October 11, 2010

House Shopping


When we first moved to Florida, we thought that buying a house would be super easy. Orlando is one of the cities in the U.S. hardest hit by the current housing crisis and there is a lot of inventory on the market.

Unfortunately, all of the houses in which we are interested are owned by people who can't afford to sell them.

In the past four months, we've made offers on five different houses, all of which are in the same very nice, well-maintained, large master-planned community.

House # 1: Short Sale
The owners of this house are both professional chefs, which explains why they ripped out three perfectly good bathroom vanities and replaced them all with wine racks. There are frogs in the pool, the yard is a mess, someone or something peed on the living room carpet, and there are several bad words carved into the drywall in various rooms in the house. Other than that, it was in pretty good shape.

After three months, we heard back from the bank. Their counteroffer was for $65,000 more than any house in the neighborhood has sold for in the past year. The bank wouldn't move and the house is still on the market.

House # 2: conventional sale
The current owners bought the home in 2007 for $200,000 more than the house is currently worth. Ouch. For understandable reasons, the owners are trying to minimize their losses. We negotiated for over a week, but ultimately had to walk away after the owners held firm on a sales price that was $75,000 more than any house in the neighborhood has sold for in the past year. Almost four months later, the house is still for sale. Two weeks ago, the owners increased their chances of selling the house by RAISING their asking price by $15,000.

House # 3: conventional sale
This house is located three doors down from house #2. We signed the contract and felt pretty good about things until the home inspection revealed that the oven and microwave didn't work and four windows wouldn't open. Oh, and there was also a leak in the roof and a massive problem with the pool. And the home appraisal came back significantly lower than our purchase price.

House # 4: same situation as house # 2 except that in addition to an unreasonable asking price, the homeowners also hadn't paid their home owner's dues for five years and, as a result, they have a massive lien against their house.

House # 5: Short Sale through Bank of America
Need I say more? It's been almost four months, and we've heard zippo.

House # 6: We looked at this house on Saturday. We liked it and told our agent that we wanted to make an offer. When our realtor contacted the listing agent, she learned that the owners have stopped paying their mortgage and home owner's dues. Rad. The house is currently occupied by renters who own five dogs. Double rad. If we were willing to pay the list price, and close in December 2011 (when the renters' lease expires), then they would consider selling us the house.

Yikes.

This housing market is a mess.

42 comments

Mrs. Werginz said...

Oh no...all of that is horrible. If these people aren't paying homeowners, can't the HOA have collectiosn get them for the $ owed? craziness! Good luck! We start our search for houses in January!

Gina said...

Two words: new build.
They have more margin and are willing to negotiate more and are just as motivated to move their inventory.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

We just closed on our short sale Friday. Luckily they let us live in it and rent until all the title stuff was cleared to go. It was stressful, but finally worked out. Good luck. It's true that even though we ended up getting a good deal on the house, the inventory homes builders were selling were priced much lower than "normal" and they were super negotiable on price (read: desperate). Things will work out great in the end, but it may take some painful waiting.

Vicky said...

You hit the nail on the head! It is a mess! Look outside of Orlando in one of the burbs...you'll find something worth your while!

Just Plain Tired said...

The housing market is a mess. I see someone else has suggested building new already. That's what I was going to suggest.

Stephanie said...

I cringe anytime I hear or see "Bank of America". Our short sale took 6 months....worth it in the end. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

If you plan to purchase anything on short-sale, forclosure, or from someone who is currently upside down on their loans and fees plan on waiting 6-10 months. Then the bank has to start it's approval process which can take just as long. I think this is so sad because there would be a lot fewer homes sitting empty and rotting if the banks could speed up this process. you would think that they would want to be getting paid something for the home instead of nothing.

Kiki said...

we purchased a home that was in foreclosure for over a year and in great condition. it was the only way we could afford a larger home at a reasonable price. we got the home for a stellar deal, but it wasn't an easy process - whenever our realtor had to contact the bank's realtor with questions or issues, the bank's realtor only had contact with a voicemail, and would leave messages and wait for return calls. we also negotiated that the bank pay the owed HOA fees and we were shocked when they agreed. it all worked out for us and we are very happy here. i hope you and your family find exactly what you're looking for. i agree with Vicky - go to the suburbs.

Mal said...

Man, so much for a buyer's market. Are these people all NUTS?!?!

Then again, they are living in Orlando, so I guess that explains a lot.

I am not a suburbs person--I live in the city, Small Town, or the country--none of this in-between crap the US is so obsessed with. But I think this would cause me to rethink that philosophy. At least for a year.

Emily said...

