Things moved fast with this house. Ronny texted me one day with the picture below and asked what I thought about a house with a ‘tennis court” and a “pool” (once you see pics you will understand how hilarious that question really is…try a giant concrete slab and a pond). But for some reason we were both drawn to it immediately and wanted to give it a shot. 48 hours later we went to the auction. We had an hour to walk the property and make our decision. As the country entered lockdown that weekend, we bought a home here in Tennessee.
Not gonna lie, we were definitely freaked out about the deal as the market plunged the following week, and we almost backed out of the contract. But in the end we decided it would be better to not be homeless in these crazy times than to try and hold out for a more “stable” time to buy.
The allure of this home is largely where it is. It’s in an old neighborhood with mature trees, big lots, a short bike ride from an amazing park with trails, a super convenient location and top schools. What this old home doesn’t have a lot of is interior charm, solid bones, or function. This is not the home where you luckily find shiplap hiding behind walls and original built-ins. It was built in 1975 so it’s more like…textured ceilings, awful brown paint choices, layers of linoleum, closed floor plan and wood paneling.
Here’s the reality of the situation;
1. We are not into throwing more money at rent while we renovate so we extended our VRBO only a few more weeks and decided to move in just a couple weeks after closing, ready or not (…and it’s definitely not). Our pre move-in requirement was shifted to get it clean, safe and functional (and we decided to accept a passing score of 70%).
2. In a perfect world we would be doing way more of the actual work ourselves. But the reality is we are average on the handy/skilled spectrum. And while we are definitely up for some DIY learning curve projects, Ronny has a full time job and we have 3 little kids. I really would love to learn to lay tile but in the era of Covid times with small children hanging on me…ya let’s be real. So we will do what we can when we can but we are using professionals for sure, otherwise it would likely be years before we had functional bathrooms and, well, Ronny and I also would like to stay married.
3. We have a ton to learn but have already learned heaps. Ronny is really good at finding people who know more than him on any topic or question and then digs in till he learns what he’s after (he’s also talented at bartering and getting a good deal – yes, in case you didn’t know, he is Indian). I’m really good at shooting down what I don’t want till I find what I do want, and then getting completely fixated on it and finding a way to make someone bring it to fruition for me (yes I’m a treat to be around; Ronny is a champ). Our kids are really good at destroying things and making it impossible to get anything done while running you completely ragged, only to feel at 830pm when they are finally all passed out, as if you actually got nothing done all day (but they’re really cute so we have decided to keep them for the time being).
4. Because this was an auction house and because our purchase took place during the lockdown, we were really limited with getting contractors, builders and appraisers out to the house. We wanted to get going right away in order to get as much work done as possible before our move in date. Ronny wanted to go without a general contractor, and play the coordinating role ourselves. I thought we definitely needed one because we are so ignorant about this process and I didn’t want Ronny pulled away from his job too much. So I won, obviously, and we went with a contractor who was referred to us. Things started well but about 3 days in, there were some problems. First of all, the contractor wasn’t present at our house much at all as he was spread thin with other projects and communication with his team was more patchy and challenging than we would like. Second, we felt like we were definitely getting overcharged for some things and as we looked into alternative bids, realized we could absolutely get better deals if we were contracting out ourselves. So our first hurdle was that just several days into this project we broke up with our contractor. I mean, Ronny broke up with him obviously, and I’ll just quietly stress for the next few months about bumping into him at Home Depot or Floor & Decor.
Within hours, Ronny had a bunch of different guys out for bids on various projects and we got an electrician, AC/ducting, plumber, a flooring team, and a builder that we really like and who I feel I can communicate with well. Now I realize it appears like I was wrong and Ronny was right, but before we jump to that conclusion, this HAS pulled Ronny away from work more than we would have liked, and no we still don’t know what we are doing. But we have a good group of people working on the project at the moment and managing it all ourselves is definitely forcing us to learn this stuff head on.
We haven’t done anything to the exterior yet besides some basic cleaning, but spring is absolutely gorgeous here and our awesome neighbor mowed the lawn for us!
Thinking about buying a house from an auction? It’s a great way to get into that diamond in the rough. But here’s a few disclaimers for you:
- You buy as is – no formal inspections. It’s understood that you may have big problems and there are definitely gambles involved.
- You either buy it outright or you go through a hard money loan with high interest until you roll over into a conventional loan. A lot of investors go this route to close fast and move forward with a flip. If you like (and qualify) you can borrow more money based on your planned renovations raising the future appraisal value.
- You need to act fast. There’s different ways auctions can happen, but generally if you are buying “off market”, the deals pop up and you need to swoop fast before another investor does.
- You sign up to clean up their mess. They don’t have to leave it clean and empty! And hauling away junk isn’t cheap. But…if you’re lucky, you might find a few treasures in there!