Sunday, September 13, 2009

Slides Are A Bad Thing

F. called on the Husband's dream house, and discovered that there were already five offers, and the bank was negotiating on several, expected to accept an offer that day. We gotta figure out how to find out about these properties sooner - we jumped on it as soon as it came out on the MLS, but somehow that wasn't soon enough.

Once again into the breach of open house Sunday. We stayed in El Cerrito, looked at a place halfway up the hills, on the southern side of town. Spotlessly clean, big (over 1300 square feet), three bedrooms and two baths, a beautiful view of the Bay. Kitchen and bathrooms need updating (the swan etched into the glass shower door just screams 1982). We fell in with another couple looking, found the door to the water heater and furnace that also led under the house. The man climbed right in, while his wife told us that he was a structural engineer, and that this was always where he headed. We heard his voice from behind the furnace, saying, "Uh-oh." We all trooped back up to the dining room to peruse reports, and found one from the official structural engineer. Turns out this part of the hills is called the Blakemont Slide Area - and the engineer's report told us that the foundation needed at least $250K of work, since it had not been retrofitted in a long, long while. All four of us sighed and headed for the door. Asking price: $415K.

The Husband spotted several other open house signs just blocks apart, so we checked out a few more. At one the agent greeted us by telling us the square footage (around 1600) and the price for purchase or rental. Since this place was just a block above the last house, we asked about the Blakemont Slide, and he looked at us blankly, said the reports weren't done yet. Rampant dry rot, cracked plaster, sloping floors and the funkiest layout we'd ever seen - a tiny family room in the center of two bedrooms, a bathroom, the laundry closet, and the sliding glass door to the patio. Nothing looked more recent than the late 80s. Asking price: (wait for it) $675K. We held our laughter until we got back to our car.

The last house of the day was beautiful - still on the Slide area, but with an engineer's report saying that the foundation was in tip-top shape. Beautiful upgrades; a gorgeous kitchen with new cabinets and granite countertops; a master bathroom to die for; beautifully landscaped yard. All this beauty comes at a price well beyond our means: $725K.

Bring on the new listings, because the inventory that's out there does not work for us.

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