February 27, 2014

House Hunting

One of the reasons that money was (is) something that has stressed me out when it came to the wedding is that Thomas and I need somewhere to live. Currently we both live with our parents so we will be starting fresh. We have plenty in our savings and make enough together to afford to buy a place to live. Unless we spend our savings in a wedding. Luckily Thomas did not want something huge and our parents have helped us out enough that we will be able to stick to a $5k budget.

We began looking at houses to buy in January and we started out rough. While Thomas’ main concern is how much we spend on a home, I am more concerned with what it looks like, how many rooms it has, where it is, if it has a back yard, etc. Unfortunately the budge that Thomas had in mind does not match my requirements – mainly the location need. There are homes in the budget (about $350-$400K) but they are in areas that I do not want to live in. Ideally I (we) want to stay near our parents and our work.  The homes in the budget that was set are located much further from where we live currently and our jobs (which are near each other).  

We found a place at the end of January that I really liked. It had 3 bedrooms that were decently sized, it had a backyard without a pool, it had a fireplace… it was just exactly what I wanted. But it was over our budget by nearly $25k. We put in an offer at $410 and settled at $416k. Thomas was very stressed because of this. While we could afford it, the down payment would use up most of our savings and we wouldn’t have too much left over to save on a monthly basis. We were set to go for it anyway, though. However the inspection report found many things that needed to be fixed – including a couple of big things. While the sellers did inquire about quotes for fixing one of the items, Thomas and I decided that it was too much for too high a price. We backed out after investing $400 for the inspection.

After pulling out of that deal things got hard between Thomas and I. We argued over what type of home we should look into and what budget we should stay within. We blamed each other for not understanding us. After a week of going back and forth we sat down and worked things out for the most part, although it is a work in progress. A lot of compromising had to be done when it came to looking for a place to live.

We have decided that since there are no homes in the price range we are comfortable with we going to look into condos or townhouses instead and lower our budget. We are lowering the budget because we don’t want to spend as much on a condo as we would want to spend on a house. Finding a condo or townhouse has also been difficult. In looking into these type of homes we have to consider the HOA fees that we would need to pay on top of our mortgage payment.

We had the same trouble as we did with homes – some were in the price range but did not meet my expectations or needs, others met my needs but were more than what we want to spend. In having to live in a condo/townhouse my requirements included having laundry in the home and ideally for there to be an enclosed garage for storage. While the former is mostly available in everything we’ve been finding, the latter is not. There are townhouses that have garages but they are a bit above our price range. Compromise!

We spent a weekend going out and looking at basically every condo and townhome that fit both our requirements. We settled on 2 that we liked. One was gorgeous on the inside with updated everything. It looked like the realtor had staged the home it was so nice. The downside to this home included the location and that the windows faced other windows. The other location we found is in a better neighborhood (that by name only will sell more easily than the first) but isn’t as nice out of the box. The owners have been at this location for 20+ years and while it has been kept in good condition it isn’t as pretty walking in. It has some things that made it my preference. These include the location, that the front windows look over the pool and the back windows face a courtyard and not other windows. It is also about 200 sq ft bigger than the first. It has a few draw backs which are all fixable: kitchen isn’t updated and it has to be repainted immediately (the man smokes so the house smells, but a little paint and airing out should take care of that). Eventually we would want the windows updated to be double-paned so that we can save on our AC bill.

Before we could get a hold of the realtor we had switched to the 1st home I mentioned went to “pending” status (meaning that the sellers have accepted an offer and the house is going into escrow). The 2nd home is still on the market and we are trying to put into an offer for that one. The price is slightly high but still within our budget and the HOA fees are the same budget wise. I’m hopeful that this condo will be the one we buy. While it does not have a garage it is very spacious and I could see us living there comfortably and starting a family (although our hope is to buy a home in 4-6 years to raise our children).
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