Thursday, September 26, 2013

Just to be clear: Laterposts

I mentioned this here when I put it on blast that we have found, bought, and will be moving into our first home. Don't be confused by the "Laterpost" series I just blurbed--those are posts I wrote while we were searching because I felt it was important to document the step-by-step, and how we felt along the way.

I also wanted to capture a non-HGTV snapshot of what it feels like to buy a house if you're a real person who can't afford heated hardwoods, granite countertops, and a heated marble bathroom floor with golden shower tiles.

Hopefully you'll enjoy reading about our hunt to find The One, and I can't wait to get back on here with photos and chronicles of our moving process. I hope to post a farewell entry to our apartment where we went from engaged to married, as well as the whole getting-started process on the house.

Ironically, NONE of the houses mentioned here are the one we ended up with! Maybe I felt I had jinxed the others, or maybe life just took off at breakneck speed as we moved further and further along the process, but I didn't write at all about our soon-to-be-house. Riddle me that.

I'm trying to think of a name. We always refer to the apartment as Casa Riggi, but I want to NAME the house--you know, like Skyfall, or Shadow Pond, or Button Cottage. So I'm working on that. I have a frontrunner in mind, but not sure if it's juuuust right. It's like naming a car...I need to live with it for a while and see what personality it has.

And with that, until next time...

#laterpost 4. Daily Double

Written July 10, 2013.

We are seeing three more houses tonight. On paper, one of them could be our home. I hope we'll like it as much in person, and hope that we can see ourselves there in the same way we could see ourselves in the one we offered on. It has a lot of the same charm, and a lot of the same qualities/wish list items as the first one we fell in love with, though this one is a one-story rancher and the other was a 2-story Cape.

And so here we are again. On the threshold of extreme anxiety, probably some arguing, and a tense few days ahead. I'm hoping, though, that a few things will be more easily in our favor this time than last time. For one, this house is priced better, and allows much more wiggle room, so hopefully we can go in all gangbusters and be like, "We are the best! Give us your house!" And they'll be all, "Okay! Enjoy your new life!"

But we'll see. Thankfully, the listing has a lot of photos, so there shouldn't be too much mystery left for us to discover. And from what we can see, much of the work we don't want to deal with has already been done, and the things left that need to be "fixed" are more things to just add our own personality--change out ugly bathrooms/carpets/etc., but all of that is down the line. None of those aesthetic things will crimp our lifestyle aside from perhaps a groan of, "Ugh, good morning again, ugly bathroom tile." And that's totally something I can live with until...well, until I just can't anymore. haha

So stay tuned, as I hope to pop back on here later tonight after seeing said house to jot down our initial thoughts and if we like it enough to move forward. That update will get written right below this paragraph.

Part 2.

Okay, the house we really wanted to see wasn't ready--the sellers' kid was sick, so they had to cancel our appointment. What we did get to see was the messiest house to date, and a house with what can only be described as...carpet tub.

As you'll notice I've been mum about the actual details of most of the houses we've seen, and that's mainly because while they all had reasons we didn't want them, none were really noteworthy. Just the usual mixed bag of no AC/no dining room/needs way too much work. Last night's houses, however, deserve a little pause.

House 1 was still very much lived in. So much lived in, in fact, that the owners didn't leave when we showed up. They just hung out in the yard. Uhm...AWKWARD! I was like, "heehee, what a lovely home." ::shifty eyes:: It wasn't a horrible house once you looked beyond all of their personal items--dirty laundry and dishes included--that were strewn about as if no one, especially not a potential buyer, was coming to visit. In the end, the repairs that needed to be done were more than we were willing to take on, and we felt the house was priced rather above where it should have been. An exciting point, however, was that there were chickens in the backyard! The couple kept three chickens to have fresh eggs. I won't lie. It was quite charming. I kinda wanted to run over and snuggle them. Are chickens snuggly? I don't know. But I wanted to anyway.

House 2. What can I say? It started off with promise. Great curb appeal, nice backyard. There was an inground pool, which was fun to think about until you factored in the cost of keeping it clean and safe. Ka-ching! Inside was okay, too. It was plagued by ugly carpet, but had a workable layout, good space, and a nice closed-in porch off the back of the house. It didn't get weird until we went upstairs. I was first in line, with John behind me and our realtor at the back. I dead-stopped at the top of the stairs because the first thing you see is the bathroom. With a jacuzzi tub. And that jacuzzi tub had carpet all over it. I'm talking carpet on the front wall of the tub, and then all around the perimeter of the tub. You know, where you place wet things and over which you have to step to exit the tub. All I could think of was for how many years that had been going on. Oh, and the toilet was recessed into what was the original dormer, so it was legit a little throne room. This bathroom will forever be all I think of when I recall that house, and out house-hunting in general. Bonus of the house was it had the nicest basement we've seen to date--they had Pergo wood floors, a nice, sturdy, attractive set of stairs leading down there, and irony of ironies, the NICEST and most modern bathroom in the whole house! It was clearly added in this decade because the tile was neutral and tasteful, the fixtures were modern, and, oh yeh, there was no inexplicable carpet.

