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House Hunting….kinda


Hi from sunny (and HOT) Madison, Wisconsin!!!

I’m here for my work conference and, unfortunately, brought the Tucson heat with me! Just last week the average temperatures were in the mid-80s. I arrived on Tuesday of this week and since I’ve been here it’s been in the high-90s/flirting with 100 degrees F plus muggy. Boo!!! Get it together, Madison! (I kid, I kid – it’s actually quite gorgeous aside from the heat + humidity).

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The REAL point of this post is about HOUSE HUNTING!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!! The time has finally arrived. It’s FINALLY arrived!!!!

Hubs and I had originally planned to start house hunting in early summer but had to push back the start of house-hunting a bit to finish adding to our house down payment fund. As a reminder, we’re planning to put down 20% so we can avoid any mortgage insurance. To do so, we wanted to save up $10,000 during the first half of this year (one of our 2016 goals, now done – yay!!!); we’ll add to that all the money from my money market account (roughly another $10,000…a little more at this point); and, finally, my mom is gifting us a sum of money that I haven’t disclosed.

We decided to start by shopping mortgage lenders. We’ve hired a realtor and got her recommendation, plus called around to all the local credit unions to ask about mortgage current rates (though none of them keep the loans in-house, they can still offer better deals than most big banks). Note, we haven’t actually hired a lender yet or processed any paperwork. At this point, we’ve just begun the process of shopping different lenders. We’re not letting anyone run our credit, etc., until we’ve decided on a lender, so we’re just comparing generalities (by giving our credit, an estimated loan amount, etc.)

I’m pretty sure we’ve found who we’re going to go with, but I’m still waiting to get my contract for the 2016-2017 academic year so we won’t actually start the paperwork process until I have that in hand to prove my continued income, etc.

Once that occurs, the hunt is ON!!! We’ve already been zeroing in on a couple of neighborhoods/areas that we like and I’m dying to actually get in some houses and look around. Can’t wait!!!

In other news – remember how I mentioned having a friend who lives in Madison (it was one of the reasons I was excited about coming here for my conference)? Well, I totally called it because she had her baby literally in the early morning hours on the day I arrived in town. I’m glad many of you advised me to really make the trip more about WORK than about socialization. I’ve been here 2 full days and have yet to see her. I was going to swing by her house this evening after the conference, but she had just gotten home from the hospital, is nursing a 3rd degree tear (in addition to her infant, har har), and just didn’t feel very well. No hurt feelings – I 100% understand. I should be able to go by tomorrow after the conference. Even if it’s just dropping off dinner and a baby gift, I’ll at least be able to say hi and meet the new baby for a couple minutes. I’m sure other parents can relate to the overwhelming craze that surrounds the first couple of days home from the hospital with one’s first child!!! Just sucks that the timing of the conference worked out like it did because I would’ve loved to spend more time together and take advantage of my kids-free nights! ; )

That being said, I’ve been ultra productive while I’ve been here. In between conference sessions I’ve done tons of grading. In the evenings I’ve been making lessons for my Fall classes, updating syllabi and course calendars, and getting final grades up from my summer classes (ahem, and writing this blog post). I still feel way behind (I think that’s my new normal, which is uncomfortable for someone who is always totally on top of their work), but I’m still treading water and doing better than I have most of the summer so it’s all good.

And, why don’t I just continue (since this post is total stream-of-consciousness at this point anyway. Let’s just go on with it, lol)…. my girls’ first day of preschool was today!!!! It still breaks my heart a little that I wasn’t there, but it’s helped that hubs sent lots of fun pictures of the girls all ready to go and full of smiles in their new classroom. I’m not going to lie though, it hurt when I FaceTimed with them this evening and they asked, “Why didn’t you get us from school, Mom?!” (tear). I’ll be home Friday afternoon in time to pick them up, so that will have to suffice. The GREAT news about the girls starting back to school is that it means I can go back to working full-time (thank god, given that I have both a full-time AND a part-time job. Whew! How have I done it all summer with only part-time care?!). When I return I have exactly 1 week before the Fall semester starts and it is literally jam-packed just about every minute of every day with meetings, To Do’s, workshops, etc. It’s insanity! I’m so very thankful to get some solid dedicated work-time in both this week (at least in the evenings after the conference) and next week (while the kids are in school – YAY!)

Sorry it’s been a hot minute since my last post! I’ll try to be better about it but, you know, life.

What’s one good thing happening in your world right now? When do kids go back to school in your area? Any must-do thing in Madison before I leave? I don’t have much time but could maybe squeeze in a restaurant or something???


    • Reply Ashley |

      I’ve been hanging out at the Monona Convention Center! I can’t get over the gorgeous views! I sent my hubs a pic from one of the floor-to-ceiling windows with the caption that it reminded me of the view from our cruise ship! Beautiful! You’re lucky to live here (though I’ll gladly brag about Tucson’s nice, temperate winters when that time rolls around!) ; )

  • Reply Teresa |

    I love Madison! Enjoy it, it’s a very cool city!

