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Hurry Up & Wait

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My experience with home-buying thus far can be summed up as follows:  hurry up & wait.

There have been a handful of times when I’ve received middle-of-the-day calls from the loan company like, “hey, we need X, Y, Z documents RIGHT NOW or else the world is going to explode!!!!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

Okay, okay, maybe a bit of hyperbole there. But that’s how it’s felt. Like hair-on-fire emergency-status and they need these documents STAT!

But then I drop what I’m doing, find X, Y, Z documents, scan and send them over and….nothing. Crickets. A bunch of hurry up & wait.

We’ve already had our closing date pushed back once. Then we got this email on Monday (I’ve redacted identifying information):

I am waiting for the HOA to get me a copy of the Master Insurance Policy. I have been working with [insurance company] and they have to request a copy from the Servicing department. I have called a few times and they’re still working on it. My last call, [insurance representative] said they should have it by end of day on 10/26. It normally does not take this long to obtain this document. I have moved your closing date to 11/04 for now and once I receive the HOA document, we can look at closing earlier. I will call you once I have your loan back in Underwriting for final review.

Sigh.

So closing has been pushed back yet again. Thank GOODNESS we have a great relationship with our landlord and he’s cool with all of this! Our last month of our official lease was in August and we’ve been month-to-month since then (at no increased rate!!!) Our landlord knows we’re in the process of buying and has been so generous with allowing us to stay at our current rate until we are closed on the new house. It’s truly a blessing because otherwise we’d be homeless and living in an Extended Stay hotel right now!

I’ve had a couple people comment to ask about the house and the truth is that I’m feeling a little…not secretive…but maybe “private” is the right word?? I had a Tucson-local recognize me one day when I was out with my family (hi, friend!!!). It was fun to meet a reader but it was also a little….unsettling. I’ve posted lots of pictures and it’s not like I’ve bent over backward to hide my identity or be anonymous or anything (I’ve intentionally kept some things a little ambiguous, but I’ve mostly put myself out there). It was flattering and fun but also a little weird. I think I’m able to share so much personal information about myself so freely because I really feel like this is almost a journal. I love the readership and appreciate all your kind comments and constructive criticism but it still feels….kind of unreal. If that makes sense. Like I’m sending an email to a friend. Not like I’m really publishing information about our salary, our debts, our spending, etc. etc. etc. for the entire world to see and judge (though that’s exactly what I have done, heh).

Anywho ~ it freaked my hubs out a bit, too. And since then I’ve been posting fewer pics. Again – doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who I am – but I’ve been intentionally adding in a little extra layer of privacy, at least for my kiddos’ sake. Soooooo, I’m not going to be posting any pictures of the house and will leave many of the details private.

BUT, BUT, BUT –

that doesn’t mean I’m not going to share anything!

Let me tell you a little about the house.

It’s just under 2,000 square feet (we’re currently living in 1,500 square feet so it’s definitely an upgrade in size). It’s four bedrooms (up from 3!), has two living areas, a dining room (and small breakfast nook), 2.5 baths, and a decent sized yard. It’s in our same general area (we love our current rental’s location) in a mature neighborhood with lots of nearby parks, hiking/biking/jogging trails, good schools & charter schools, and friendly neighbors (we’ve already met a couple of them)!

The house is nearly 30 years old, but has had lots of renovations. The current “owners” are a company that does flips. They’ve put in new floors, bath tubs, retiled the shower, put in new toilets, kitchen countertops, kitchen appliances, ceiling fans and fixtures, new paint, new water lines (to get rid of the old polybutylene), and many other upgrades. As part of our negotiations we also got them to do a new HVAC unit and new duct work, and new section of plumbing (where tree roots had grown into a pipe – shout out to our readers, a couple of whom suggested this might be a problem given the home’s age). There has been a LOT of work on this home in the past few months. We also feel like we’ve gotten it for a great deal. We know what they paid, we know what our offer was that was accepted, and hubs (as a flooring contractor) has guesstimated the amount of work that has been done, etc. and we think the owners can’t be making much off the property. It’s been sitting on the market for several months at this point so they’re probably just cutting their losses and moving onto the next property. But it’s worked out well for us.

I love the house but, even before moving in, I know it’s not our “forever home.” It doesn’t have space for a home office like I’d wanted, is not walking-distance from a jogging trail (it’s close, but not walking distance like our current rental house), and it’s kitchen isn’t the best design or configuration. The yard is a hot mess (I’m talking chest-high weeds all around. Zero in the way of landscaping or maintenance), it’s not in our ideal neighborhood, and the bedrooms and bathrooms are all a bit on the small side.

Before we decided this was “the one” we looked at a LOT of houses. Some that were right around our target price range (mid 100’s) and some that were on the higher end (high 100’s/low 200’s). We talked about the trade-offs of buying a little bit cheaper home that doesn’t quite have everything we want versus buying a more expensive home with all the wish list items. Ultimately, we decided that this was best for our family. It suits all of our immediate needs and has lots of great perks plus some added bonuses we hadn’t even considered (e.g., it has a wood-burning fireplace, which will be fun in winter; and it’s in a gated community, which is nice for safety/security). But probably the biggest decision factor was the price-point of the home.

