Saturday, May 27, 2006

Holy House Hunting, Batman!

So something else I disdain is house hunting. Not that I'm very experienced in this. We've only been looking for about 2 months and not very hard at that. We look, we laugh, we drive on. I've been telling people that house hunting is like dating - you see something you like, you get butterflies and you think, "Maybe." Then you go see it and see it's surroundings yet you still say, "Maybe." You get inside and oh boy, so not what you were expecting. You leave, dejected, looking back hoping something will transform before your eyes, wondering what you can do to change it but you talk sense into your own head and go off to see the next prospect.

Maybe Husband and I are still in the unrealistic stage as far as what we're going to be able to get. We're not rich, that's for sure. Not monetarily. But Husband and I are blessed. We have great jobs that we love and that love us back. He can do overtime and, even though I can't, I believe my bosses know how to show that they value people. So, we can't complain. But we live in Connecticut - Fairfield County, CT. Know anything about this place? Well, let's just say that if you can make it here, you can make it in New York and California. In other words, it costs beaucoup bucks to live here, whether you make good money or not. But if you do want to accumulate wealth, you need to have a home. It's as simple as that. And after you get your first one, ideally it will get easier to get what you really want the 2nd time around because you'll have something of real value to sell. Plus, I want to own at least 2 more homes later, one for each child so we can rent them out and sell them when they get ready to go to college or do whatever they plan to do after high school. But we have to get the first one first.

After years of not being homeowners, it is simply time. We live with my MIL. This situation is only truly comfortable for the child of the parents in whose home you reside, and that's not me. It's a blessing as well, don't get me wrong. But I moved out of my parents' house in 1994, approximately 2 years after I graduated college, and I haven't looked back. I've had my own place for years (as a renter) but to save money, get rid of bills and take the next step, my MIL said, "I told Husband when you two got married to come live with me so you could save money." Husband didn't tell me that because he didn't think I'd want to do it. MIL had to tell me three years later. He was right AND wrong, but we won't talk about that right now. We've been here 1 1/2 years now and it is beyond time to go. But thanks to my MIL and some other Godsends, I've got manageable debt, some savings and can finally enjoy my marriage today, look toward tomorrow and not be overshadowed by yesterday - also another topic for another time.

So we look. There's too many Capes out there for my taste. Must be a New England thing but why one or two bedrooms on the main floor and two upstairs? Either both of my children will be on a floor separate from us or one will. And what first-floor bedroom occupant will have his/her sleep constantly interrupted by the noisy people in the kitchen (we love the thought of entertaining, at last)? Nope. Bad idea all the way around. We do, however, know what we want. It will probably look something like that one up there. ^ They are cookie cutter houses, after all:

New construction, Colonial
Minimum 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths
2-car garage
Full basement (preferably completed)
Sizeable back yard (must have room for swing set)
In the town we already live in
On a tertiary street (Don't like that word? It means not primary, i.e. busy, and not secondary, i.e. likely to have people cutting through to avoid the primary street, yet not so deeply buried that we'd have to send guides and dogs with extra food stored around their necks to show you to our house.)
With room to grow (another kid in the future? We shall see.)

The reality is we may have to squeeze ourselves into something just so we can get our start. We are not a starter-home sized family but that may not matter. Why? Let me show you the numbers:

Cost of house: $359,000
1% Deposit: $3,590
5% Downpayment: $17,950
Balance to lawyer in 9 days: $14,360
Mortgage needed: $341,050
Mortgage rate: 7 3/8% = $2,920
Possible Taxes: $300
Some other expenses not included: Homeowner's insurance, PMI, Closing, Lawyer's fees
Having a home we can finally call our own: Definitely NOT priceless!

So you see? These are the scary numbers. I hate looking around but I hate not knowing what's going on even more so I let my MIL - our real estate agent - look things up. Husband finds new constructions all the time and we wait and we look and we save and we pray and we hope and we wait and we look some more. I don't know how long this will take but if you're keeping up with me then you already know I am impatient. But Husband is my complement. He knows how to wait for the right thing (hmm, sounds like a compliment to me!) and he knows how to look for a bargain (hmm, again) and when he says we're going to get what we want, I believe him. He's a challenging man for impatient old me but he hasn't let me down yet.
Today is Sunday and I believe we have a few open houses to hit after church. There is one down the street from the $359,000. It's only 10 grand less but every penny counts. I marked a few off that we could at least pass by. It would be great if one of these turned out to be The One but maybe it's too soon. Maybe we should date a while before committing ourselves. Or maybe we should just be friends. It's not you, it's us. We just want different things. You want an occupant but we want to be able to have a life after paying the mortgage. Let's just see what happens, OK?

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