We decided to cancel the third realtor's appointment since we liked #2 so much. He came in and spent 45 minutes looking at the house and discussing our plans. He also brought a fairly detailed market analysis. And, he spelled Shayne's name correctly. Major bonus points.
The jist of the conversation is that we can't sell for much more than we owe. We can put money into the house, but we probably won't get a great return on it. Housing prices in our area aren't too depressed from the real estate bubble fallout, but we do have high-ish unemployment, and it's definitely a buyer's market. Bottom line is that he advised not to put more than $5K into the house, unless we're doing it to make our lives here more enjoyable.
While that's not what I was hoping to hear, it also wasn't the worst news we could have gotten. Thankfully, we aren't underwater, but after realtor fees and closing costs, we'd be lucky to clear what we owe. After another year of payments (plus the extra principal we pay), we'll be in a bit better shape. And since that's what we were tentatively planning anyways... I guess it works out.
My only real concern is that I've read in a few places that the market is going to take another dip in 2011. But since there's nothing at all I can do about that, we'll just have to wait and see what happens. At worst, we'll continue living here another few years. While that's not what we want, it's obviously no worse off than we are now!
We are continuing with our plans to buy a chunk of property. After examining the numbers and a probable selling price, I've found that we can swing it while still making our current house payment. I plan on saving the amount we'd be spending on our land payment for the next year. This will serve two purposes: 1) we'll make sure that we can make the payment in reality, not just on paper, and 2) it will help us save an even larger down payment. And extra money in the bank never hurt anyone.
The rest of the plan is to buy the land next spring, fix up the pole barn that is already there, and store any salvaged items (windows, cabinets, flooring, etc) until we are ready to build. We may be able to rent out the land to the current owner, or we can start planting pasture forage on the south part and a wildflower meadow to the west. I want to give the land a chance to heal from all the not-so-natural fertilizers and such that the previous farmers have used for who-knows-how long. Once we get settled out there I'd like to raise grass-fed beef, maybe Dexters or Galloways. And chickens, of course. :)
But for now, we're just going to keep on keepin-on. We'll finish the two bedroom closets, get rid of the paneling in the dining room, and remodel the bathroom. Hurry up, spring! I want to get started!