I'm not sure how I missed you were moving to Florida, but good luck on the move. The housing market sounds so awesome it almost makes me want to try and sell my home and move across country. Almost.

Pam the Realtor said...

Your situation is one of the reasons I refuse to show short sale properties. It's not worth the hassle. My brother is a short sale negotiator for BofA and that company is so screwed up, you are smart to stay away from any sales that have to deal with them. Especially if you have to go thru the Dallas office.

Anonymous said...

My family's (parents) home is in the Dr. Phillips area, when my husband and I started our search we looked in this area. We did not find what we were looking for so at a friends suggestion we looked in Clermont, Fl which is 30 minutes away via the Turnpike. We couldn't be happier with our decision. Best of luck to you and your family!

christine said...

I'm thinking that buying a home is waaaay overrated.

crazy ramblings of a tired mom said...

WOW, the housing market here in lovely NV (not vegas) is still not that cheap. I am giving up, home ownership is not all it's cracked up to be. I would rather rent at this point. Good luck with the ongoing search!

Sarah said...

Oh my yikes, that's way worse than here although I do look at some listings (we are also looking at buying) and wonder what in the heck people were thinking when they spent so much on these homes a few years ago. Please don't build new. It's sad that people think that's the answer. It is AN answer but it the most selfish one. Just my two cents, which is exactly what it's worth.

Christine said...

I feel for you. We are in the middle of trying to buy a short sale and it's been a nightmare as we watch a once beautiful house rot away...all we get is promises (lies) that it's almost approved by B of A meanwhile months pass, it's broken into stripped and everything living around it is dead, except for the algae in the pool and we hear nothing. The listing agent wants more than what it appraised for and hints that there are buyers waiting in the wings to pay cash over and above what it's worth if we get too testy...nighmare.

Rocket Ma'am said...

Wow. Jax has the same problems and now I'm feeling lucky we got our foreclosed house as fast as we did, even if it has since plummeted in value. Sound like these situations are the very reason the new house market is still limping along... which only creates a positive feedback cycle on the ones people are trying to sell. Oy.
Look towards the space coast, if the commute is feasible.

Megan said...

my heart just aches for you...we aren't in the market to buy or sell, but this still makes me sick for you and everyone else wanting to get in or out of a home...what a big 'ol mess!!!!

Michelle said...

My parents bought a new house last february. It is ten years old, and we bought it for the same price they originally paid for it, before they added all the landscaping and pool.

It was pretty much a good deal.

You'll find your hidden gem soon enough!!

Jennifer Shabdue said...

We moved to Florida in 2007 when my husband got his job at Kennedy Space Center working on the shuttle. Oct 3rd he took the first of the many massive layoffs coming and we are now in GA where he has found work. Our home is in Port Saint John and it's in the process of being "sold" through short sale. You should take your children to see one of the last shuttle launches coming in the near future. They are truly amazing to watch and it's very sad to see them go. If you do go just know the traffic will be insane so plan on staying in that area for awhile. In Titusville along the Indian River there are some great spots to see it launch clearly. = )

Mrs. Tuna said...

Could be worse, you could be looking at homes in Arizona.

Mary said...

I work for a real estate company in the foreclosure dept (I'm in Ohio) and it is just as sad here. We hear these stories all the time. But my daughter did get a house this summer that was a short sale and it worked out great for them (despite a longer wait than normal). They even closed in time for the tax credit. Hang in there - you'll find something.

Sarah said...

My inlaws live there. It blows my mind when we visit them in Poinciana, FL, just south of Kissimmee and half the homes on their block are vacant, weeds growing everywhere, trash, windows covered up, etc etc etc. And these were new nice homes 5 years ago. Lots of broken hearts and dreams in the Orlando housing market.

Anonymous said...

I also just bought a house in Clermont. It is amazing. The drive is a little bit farther but absolutely amazing!! There are also quite a few new homes that they are really motivated to sell. Good luck and who knows we may end up being neighbors!!

Mindy said...

Did you look in Dommerich? Or are you looking in Lake Mary area?? What a mess! So much for the stimulus money helping the banks and then the housing market...?

Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress said...

Bummer. That is just one big mess of craziness. I'm sorry that the owners/ banks are being so unreasonable and crazy!!!

Just found your blog today. Looking forward to reading about landing the perfect home!!

Nova Parenting said...

