Tuesday, October 6, 2009

House hunting

On Sunday, I wrote about how my house plans may be resorted to a plan B or C. Well, now I think it may be back to Plan A!

I've been house hunting since mid-August. As a first-time house buyer, I have learned how so much about real estate! Next week, I'll give a guide for anyone who may be interested in getting a house for the first time, because it really is an overwhelming (though thrilling too) experience.

The last month or so, I had been very frustrated in not finding what I wanted. There were many things floating through my head. Was I being too stringent and impractical? Was I just being a
maximizer versus satisficer? Had all my eating disorder aspects gotten in the way? Or had I just not simply found the right house? I wan ted to opt for the last thought, but all the other thoughts were overrunning the most logical one.

Now, I certainly had an "ideal" house in mind, but I was willing to "sacrifice" a few things so to speak. But one of the ones that was the hardest was "private versus public," and this was where the ED was involved. For the last seven years, I have lived pretty much out in the country, though I'm still close to town. In general, I have liked having the space, not having neighbors too close, having a huge yard for my dogs, running on country roads, etc. There were obviously drawbacks to living in the country, especially with isolation and living alone which the ED thrives on. I had a roommate for awhile here, but she turned out to be mean, manipulative, malicious, and overstepped boundaries in reading my journal! (and I don't call out many people like this, as it is my nature to try to see the best in people) I could tell you many stories about that living situation, but that's just a post for another time. After she left back in 2004, I vowed to NEVER have a roommate again! (this is not to say that all roommates are like this, I have had a few good ones, this one just happened to be the bad apple of them all)

In total, I have looked at almost three dozen houses out of my 82 matches.
The matches have been computer generated based on criteria I wanted. I can select which ones I want to save and which to reject. So far, there are 76 in the reject pile. These include ones that I looked at and did not like, ones I read from the get go and knew wouldn't work, those that have gone pending (someone put an offer on the house), have been sold, have been withdrawn/cancelled, or were short sales (basically meaning the offer is lower than what the seller wanted and that the lending agency would be taking a loss on the house).

Prior to this week, I had 3 top choices. One house went pending, another was withdrawn, so I was left with one top choice. I wanted a choice of at least 3 to decide upon. Yesterday, I saw 15 houses which is a lot of houses in day. At this point, it becomes mostly a
process of elimination, and you really have to see the house. Some people can find a house online and know that is the one they want, but when you have 4 dogs to consider, it makes it much harder.

Of the 15 houses, I found 3 others in addition to my other top pick. All of them will need a little work with
fencing--some more than others, but otherwise, they are move-in able. The plan for next week is to look at any new listings that come up in the morning, look at my top choices in the afternoon, and possibly make an offer.

Now, here's where things get really hard. Financing. As most of you know the housing market took has taken a real big hit recently with essentially banks giving loans for houses but not setting many requirements. Thus, some people bought houses that they could not afford, got behind on mortgage payments, and had to foreclose. This is one reason why you are seeing so many foreclosed homes and the prices of homes slashed dramatically. Though this has been awful for the economy, it has been a real boost for first-time home buyers or those looking to upgrade. Currently, it is a "buyer's market" as they call it. Right now, the government is giving first-time home buyers a credit of $8,000 towards financing their new home. The catch is that the deadline is
November 30th which means you have to have all the necessary paperwork, gotten the loan from whatever bank you choose, and close on the house. Last week, it was almost a sure bet the credit would be extended. However, this week, my realtor told me that there had been some opposition, so lobbyists have been sent to Congress to vouch for extending the credit.

Due to the housing crisis, banks have become much more restrictive on getting
pre-approval for the loans. Everyone is having a hard time, but yet at the same time, wants to get the credit before it runs out, including me. This is one reason why this is so time sensitive. I applied for pre-approval a month ago. Originally, my parents were going to put down a rather large down payment, hoping they would have sold my grandfather's house. There has been a snafu with that in that the potential buyer (my cousin) is also in the same predicament as me (first-time home buyer) but having difficulty getting the name off of her old property that she and her ex-husband had shared. We really couldn't rely on this for a down payment and needed to resort to something else.

