We got the place. I cant believe it. We found out late last night.
We submitted our offer (7% off list price)first thing in the morning- and I guess they countered in the afternoon sometime- but our realtor never checked his email until 7pm when the other realtor called him and asked when he was going to respond! They countered back at 5% off list price which we accepted. They must have been nervous when they heard nothing from us all day- but we were nervous because we thought we heard nothing from them all day! Before our realtor told us about the counter offer I checked realtor.com and all the listings for all the units had been pulled from the site. I was sure we had lost the place.
The property is one of 3 attached Federal rowhouses all for sale. All started out listed over a year ago for $150k over the final sale price. This past weekend the reduced price was reduced further causing a flurry of activity. BB and I didnt know all this of course. We knew that when we were house hunting last year this property was way out of our budget- but we didnt know about all the recent price reductions. We just looked online and noticed that it was now listed reasonably- so reasonably it was the cheapest place in the city!
So we requested to see the place and learned there were 3 offers that all came in the day before or that day. Our realtor explained to the selling realtor that he was showing it to an interested couple (us) and our offer was likely to come in. We wrote an offer that night.
The next morning we learned that 2 full priced offers were in on 2 of the properties. Another offer was on the table not full priced and we didnt know what unit it was for. We had already submitted our 7% off list- price offer but our realtor told us to go in full price. We didnt- because we thought we were competitive enough to at least be given a "final and best" chance. I still and likely never will know what the other offer was for but the seller chose to counter with us which we accepted. We saved ourselves enough money to buy all new kitchen and laundry appliances when the time comes-so we were happy with that. The other 2 units were sold for full price to a single buyer who I believe wants to convert 1 unit to a SFH like us- and rent out the other unit.
After over 350 days on the market all 3 units sold the same day! That seller must be doing a happy -happy dance.
So I am in shock. BB is stepping up to the plate- he scheduled a meeting with a bank for a mortgage for this afternoon. He is handling it all himself. Thankfully- because I have still not recovered from the mortgage hell I went through last year.
I am excited because it is 1 block from a favorite bar I like to go to. $1 drink night on Thursdays!
Anyways- it's bittersweet because I am in LOVE with my current home. Far more in love than this new place. But the new place has renters in place so it will be another 6 months or so till we figure out if we want to move into it or not. The only reason we would want to is because of the KILLER location. And it's resale value will hold up whether it is converted into a SFH or not. My current property is worth more as a duplex right now because we are in a low income/high renters neighborhood.
Without further ado:
Floor to ceiling windows!
Viewing the 'Owning a house' Category
So there was a situation last night regarding the tenents who live upstaires. (Background: We have 3 college kids who are 4 months away from finishing up the 2nd year of a 2 year lease.)Last night around 3:45am a fight broke out. I was woken up by the banging and stopming. I woke up BB and we immediately assumed 1 kid was locked out and was banging on the door to wake his roomates to let him in. BB went outside with the keys to let the kid into his unit and on the 2nd floor balcony was a 2 kids just going at it. BB yelled at them to stop which they immediately did- but one kid immediately asked if he could spend the night downstaires in our unit, to which we responded "Of Course."
So the kid sleeps in our guest bedroom and when he gets up in the morning he and BB talk about last night. Seems 1 roomate is graduating in 4 months and all he does every night is get belligerently drunk. The other roomate wanted to call 911 last night on the drunk roomate but they didnt. And the fight broke out.
The kid who slept in our unit wants to move out. He finished up his associates degree in December, has not been able to find a job, and wants to return to New England where his parents are- but he has been staying because he is tied to the lease. To make it worse- the kid who wants to leave was in AA recently and now no longer wants to be around drinking or drunk people.
I was already at work when this conversation took place. BB sent the kid back upstaires to work it out with the option that if he can get the other 2 kids to take over his 3rd of the rent- he can go. I am inclined to let the kid go anyways and absorb the $350 month loss because the long term consequenses of an AA recovering person living with a drunk is worse than the $1400 we would be losing. BB is not on board with that- telling me I am not their mother.
So I think regardless- the lease ending in 4 months is not going to be re-newed. We will have to find new tenents. BB and I are going to go over our options tonight about this situation- and what to do about getting new tenents.
Offhand I think our best bet will be asking a realtor to find us a tenent. The realtor can let the applicants in and out of the unit (because I work so much)- and screen their background checks. (I dont know how to do that.) I think we pay a small fee- like 10% of the first few months rent?
okay, we decided not to jump on the rental property. You guys clarified a lot for me. It is risky- and it is foolish to take a financially solid life- and put it in a gambling type of situation.
The whole situation did force me and BB to talk and we did reach some agreement points:
We do want to eventually buy another rental property. We are not sure when, but decided we will do it when everything "feels" right. The deal has to be great (as this one was), and we have a solid downpayment (that we saved).
So that means we want to start actively saving money for the next downpayment. Do we have any way to squeeze more money from our turnip buget? Not really. We are pretty maxed out as far as my paycheck goes- but it is good to know we want to do this- it feels good to have goals and know what we want our future to look like.
We know that when BB gets a full time job-we will be in a position to take this step. It was nice to put some responsibility on BB, and to finally get some of his skin in the game.
