Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The House

I was sitting in our house in Austin looking at properties for sale in Portland in August of 2009 when I came across the house:

We both got really excited and e-mailed our realtor asking him to go check it out for us. Before even hearing back from him, there were several reasons that this place seemed like a perfect fit:
  • 8,500 square foot lot with R5a zoning. Big, private back yard and zoned for an accessory dwelling if we wanted to build a small rental unit on the property. 
  • Solar orientation. The majority of the roof is south facing, giving adequate room for an array of photovoltaic (electric) and solar thermal (hot water) panels. Also, the roof overhangs looked perfectly designed to shade the south facing windows in the summer and allow the sun to heat the house in the winter. 
  • It was priced at $117,000. Our goal was to keep the purchase and remodel under $200,000. 
  • We could tell from the pictures that it was in need of some major work. It kind of defeats the purpose of sustainable building to tear apart a perfectly good house. 
  • It's walking distance to the Max Green Line, Portland's newest light rail transit line. 
Our realtor reported back to us about it and we decided to put in an offer. He determined that we would need to offer about $5,000 more than the listing price to secure the house. We did and the listing agent thought we were going to get it. Since it was bank owned at the time, the bank decided to accept a cash offer, even though it was less than ours. 

A few weeks later, the listing agent called ours and asked if we would like to resubmit our offer. The previous deal had fallen through and the bank was ready to accept ours. We resubmitted and waited to hear back. The listing agent said that she was waiting to hear from the bank and had no way to speed up their decision. 

We already had a trip planned to Portland at the end of August. We were hoping to have closed on the house by that time, but by then we were just hoping to hear back that we could buy it. When we got to Portland, we decided to drive by and see the place. It was covered in Auction signs. The bank had decided to take it to public auction without even telling the listing agent. 

On September 13th, we logged on to the auction site. There was a live auction taking place as well, but we were able to listen to it and place bids through the web site. The plugin for the site was very archaic and only made for PC so I had to run it through a Windows virtual machine on my Mac. This didn't help matters. We watched some other properties go as we tested the system out. It was barely working, but this was our last shot. When the house finally came up for auction, we watched it go up for a while before we started bidding. It was really stressful trying to time submitting a bit before the auctioneer ends it while keeping in mind the delay of bidding online. 

We finally put our last bid in at $131,250 and decided to stop. This was already a few thousand higher than we had decided to go and almost ten thousand higher than the bank had been willing to sell the house for a few weeks earlier. The page refreshed as we heard the auctioneer close it out and it said we had been outbid and that the property was sold to someone else. As auctions tend to get emotional, this was a huge let down, but it was the third time we didn't get the place so we were sort of used to it by then. 

All of the sudden, the page refreshed again and it said that we had won the auction. I'm not sure what happened, but the other bid disappeared and that was that. 


  1. Ya it sure is! Almost done with demo, but I'm so far behind on this blog that I probably won't have pictures up for a few days.

    Do we know each other? I see you're friends with Willy.