My future-home research had a deadline, and that was, of course, the date of the online auction. I looked at houses up until the last minute. I organized and reorganized my notes several times, took my dad on a whirlwind tour of my favorites, and eventually narrowed it down to my top 3, with a back-up-plan, plus a back-up back-up-plan. One tricky thing about the auction was that the bidding didn't start and end at the same time for each house. I really had to make some tough decisions on which houses to actively pursue.
Over the course of the auction, my laptop stayed by my side. I bid conservatively, and watched as, one by one, my top picks went over and beyond what I was willing to pay (considering that I had a pretty good idea from my B & E days how much money would need to be invested to make these homes liveable). I was pretty upset when I realized that my top choices had fallen into the hands of what I still assume were out-of-state prospectors (the winners' user names were shown, and many of the houses in prime locations were purchased in bulk by the same user names, over and over). I'm guessing that all the hopeful neighbors to these vacant houses are disappointed as well. I check on them regularly out of curiosity, and there has been absolutely no sign of changes/improvements to my original top three. There they sit, continuing to rot away. It's so so sad.
Here's just a snippet of the many photos I took to help me keep track of what was what:
So after being terribly outbid on the other 3 houses, I was left to bid on my back-up and back-up back-up-plan. The thing about the back-up-plan was that I had never been inside. I hadn't even gotten a good peek through the windows because I discovered it late in the game (like the day before the auction) and when I went to see it, it was already dusk and visibility into the dark house was pretty bad. What I did do was walk the neighborhood. This was one of the neighborhoods that I mentioned where people came by and asked what I was up to. My daughter and I walked several blocks with an elderly woman and her son who were taking advantage of the decent weather. They pointed out this family home and that family home and seemed to know the story of just about every home/family on the street. I paused to talk to a few other people that we encountered, and also was given a bit of information about the house-in-question by another passerby. I definitely got a good vibe from the neighborhood, but not being able to see the inside of the house I was considering bidding on was, well, crazy.
My dad and I had been in the other house that I contemplated bidding on, and it was a good one. It was huge, custom-built, with some super cool features, like the original bar set-up in the basement (brass foot rests and all). But it had sustained a lot of water damage over the years, the water was actually still dripping throughout the house even though it hadn't rained in days. I loved it, but because of the size, the labor/money to rehab it would have been at least double the other house, assuming it was in comparable shape. Then the kicker was the property taxes. They were much higher than that of my back-up-plan house because of the neighborhood in which it stood. So that's why the back-up was the back-up and the back-up back-up was...well, you know.
My opening bid stood for awhile, then towards the end of the bidding time period it met an opponent. I actually placed a couple halfhearted bids on the other house, just to see if there was any action there (there was), then I focused back on my new top choice. Eventually my opponent held off his bidding (turns out after he stopped raising up my purchase price, he bid on and won a house across the street from mine!) and I got my back-up-plan house. And so began the next phase of this adventure...