Right now, as you know, I'm renting a cool house. It's within walking distance to the town center and under 10 minutes by car from where I work, so I'm getting terribly spoiled. It's got a small yard and a small garden plot (perfect for herbs).
I ended up renewing the lease for a year because I did not find any houses to buy. Well, actually, I found two that I put offers on but we could not agree on a price.
The first one was overpriced considering the fact that:
It was only two bedrooms (I'm fine with two bedrooms but two bedroom homes tend to be priced lower than this place)
It was on a fairly busy street
The owner had incontinent dogs who used the carpets throughout the place as pee pads.
Now, the house itself was pretty big, the bedrooms were huge, it had a full basement and an attached garage so I was willing to overlook a lot of stuff. I was not willing to pay what she wanted because fixing the dog pee issue would be expensive. As in, I'd need to have the sub floors replaced. That takes money. We could not agree on a price.
The second place was great in a lot of ways. The lot was level and clear--perfect for a garden. Very quiet cul-de-sac, quiet neighborhood, and populated by people who would not side-eye a clothesline or a compost bin, etc. However, again, the house needed work.
First, the owner bought it on auction with the intention to flip it. I found out how much (or how little) he paid. He was hoping to make about $70K in profit, judging from the original price of the house. However, when you need to replace ten windows (several of them cracked), when there is a hole near the roof in the attic crawlspace area, when there is no insulation in the basement crawlspace, when there are obvious signs that the pipes burst over the winter, when the carpets upstairs are in dire need of cleaning, and when the former owner's stuff is still there (think: liquor bottles in the cabinet over the fridge), you need to be realistic in your pricing. If you want to make $70K, do the $15K-$25K worth of work that needs to be done, throw on a coat of fresh paint, and clear the stuff out.
His excuse? Well, he does this for a living and his guys were busy fixing up other houses. Okay, but you still have a house that is in dire need of work, the excuse doesn't undo that.
He and I could not agree on a price. What I offered him would have made him $20K (after the real estate agents got their commission). That's not bad for doing little to no work. (He was starting to replace one window, but didn't intend to do any others, and it looked like he just stopped in the middle of the window replacement, got a sandwich, and forgot to finish). Had it not been for a carpenter friend whom I took with me on my second look, I would have walked away thinking, "No way!" He told me what was fixable and how much it would probably cost.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out. Which is fine--I really liked that house, but the seller would not even try to meet me half way. (I would have gone up some had he countered, but not up to where he insisted I meet him, which was still unreasonable considering the amount of work that needed to be done).
I've seen a fair number of houses over the past couple of months. I figure I'm going to look at a lot more over the summer. One good thing about my situation right now is that I can consider short sales (which can take months to close) since I'll be leasing my house.