Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Homebuying Mania!!

Check out tonight's delicious side dish, a la Paul and Slashfood.

As expected, tonight's house is a definite "no." In general it was in quite good condition on the inside, and it was VERY charming. Gorgeous wood floors and trim in excellent condition, very vintage and beautiful, LOTS of character. One less serious setback was the bathroom: Only one in the whole house, VERY tiny, on the second floor: one teensy sink, the claw-foot tub as promised, and a small toilet, with no counters or other storage space in the tiny room. Also no shower! It wouldn't have been hard to install a hose, shower head, and curtain so that we could shower, but it would have been harder and more expensive to make the bathroom usable for the long term.

But the deal breaker was the brick chimney that came up from the furnace in the basement inside the wall and up through both floors: it was severely structurally damaged. Because of the structural damage, the lining was of course beyond cracked, showing severe water damage on all the walls around it on both floors. Paul, who knows something about chimneys from work, says it would have cost AT LEAST $30,000 to fix, and possibly as much as double that.

I'm kind of relieved that this decision was made for us - it would have been amazing to own a house like that in the long run, but even without the chimney it would have been a really big job for us to take on. So here's where we stand:

this house that we saw yesterday is the first one officially on the short list. The inside was really great, with a lot of new stuff, wood floors throughout, great size, and a SUPER basement - not finished, but with a laundry room, chest freezer, big double basin sink by the washer/dryer, a separate room for the furnace and hot water heater, water softener, a walk-in closet with built-in shelves, a full bathroom with stand-up shower, and the crowning feature of the basement: A BIG and very clean room with built-in hefty wooden tables that will make about the most wonderful man cave Paul could ever hope for. The entire basement was very clean, impressively so. The little shed at the back of the carport was also impressively clean. The kitchen definitely needs some updating, but nothing we won't enjoy doing ourselves - first and foremost installing a gas range. And there's room for us to make it to our second kid without being too cramped.

Our plan is to get pre-approved for a mortgage ASAP (hopefully next week) so we have a clear picture of what we can afford and what our monthly payments are going to look like. Then we plan to see two more houses: this one and this one.

And then, assuming the mortgage pre-approval goes smoothly and we can afford what we think we can afford, I think we'll make an offer on one. Only the second of the two new ones above is currently occupied, so with that possible exception we could be moving into our first home easily within the next 90 days, and possibly in less than 60!!

Depending on the timing and if we can afford it, we hope to have a full month of overlap living in our apartment so that we can really plan out the move, get the house ready and do some painting, and just be really organized about the whole thing.

So let me know what you think about the three we're currently focused on! I'm sure I'll be posting more as soon as I know it, and once we've visited the other two. I'm particularly excited about the fireplaces in both of the others, which is one thing the house on Marble Street doesn't have.

Here are the three short-listed houses mapped:

View Larger Map

This post is getting long, but I have one more thing to share:

Paul and I were just planning to start slowly right now, and take a few more months before we really got into it more deeply. I thought that, as usual, I would be the one getting super excited and wanting to get ahead of ourselves, and Paul is much more reserved and acts as the voice of reason. It works out well. But this time around, Paul has jumped in just as enthusiastically as I have, and so he's not being reserved at all! So we're both just extremely excited, chomping at the bit, and eager to buy our first home. So instead of a slow start to a multi-month process, we've snowballed into a full-blown, full-scale house hunt that we hope to culminate in less than 90 days. It's a little crazy, but I don't think it's the wrong move. It is an amazing time to buy, and we can have the whole summer to make our house into a home. I'm so hopeful that we'll be able to start our garden with a big fall planting, and be settled in enough to have a big housewarming party while the weather is still nice enough to be outside. We already have many family and friends who will help us prepare, and I can't wait to get started.

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