a seller’s market.

  3. Pingback: Taking the Good with the Bad – The View from a Drawbridge

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