Our House Was A Repo: Part 2

September 2, 2010

We last left off with the realization that I was mentally packing my bags and moving into this house all the while finding out that I couldn’t just sign on the dotted line.

Well, here’s how the repo situation works.

Someone (the current homeowner) doesn’t pay their mortgage for many months.  Well, if they had an FHA loan (typically what a first-time home buyer has), HUD pays off their loan to the bank and takes possession of the home.  No bueno for the homeowner (a lesson in paying your bills, y’all!).

The homeowner vacates after the sheriff serves them papers.  In our case this involved stripping the home of every item of value (appliances, etc.) and then having a rave party to celebrate their new credit issues and homelessness.

After the homeowner vacates there’s a period of time where the house just sits idle waiting for the powers that be to go through the paper work. 

Then they list the house.  But it’s not an ordinary listing.

Usually the bank (or HUD) will try to get at least what was left to be paid on it and sometimes they even try to resell it for market value.  In our case they just listed it for what was left on the previous loan–hence the $40,000 price tag.

Now, our home is worth about $85,000 (we’re in the process of refinancing and I’ll have better info on that after our appraisal), so the $40,000 price tag was beyond appealing.

When you want to show interest on a repossessed home, you have to put in a bid.  That’s right–the house essentially is put on a silent auction of sorts and is presented to the highest bidder.

With this house being a HUD repossession, HUD stated that their preference was for an owner occupant to purchase the house (i.e. they wanted the owner to live  there if possible instead of selling to a house flipper or it becoming a rental).  If you remember, you already know that I was mentally packing all of my belongings and moving into this house, so we checked the “owner occupant” box on our bid.

I expressed to Mr. Windows that this house somehow grabbed a hold of my heart and there was no way we could lose this bid.  He told me that I’m a crazy old bat and I should just keep my emotions to myself.  Then something sparked in him and he decided that living anywhere else didn’t work for him either.

So, we placed our bid for $41,250.  We were trying to be creative and competitive, but not go overboard because who wants to pay more than they have to, right?!

And then we waited.


Our House Was A Repo:Part 1

September 1, 2010

FYI: In this series I will tell you how much we paid for our house…if you don’t want to know, feel free to stop reading now.

I pinpointed our house on a local real estate website.  It was listed for $40,000 and looked ok enough.

At the time I didn’t know the home was a repo…I just knew it was cheap and what we were looking for.  It had adequate space, a decent location, and the price just couldn’t be beat.

After hemming and hawing for about 5 minutes, I called our agent to set up a showing.  She returned my call and informed me that the home was a repo and we could take a look at it anytime because she had the “universal key”–apparently all HUD repos get rekeyed to the universal key once they take possession.

So, we went that afternoon and took a look at this house.

Dear Lord it was hideous and the smell was toxic.  The bathroom made my skin crawl, the washer and dryer hook up had me super confused, and nearly every door jab in the house had been clawed by some sort of animal so badly that they were almost unrecognizable (not to mention the doors wouldn’t close).

We spent about 2 minutes inside the house and ventured outside to take some deep breaths.

This is where I fell in love with this ugly, smelly house.

While we were outside two little old ladies popped their curly heads over the fence and said “Y’all gonna buy this house?!”

I was sold.  I was ready to sign.  Get me the paperwork!

Why is that such a big deal?  Well, in the three years prior that I’d owned and lived in the Gilbert House, I’d not met one single neighbor.  NOT ONE!  No one had come over to borrow sugar, tell me to shut my dog up, or even to steal my mail.  I craved some sort of neighborly interaction and within the first 10 minutes of being at this new house I had already met two of the neighbors. 

From that moment on the ugly orange brick house became home to me. 

Then my agent informed me that we couldn’t just buy it….we had to bid for the house–what?!?!

Refinishing the desk.

August 30, 2010

When the determination was made that I’d have a room in our home devoted entirely to whatever I wanted it to be, I knew it would be an office.  That meant I needed a desk.

Originally I’d only looked at new furniture–it’s easier to come by.  But spending more than $500 on something that would likely just collect dust and serve as a place for me to store things just seemed a little silly.  Enter: Craigslist.

