We’ve got neighbors!

5 years ago today, was the first time we laid eyes on this house. At the time, the property to the west of us was a wooded lot. We were informed pretty early through the process that the little old lady (Ilene Lock) who owned the lot was about to have it zoned and put it up for sale. We were also told that she would be more than willing to sell us a 1’X200’ piece of land for $1000 and we could buy as much as we liked – but to let her know ASAP, cuz it was going on the market within the month.

We were already shell shocked by how much we were spending and were not yet used to the new payment and whether we felt comfortable with adding an additional $10,000 on to what we already owed. Turns out we more than could have done this and we are totally kicking ourselves that we aren’t very risky.

We moved in on June 15th, 2005 and apparently, the lot had been sold to a builder a few months before. By the time we moved in, one house was close to completion. We thought there would only be enough room for the one house, so we were not all that concerned. When in October of 2005, he started clearing the lot closer to our house, we started getting worried.
(photo taken mid-October 2005)

He began pouring the footings for the basement in mid-October and by the looks of it, was going to be building a very large house on a small, awkward lot. We were assured by the Village Inspector that the builder was not allowed to change the grade, and that the hill would remain in tact.

As the house was going up; this huge vinyl beast, we couldn’t help but feel like we had really made a mistake by not buying some of the property. The guy wouldn’t have been able to fit two houses on the lot if we had purchased around 10 feet...or could he?
(photo of water in the window well taken July 2006)

Being that the house is on a hill, and the hill cascades down toward our house, we started noticing problems immediately. During a downpour, the water from the hill directly fell into our western-most window well. It filled up with water and started leaking into the house. I have a movie of Jerome trying to use a bucket in the well to remove the water during this torrential rain storm. Jerome ended up constructing an additional level of protection with cinderblocks left behind by the former owners. It seems to have done the job – that, and the fact that the builder had finally installed some gutters on that monstrosity.
(by mid-February 2006, the second house was up)

Fast forward to the economic crisis. The house never sold. It stood there vacant since they finished it in late 2005. The builder never finished the inside, nor the driveway or landscaping – he went into foreclosure. The house he built next to this one (west of this one), has had 2 owners already. The first owner purchased it for nearly $300,000 and put more than $50,000 into it before GM transferred him to another state. GM gave him what he bought the house for and then put it on the market. The market plummeted and GMAC ended up selling it for $235,000. It’s up for sale again (by owner); they are asking for the same amount that they purchased it for, but in the meantime, here is this vacant, never lived in ramshackle right next door that is bank owned.
(photo taken May 2006 - the house (gray one next to ours) pretty much stayed looking like this for the next 3+ years - however, empty and not cared for)

About a week ago, we noticed a lot of activity around that house and over the weekend, Jerome said that it’s true, we do have new neighbors.

A young couple purchased it from the bank and have big plans for it. He is a builder and her family owns a local sod farm. They are putting in new flooring, new kitchen countertops, they want to make a walk out basement. They are going to put up a retaining wall between our properties and build a deck and put in a swimming pool. They will be sodding as well and have verbally offered up any extra sod that they don’t use. Oh, and they want to do it all in a month (with the exception of the swimming pool which will go in next year). He also mentioned that he would love to brick the house. Now that would be awesome and expensive.

I asked how much they purchased the house for and how much our property value has decreased. He told me $130,000!!! MY LORD! This house is around 2300 square feet.

Well, we’re hoping for great things. It will be a little strange having someone over there, but I hope that the look of the place will improve now that there is signs of life.


dynochick (Jan) said…

The amount of damage done by lenders during the housing boom is unbelievable.

What kills me is that these banks just give these houses away but yet they wouldn't redo the mortgage with the original owner. Had they done that the property value would not have decreased to 130k and stayed at the 300k range. The municipalities are losing tax revenue left and right and in turn raise the mills for the good citizens who have already lost their a$$ on the value of their home.

Plus they are giving first time home owners $8500 to buy a house. Sorry but this was what started the whole thing, people buying houses they could not afford. I remember my first house. It was a foregone conclusion that you needed 10% down, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Plus my interest rate was 13%. For eons land contracts were 10%. It gotten to the point where everyone wants 5% or less.

Do you ever watch HGTV? I can't stand those programs that show first time home buyers. It's ridiculous. They want it all. How do two people just out of college and just married afford a 500k mortgage? They always tell them to look at the monthly payment not the total cost. They leave these young people without any excess income if a problem occurs. I think these shows do a great disservice to potential buyers.

Roger says the women on that show are whiny. I need two sinks, I need a separate family room and a living room, dining room, and large kitchen. Closets are too small, yard is too small, too close to neighbors, too far away from stores, too close to the road, not close enough to work....egads!!! You can't have it all in your first home. Hell I didn't even know what I needed in a home when I bought my first home. All I needed to know was if I could make the payments. Now they want it all and for nothing too!
baby sister said…
I agree with you completely. When we purchased this house, we made sure that either of us would be able to afford the mortgage on our own, just in case one of us lost our job. And even though they said that we could have purchased 3X more of a house, we were reasonable with our wants and desires.

Yes, those shows on HGTV boggle my mind - I always wonder where these "kids" are working and getting their money. Yep, they want it all - it's the entitlement generation.

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