Sunday is an open house at the one we were most eager to see today, so fingers crossed that kiddo feels better.

With that, my friends, happy Friday. Tomorrow is a beach day, where we will unplug from the entire stressful world. It'll just be us, sand, and waves.

#laterpost 3. Back to the Drawing Board

Written on July 8, 2013.

Well, after some back and forth, the house is under contract. With someone else. We and the sellers could not meet in the middle. Not terribly surprising, as sellers never want to go down in price and buyers never want to go up.

John and I both feel enormously deflated, and a little pessimistic about the whole thing now that we've found, and lost, what really was a dream house. Attainable, and hit just about every item on our wish list. Now not only will everything else pale in comparison, but we're finding as the market tightens and interest rates creep up, our options are getting fewer and fewer.

I feel bitter. Like...we work hard, so why does it seem like everyone else can so easily get what they want? It has been an awful 3 weeks from finding the house (we saw it and offered after it had been on the market for about 7 days) til now. We've lost hours of sleep to stress, we've spent hours crunching numbers, I've spend days living in fear of waving goodbye to our savings. I guess I also feel kinda numb to the whole thing. The scared little girl wants to just stay where we are because while it's often very frustrating to live communally, it's also familiar and comparatively easy to moving into a home of our own where it's all on us.

I'm not sure what's next. For now we're soldiering on, but it's at the point where we've already looked at all the current listings about a hundred times over, and we're waiting on new stuff to pop up.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

#laterpost 2. Idling

Written July 2, 2013

Well, not entirely unexpected, but we have hit a stalemate with our offer. The sellers won't come down, and we can't go up. Friday was lots of back and forth and I don't think my heart stopped pounding all day.

It's been an absolutely tumultuous week. Right now, all the excitement is gone for me, and all I see ahead is a gaping black hole of stress. John and I are regrouping and going over numbers (again and again and again).

One thing that is extremely frustrating to someone like me is all the unknowns. No matter how well we plan, how much I highball estimates (and hope for much lower realities!), in the end, we just won't know what numbers we're actually playing with until it's pretty much too late. Sigh. Bills: huge variable. Taxes: way too damn flexible. They could be fine now, but what if we buy the house and they quintuple? Instead of focusing on the things we can control: energy efficiency, switching cable packages, scaling back where we can, I obsess over the unknowns I assume will swallow us whole.

Perhaps as the sellers get closer to finding a new house of their own, they'll be like, "Hm, that nice couple did make a solid offer. Maybe we should call them back." I will be blatantly honest: when we didn't move forward right away, my first thoughts were of relief: oh, good. We can keep going as we have been, which is obviously comfortable and works for us.

It's the simple fact that uncharted territory, especially territory so tricky and financial, has me scared shitless.

And so this is where we stand now. Again, when I put these posts on blast, we'll have either bought this house or moved on to search for others. But for now, we're dwelling in Limbo. Sigh.

#laterpost: 1. Starting the Hunt for a House

Written July 1, 2013.

So if you know me, you know that A) I'm not a patient person, and B) I'm not good at not having answers.

Those two traits, coupled with my extremely anxiety-ridden general state of being means that buying a house is probably one of the worst adventures to embark upon. But alas, here we are...traveling down that path.

John and I have spent years talking about owning a home, and dreaming about bar-be-queing in the backyard. I've fantasized about a kitchen more conducive to my baking addiction. We've hoped for storage well beyond the spaces into which we've been cramming our belongings for the better part of 5 years.

Whole 'nother ballgame, however, when you're staring into the abyss that is your financial life: somewhere down there, a monster is chained up, howling with laughter because it knows that when you fall in, the feast is afoot.

We started our house hunt kind of by accident at the end of May. We had been planning to start looking over the summer once Hell Week at work was over for me. Then our church advertised a first-time homebuyers' seminar, so we were like, "YAY! Information disbursed in a friendly non-committal atmosphere! People who are in the same boat as us! Just what we need!" So John called to RSVP, only to find out it had been cancelled because the realtor who would be hosting it was away or something. But John got to talking with another realtor at that firm, and we decided to meet with him to kinda talk about things. That meeting turned into the beginning of our house hunt. In fact, I think we saw some places that very weekend. It was all fun and new and exciting.