My realtor got in touch with another mortgage broker who is apparently fast. We're going to go with a
different loan where you don't have to put as much money down and will now be using my current income versus my future income at the new job. The only catch with this is that there must be verification of work from my current employer. Right now, she does not know I am leaving, which is actually good for this loan. My only issue is that she will drag her feet on this or be suspicious. Of course, I am going to tell her, but my resignation is now moved back until probably the end of this month so that this loan can get processed. This also may push back my start date for the new job too. I would have rather gone with my new job's income, but the problem is that it would have been difficult to get 30 days work, showing that you are making said income in order for approval. This would also have cut me off from the first time home buyer credit deadline more than likely.

See, how confusing and stressful this can get? However, at the same time, buying your own home is an incredibly investment. Some say it is the best investment you are making, because you will be getting the money you put into it. Plus, the first few years, you can write it off on your taxes. I guess the most important thing for me to remember is that as stressful and hard as this is right now, in the end, it will be worth it.

On a side note, I'm hoping to hear from the UMN vet. In an e-mail on Sunday, she said his scan did look to be a glioma. She said that they had removed some in similar locations to Baxter's and been successful. She also said all had at least one month post-MRI before surgery and had no problems, even with the most aggressive tumors. And the best thing she said was "I think Baxter will make a great candidate for the study." Now, I just need to get more details.


Sarah said...

Holy crap, this totally stressed me out just READING it. No wonder you are stressed out--that PLUS a sick family member (Baxter.) I hate situations where you can't reveal that you're leaving. I haven't personally had one, but I know that my parents have and I remember their stress.

I hope everything goes well and I'm thinking of you. I would actually really enjoy reading the post you proposed about the process of becoming a homeowner. D and I "rent" (sort of) - the church gave us the option of a $5000/year housing allowance or to live rent-free in a church-owned house (they own 3.) We chose one of the houses. Although the house is relatively modest in size, it's actually appraised at $350,000 because it's in such a nice neighborhood, which is a huge perk for us :) We enjoy it so much! So, we are technically considered renters although we do not actually "pay" anything. If we stayed here for a long time, though, we would outgrow the house since it's only 2 bedrooms. We will probably eventually want to become homeowners anyway just to have that as part of our net worth, although we may be able to live in church housing at whatever churches D is employed at in the future.

I Hate to Weight said...

sending lots and lots of good thoughts for Baxter. i'm so glad you're hearing some positive news. may it all be good news.

re; buying a house. yikes! my head is spinning. between your new job, your old job, your grandparent's house, gov't policies..... i give you tons of credit for getting thru all this.

i truly believe that all things work out. while you're heading into it, or right in the middle, it may seem like there's no light at the end of any tunnel. BUT it seems there always is.

keep up your great, brave work on this!

Kristina said...


Thanks (by the way) very much for inviting me to follow your blog while you are private. I've enjoyed reading the observations and experiences that you share here so much.
The house buying thing - I must say that M. and I seriously considered buying a house last summer. The timing just wasn't quite right, and we actually ended up in a situation (renting a house) that gave me what I wanted - the ability to adopt a dog (or two!).
BUT... The few months that we were serious about house buying and looked were very hard. I've decided that unless you can just buy a house outright, it is one of the most stressful experiences a person can endure (at least here in southern CA, where you can't buy a decent place for under 500K, seriously).
I do think it can be worth it, and I really hope that all of the snafus are worked out sooner rather than later.
Also, I know it sounds silly, but I'm thinking of Baxter!
Take care.

Tiptoe said...

Sarah, the situation you and D are in with the church sounds great, especially for such a nice house. But I totally understand eventually wanting your own place.

I'm hoping when I have to resign from my old job, things will work out, but yes, it is so stressful and will be happening soon if everything goes according to plan.

I'll write a post soon about first time house hunting. It can be very overwhelming.

IHTW, I do try to remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that things will work out. I think I've had to take a lot of deep breaths about that one.

Kristina, I can imagine how spithern CA would be expensive to get a house, though SF I think is one of the hardest for first time buyers. I'm lucky that in the area I'm in, I. can get a nice starter home at a fairly low price, and sellers.really are slashing them.I'm sure in the future, if you wish to buy, there will be a house for you at the right price.

Thanks again for the support and good wishes for Baxter. I do have news on that and will hopefully post soon. Hopefully, these storms won't last too long.