by Mandi Tyson

Good day (said like Paul Harvey), this is some more of the story! We found a house! It is a fixer upper in many ways. This house has a very sad story, but we are going to make it happy again. The owners of the house now are really wonderful people and they are working with us on all aspects and have agreed to pay for some of the renovations that we cannot do ourselves (like this poor house does not have walls). It had to be gutted to rid the damage done to it. But its bones are so very strong. I felt home when I walked into it, even with it being a wildlife haven and being vacant for a long time.

The first step is finding a contractor for the walls and ceilings. I had a contractor out on Saturday, and will be accepting more bids this week. This is actually an amazing opportunity, because Lee agreed to walk me through the Project Manager role for this house on the side, so that I can learn more about the process and can help more here and take on more responsibilities. So we get a house and I get to pick Lee’s brain about, “Okay, so what’s next? What does that mean? Why is it done that way?”

How Are We Paying for This?

The sellers have agreed to add the cost of the walls and ceilings to the mortgage, so we will be paying, but not right now. The contractor finding and all of that is up to me. That is good for me! Like I said above, I can learn how I would project manage a house for the Hermits! Once all of the bids are in, and the contractor is decided, we add this on to the asking price of the house. We will do the painting and the flooring and pay for those things ourselves right now. Then we will bring in cabinets and countertops to install, and that is also our cost. Once that is in, we will have plumbing fixtures and light fixtures done which the seller will add to the mortgage and last thing before we move in will be a dog pen built and added to the mortgage, so that our fur babies have plenty of room to run and don’t have to be cooped up.

How in the world did we get here? How did we find someone who would work with us on the down payment and that sort of thing? Well, you have to ask the question. You have to be completely honest with them and tell them your situation. You have to say, “This is what we can pay every month.” Then you need to look at whether that includes taxes and insurance. If they will not be adding those costs into the mortgage, then you need to make sure what you can do above the mortgage payment. Some people will not agree to a plan like this, but some people absolutely will. In a plan like this, you have to be willing to compromise and take on some of the work and expense yourself. You cannot expect the seller to take on everything if you do not have a down payment and at least some closing costs ready to go right now. If they are trying to help you, think about what you can do yourself and do it yourself.

Insure Your Prized Possession

Don’t forget insurance! Find an agent who  will take the time to talk to you and explain different policies and how they work, what they will cover, and what the cost is. I am using the agent and insurance that Lee uses, because she is incredibly knowledgeable about what I need for this property right now in the building stage. Insurance will not begin immediately. Always get something in writing about what is going on and what you are paying for and why. Make sure that once these renovations are complete, you don’t have the house sold out from under you and end up losing your money! My situation is unique and will be revealed in a later blog, but I am telling you, get everything IN WRITING! Do not take for granted that they will honor anything that they did not sign. Legally, they do not have to if it isn’t in writing.

How Can You Do This?

Here’s an idea for finding a fixer upper and approaching the owner about selling it to you with them doing the financing. Take a drive. Look for empty houses that are not leaning over, and look for the big picture. Use your imagination of what it could be. DO NOT TRESPASS to look at the house; just view it from the road.

Try as best you can to get an address, or close to one.  People in most  Sometimes not, but if it has a house number anywhere, there is half the battle, and you can find the road you’re on by just looking at the signs. smaller communities, like the one we live in now, will know who owns it, and a general address. If  you can’t figure out an address, you could stop at a neighboring house with your best smile on and gratitude already in place and ask if they know anything about the property.

The next step is looking up the property by county. Type in the search engine the words, “(Your county)cad” This should pull you to a website to search by owner or address. Once you find the property there, you will be able to find the owner. Send them a letter with your request. The worst thing that will happen is they throw your letter away.


This seems like a lot of leg work and hunting. It is. It really, really is. The property that I found was not the first one I looked at, but it was the one that I can see my kids, dogs, horse, and donkey running around on. It was easy to find the owners, because I happened to know who they were. I looked at properties that I had no idea who they belonged to and was gearing up to write letters until I found this house.

So who are the owners who are being so gracious to us? Which house is this? Well… stay tuned!