I should also add that we spent a lot of time--a LOT--on real estate websites learning about the process, obsessively using mortgage calculators, researching loan options, making budgets like were frigging accountants. Seriously. I would blink and see math and dollar signs. It was a relief to know we could actually afford a home that was not a hovel, and that many of the features that were important to us were feasible. Would there be compromises? Hell yes. The difference between us and 90% of the couples on HGTV? We are okay with compromise.

So here we are. About a month after beginning our journey, we have found The One. It was the first house we walked through where both of us realized, "This feels like home." It's cozy and charming and, I feel a little like Goldilocks, but just right. We submitted an offer last night, and now we are in the terrifying, knee-knocking phase of waiting for a response. Because I'm a pessimist, I expect them to return the offer with a photo of them flipping us off. Don't get me wrong--we made a strong offer that we feel is very attractive and confident. But I just assume that Murphy's Law is always against me, and that nothing will work in my favor. We are the only offer on the house currently, and we just hope this family wants to play ball with us.

So, that's all for now. Although, of course, when I finally post this, the process will be done and you'll be able to read in quick succession what happened next (lucky you). So this is really my way of documenting how I--we--feel at each stage along the way, much more for my own benefit and sanity than your reading pleasure, but thanks anyway for coming along.

And so...until I have more to report on, adieu.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Home, Sweet Home

Well, we've made it Facebook-official, so may as well put it on blast here, too.

A large part of the reason I've been MIA here is that we are now just a few weeks away from moving into our first home. Yes, friends, no more shared walls, no more fighting 6 other adults for 1 washing machine, a real yard to garden in, and a terrifying new financial commitment.

It was a months-long process to even get to the point where we found a home we liked enough to offer on, and when we finally found it, and didn't get it, we didn't know what to do. Quit altogether, save for another year, and then go back at it? Dust ourselves off and keep on keeping on? We obviously chose the latter, and found an even better fit the second time around.

What I'd like to do, too, is to post entries I wrote way back in July when we first started looking. I was saving them until we had found a place for purely superstitious reasons. Also, I wanted to curb questions I simply wouldn't have answers for. So the rest of this week, I'll throw up a "laterpost" (like a #latergram) so you can see how we ended up where we are now.

Our soon-to-be-home is 90% move-in ready, despite being 100+ years old. There are, of course, plenty of maintenance issues, most of which are on the outside.

And so Hubby and I are just beginning to pack, and are mentally steeling ourselves for the next few weeks and how they'll certainly be a challenge, but will be totally worth it.

I will have a kitchen big enough to comfortably cook in and even have people in there with me!
We will have a driveway all our own, and won't have to worry about not being able to find a spot!
Kitten will have so much new kitty TV to watch!
Storage. Oh my gosh the storage possibilities...
And I already mentioned the laundry excitement.

For a while, things were so stressful we were ready to give up and run away. But I think now we're back to a place where we're excited. We can think about paint colors. About where to put furniture. About what new furniture we'll need. About Ikea trips! And about spending our first cozy Christmas snuggled up in our very own home.

As for this blog itself...I'm undecided what to do with the title. We're quite heartbroken to leave Bordentown behind, but at the same time we love it so much that we definitely plan to keep the beat on the goings-on. So I'll see what inspires me, and even if I change the name of this here little blog, there's always something going on in downtown Bordentown we'll be happy to report on.

More details to come, but if I go AWOL again, you'll know why.

With love,

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Off the Wagon

You guys, I totally fell off the writing wagon, and I'm sorry. (I like to apologize like that. It lets me maintain the illusion that someone other than myself reads this thing.)

So freaking much has been going on, and I just haven't had the energy to create. Instead, I've been absorbing--reading lots of other blogs, magazines, books; listening to music. Well, okay, I've done the usual cooking, baking, and singing, so I suppose some creation has been going on. I've just also been so busy that I can't be bothered to turn on my computer much these days. I can get the quick glimpses I need on my phone, and that's often all I'm interested in.

I hope to have some news here soon about adventures in house-hunting.

Now that's it's September, I'm eager to dive into apples and pumpkins and warmer comfort foods. But I'm holding back for a bit longer. So Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks can chill for a second. There's just something that doesn't seem right about sipping a pumpkin latte or eating a slice of warm apple pie until there's a crisp chill in the air.

And so, my friends, stay tuned, as ever for more. I'll have lots of goodies for you soon.

Until then, happy September.