For the record, we are not househunting. And I don't recommend doing it (on the first pass, anyway) with kids. But I do read the Real Estate section of the Trib religiously and also keep an eye out for For Sale signs in my neighborhood. I prefer to look at most houses in an open-house situation, but if the price is good, I've been known to make an appointment with the listing agent to see such properties. This afternoon was one such occasion.
The house was 3 bedrooms, 1.1. baths, on a 37-foot lot in my neighborhood. The listing price is $425K, which is damn good for my neighborhood. The agent told me that the house was "distressed" when he called to confirm the appointment. Naturally, my first question for him when I arrived at the house was why a distressed house was listing for so high. He said that it was a court-ordered price, since the house is an estate sale and the estate is contested. So, basically, the heirs are trying to get as much as they can by selling the house for an inflated amount.
Grossly inflated, in my opinion. Although the agent said that my assessment of the property was too low. Which it probably is, as I am looking at the house to live in rather than to flip. But if I had money to burn to flip it, oh what a world that would be. The first floor living space was huge, with a great big living room and dining room, and a kitchen that, while totally 70s, would give me more usable counterspace than my current kitchen. Plus an eating area and a good-size front hall. All the stained glass windows, however, had been removed. The walls and ceilings, all plaster, were in terrible condition and would need to be gutted, and the floors were all covered by hideous carpetting, although they concealed hardwood floors. The 1/2 bath powder room had vinyl walls, and the upstairs bath, while big, needed all-new everything.
If I wasn't pregnant and didn't have 2 small children, and was a bit more adventurous, I'd be tempted. But the house needs at least $100K in improvements to bring it to the level of comfort of my current house, although with the lot size, it would probably be worth about $200K above mine in the end.
Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. I don't think we are going to find anything that isn't a complete pit for just slightly more than our current house is worth.