long time coming
March 12, 2010

Well friends, I am officially under contract.

If all goes well I move into my pug farm in 45 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pics to follow when I actually have the keys. :) :) :) :)

Meanwhile, I'll give you this little snapshot for now... my 2-stall horse barn and paddock. Giddy up!

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Posted by Lori in House Hunters , Lori , home sweet home at 5:07 PM permalink Comments (10)
I liked the donkey
January 25, 2010

My Realtor took me to see a ton of houses this weekend. I'm starting to get discouraged that I'm not finding anything in my price range I actually like or could see myself living in.

One of the houses was so bad there was literally only one thing that I liked about it - the neighbor's Donkey.
He was extremely cute, just hanging out in the front yard grazing.
donkey.jpg

My first thought was at least I wouldn't have to mow the lawn with him around.

Posted by Lori in House Hunters , Mobile Uploads at 9:04 PM permalink Comments (3)
FHA, CHFA, HDA, USDA.... what did you say?
January 5, 2010

I want a 30 year fixed mortgage w/ zero points and the lowest possible interest rate
I want the seller to pay for all of the closing costs
I don't want to have to pay PMI, upfront or monthly
I don't want to empty my entire savings account on a down payment (which is still nowhere near 20%)
And I don't want any hidden fees sneaking up on me at the time of closing.
Is that too much to ask?

[I also want my real estate agent to find me a short sale or foreclosure w/ 4 bedrooms, 2 level acres, an updated kitchen and a jacuzzi tub...but that's another story entitled "Veruca Salt, I want the world....I want the whole world!].

Loan shopping. It's on.

And I am learning quickly that it takes 5 conversations with 4 different lenders just to cut through a quarter of their B.S.

calc2.jpgMy strategy is to drain each of them individually, extracting as much information as possible and then use it against the next one when he contradicts or neglects to disclose something the other one told me. After a while, I figure I should be able to get down to the best possible deals for ME, not for them.

For instance - Lender B. will tell you the best he can do is offer 5 1/8% with points and 5 3/8% with no points -- and that was the lowest I would find anywhere.

Meanwhile Lender A. had already offered me 5 1/8% with NO points just 45 minutes earlier.

And p.s. in doing so Lender B just tipped his hat to show me how he and his "third party partners" make their commission off of me.

Shysters.

Then lender C tells you "they" (whoever this mysterious "they" are) passed new state guidelines that sellers can only pay up to 2% in closing costs and there is no way around that.

And an hour later Lender D calls and informs me of a program for 1st time buyers where the seller has "unlimited concessions to negotiate".

Takes about another two hours to expose the pros and cons of 3% down, 5% down, no % down, 80/20 financing, 100% financing, 95% financing , hidden recapture clauses, lender fees, and origination points (different from discount points) that they didn't mention the first go round.

It actually takes a lot more than this to make my head spin. I love this game. Even though they are behaving like vultures. I guess I don't blame them at all as they are probably not closing too many loans these days.

Of all the loans I've heard about thus far it looks like a conventional mortgage will work out best. UNLESS I can qualify for a USDA Rural Housing loan which is a new govt loan program that president Obama implemented as part of the recovery act for rural areas.
It basically guarantees 100% financing to first time home buyer direct w/ the government. Down payment is NOT required, there is no PMI, no points, sellers are free to pay closing costs as part of the negotiations and interest rates are in the low 5's.

The only caveat here is that it looks like my income may be too high to qualify....However - there is a chance that I may get lucky because of the fact that I was unemployed for the majority of 2009 and half of 2008 because this is the time period that they look at your adjustable gross income to determine eligibility.

It is quite possible then, that it could actually work out in my favor financially that I was laid off and did not collect a paycheck for an entire year. Imagine?

Got to love it when things come full circle, and when the reason for the things you couldn't understand before, suddenly becomes clear.

I would love to hear any other homebuying stories about what else to look out for.

Posted by Lori in House Hunters at 8:56 PM permalink Comments (4)
Ooooohhh.....I just found my dream home!
December 17, 2009

It's a FSBO too and the sellers say willing to negotiate and "bring all offers". Too bad it's a couple hundred thousand out of my price range!

