05 June 2008

German Houses, Round 3

ETA some significant potential negatives I neglected in last night's fatigue. AmFam, I'll try add a few photos into this post later today so you can see a bit of what we like.:

A disappointing turn in our house-hunting: the house we'd found appraised for way under the asking price, so we're back to looking for a place to live in Germany-the-pseudonymous. Politica has been househunting this week, and the options are:
  • a very expensive house in one of the best of Germany's neighborhoods. Very large (over 3000 sq ft.! more house than we need), but just beautiful, with a huge yard. Good things: lots of space, lots of light, lots of public and useable space on the first floor, all new windows, lovely kitchen, we could walk to work and walk to CG's school. Bad things: it's expensive, we're not sure we can get it for what we can offer, and it might require a gardener for the backyard. So some house maintenance costs might be in a higher bracket than we're used to. Price note: this house is expensive, but it's huge, and in terms of price-per-square foot, it's actually the second cheapest.
  • a not-quite-so-expensive house in a very good German neighborhood, same school area as the expensive house. Large house with 6 bedrooms (more than we need, but 2 are in the attic and we could just close that part of the house off or use it for storage). Good things: Politica just likes this house, it seems to call to her. Walkable to our work and CG's school. bad things: asbestos in basement, it's overpriced (one of the most expensive houses per square foot even if we make a low offer). What I forgot to mention in the first version of this post: this house has a lot of windows, and they're all old. The current owner spent $6000 on gas last year, and her reported electriciy bills are way higher than the other houses we're looking at. Replacing all the windows in this house would be a significant expense. Plus it's on a busy-ish corner.
  • a not-expensive house in the neighborhood we originally wanted, in our top choice elementary school area. Good things: location (right across from a walkway to a park, in the elementary school area we wanted originally). bad things: we are never going to love this house, and it's likely to have inspection issues. It doesn't seem well-built or well-maintained. but it's $100,000(or more) less than the other two houses.
  • a modern house in the suburbs. Good things: excellent value (the best value-for-price of all the houses Politica saw--way cheapest per square foot), lots of public living spaces, great master bath soaking tub, protected land behind the house. Bad things: suburban living (with apologies to suburban readers!): no sidewalks, need to drive everywhere, and just not what we envisioned when we thought of moving to Germany.
So wish us good deciding, please. Good house-selecting vibes gratefully accepted.

17 comments:

Arwen said...

Good deciding! I want you to take the house you love most because I have the urge to vicariously live through you. *g*

liz said...

I vote for the six-bedroom Politica-calling house. You won't regret taking a house you love. And you just KNOW that your sweet girl will want one of the attic rooms so she can sleep in a garret.

americanfamily said...

Too bad you can't post pictures. I love to see what kinds of houses other people like. I don't envy the decision though. Good luck!

niobe said...

Mmmm.....I wonder if the asking prices on the other houses would also significantly exceed the appraisals. I mean, was that a problem specific to the sellers that house or a more general overpricing issue?

Rev Dr Mom said...

Oh, oh, oh, anything in a neighborhood where you can walk to work would get my vote.

Knowing Germany as I do I understand how you feel about the house in the suburbs. Eh.

Good luck. I know this has been a frustrating experience.

Rev Dr Mom said...

And I just read what Liz posted...I totally agree.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Laughing about sleeping in the garret. Liz is *totally* right about that. Hmmmmm. Windows are Not Cheap to replace, but on the other hand that would cut the heating costs a lot. And I hear there's a pellet stove calling your name...

Suburbs, eh.

Our fingers are crossed that it all works out for you!!!!

Magpie said...

Tricky decision. Good luck.

liz said...

Replacing the windows will probably pay for itself within 5 years, and you could get solar panels put in to further reduce your bills.

Tom Bozzo said...

Tough call between #1 and #2. A nice thing about walking distance to work/school is that if you are in a position to ditch a car, that'll pay for a lot of mortgage.

A $6,000 gas bill is amazing. We spend ~$1,100/year with 6600+ Wisconsin heating degree days (~2,000 sf, 1930 house with a brick exterior but no insulation in the walls, 20-year-old forced air furnace + new tankless water heater). There may well be lower-hanging fruit than window replacement to deal with that -- thermostat setting, furnace/boiler, insulation?

Asbestos abatement is shockingly expensive, though how much of a negative that is depends on whether it's in a condition/location that you can ignore it.

Anyway, the market is such that it doesn't necessarily hurt to make a reasonable offer w/o excessive deference to the asking price.

What Now? said...

Ooh, tough decisions, but I'm glad you've got options. I have to say that, having now owned two houses: one that was okay but in a neighborhood we liked and one that we love (the new house!), I'm really big on a house that one loves. And the thought of walking to work makes me swoon. So I'd probably be tempted by the first two houses. And, depending on what the local Germany economy is like, I wouldn't necessarily take the asking price as an indicator of the actual price you could get it for; you may be able to go in with a much lower figure, especially since you already had the experience of having a sale fall through because the assessment value was lower than the asking price.

Good luck with this difficult decision!

elswhere said...

I am sending you lots and lots of good-deciding vibes, along with my own unsolicited (and not very original) advice to pay attention to what you love, even if it's expensive, as long as you don't think it will bankrupt you.

Before we made an offer on the house we want, RW and I looked at a few other places, including one townhouse that actually had more floor space and 3(!) bathrooms, and was so cheap we almost could have bought it outright. But aside from the water damage on the balcony that our agent pointed out, it just wasn't the house for us, and we both knew it. As a rental, for a year or two, maybe. But to buy and hold our family in for years and years and years...no. Not as long as we had a choice, which we're lucky enough to have.

[hmm...maybe it's time for me to start posting again, if I'm leaving long extended self-involved comments like this.]

lisa said...

hey s~ I so feel for you. I remember the long distance house hunting. The house I bought was the first offer I made, but they wouldn't touch what I was willing (or able)to pay. I put contracts on two other houses, backing out after inspection-then returned to the original house 2 months later-at which point she grudgingly accepted my price. And I still need windows and a furnace-but less urgent in this part of the country.
~lmc

chichimama said...

Good luck! A tough decision...

Songbird said...

I had asbestos abatement done here. It's like being in a sci-fi movie.
It was well worth doing!

Good luck to you!

Leighton said...

Oh, good luck! It is, as the others have said, a tough decision -- so you will all be in my thoughts.

timna said...

as one living in the suburbs -- try not to do it. the schools were the reason we did, and I don't regret that, but the driving, oh the driving. I'd rather replace windows and do asbetos abatement than live in the suburbs next time.