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Home Ownership: 1 Month Status

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We’ve now been in our new-to-us (1980s) house for just over a month. I haven’t talked much about the house since we closed, so I wanted to talk about some of the financials in the past month of home ownership.

Monthly Bills

The house is larger than our last home so although it’s too soon to tell true differences in heating and cooling costs, my guess is our new house will be a little more expensive on average. Relatedly, our home is now 100% electric (no natural gas) so that’s a bill we’ll be eliminating from our monthly budget. Our trash is now paid quarterly instead of monthly and even though we’re now receiving more service (our neighborhood does twice weekly trash pick-ups), our overall cost is actually less. We do, however, have HOA fees to pay.

Overall, our monthly bills will probably be a little bit higher than in our previous home.

One-Time/Set-Up Costs

The hidden costs of home-ownership! We knew when we bought the house we would have to purchase a refrigerator (we got ours at a great Black Friday deal because Lowes did their “Black Friday” prices for the entire month of November! Great time to buy a home!). What we had NOT realized until we moved in was that not a single window had any blinds on it. Not one. I’ve never bought blinds before. Even going the DIY-install/Home Depot purchase route, we still ended up paying over $1,000 on blinds! We also ended up needing a few smaller items (e.g., one extra bathroom = one extra trashcan, extra hand-towel set, etc.). We also bought 3 ceiling fans for rooms where they were not present (the living room + 2 bedrooms). The bedrooms were already pre-wired (but just had metal plates affixed to cover the wires), so hubs was able to install those on his own. But we had to hire an electrician to wire the living room because, living in Arizona, we HAVE to have a fan in the living room and it hadn’t been wired for one so that work needed to be done.

A great majority the walls in the house are bare. Some of the rooms, even, are bare. But I’m okay with that for now. I’m in no hurry to rush out and spend a lot more $$$ to decorate and furnish the entire home. We’re comfortable with what we’ve got and I prefer spending some time in the house to try to find a design style, etc. and to slowly build up decorative pieces vs. going to the nearest Home Goods and buying all.the.things. just for the sake of having everything immediately decorated.

All things included, we ended up spending nearly $4,000 for one-time/set-up costs (the “big ticket” items were the blinds, refrigerator, and fans/electrical wiring). Luckily, we’d been building up a stash of money for the downpayment and an extra slush fund so we had the cash on hand for these expenses. I’m thankful to YOU readers because I’d initially wanted to make a larger down payment (leaving us with less cash-on-hand), but many of you had commented that we really needed to have a good cash reserve when buying the house for just this type of situation. Having a later-than-expected closing date helped in that regard, too, because we had extra time to save the money up.

Mortgage

Our rent at our old house was $1200/month. Our current house has a mortgage payment of $950/month. When we set up the auto debit, however, we also asked for an additional $300/month to be applied toward principal. That will take our monthly payment to $1250/month. We can always change or amend the extra/surplus payment, but that’s how we’ve set it up to start. I thought it would be a nice way to build some equity in right from the start, without really “hurting” us since it’s comparable to the payment we’re already used to making.

Not having a mortgage payment due in the month of December was the greatest thing ever!! We ended up having extra money to put toward our debt payment (debt update coming Monday that I’m super excited about!!!).

So that’s how home ownership has impacted our finances on an immediate basis (i.e., initial one-time costs) and for the foreseeable future (i.e., monthly bills). Before we’d ever started house shopping I was hoping to find a place that would be somewhat similar in costs to our current standard-of-living. I didn’t want our expenses to all the sudden sky rocket. And I’m happy with our home. Although, yes, it will likely cost a bit more than our old place, it’s not so much more that it will slow down debt repayment. We won’t be “house poor” by any means. And we always have that $300 buffer on our monthly mortgage – if we find we need a little more wiggle room in the budget we can always make that auto-pay adjustment.

I’m busy baking today with the kiddos and getting laundry done and suitcases packed for our upcoming trip. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and I’ll see you on the other side from Texas! : )

Happy Holidays, y’all!


Dad’s House #2 is Under Contract!!!

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For long-time readers, you know that my Dad was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia in August 2015. By November 2015 we’d moved him out of his first home (in Utah) and down to his second home (in Texas) to be closer to family.

By February it was already apparent that he really shouldn’t be living independently. In March, we moved him into an independent living facility. It still allows him a bit of freedom and independence, but now all of his basic needs are being met (e.g., they serve 3 meals a day, they have staff that cleans residents’ apartments, etc.)

Meanwhile, we set to work on trying to fix up and sell his homes.

Home #1 sold almost immediately! We received multiple offers the first day it was on the market. All went smoothly and it was like a dream! That sale was complete in August.

Home #2 took longer to “fix up”. It’s been on the market for 3 months with very little action and it’s stood in stark contrast to the ease of selling home #1. Finally (finally!) we received an offer in early December…..for nearly $50k below our asking price. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement.

We grappled with negotiations. We aren’t huge fans of our realtor (we actually came THIS.CLOSE to firing him. Like, I literally sent an email saying “I need to speak with you – please give me a call.” I never received a call until 3 days later, when the realtor was calling with an offer. So we stuck it out just for the sake of closing this transaction.)

In the end, my mom (also a realtor – but we didn’t ask her to do the listing for this property due to the fact that it’s our father’s property and they had a messy divorce. To honor our father’s wishes we went with someone different) ended up doing ALL the work. She ran all the comparables, gave us advice, guided us with our counter offers, and – in the end – we signed a contract that was only $20k below our original asking price (and still quite fair for both parties involved).

Now I hold my breath and wait as the inspections are done. We’re currently set to close in January. This is a BIG deal to me because I have been the person to physically handle all of my father’s finances since August 2015. It has been a big burden to be responsible for 3 households (our own + my dad’s 2 houses). Not to mention I live out-of-state of either property. I’ve handled all the bill pay for utilities, mortgages, I’ve scheduled all the landscaping (and payment), all the repairs (and payment), etc. etc. etc. I CANNOT WAIT until I’m back down to only dealing with ONE home (our own).

At the same time, it’s a bit scary. We’ve sold off all our father’s assets. All of his earthly earnings are now sitting in different funds, being managed solely by me. (yikes! talk about pressure!)

The goal, obviously, is for his assets to last the rest of his lifetime. He’s not wealthy (in my opinion), but he does have a solid asset base that, if we are careful, should last the remainder of his life (fingers-crossed!!!)

I’ve already met with one financial advisor but decided not to go with the company after not liking the advice I was receiving. I was planning to meet with another advisor over the winter holidays, but given the imminent sale of this home I’m thinking it might be better to wait and meet after the return from this home has been liquified. So I’ll probably set something up for the mid-January timeframe. It’s interesting to be dealing with two such different financial planes. My own financial plane, characterized by loads of DEBT and working on strategies to reduce that debt. Compared to my Dad’s financial plane, which is all about investment strategies and ways to maximize available assets. I’m hoping to pick up a thing or two, as these lessons should be helpful to me down the road once our own debt mess is cleaned up.

At any rate – that’s all for today. The point of this post was just to share my excitement to FINALY be under contract! Let’s all hold our breath and cross our fingers and pray we get to closing day without any major set-backs. It would be a Christmas miracle! ; )


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