Our goal is to continue pushing forward with debt-payoff. But now my sights aren’t just solely focused on the student loan debts. Now I’m considering the possibility of paying off a home mortgage. Living fully debt free. Wild, right?

I’ve done some basic calculations and I think it could be possible….within 5 or 6 years time. Yeah.  100% debt freedom. For real.

I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves (we don’t even own this home yet and I’m already fantasizing about paying it off – what is wrong with me!? lol!). But blogging here has changed me. Working so hard toward this awesome goal has changed me. It’s changed us as a family. And it just seems so plain to me. The way to financial independence is by being fully debt-free. With a home in the high 100’s or low 200s that would be further from our reach. But this home makes it possible. We would be living within our means. Nay, we’d be living below our means, really. Our mortgage would be such a small percentage of our monthly income that it’d still be easy to continue making big debt payments. And after the student loan debt is gone, we would snowball that money into the mortgage payments. And then into savings and retirement. And into travel and gift-giving and charity work. And on and on and the sky is the limit!

We have some pretty big dreams. Pretty lofty goals. And we see this house as part of that puzzle. A piece that is going to help us live a comfortable lifestyle and continue making progress toward our larger goals.

And we’ve definitely fallen for it. So there’s that.

Now let’s just cross our fingers that nothing falls through and it becomes ours in…oh a week or so, I suppose. : )

How long was your home-buying process? Ours has been ridiculously long, but my mom (a real estate broker) thinks a lot of that has been due to our jobs. I’ve only been in my current position one year and, prior to that, hubs and I were both self-employed/working contract-based jobs. That’s caused us to need a LOT of extra paperwork to prove our income, show that deposits in our accounts were due to business transactions (and not drug money I guess? I don’t know!), etc. Plus the negotiations, themselves, took forever. Lots of back-and-forth initially and again after the home inspection. Almost walked away a couple times in the process and ended up sticking it out after coming to terms. It’s felt like a total roller coaster (and it’s been a solid 2 months at this point since our first offer was submitted). I hope it’s all worth it in the end!!! : )


Buying & Selling Houses

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For someone who has had zero experience with real estate in the past, I’m sure getting pretty familiar with the buying and selling of homes now!

We have officially hired a realtor to sell my Dad’s Texas house (I orchestrated the sale of his Utah house over summer; it closed in mid-August). It needs some make-ready stuff so it’s not on the market yet, but should be within 2 weeks’ time. All the necessary work has been outsourced and is scheduled. Fingers crossed, we hope to net nearly $200,000 from the sale of this property.  I met with a financial advisor over Labor Day weekend while I was in Austin, but I wasn’t crazy about the person. He also does insurance and kept pressuring me to do an annuity and seemed a bit shady when I asked about fees, etc. Luckily, it was a free consultation so no money lost, I’m just out the time it took to meet with the guy (which was 2 freaking hours!!! and i literally had to get up and walk out because I had another meeting but the guy was STILL talking).

Any suggestions on ways to find trustworthy financial advisors? I had found this guy through Dave Ramsey’s site (he was listed as an ELP, even though the things he was telling me definitely do NOT align with Ramsey’s views).

Meanwhile, we’re also on the brink of buying our first home! Eeek! I’ve had quite a few suggestions to hold off for the time being (see this post) but I think we’re already too emotionally invested in it at this point. We found a house at the end of August and put in an offer over the Labor Day weekend. It took a couple weeks for negotiations (the “owner” is actually a company that does flips and – it seems – is not as eager as a physical occupant might be to sell the place. We went back-and-forth a few times, but it was at least 2-3 days to hear back after each offer/counter-offer). After negotiations our offer was accepted and now we wait for the inspection. My mom (a real estate broker) has warned me to stay guarded until we get a report back because, of course, it could be a game-changer. The house is 30 years old, so there’s that. If all goes well we could be moving in early October! Woohoo!!!   Oh – Also (!!!) – the monthly payment is actually going to be smaller than we’d originally planned. Even with the taxes included in escrow on a 15-year fixed mortgage it looks like the payment will save us probably $200/month off our current rental rate.  I’m trying to temper myself and not get too excited (since things could still fall through), but it’s tough!!! I’m already envisioning furniture placement, etc.

Aside from real estate stuff, this weekend is going to be jam-packed! We’ve got a playdate at the local (free!) splash pad on Saturday morning (probably our last hurrah of the summer), then “Parents’ Night Out” (a free kids’ care program offered by our preschool so parents can have a date night. They do 2 per year and its such a nice perk – and totally free!!!). Sunday I’ve got a long run planned in the morning (have I mentioned I registered for another half-marathon?  My third total, but second since I’ve been blogging here.) The half-marathon is in December but my training plan started a couple weeks ago and Sundays are my long run days. Then Sunday afternoon we’ve got a kids’ birthday party for the girls to attend. Lots of fun and mostly free events. Now I just can’t wait until it truly feels like fall weather here – it’s still hot as blazes in Tucson! Bring on the cooler temps!!!

Hope your weekends are hoppin’! : )

 


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