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Posts Tagged ‘Home buying’

We closed about 2 weeks late, on September 23, 2008.  The contract period was pretty uneventful.  The house inspection turned up only one issue, which the sellers fixed.  Although it was stressful at the time, settlement went so smoothly it was hard to believe that somewhere in that 45 minutes we bought a house.

And so began the hectic months as new homeowners.

With the help of family and friends, we moved in the weekend of Sept. 27-28.  

dscn2012

dscn20132

In the weeks that followed, it turned out that painting was more appealing than writing about painting, so things were pretty silent around here.  Now that we have much of it under control, though, we hope to post some of our before and after shots.  

Painting was an easy choice for early-on work, because

– we didn’t have much furniture yet, so it would be easier now than at any other time,
– it’s something we wanted to have done before we replace floors,
– it’s a pretty inexpensive way to make the whole house feel like “ours,”
– most of the walls looked like they hadn’t been painted since the G. H. W. Bush administration (and the wallpaper was almost assuredly mid- to late-Reagan era), and
– we were psyched to ditch the “landlord white” color scheme.

Over the summer, we chose colors for the house, some of which we ultimately used, and some of which we didn’t.  The original palette looked like this:

Downstairs:

Blue Horizon SW6497

Blue Horizon SW6497

Creamy SW7012

Creamy SW7012

Fleeting Green SW6455

Fleeting Green SW6455

Restful SW6458

Restful SW6458

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upstairs:

Gratifying Green SW6435

Gratifying Green SW6435

Blue Horizon SW6497

Blue Horizon SW6497

Creamy SW7012

Creamy SW7012

Vital Yellow SW6392

Vital Yellow SW6392

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we moved in, painted a couple of walls, and got a better feel for how things would translate from “1×2 inch chip” to “entire room,” we did some adjusting to the plan:

 

Downstairs:

Sleepy Blue SW6225

Sleepy Blue SW6225

Creamy SW7012

Creamy SW7012

Alabaster SW7008

Alabaster SW7008

Opaline SW6189

Opaline SW6189

Coastal Plain SW6192

Coastal Plain SW6192

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upstairs:

Gratifying Green SW6435

Gratifying Green SW6435

Mountain Air SW6224

Mountain Air SW6224

Creamy SW7012

Creamy SW7012

Filmy Green SW6190

Filmy Green SW6190

Friendly Yellow SW6680

Friendly Yellow SW6680*

 

 

 

 

 

 

* The yellow that we actually used is Behr’s Song of Summer 340A-3, but Behr’s paint chips aren’t conveniently linkable.  SW’s Friendly Yellow is almost exactly the same color.

So far, Sleepy Blue (family room and downstairs half bath), Creamy (kitchen, halls, foyer, staircase, dining room above chair rail), Mountain Air (upstairs bath), Gratifying Green (our bedroom), Song of Summer (guest room and office), and Filmy Green (extra bedroom) are up.  We hope to have some photos up soon!

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After 7.5 months in which we went to 26 showings at 21 houses, and made offers on 6 houses, 3 of which went to multiple offer contests (all of which we lost), we’re finally here:  we’re under contract to buy!

House shopping, particularly in the school district we ultimately decided on, was a much more monumental challenge than we had expected.  Somehow, we thought that the hard part of buying the house would be saving up for it.  Man were we in for a surprise!  There was a parade of homes that might have been ours…

Rt. 146 Newcastle Ave. Spawn Rd. Orchard St.

We offered on all four of these houses, plus two more.  Eventually, we got tired of saving pictures of “not our house” houses!

Earlier on in our hunt, we grappled with a number of issues.  We started our hunt with four school districts in mind, and looked at some pretty diverse homes:  a gorgeous 1880 farmhouse on 1.5 acre with a trout stream (and an uninsulated addition, falling down garage, and field stone foundation), a 1920’s grand cape, a 1960’s ranch, an 1980’s side hall colonial, homes that were 10 minutes and 40 minutes from downtown, homes in developments with smaller lots, and on state routes with acreage.  With such options, we struggled with whether each house was right, whether the price was fair, and whether the sellers and we could reach a deal.  We offered on two homes that didn’t work out for various reasons, which in the end we’re glad for.

About 5 months into the hunt, we finally had it narrowed down.  We decided on the closest suburban school district to the downtown area (also one of the best school systems), smaller (but not too small) lot in a development, and no major gut-jobs, which narrowed things down quite a bit.  Unfortunately, this newfound clarity coincided with the market heating up — or maybe it always was hot in the area we finally decided on.  We lost houses #3-5 to higher bidders, after offering asking price or more.  The last house pictured above (light blue cape) went on the market on a Thursday with a note that no showings would be entertained until after the open house that Sunday.  We went to the [mob scene of an] open house that Sunday, and wrote out a full price offer sitting at their kitchen table. On Tuesday, after 5 days on the MLS, it went under contract to one of the other four couples who also offered on it at the open house, for about 110% of asking price.

Somewhere between offers #4 and 5, we changed our strategy.  By this point, we had figured out exactly what our “needs” and “wants” were.  We stopped going to any houses that didn’t have 100% of our needs and at least a “want” or two.  Then, we took the approach of going into those on-paper candidate houses, and instead of asking ourselves whether they COULD be “it,” we started asking why a house COULDN’T be it.  We started making decisions faster.  We realized (we’d had a fair amount of experience with offers not working out by this point), that our initial reactions about houses were almost always the same as how we felt about them when all was said and done.  We started spending less time imagining the homes as ours before offering.  We decided we’d make the one we bought, “ours.”  If nothing else, the process sped up, and losing houses to other bidders became easier, the less time it had been ours in our heads.

Then we found it.

Home

Yay!

It had all of our ‘needs’ (which included 3+ bedrooms, 1.5+ baths, school district of choice, flowing floor plan, wider yard, dry basement, quiet street), and most of our ‘wants’ (fireplace, deck, a 4th bedroom, dining room, both a living and a family room, attached garage, natural gas for heat/range, central air).  The only ‘wants’ it didn’t have were a 2 car attached garage, a 2nd full bath.  Great fit.

I saw the listing the day it hit the MLS.  We called for an appointment immediately and saw it the next day.  We crossed paths in the driveway with another couple who came to see it just ahead of us — the ‘for sale’ sign hadn’t even hit the front lawn yet.  We spent an hour touring the house with the sellers (who wanted to be there for it), and submitted our offer within 2 hours, offering full price and the four-month escrow that the sellers wanted, to allow for their new build to be finished.  We got a verbal acceptance that night (a Saturday), and on Sunday we initialled the last of the contract details and dropped off the earnest money to the listing agent.  Sunday afternoon, before the ink was hardly dry on our contract, the other couple offered more money, but the sellers couldn’t entertain their offer.  Whew – made it!

A week later, we have the home inspection behind us, and the attorney review period ends Monday (which happens to be Memorial Day), so it looks like we’ve passed the major hurdles.  We’ll be under contract until September (12th, approximately), when we’re set to close.  In the meantime, we’re brainstorming decorating ideas, furniture arrangements, paint colors, and looking forward to owning.

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