Thursday, February 28, 2008

loans and titles and inspections, oh my!

We're done with the fun part of snooping through other people's houses now, and getting down to the business of being homeowners. We've been scheduling inspections (home, termite, chimney- there's a lot that can go wrong with a house!), securing a title, and waiting to see what the market is going to do and deciding when to lock in our interest rate. About a month ago we had 5.875% locked in, now we're thinking we might be lucky to get six and a quarter. Oh well, this house is a heckuvalot cheaper than the first one we bid on, so we'll still be in a better place financially, despite a slightly higher rate.

I've been spending spare time scouring the internet for dining room tables. Must haves: expandable, under $1K, adaptable style, dark brown. Would be nice: round, free delivery. Send me links to any you find that fit the bill!

I'm taking next Friday off to be around for the home inspection in the afternoon, and to be the first one in the door at the Restoration Hardware warehouse sale at 10AM in Edgewood. It only happens once a month in two locations nation-wide: MD and CA. I knew I moved to Baltimore for a reason! (I mean, other than my wonderful husband, of course.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Victory is mine!

That title was Kyle's contribution, a quote from Stewie on the Family Guy.

Anyway, we got the house- hooray!! He accepted our offer with no counter! Kyle, does that mean I can splurge on a dining room table from Restoration Hardware?!

April 25 is the settlement date now, but we may choose to move that a little earlier if we get antsy.

Enough of you guys- back to the champagne!!


'nuff said.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

the waiting game

2808 Alden (the stone cottage with brick porch, below) turned out just as cute as I had imagined! We saw it, along with two other decent places and one huge disaster, on Thursday, and as Kyle said, it was the first house that didn't give us the heebie-jeebies. We went back on Saturday to see it in the daylight and signed a contract!

JoAnn sent the offer over to the listing agent right away on Saturday afternoon. No word from the seller yet, but the listing agent has been keeping JoAnn informed so I'm sure we'll hear just as soon as there is any news.

Since we've been a little pre-occupied with this house over the last few days, I haven't given any updates on the others we saw on Thursday...but one of them sure was bad. It was by far the most cluttered house any of us had ever seen. I am kicking myself that I didn't have my camera with me. It smelled like a hunting camp because they BURN THEIR GARBAGE IN THE FIREPLACE. They had "updated" the kitchen, but left old paneling on half the walls. They had added a few coat closets, without doors, in the living room- why not? Then upstairs, we found four bedrooms, but we could only walk into one of them. The other three were basically filled with stuff from floor to ceiling. These homeowners are the perfect candidates to be on HGTV's Clean House!

Anyway, I'll post some pictures of the prospective new home on Monday, and letcha know as soon as we hear a response to our offer!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

just for the record

This is the first house we made an offer on in this whole process. Obviously, we didn't get it, or we would be on to the renovations phase of the blog by now. I just thought, as much as it pains me, I owed it to this place, our efforts, and our adoring supporters, to include it as part of the history.

It's in our ideal neighborhood, and we'd had our eyes on it since December. It needed to be completely renovated inside, but for the location and the fact that it has a 2-car garage, big yard, and most importantly, adorable built-in benches on the front porch, we were up for the challenge!

We made an offer the day after they dropped the price, but so did 3 other jerks. We came in third. Well, we didn't get it, but hey, as Mitt Romney would say, "we got the bronze!" And, as JoAnn's partner, big Hank, who helped us make the offer says, the sellers were just being greedy piggies. And nobody likes a greedy piggy.

Interesting fact: the house was built in 1929 and the seller has lived there for the entire life of the house, and since he was 4 years old! From the following images, you'll see that not much has changed inside since 1929...

That does say "old fashioned" above Moth Balls.

Close-up of the wallpaper in bedroom.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

fingers crossed!

We're going to look at this house on Thursday. It's not in our first choice neighborhood, but it is in Baltimore County (as opposed to the City...much cheaper taxes in the county!), and is on a very cute street.

I think it's adorable and the price is definitely right, so cross your fingers for us!

