This is the story of how fast you can find yourself buying a home


Finally getting started today, after planning, thinking, and talking about buying a house for a couple years now.  Wish I could have bought then, when there were more houses available and of course they were cheaper.  Read an article in the paper the other day about how this is the best sellers market in Portland, ever.  Could I pick a worse time to buy a house?  Oh well, still better than renting. Met with my realtor, Slade, to talk about what I’m looking for, what area, and what price range.  I’m pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel at $140,000 or so.  I told him to focus on North Portland.  I’ve been figuring I’ll find a place in St Johns, which everyone has been saying is “up and coming”.  But he seemed to think that it’s already out of my price range.  Great.  Guess it up and came already.  We’ll see.


Today I met with my mortgage broker, Scott from Stevens Mortgage.  As I expected, no problems there.  In fact my FICO scores were even higher than I had anticipated.  He said “maybe you could teach some of my other clients…”  After getting my information and asking me some questions, he decided that the best option for me would be a 5/1 ARM primary mortgage and a secondary mortgage of $25,000.  Putting 5% down instead of 3% seemed to be important to get in a better class of loans.  I only have $10,000 to cover downpayment and closing costs, so he said I might have to ask the seller to pay some of my closing costs.  Assuming that, I should be able to afford about $160,000.


Spent a few hours today looking at houses with my friend Nate.  Slade had sent me a few listings, and then I printed out a couple more I found on the RMLS website.

One house we checked out was quite promising, until we looked at the back of the flier, and realized they had subdivided the lot, so that instead of having a nice house in the middle of a big corner lot, now you were going to have a house squeezed between two new two-story shotgun houses.

As if that wasn’t enough, as we looked in the basement windows, I saw there was a kitchen in the basement.  Um… is that the only kitchen?

But that was nothing compared to one of the houses I’d found on RMLS.  I’ve never seen so much trash and junk in a yard.  The house was terribly neglected, and I couldn’t begin to imagine how much work it would need.

In this price range, I’ve been expecting to buy a fairly involved fixer, but this was beyond me.  We talked to a neighbor across the street, who described the former residents as “really weird”.

Another house wasn’t too bad, but a little small (no basement, tiny garage), and further out in Northeast Portland than I really wanted to be.

One of the other houses was already sold, one was an ugly ranch I wouldn’t consider, and we didn’t even go out to the one at about NE 122nd.


Met Slade this afternoon at the house with the basement kitchen.  When I told him about that on the phone, he said “are you sure?”  When I got to the house he had an incredulous look on his face.  I said “You thought I was kidding didn’t you?”  Who completely remodels a house, and puts the kitchen in the basement?  That and the subdivided lots really ruined the house.  And they still wanted $150,000 for it.

We moved on to a house I hadn’t seen before.  All things considered, this immediately looked like my best option for $160,000 or less.  It’s a 1923 “bungalow”, recently remodeled, with a full finished basement and a detached two-car garage.  There’s only one real bedroom, on the main floor.  What could be called bedrooms in the basement aren’t legal because of egress requirements.  However, we talked about chopping out an egress window in one or two of the basement spaces, so I could add another bedroom or two before I sold it.  Anyway, the house looked deceptively small from the street, but there’s actually quite a lot of space.  The main downside, besides only being one legal bedroom, is that there are apartments around it.  However, the street seemed pretty quiet, so it might not be too bad.

After that we stopped by another junker that Nate and I had seen, but it looked even worse today, so we quickly moved on.  Probably $15,000 to $20,000 just to repair the roof.

We checked out a house around NE 16th and Ainsworth.  I don’t really like the cape cod style, the remodeling job was cheap (vinyl base molding?), and the floor in one of the bedrooms was obviously not level.  It had a detached garage, and the so-called basement was about 100 square feet, and accessible only by an exterior stair.  Slade had called the agent, and he already had one offer in on it.  I decided they could keep it.

We talked for a bit and agreed to write up an offer on the house we’d toured earlier.  So we went over to his office and did that.  Hopefully I’ll hear tomorrow if they’ve accepted my offer.


Heard from Slade during lunch today that they accepted my offer.  Actually, they counter offered, insisting that the inspection be completed within seven days rather than ten.  Well big deal.  Slade came by early in the afternoon to have me sign the counter offer and such.  He will call the inspection company he typically uses and schedule the inspection, hopefully for this Saturday.

So, that’s it: four days from first meeting the realtor to getting an offer accepted.  Now we’ll see how long it takes to close.