Here is an update on the house buying/selling situation.
I had the foundation of the Farmington Hills house inspected by a structural engineer and I calculated the cost of a full renovation. Based on this, I negotiated with the owner and we agreed on a price that was less than half the asking price back in June, and less than the city's "estimated land value" of the property. I signed the purchase agreement a week ago Friday.
I am selling my house to Dr. Matt for a price that a well-known local real estate dealer said I could sell my house for without much difficulty. If I took the time to sell my house on the open market, I might get more money, but part of this negotiation was that Sarah and I would remain in the house for a few months while I fix up the new one. This free rent compensates for the higher price that I might have gotten from another buyer. This took far less time than selling the house through a realtor, and if I were to get a very high offer, I would have to worry that buyer's bank wouldn't appraise my house for that amount because of the screwy way appraisals work in Detroit.
I'm not moving because of the obvious city problems (crime, poor city services, high insurance costs, the ubiquity of Flaming Hot Cheetos® bags). I haven't been mugged, but I've been the victim of some crime, including robbery. I didn't even bother complaining when my City of Detroit flag was stolen right off of my house. It's just something you take for granted.
Having fewer of those problems will be nice, but the real reasons I'm moving are:
• This house is too big. You already know the convoluted steps that led to me living in this house. And while I was single and renting rooms on Airbnb, a huge house with no yard made sense. But living with Sarah and the animals and no longer being on Airbnb, we've found that we have too much house and not enough yard. There are entire wasted rooms that we rarely or never even enter.
• I could be debt- and rent-free. I owe $30K on my current house. If I sell it and buy a cheaper house, using the leftover money to pay off that loan, I will have no debt. The $510/month loan payments will no longer have to be made. All I'd have to pay is utilities and taxes. Maybe I can finally go to Europe or have my teeth straightened.
• I'm bored? Kinda? I sort of just want a new house to fix up, and to mix everything around to keep things interesting.
So why move to Farmington Hills and not another house in Corktown or somewhere else in Detroit? I definitely wanted an old, handsome house in or near a walkable area, but the overwhelmingly most important factor in choosing a new place is:
• It's too goddamn noisy almost everywhere. ( LJ cut for rantingCollapse )
What I'm getting at is that I unquestionably have a very real need to live somewhere free from the sounds radios and human voices. There are many "handsome old houses in or near walkable areas", but usually they cost half a million dollars. As well they should! It's the ideal living condition--of course such rare, valuable homes would be priced accordingly.
My challenge was to find something within the price range of a wage-earning college dropout. One house I very strongly considered was 554 Notre Dame St. in Grosse Pointe. It was just one block from a little downtown that included a Trader Joe's and the nicest Kroger I have ever seen, but it was only 907 square feet, had some cosmetic updates that seemed like they were hiding something. And dollar-per-square-foot-wise, it was overpriced for its size.
The house I decided to buy (after having Sarah look at it and made sure she liked it too) was 24500 Orchard Lake Road, which I described in my last entry. (Regarding noise, I've had my eye on Farmington Hills ever since a coworker of mine moved there from Detroit and then complained that it was "too quiet".) I was able to get a good price on it because it needs a ton of work, it required a cash buyer since it would never pass a mortgage company's inspection, and the seller wanted a buyer who would fix up the house and not knock it down and cut down the trees to develop the land.
The house is somewhat isolated, and I do prefer to be surrounded by quiet, friendly neighbors--but this is the best situation I could make happen. We would love to have neighbors. Because ... well you just feel better, you know, having a neighbor.
Our new homestead is not walkable, but it is bikeable. Downtown Farmington is about 1.5 miles away. The nearest grocery store is only 0.3 miles away (my current house is 0.8 miles away from Honey Bee Market). There is a Whole Foods on the same road exactly 4 miles north, and a vegetarian Indian restaurant (Udipi) also on the road 2.6 miles north.
I will miss a lot of things about living in Corktown, most especially the history, the architecture, the good neighbors, and the convenience of living at the center of the metropolitan region. I will of course continue to help research Corktown's history, but as for Farmington, they've already got that covered. Once the house is fixed up, I might not know what to do with myself. Maybe I'll get back into music, or go back to school to get an education in a career I would actually find fulfilling.