Awesome. I remember doing going through some pretty interesting foreclosed homes. One home had their kids color on every single wall, entry area, etc., and place stickers in the oddest places. Fantastic. They also took all the cabinets doors off the cabinets and made off with all the major kitchen appliances. Another home we entered had no faces to any drawers and it looked like they were raising a small ape in the house with massive amounts of hair everywhere. I've been in a house that had six dogs and nothing compared to this house. One other house that we liked also looked promising until we found puke in the dining room and it was apparent a human (or very large dog) had pooped in the middle of the master bedroom. It was awesome and always an adventure looking, but we eventually found the perfect place that didn't need an entire make over, but just some good cleaning and that still had all the cabinet doors!

Good luck!

amanda said...

Picky picky picky..... : ) Seriously, could you hurry up and find a place?! We want to take the kids to Disney World and we need a place to stay. We'd prefer one with a pool, courtyard and view. Thanks!

Olivia Singleton said...

Sadly the job market is just as big of a mess. I moved to Orlando over a month ago, and I've yet to even get a single interview.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'd feel bad for you except for the fact I live in Vegas and have been home shopping for over a year with many similar results. So, here's some well-deserved empathy instead.

You want to know the worst part? We're actually in a law suit with BofA because their lender lied on some of OUR dates to the underwriter to close the loan earlier for his commission. We lost the house, the sellers found themselves homeless, and the stupid lender got a stern talking to from his manager.

Deborah said...

I had to google short sale.(...and I hate to google!)
We don't have anything like that here in Australia. We have mortgagee sales (banks) but they don't take any longer than if it's a private seller....in fact they're often quicker because they are keen to offload.
It's a buyers market here with people having to wait a long time to sell, often at a loss.
Nothing like the problems you are having though. Most contracts are 30 days as long as conditions are met.
It must make something that's already stressful feel much worse!

Molly said...

We closed on a short sale in January. Really, it was stressful but not as bad as it could have been, we only waited 2 months for stuff. And had to take 2 trips to the dump with trash and motor oil the previous owners left. and clean the house for 18 hours. (who eats spaghetti in the shower?)

Anonymous said...

:O they haven't paid in 5 years and the hoa didn't hose them? we're currently going through foreclosure (BofA ... ugh). our hoa put the lien on after 3 months, took us to court after 6 MONTHS and it took a few more months for the judge to decide i had to pay it all back. nearly $3k. by the end of this month. i haven't worked in 6 months. and have to keep paying the dues until it short sales or forecloses (thanks bank of america). the housing market sucks as does the rest of the economy!

canadianmom said...

Sorry to hear that! We tried to buy a house in Montana 4 years ago.. looked at over 60 houses, found 2 we really liked. The favorite was bought by someone else and the other house which was offered the full asking price... came back with the sellers counter offering with an EXTRA $40,000 on the price AND took away the appliances!! ummm, NO, Don't think so! Since then we have moved to a different country, had another kid, moved again and we are STILL RENTING!!- and a side note, we lived over a year in Montana and when we moved, the house we tried to buy was STILL ON THE MARKET!!
Good luck on the house hunt!!

LIsa said...

wow, that IS terrible :( I read your blog a few times before and see that you're no longer living in PA. I hope you love FL! I just started blogging recently too as a new mommy and would LOVE it if you checked out my blog

www.momsinheels.net

i look forward to keeping up with your blog!! -- Lisa

Michelle said...

Oh my gosh. Forgive me but this list makes me laugh. We just bought a new build in WA state. And things went pretty smooth. I can't believe how much trouble you're having in FL.
Good luck to you

insanemommy said...

I agree the housing market in Florida is awful right now. The only houses our realtor seems to want to show us are ones that have lots of water damage and mold. Good luck in your search!

Corey said...

Crap. We've got an awesome house we need to sell in Roanoke VA so we can move to Boston.. The commute might be rough to Orlando though.. ;-)

MissMel said...

We have made 12 offers, Jana. You have a way to go to catch up to us. It is more than a mess, a family with money can't get in a house in any normal way anymore. Good luck!

Melinda said...

Whatever you do, do NOT buy in a new development! You have no idea what the neighborhood will look like in five years time and how many of the houses will sell to people who actually want to live in them. Friends of ours blew off our advice and are now living surrounded by scumbags who are either renting the houses the owners don't want to live in or houses bought by investors. There are also quite a few foreclosures in that development, too. Meanwhile, the "new" house they bought remains harder to unload than weapons grade plutonium.

Look in an older, established area in a good school district. (This is sage advice even if you don't have children or your kids are older) You'll be glad come resale time. Good luck.

Breanne said...

Holy freakin cow! I am going through the same thing in Washington State. We have looked at at least 45 different houses and there is something wrong with 90% of them, if not they are short sales and the ones we have made offers on are getting ridiculous counter offers. One of the houses we put an offer on hadn't paid property taxes for 3 years!

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