No, I'm not pregnant, I'll just get that out of the way right off the bat.
No, instead, it looks like it's time for a new house. We've been talking about it in the abstract for a year or two now but it looks like the day has come. I finally had an inspector come out to investigate the stains in our bathroom and just as I suspected, we have a black mold infestation and a leaky roof.
We live in a pre-1976 manufactured home on a great plot of land. The house was built a month before all of the new quality codes and regulations went into place so now we're having problem after problem. The land is worth about $100k so if we tried to sell this location with the house on it to someone, they would need to get a mortgage, but due to that 1976 cut off date, no lender would ever touch it so no one would be able to buy the two together.
We've been throwing money into this pit for a couple of years now, replacing this, upgrading that, and it's just getting to the point where we're trying to throw bandaids at a gaping wound. Every dollar we spend on this place is a dollar we'll never see again. The roof needs to be patched at the moment and fully replaced within 5 years. Despite all of the new flooring, there's still a hint of cat pee in the air that we simply can't get rid of without tearing out the entire bottom of the house and even then it might still be here. And who knows what else is going to disintegrate in the days ahead. We could put tens of thousands of dollars into patching this house (as we have been) or just cut our losses and start over.
So we're now shopping. We've been afraid of this moment for quite a while because money is tight every month as it is. But now that we're actually looking at prices and crunching numbers, we're realizing just how silly it's been to be afraid of this (we still are of course). While we have a lot more research to do, it looks like we can get a new mortgage for a brand new manufactured house that will be bigger, more bedrooms, be practically maintenance free to live in for about 10 years due to being brand new, and have it put on the land that we already own here.
Once we have a decent house here, we would have a multitude of life choices that we simply don't have now. We can live here forever if we choose, we can move and rent it out for a profit over the mortgage every month, we could sell it and have enough for a solid down payment on another house, whatever. But we would no longer be financially trapped (I hope) by a sinking ship.
I talked to my uncle at some length today because this is a world I know very little about and he's been dealing in a variety of types of real estate for decades, including having some knowledge of manufactured homes. After talking through the situation and some numbers, he says that this is probably our best option. It feels really good to have someone far more knowledgeable tell me that he would reach the same conclusions about the best way to move forward as we have. He told me that the price of new manufactured homes doesn't really change according to the real estate market. Right now, we're at the top of a bubble meaning house prices are at their highest price, but mortgage rates are at the lowest point. But a $100k house from a manufacturer is going to cost that same $100k when the market flips back over, but the interest rates would be higher so it's best to buy it now while we can get the loan at record low rates. Part of the fear of this whole thing is that we're making this decision rather fast and that makes us feel like it's a rash, foolish decision. But he confirms that it's actually a wise decision and fast doesn't mean foolish in this case.
The next few months are going to be terrifying and stressful while we do research and make final decisions. I don't know how we're going to come up with the money for a down payment (though we were given some from an inheritance on K's side of the family recently). We also have to figure out how to get the money for the removal of the building we already have here. My uncle says that there are people who would buy this and haul it away even with all of the problems, and while I doubt it, I'll take his word for it and see if I can find someone who will take it off our hands. If we can get someone to give us a bit of cash for the living expenses of being homeless for 2 months and take care of hauling this away (saving us the cost of doing that ourselves), we'll jump at the offer and clear our asses out of here right quick! Otherwise, I dunno, we might have to get really creative about fundraising some money really quick. Yes, I might actually be selling my house on Craigslist!
To get over the fear and anxiety that this all causing, I'm shopping and day dreaming. For our budget, it looks like we can get just about everything we would want. It turns out 3-4 bedrooms is actually doable, we might be able to get a bonus room that would allow me to do pottery in the house rather than in the shed in the backyard, the process of clearing the land might actually include gutting the rock garden in the front yard leaving us free to put down sod and have a beautiful yard for the girls. Hell, it would be worth it almost just for that! A landscaper quoted us about $5k-$7k just to take out the rocks so that was a dream we gave up on and now it might be taken care of as a side effect of this whole thing!
If we can actually swing this, I'm looking forward to it. I'd say about 75% of my life stress and financial struggles are due to this house that doesn't work and is falling apart. To have that wiped out in one fell swoop, ahhhhhh! Sweet relief. Knowing my kids won't be going to school with that faint smell of cat pee that permeates their home is such a load off my mind.
Now, what to do about the cats? One of the cats is in the process of dying. We aren't sure which cat has done the majority of the peeing, but we know that he's done a significant portion of it. We're hoping that once he's gone, the other male will no longer do it in response. We'll probably be putting the remaining male on prozac as the vet says that sometimes stops this stress behavior. But if nothing else, we're probably going to investigate a second layer of flooring in the master bedroom, one with a layer in between that floor and the original floor that comes with the house. Then we'll keep him locked in there (he chooses to stay in the bedroom away from the kids already) and if he pees, sorry, but he's gone. We'll try him out in the new house without another male to compete with, but if he continues the behavior, he can't live in my new house. Then we would pull up the floor he peed on and have an undamaged floor underneath. Before anyone gets on my case about being mean about the cat, please remember that we've put up with this for 10 years and that we are basically losing our house because we chose to keep the cat despite this problem. I'm done. We'll find a humane way to rehome him, maybe make him an outside cat or find someone who will tolerate the urine, but I will not have another house destroyed by a pet with bad behavior.
So, anyone in the Pacific Northwest want an old house or a peeing cat? We're practically giving them away!