While searching for just about anything that might catch my eye, I found this ugly, dirty desk.  It was a blonde colored wood (not my personal fave), scratched to Siberia and back, and had the loveliest retro-contemporary (is that an oxymoron?) shape.

I love that it’s abnormal looking.  I didn’t love that it was so ugly.

So, I decided to refinish it.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any “in process” pictures because I’m not super good at remembering those things.

I followed this tutorial: How to Paint Furniture

I used oil based primer, black interior paint (not sure what finish–probably satin), and the recommended water-based polyurethane from the tutorial–all from Lowes or the cabinet in my garage.  I would recommend using a brush you’re not too attached to for the priming–oil based paint is not fun to rinse out.

After spending about 2 weeks working on the desk and letting it dry in my garage, I had this:

I don’t know if I could be happier with the way it turned out!!! 

We changed the drawer pulls, too.  I had Mr. Windows fill the old holes with wood filler putty and drill new holes just slightly above the old ones.  I really love the slim, crisp look of the new pulls.  The drawer pulls are from Menards and were $3 each, I believe.

So, for about $35 and some elbow grease, I have this awesome, awesome one-of-a-kind desk! 

Have you refinished any furniture?  How’d it go for you?

Showin off: The driveway.

August 26, 2010

Oh, our house is so ugly.  But it used to be uglier.

When we first looked at the house the back yard extended around the north side of the house and there was a jagged, unsettled 1-car driveway. 

This side of the house came complete with a rickety old fence, too!  Lucky us!

At some point someone really cared about this side-yard because there was even a patio behind the fence and a space for a little garden.

I had bigger plans for this side of the house.

See, Mr. Windows and I came from a 1-lane driveway and frankly, we were tired of it.  We both drive nicer vehicles and weren’t willing to park either of our vehicles on the curb.  So I asked the question of all questions: could we make the driveway bigger.

We had to tear out sections of the driveway anyhow because it had settled too much that Mr. Windows’ little sports car would bottom out if we parked it in the driveway–no bueno!

This was the 1 and only time we parked the car in the driveway until it was redone.

Side note: see the papers taped to the windows?  That means we bought a repo–yep, our house was a repo and we had to bid on it!  I’ll post about that someday!

You’re not going to be surprised when I tell you that I didn’t take any pictures of us actually working on the driveway, right?  Because I didn’t.

But, just for the record, this here driveway was a DIY driveway!

My dad is a jack-of-a-trades…there’s just not much he doesn’t do.  So, I called him up and told him my plans.  He told me he’d borrow the backhoe and a dump trailer and be right over.  Score!

Within a week we had complete dug out the old driveway except for the approach (it was the only salvageable part of the driveway) and had everything framed out and rebarred (I’m sure there’s a better term for it than that) and ready to receive some concrete!

On a Saturday morning we had two concrete trucks show up to our little cul-de-sac and a family of workers (me, Mr. Windows, my dad, FIL Windows, and a few people who work for my dad) and the concrete started flowing!

Notice how the yard looks like a muddy mess?  Sheesh, it was!!

But isn’t that driveway pretty?!?  I LOVE it!

Today, Mr. Windows and I own 3 vehicles.  Yeah, it might seem outrageous to you, but we have a good purpose for each one of them–that’s a post for another day.  But, this new driveway of mine comfortably parks FIVE vehicles!  Amazing, right?!  The old one barely accommodated 2!

It also goes all the way back and is even with the house.  Someday we’ll build a carport..maybe.

In case you’re curious, doing this project cost us about $2,000 between labor, concrete, and other incidentals like framing supplies and tools and the estimated increase in property value is at LEAST $7,000.  I’d say that’s a big, fat WIN!

All of my cars get to park off the street and we increased the value of our home all in one fell swoop.  Go team!

Have you ever attempted something so not-normally-DIY??  Tell me about it!!

Here’s one great thing about not having kids: every single space in Casa Windows is occupied by grown up things. 