    I just bought a house a few months ago. As soon as we got pre-approved, we started going to every single open house within reasonable range of our pre-approval price. I’m not joking – every one. Even if we weren’t serious about the house because we knew we wouldn’t like the house based on the pictures, neighborhood etc. It was our Sunday afternoon hobby, for weeks and weeks. 😉 I looked at it as research, and it was incredibly helpful to have looked at about a dozen houses before we went with our agent to look at specific houses. There’s nothing like going in person, pictures can’t do justice. When we walked into the house we finally bought, we knew we liked it right away because of the dozens we had already walked through. Also, We were ok looking at houses a little out of our reach, just to see what waiting and saving could potentially get us in the future. Likewise, looking at houses a little lower than our target budget was also very helpful – as in, “wow, at least we can get something nicer than this!” Again, very helpful.

    Also, and people disagree about this, but we kept very, very quiet about our house hunting, both in person and on social media. We didn’t post anything about it on facebook until the picture of us cheersing some beers after moving in. This was because we wanted to avoid everyone and their mother giving us advice about what house features to look for, neighborhood, etc. I firmly believe this was one of the better choices I’ve made in life, haha. Good luck! I’d say keep us posted but I don’t think I need to 🙂

    • Reply Angie |

      Also, if you’re in a smallish community definitely do not put anything on social media when you put in an offer on a house. Maybe I’m a little skeptical, but I’ve heard stories of sellers coming across posts from the potential buyers about how excited they were for putting in an offer, what they love about the house, etc. The sellers then have a good upper hand in negotiations if they know you’re emotionally invested already.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I LOVE the idea of Sunday afternoon open houses : )
      I grew up with my Mom as a realtor and, for fun, she would often take us to go see random vacant houses for sale in the area where I grew up. So even years (decades) before home-ownership was ever on our radar, I’ve enjoyed a good house walk-through. We wouldn’t do it if people lived in the place (because it’s a pain for them to have to get out & we obviously weren’t serious buyers), but it’s fun if someplace is vacant. You never know from the outside what treasures (or terrors!) the inside holds! I’m sure it’s a similar experience with photos vs. in-person.

  • Reply Katie |

    I totally agree with Teresa. We just bought a house too. We went to a lot of open houses- again, even ones were weren’t interested in. It helped me understand even more DH’s priorities and deal breakers. We both figured out what we were willing to compromise on. I learned more than I expected to. One of the biggest things though was it helped in knowing that when we found THE house that we were not paying too much.

    It’s very smart that you are doing the shopping around for a mortgage person first because you are right, they will pull you’ll credit for pre-approval (do get pre-approved!) and then likely will need to again to finalize and these both ding your credit. No need to do that multiple times. I also didn’t post or talk about it until we signed the paperwork and got the keys. I didn’t want to jinx it!

    Finally, when you are ready to make an offer, write a letter! We wrote ours on cards that we had leftover from a wedding with a picture of all of us on it. The sellers had lived in the home for a long time and raised a family. They actually got 4 offers, but chose ours (it wasn’t the highest, we heard) because they had an idea of a family living in the house. They also liked that we had both been born and raised in the town.

    Good luck!

  • Reply Nicole |

    Aw, wish I had seen sooner that you were in Madison! I went there for 4 years of undergrad and 2 years of grad school. Probably too late for recommendations now, but State Street is awesome to walk and check out unique shops, Ian’s Pizza (by the slice with lots of unique flavors), Babcock Hall Dairy Store (ice cream in the heart of UW campus). Dotty Dumplings has great burgers (near campus), The Old Fashioned on the capitol square is classic Wisconsin fare.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I definitely should have thrown up a post sooner asking for recommendations! One of my biggest regrets is not having more meals here! My hotel does free breakfast and the convention has included catered lunches so I’ve only had a couple of dinners here. PLUS I’m eating by myself so I’m missing out on a lot. For example, I REAAAALLY wanted to try some of the Wisconsin-famous cheese curds, but an appetizer at the Great Dane was $10 and over 1/2 pound of fried cheese! It’d be great if I was sharing with a group of friends, but I couldn’t justify getting that in addition to a meal, given all the food that would just be wasted/thrown away (plus, I really don’t need a half pound of cheese to myself anyway! ha!)

    • Reply Ashley |

      Is that the Babcock Ice Cream? I did have that and it was delicious but, as a native Austin-ite, I’m still partial to an Austin-local ice cream called Amy’s Ice Cream (it’s expanded a bit, but still only around the Texas area). Babcock was very good, though. I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. ; )

  • Reply SCM |

    If you have not tried Frozen Custard, you need to get some. Oh my gosh, the smoothest ice cream you will ever put into your mouth.

    Also, you should order the Cheese Curds and a Salad. Seriously, those cheese curds are fabulous and I seem to remember you LOVE cheese.


    • Reply SCM |

      Why does “Your Comment Is Awaiting Moderation” sometimes appear, and sometimes does not appear?

      Can I register on this site so my comments can appear in a more timely fashion?


      • Reply Ashley |

        I’m not sure – the moderation thing happens if your comment was somehow flagged as possible spam (typically if someone shares a link or mentions a name-brand product). Then it sits in a cue until someone reads and approves it as being a “real” comment (not spam). Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to register with the site. I’m sorry for the hassle!

  • Reply Isabella |

    Madison is my hometown where I lived from birth until age 19. I went back to visit family many times and still miss it. Glad you could visit there!

So, what do you think ?