It seriously has everything I have ever or could ever want in a house, in fact I don't think I would ever leave. ever. And its just 4 miles from my current house in perfect commutable distance to work, family, friends, nephew, god children, etc.

I have been obsessed with Victorian's ever since I saw that movie Practical Magic and I've had visions of my dream house being just like that, which this one is - only more contemporary.

I swear if I had a pair of nuts I would sell my left one to live there. Since I don't I guess my only other options are:

1. Get a 2nd full time job
2. Hit the Lotto
3. Find a sugar daddy to pay half my mortgage.

dreamhouse1.jpg

dreamhouse2.jpg

dreamhouse3.jpg

dreamhouse4.jpg

So far the hardest part of my house hunting has not been waiting to find my dream home - it's been finding it and realizing I can't afford to buy then having to realign my expectations. I have never been good at realigning my expectations.

Damn!

Must not fall in love with houses I can't afford. Must not fall in love with houses I can't afford. Must not fall in love with houses I can't afford.

Posted by Lori in House Hunters at 7:27 AM permalink Comments (4)
It's always something...why can't it ever be nothing?
December 1, 2009

Let's say one Sunday after perusing countless discouraging houses on the market that looked and sounded waaayyy better online than they actually do in person - you found a house that for a first time home buyer is completely solid, tight, I'll even go so far as to say pretty darn close to being your dream house keeping in mind you never get everything you want with a first home purchase but knowing you can come about 85% close at move in time with no additional alterations needed, aka not quite a "pug farm" per say but definitely a mini pug ranch with a brand new designer kitchen, granite counters, island, custom cabinets, tiles, stainless steel appliances where you could totally see yourself making massive amounts of dog food and slump on the weekends - Everything is exactly as you would have designed it yourself; the colors of the paint and trim, recess lighting, tiles, fixtures, wainscoting, hardwood floors throughout, 2.5 acres of private land, in your target location, heated in ground pool with cabana 4 bdrm 2 full baths, perennial gardens, office, 2 fireplaces (one in living room one in dining room) 3 car garage, screened in porch, and everything meticulously maintained within your price range PLUS you know if you buy before April 2010 Obama is going to give you an $8,000 tax credit - and you are just a pug hair's blow away from making all of your dreams come true with the added satisfaction of knowing you are doing it all by yourself without the help of anyone else and it will be all yours... hell you could even grow Plum trees there.

Phew...that was a mouthful. Even for me.

So you're doing the walk through and waiting for the agent to drop some kind of bomb because you know it's all too good to be true (as most things in life are) and being the practical realist Capricorn that you are you keep telling yourself there has to be a reason this gem has been on the market for 200+ days. It can't just be the economy because while the market has slowed down, houses are still selling.

Then upon entering the basement you notice in the corner a huge thick black plastic sheeting mysteriously covering the entire section of that side of the floor going up the side of the wall and out about 20 feet air tight sealed so nothing can get in or out...."What is under there?" you ask the agent pensively imagining a stack of skeletons, mummified bodies or something ghoulish from Creature Features, "Earth, boulders?", she says as if she's not even sure. Ok so they built a house over raw Earth and a ledge it appears? I could deal with that as long as there are no bodies under there. Remember Poltergeist?

By now you probably figured out the "you" in this story is actually me, so I can write in the first person...

I didn't get a clear answer b/c the seller wasn't home, though I suspected the agent knew and didn't want to say. That's when I walked around the outside and noticed a PVC pipe ( I took IA in school, not Home Ec. plus I have two brothers) on the backside of the house with a fan or motor running, blowing something up into the air.

Radon

To clarify radon is a natural gas that exists just about everywhere: in schools, millions of homes, most people just don't know b/c its invisible and unless you are going through a real estate transaction there is nary a thought to test for it. Radon as I understand it in simple terms is a gas that emanates from high uranium concentrations in the ground. It is a known carcinogen that scientists say is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking) to people exposed to high levels and breathing it in over long term periods (year after year) citing it about the equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a day.