When we bought this house our agent mentioned that Mr. Windows could really use a “man” space.  To this I replied, “WHAT?!  He’s taken over every space there is!  I’m the one who could use my own space!!” 

So, since we have 3 bedrooms, guess what happened?  We share our “bedroom” where we sleep and I have my office and he has his…room.  His room is boring.  It has a dresser in it and any other random things that land there.

My office, though, it’s awesome.

Here’s what I planned for it to look like:

I have the greatest laid plans, I tell you!!

The only things out of this entire mood board that I currently own are the two vases in the bottom left-hand corner.  Ha!

Here’s what the room looked like once we took posession:

This picture doesn’t do a good job of showing it, but this closet is enormous.  I actually had to buy FOUR closet doors because hanging just 2 doesn’t do the trick.  Also, that window is my pet peeve..look how close it is to the closet!!!  Bad, bad architecture, my friends! 

Dirty, dirty walls and brass light fixture.  Eww.  Also, this room was  the stinkiest of them all.  I think they kept animals in the closet in this room–we had to replace some of the drywall in there! 

Side note: clearly I’m not a photographer, please forgive me.

So, this room got transformed. 

You can see the new paint color (why, yes, it’s a lovely plain ole lineny white color) and the not-salvagable hardwood flooring. 

Much, much better!!  New ceiling fan, new curtains, new floors (!!!), new trim, and a new Zuo Modern Lider chair. 

This desk is a story in and of itself (check back for that one!), but isn’t it pretty?!?

This loveseat has a secret of its own!!  It’s hiding a twin-size bed!

I did get a file cabinet!  I love this one, too!  It’s industrial, but still stylish.

Here’s a more accurate view of how it looks today.  The memo boards are on the wall, the desk is cluttered with desk-y type stuff, but it is missing one thing!  My 32″ flat screen TV that also doubles as a computer monitor!

What was once in the box is now on the wall…stay tuned for that update!

This room is really my sanctuary.  I love, love sitting on that loveseat and reading a book.  I work at my desk several times a week designing invitations, printing random whatevers, and generally attempting to maintain my life.

I’d say it’s a vast improvement over what it was–the walls are now clean and painted, the floors are perfection, the furniture is comfortable and functional–and stylish, and it’s just overall happiness.

Here’s a cost breakdown:
Loveseat: K-mart – $299
Ottoman: Target – $40
Desk: Craiglist find – $20
Chair: Zuo Modern Lider Chair – $150 (Direct Buy purchase)
Lamp: Target – $16
Memo Boards: Kohl’s – $7 each
Collage frame: Kohl’s – $15
Bookshelf (not shown): Walmart – $19
Paper shredder: Bed, Bath, & Beyond – wedding gift
File cabinet: Walmart – $44
Vases: CB2 – $5 and $4
Pillow: Pier 1 – $25
TOTAL: $651

I budgeted about $1000 for everything in this room because I was starting from scratch (again).  Because of my craiglist desk and keeping things minimal, I came out ok!!  Woo!

Craig and his list..

August 18, 2010

In June of 2009, Mr. Windows bought a shed from Sears.

At the time, this was a genius idea.  It was on sale and we knew we’d need one eventually and it didn’t take up much space in the garage while it was still in pieces. 

Fast forward a year.  The shed is still sitting in the box.

At the beginning of July I made the executive decision to have a professional come build us a shed.  This left us with a shed-in-a-box that we couldn’t return to Sears.  Not exactly ideal, but there is a happy ending.

I am assuming the shed looks like this (we never took it out of the box):

Well, being the owner of my new pretty, didn’t-have-to-DIY shed, I decided I’d look  to Craig to get rid of the shed-in-a-box.

Last Thursday I made the listing.

By the next morning I had 10 people interested in buying it.  I was pretty excited about this fact because it meant more dinero in my savings account AND more real estate freed up in my garage.

Well, Sunday night we had the first “looker” come to Casa Windows and he forked over six $50 bills and loaded himself a new shed-in-a-box on his handy little trailer.  He sailed away into the sunset with his new shed-in-a-box. 

Minutes after the sunset on our transaction I started e-mailing the 14 other people who had expressed interest in the shed-in-a-box.

