In May 2006 we comtemplated selling our home so we put it up on the market. I wrote an article about it
To Sell Or Not To Sell - That is the Long Island Real Estate Question
last year. It was a buyer's market then, so you might want to read that story first.
We did not need to sell, but a move to Nassau County was a bit closer to both our families and a little more convenient. We bought our house in Suffolk County in 2001. At the time, you got a little more house and land for your money as opposed to buying property in Nassau County, New York.
We bought a foreclosed property and bid a lot more than the asking price. That was the real estate advice deemed necessary at the time as it was a sellers market. As soon as I walked in I saw the potential and fell in love with this house. My husband on the other hand, saw the money pit. He conceded to make me happy. So overjoyed, overwhelmed and over budget we move in.
Each month was a struggle paying the mortgage, the taxes and making home improvements. It was indeed the money pit. The plumbing needed a complete overhaul - new pvc piping, new baseboard heat, new boiler and new hot water heater. The electric was upgraded to double amps and replacing all the outlets from circa 1950 was a costly venture.
The house's saving grace was that most of the windows had been replaced. The house had been re-sided within the past decade so that was not on the prioriy list, but it had been in foreclosure for some time and needed quite a bit of TLC.
Whatever you budget for home improvement multiply that by three and that is the real cost. Then open a credit line at Home Depot and Lowe's and keep your fingers crossed for the unexpected. If you let your husband out of the house with either credit card give him a list and the exact amount he is allowed to spend. BTW, did you know that Lowe's was started by the ex-wife of the owner of Home Depot? I heard that bit of gossip recently and it makes me chuckle every time.
We were blessed with two little ones in a short period of time. I was putting the finishing touches on the nursery when I gave my husband the good news and the bad news. I was expecting again and we needed more bedrooms. Thankfully, we had two extra rooms upstairs. They had an intended purpose, aside from being storage for junk, just a little sooner than we expected. A few years, quite a bit of dust and a whole lot of money later our house starts to shape up.
Last year, everyone you talked was moving to North Carolina. The Long Island real estate market was doing flip flops, but house values were still pretty high. If we got the right number for our house we could buy a comparable house in Nassau County. Hmmm, I thought maybe this is the time to sell?
House hunting was quite an eye opener. There were lots of homes on the market. Several houses we looked at the owners had their boxes packed. Many had already purchased a new home, most times out of state and they were anxious(this is a polite real estate term to describe desperate) to sell. Thank God, I arranged my schedule to be out while my real estate agent was showing my house. A few months and several open houses later I was disappointed. We could not make a bid on a new house until we got a committment on our house and the numbers were not adding up. We took the house off the market as it was not the right time for us to sell.
"If you can't move, improve!" must have been an ad slogan for Home Depot or Lowe's that did not make the cut. Anyhow, I picked it up somewhere and it prompted the dust storm that was going to hit our house again. In December, we took a second mortgage to make more home improvements. My well planned renovation turned out better than I expected, but a few interesting things happened along the way.
The project went over budget as expected, but just how much was not expected. To remedy the new financial burden, I figured we could refinance again since we had the house appraised in December. We still had a nice amount of equity to work with. The mortgage broker quoted a good rate and fast turnaround time. The appraiser was there within two days and the paperwork ready in less than a week. BTW, make sure to get a good faith estimate and read all of the fine print.
The rate the broker quoted was a far cry from the written estimate. When I called to find out why there was such a difference he told me that the rates went up a bit and were also affected by the market value of the house. So what was the problem? It turns out that the house appraised for a lot less than expected. When he told me how much I was in shock. I went over the list of improvements made to the house since the appraisal in December, how could this be? He apologized and blamed it on the real estate market. He said the banks wrote a lot of bad loans and were re-assessing property values because of the instability of the market.
So after investing another $75,000 in the house it is worth $100,000 less than it did six months ago. I consulted the magic eight ball about my home loan and it said, "Don't count on it." As for the Long Island real estate market, "Reply hazy, try again."
P.S. I came across a very interesting website that inspired the writing of this article,
Long Island Bubble
. It is an eye opening diatribe about the Long Island housing market and well worth the read!
Thanks for reading my rantings.