So in this case the radon tested above the EPA's "acceptable" range and the sellers took some aggressive steps to "fix it". They have already installed a complete radon mitigation system with piping that runs from the basement ground, sucks out the gas (presumably from under that big black sealed tarp) up through the pipe with a fan and blows it all outside, above roof level keeping the house probably at a lower pCi/L than most untested homes that are without mitigation systems. In a way perhaps making it safer to live there than in a home that has not been tested or had a system installed.

Then there is the added knowledge that the sellers would be more apt to accept less of an offer just based on the potential negative resale value (radon is scary) combined with the fact that the buyer could never finish the basement off due to the abatement system.

So long story short, here's the question:

If everything else is near perfect and Radon was your only concern in purchasing a home, knowing there is already an effective fix in place keeping the levels in check - would you still feel safe having yourself, your children, and your pugs live there knowing your home is sitting on radioactive land?

Opinions please. Anyone with or without radon experience, please chime in.

Posted by Lori in House Hunters at 12:48 AM permalink Comments (4)
To Buy or Not to Buy
April 23, 2006

It was a rainy dark ugly weekend here and I didn't do much but lull around, clean, pay bills, and attempt to organize my financial position so I can get on with moving. I'm now all caught up on bills, not a lick of credit card debt, holiday bills are all paid off, and I'm cutting back on all frivolties, scrimping and saving where I can. I'd like to be in a new place by the end of the year.

Sunday I went to do a Home Visit for the pug rescue. That's where I go to people's homes, check out their digs and interview them about adopting a pug. I test them on their pug knowledge, experience with owning a dog, and I basically find out if they are "Pug Worthy". You'd be surprised, a lot of people are not.

After the HV, I met with the realtor who showed me this country colonial I saw on the real estate website. It was an older house with some modern updates and the pictures made it look really nice. I'm a fan of old houses because they have character. For the record, I'm really a fan of newer houses too but cant afford any of the ones I like. This one actually had some acreage and privacy which are two of the things I'm looking for.

kitchensm.jpg

bathroomsm.jpg

But when I pulled up in the driveway I quickly realized the pictures had only focused on the couple good things there were about the house. The first thing I noticed was paint peeling off the exterior. Inside the kitchen, dining room and 3 bathrooms were cute but there were uneven floor boards and not nearly enough cupboard or closet space. But the real scary stuff was down in the basement. On the wood beams, I noticed evidence of termite damage and there was a big open hole in the floor that was filled with water and a big old Sub Pump running with hoses and electrical cords attached and strewn about. There was even water leaking through the foundation on the wall -- and the guy couldn't tell me how old the furnace was. Scary shit. It reminded me of the Amityville horror scene in the basement with the devil face in the hole behind the cement....kinda gave me the willies..

subpumpsm.jpg

Ugh! It was so bad that even the Realtor said to me "You don't want to buy this house". Now you KNOW it must be bad if the guy whose making his living on your commission is advising you not to buy! Damn, and it looked so clean and quaint in the pictures too.

I guess this is how you learn what to look for, what to ask on the phone before wasting your time going to look at it. But I'm already discouraged about what exactly is out there in my price range. It's also scary thinking about buying a house when you're single which as we all know, I AM. What happens if I lose my job or get sick or something, there is nobody else to fall on while I get back on my feet. Maybe it wouldn't happen but I'm big on the what if's when I plan things. I like to have all my bases covered and in this situation, they wouldn't be covered. So yea, renting is throwing money away but on the other hand, if I was renting and something happened, the most I would lose is a security deposit. Far less of a risk and damage than foreclosure.

I'm getting different advice from different people too, making me even more confused. Some say now is a good time to buy while others say wait another year and the price of houses will go down and you'll get more for your money. Still others when they hear that argument agree and say true but when the prices go down the interest rates will go back up and you'll end up with the same mortgage payment anyway...

Hmmmm, I just don't know what to do. Renting is immediate gratification and so much less of a committment. Once I find the right place, I could be in it in 30 days. If it doesn't work out, I just pack up and move back to where I am now. Buying is the better way to go no doubt, but I'm not sure if it's the best way for me to go right now.

Next.

Posted by Lori in House Hunters at 6:40 PM permalink
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