One lady was not so happy with me.

Her e-mail called me unprofessional and dishonest because I sold it to someone else.

In my defense, no one had offered to pay any money for me to hold the shed-in-a-box for them.  I told every single person the same time and place to look at the shed-in-a-box.  Every person had the same opportunity and as soon as the shed-in-a-box moved on to greener pastures, I sent out the news–seriously, I don’t think I even waited 5 minutes.  I didn’t want someone else to show up and have wasted their time driving to Casa Windows.

In my opinion, I did what any item owner on Craigslist would and should do.  I sold to the first person who produced the dollar bills and had the means to move the property into their posession.  I quickly informed all other parties that the inventory had been depleted and went on my merry way to the bank.

I can’t make ’em all happy.  I don’t have a secret stash of sheds-in-a-box to sell to everyone.  Sometimes that’s just the way it works out.

Have you ever had a similar (or other exciting) situation on Craigslist?  Tell me about it!!

Keeping cool

August 17, 2010

One of the things I first notice about a home is the light fixtures.  Am I alone on this?!

I’m not a fan of brass anything.  Except brass instruments, but that’s a whole other board game.

When we bought the new abode, it was chock full of brass lighting fixtures.  Every lighting fixture had some sort of brass on it and while they worked just fine in terms of functionality (ya know, after we got 10 years of dust off of them), I just wasn’t having it.

There are a few things you can do to your home to really change the look of it without having to spend a lot of dinero.  You can paint the walls a new color for around $50 depending on the size of the room and the kind of paint you use, and you can swap out that ugly brass ceiling fan for $50!

We opted to keep ceiling fans in every room in our house because our 8′ ceilings were low enough that any pretty, low hanging light fixture would bonk us on the head (well, I’m short, so mostly Mr. Windows and his 6’1″ self would be enduring the bonking), and the idea of cheaper climate control is quite appealing, too.

We purchased all of our ceiling fans (there are five total) at a store called Menards.  Those of you that live in the same city that we do know that there’s not a Menards to be found in our neighborhood.  We actually visit the Menards in “the North” every time we go to visit Mr. Windows’s family.

Our living room is ginormous.  I’m not kidding.  It’s literally about 1/3 of our home.  So, when we looked up and saw the 72″ Hunter brand ceiling fan hanging high above us in the light fixtures section at Menards, we were sold. 

You can’t get a good idea of its massive size in this picture, but trust me–a 72″ fan is a large, large ceiling fan.

We also loved the little speckled design on the globe part.

The only thing we don’t like?  It only has two light bulbs in it.  This is something that I (dumbly) never even thought about checking!!  So, we put the largest fan with the smallest output of light in the largest room in our house…not exactly brilliant!

Oh well.  We still love it.

The next ceiling fan I’d like to show you is the one in our dining nook.  We don’t have a room specifically for dining as it’s a part of our kitchen, but it previously had a ceiling fan above the table area and with my obsessive baking habit having a ceiling fan in there seemed like a really good idea.

I LOVE this fan!  Seriously, it’s probably my favorite light fixture in our house.  I love it.

What I don’t love is the fact that it only has ONE light bulb.  Seriously, I dropped the ball on this adequate light output situation. 

The last fan I’m going to show you is the one that we put in all three bedrooms.  We felt like we were being pretty sporadic with our light fixture choices and since we have a hard time agreeing on, well, anything, we decided to just stick with the same fan and put it in three places and call it decided.

ALL of these ceiling fans have FOUR light bulbs!  WIN!!  Too bad they’re in the rooms that we use the least (doh!).  Oh well, live and learn, right?!

So there you have it–the fans that cool and light our main rooms.  Later I’ll show you the rest of the light fixtures we (Mr. Windows and Grandpa-in-law Windows) installed.

For now, here’s the cost breakdown and brands of these five fans:
Living room fan: Hunter–$199
Dining nook fan: Westinghouse–$99
Bedroom fans: Westinghouse–$50 x 3
TOTAL for fans: $448

All were purchased at Menards in the summer of 2009.