P.S. I have learned that "cute" is the wrong word to use as a descriptor, around Kyle. To him, it translates as "Katie is in love with this house and is not going to make a rational decision. I will have to make lots of repairs because she thinks it's cute." So, I'll use it as much as possible here to get it out of my system. Please excuse my repetition.

Monday, February 18, 2008

dazed and confused

We checked this beauty out a few weeks ago. It is a foreclosure, and looks much worse in person than it does here! The lawn is a jungle, and when you walk in the front door (from which the padlock and doorknob had been removed) you have to walk through about 5 feet of mail that has been delivered since the owners left - probably all from the collection agencies!
It was pretty bad inside. The kitchen cabinets were white laminate with a yellow racing stripe down each one (I promise to start providing more interior pictures), many of the outlets had been torn out of the walls for some reason, and there were some seriously dead plants in there.
One plant in particular caught our interest, however... we were looking the basement over and JoAnn called to us from the back of it to come over. In addition to the unnecessarily strong iron floor joyces we noticed in the ceiling, the windows in this section of the basement had been blacked out, there were some large spotlights (still on!), and there was a structure housing more dead plants, of the illegal variety.
It didn't take advanced detective skills to figure out why this place had been foreclosed!
Later, dude...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Included with purchase: random dude

On Thursday we looked at this house.

I was pretty excited to see it- it's on a picturesque street in a neighborhood we like, it's in the lower end of our price range, and looks so cute - just like a little gingerbread house! We're looking for a fixer-upper, so we expected it to have some oddities.
But, what we found was a little more odd than we're looking for... we arrived a few minutes after JoAnn, and found her inside talking with a man who looked like a really tired combination of Jerry Garcia and Tom Petty at this year's Super Bowl halftime show. She awkwardly introduced us to this seedy guy and said that she had gone to high school with his sister decades ago, and that he is a friend of the owners and would be there while we looked at the house. We checked the place out- found a really wet basement, roofing shingles used as siding, a washer and dryer in the kitchen, a sloping floor, and teeny tiny bedrooms- with all kinds of knick knacks and junk in between. When we came down from the second floor, we found JoAnn on the phone- with the sister she hadn't talked to in so long! We left as quickly as possible and then she told us the real story.
When she arrived at the house to open it up, she fiddled around with the lock for a while, and when she finally got it, saw this guy sleeping in the chair with all of the lights off. Eeew! She had to kinda yell at him a few times to get him to come to, but was at least happy to find out he was still of this world!
Obviously this one is not in the running for us - could it possibly be for anyone?!

Friday, February 15, 2008

breaking up is hard to do

The first step in our home search was choosing a realtor. We met with three - Agent A (and partner Agent A1) was a recommendation from a friend, Agent B a representative from a small firm in our neighborhood, and Agent C a more experienced realtor we met at a few open houses.

We really hit it off with Agents A and A1- they were young, hip, and hungry for business. The day after our meeting, A1 emailed me to ask if I had lost an earring- they found one on the floor in the room where we met - it had fallen out of my purse. We ended up emailing back and forth about how we always lose things for months in purses we haven't used in a while, then it's like finding hidden treasure when you pull that purse out of the closet again.

We ultimately decided to go with Agent C (JoAnn for future reference) because of her experience and the fact that she is an architect so will be knowledgable in helping us find structural faults, come up with renovation ideas, etc.

But then I had to break up (over email...only slightly better than by post-it) with A, A1, and B! They all took it pretty well, but it was way too awkward for me to ask for them to send my earring back to me. So far- Baltimore housing market: 1, Katie & Kyle: 0.

our search for a home in Baltimore

Eight monts after getting hitched, Kyle and I decided that we are ready to buy a home! If nothing else, this will be a topic of conversation to switch to when people ask when we are going to start having babies.

Our search began in early January, and there have been some pretty funny episodes since then, many of which I thought worthy of sharing. So, check in often- we usually go out on the town with our realtor on Thursdays and Saturdays.

And, advice is welcome. So are gifts of cash- Charm City is not cheap.