Sunday, August 12, 2018

American Dream — Part 2

Most of our backyard.In the previous post I stopped at us meeting with our agent, Laura, and seeing 5 houses in Redding and Ridgеfield. Three of the houses were in a rather bad condition and needed a lot of work — that is something that we were not prepared to do at all.

Two out of those fives houses were in a pretty nice condition, but one was out of the range of the prices that we wanted to pay and we didn’t really give it a serious look. And the last house that we saw seemed to fit the bill. It looked pretty nice inside with very big bedrooms. We really liked it. So we made a “lowish” offer, the sellers came back and eventually we agreed upon a very decent price.

The next stage was a series of inspections. One thing that I didn’t really realize was the fact that vast majority of towns in America actually don’t get any utility services from the city beside electricity. No water, no sewage, no natural gas. Nothing. I heard that some people had private wells before, but I thought it was a fancy choice of those owners. Turns out it’s because there is no other option.

Ridgеfield and Redding are no exception. Each house has a septic system — a large underground tanks that separates liquids and solids and a system called a leaching field which spans a large amount of land that absorbs that liquid into the ground. Also all houses have private wells. So we had to get all that tested, including the normal inspection of the houses for other basic things.

So that’s how the roller coaster has started. Each day would uncover something new that we would have to deal with. Both on the sale of our apartment and on the purchase of a house. I can’t even remember the number of issues that we went through and solved. And on top of that we had to synchronize both processes since we needed money from the sale to actually make a purchase. The amount that we had in our bank was just not enough.

The inspection of the septic system failed miserably. The house had an original system and the house was more than half a century old. In fact because it was rented out for several prior years it was not really well taken care of. The biggest problem was that leaching field that I mentioned earlier was ruined. The repair was quoted at $40,000(!!!) because the soil needs to be replaced.

Then there were several other issues that we didn’t really consider well. There was a rather busy road in front of the house. We thought that it’s not a big deal, since Nostrand is pretty big also and we got used to that rather well. But we didn’t consider the fact that if our kids decide to ride a bike or something — that road is a semi-highway and there is no way they could do that.

The neighbors were closer than we would like and one of them had a roof that has collapsed in the garage. That was also not very encouraging. And in the end over the course of dealing with the owners Laura has caught them in several lies by pulling papers on the house from town records — things that we wouldn’t have learned if it weren’t for her.

Either way — things fell apart. We never came together on that $40K price tag. We were back to square one and out of the money we paid for inspections. But we actually felt a big relief when we decided to retract our offer. Just too many things didn’t feel right.

We decided to go back and see the house that was too expensive for our budget. It also had some downsides, but we knew we had to make some compromises one way or another. This particular house had no master bathroom. The bedrooms were smallish. But for those disadvantage it had a lot of good things going for it. The lot was big and great — more than an acre of land. It is located in a very quite neighborhood — on a big loop that has no through traffic. Only cars coming to houses on the loop drive around.

The lot itself has a lot of trees. It was on a corner and the back end of the lot changes to town land — protected forest. So there is only one direct neighbor. And this house is on a bit of a hill and the neighbor house is noticeably lower. Plus a nice tree and bush separation between the lots. And after Brooklyn neighbors we really wanted to be left alone to ourselves.

So after some consideration we decided to make an offer. We thought that a master bathroom can always be added, but the lot and location of the house is a permanent thing. And after some back and forth we actually landed on much more acceptable price than the asking price was. Then inspections started.

As with the first house — septic was original and was near its end of life. However it was well taken care off and soil was good. It was also a smallish 3 bedroom septic and the house having 4 bedrooms needed a bigger one. After a lot of negotiation again, owner decide to cover the cost of replacement — $20,000. Although they wanted to do it themselves, we insisted on doing it ourselves, so we would know no corners were cut.

There was also another issues that came up with a garage that we also resolved favorably. So all in all the final price came out to a lower amount than it was on the first house and the main reason why we originally overlooked this house was the price. To get over the suspense — this is the house that we ended up buying. Even though at that moment in time we were quite far from it.

Then came months of problems dealing with papers, mortgages and people who don’t really care about what you’re trying to achieve. The two biggest hurdles that we ran into was the time that it took our buyers to go through a board interview — because of the board delays, not our buyers. And then after everything was done and ready the coop would just not schedule a closing day for us. It put us through an immense amount of stress.

In the end we figured that we can end up waiting for too long and there was no end in sight. So we borrowed some money from our parents for the down payment and the move in order to close on the house and deal with the apartment afterwards. And the day that we scheduled a closing for the house coop finally gave us a date for apartment closing.

We closed on the house on June 27th. We spent a week packing the rest of things up and picking out a moving company. On July 5th we closed on our apartment. On July 6th our things were picked up and loaded into a truck. Alёna, I and Shublik left for our house the same day and kids stayed with the parents for 2 days. On the morning of July 7th our stuff was unloaded at our new house.

On the same day we made our first purchase — a nice propane Weber grill for our porch. On July 8th we went back to Brooklyn, finished up packing smallish things in the apartment, cleaned everything out, washed the apartment and handed in the keys. We were officially done and moved. This is the first night that all four plus a cat of us spent in our new home.

This is the end of the moving saga. Now that this is out of the way I can write more about the house itself in the following posts.

P.S. Out of the moving company options an American company quoted us $3,500. We decided to go with a Russian company recommended to us by our Brooklyn agent. And though they managed to break a couple of minor things in the process, it ended up costing us $1,500. A very worthy trade-off.

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