We thought of partnering with our friend who wants to buy a rental property. That way we could split the down payment and only need to come up with $10,000 which would be much easier. But the profits would be split and I didnt think the return was worth the headaches. We would need to get lawyers involved, form an LLC, and put a good friendship on the line.
So as of now- it's a vehical we want to pursue to build long term wealth- but it's not in our 6 month plan. If BB gets a job- it might be in our 1 year plan- who knows- so we will prepare for the possibility by continuing to live a thrify lifestyle and saving as much as we can- but stop considering it as a viable option for right now.
One thing learned; buying a second property seems easier than buying a first property. I now understand the differences between major expenses, and minor fixes. I am not so attached to "finding my dream home" and can look at the building more objectively. Deciding if a property will work seems like a much quicker decision process this time around. I am glad- because the stress associated with finding the first one is not something I want to do again.
Here is where I show my ignorance.
I have heard about this "homestead tax exemption" but never really knew what it was. People would talk about getting it when I lived (rented) in Florida and I never really understood it. Here in Savannah, People have mentioned they dont know what current property taxes are now because of the homestead exemption.
I just kind of assumed it was something that was offered a long time ago and did not effect me.
Then I got a bill in the mail from my mortgage company. They have been under charging me for my taxes. They plan to increase my payment by $31.00 a month!
That directly eats into my $100 a month additional payment to the principal!
I got angry and motivated. I pulled out a "tax assement" that had been sent to my house a few months ago that listed alot of values that did not make sense to me because they were valueing my house at about 1/2 of what I paid (so I was hiding the paper in shame), and told BB to march his way over to the courthouse, mortgage company or somewhere and FIX THIS while I was at work the next day.
BB did. I am still not sure what he did, but he locked in our taxes using this homestead exemption so they can never be raised. ?? I think. He was told it was locked it in at $50,000 below the stated value of the house. ?? So we essentially locked in paying taxes on a $50,000 property? That does not really make sense to me.But BB is saying its true. But BB has been plenty wrong before.
So I am not getting my hopes up- but am faxing over the documents to the loan company today and I hope they return my payment back to it's original number. I'll keep you updated.
I spent this weekend working on our bathroom. Really- decorating the bathroom. It is the guest bath and it was pretty ugly with odds and end fixtures, weird buttery colored walls, and builder basic everything.
So BB and I:
painted the walls a midnight blue color. (his choice since it is his primary bathroom.)
repainted the trim in off white.
We replaced main light over the mirror.
added a sconce to another wall.
replaced faceplates for light switches and electrical outlets in a brush nickel finish.
Bought a ivory shower curtain and bathmat.
Total cost $270.00
yes. It was! Where did the money go I am not sure. $90 for the 2 lights...$15 shower curtain...$15 bathmat...
...it was the stupid paint. First I bought a white sage color that looked HORRIBLE in the bathroom. The we bought the blue...but I only bought a quart. Then we needed another quart. Then a third quart. And a quart for the trim. Adds up I guess.
And to top it off...I still dont like the bathroom. The layout is very weird, and I never had the plaster walls refinished so they are very very textured. With the textured walls, the bathroom walls look sloppy. And there is no window, so no natural light. And because the walls are plaster- BB will not allow me to put up shelving/towel hooks or pictures because he does not want to ruin/start a messy project with drilling holes in plaster.
In addition- BB picked te paint color. But its a very formal color that would do a nice job to show off higher end finishes that we just dont have. So I am trying to like the bathroom. But mostly I just dont know if I like it or not. I am confused by it.
On the plus side: The walls look SO TALL! with that formal dark paint color. You walk in and the walls are framed by white tiles on the floor and a white ceiling...so the ceilings just look so much higher than the ceiling of the rest of the house, although they are the same height.
I can walk downtown! I have lived here 5 months and never had the nerve to do it!
I know I touched on the whole living in a transitional neighborhood thing yesterday; we have about 4 unsafe streets north of us, and 3 streets east of us separating my house from the safer, easygoing touristy historic district of Savannah. I actually live across the street from the historic district line, but it's still pretty rough. (and South or West of us..gets much worse.) It's literally less than a min car ride before you have crossed into the better neighborhoods but I have never been brave enough to make the walk over there. A few weeks ago I became comfortable circling my own block when walking my dog.
Well, I did it (with my pit bull)!!! Yesterday I decided to walk East along the busiest road for 3 streets and turn North along another busy street. Within 10 min I was well into the historic district and enjoying beautiful massive victorian houses all around me!
We walked to the central park where Casey Jones enjoyed a long drink from the doggy fountain and I was able to sit at an outdoor cafe for a drink.
Then we walked further North and sat down at the park where BB and I were married 8 months ago.
And we made it home safely too!
This is a huge feat for me. I'm not normally a frightened person, but I rarely see people pleasure walking in my neighborhood (ok only once that I can think of). And it was a compromise I made to get into my house but was disappointed to know that we were not able to walk to bars, restaurants and enjoy the walkability of the city due to the location we were living. Finding parking in the city is actually not that difficult but it always did irritate me to be so close but feel so separated from all the places we like to go.
But now we CAN walk! (Only in daylight with a pit bull and without a purse or bag.)And we did it again this morning just to make sure yesterday wasnt a fluke. Nope- its ok. People stayed a respectable distance from my dog. It helps that she goes bats**t crazy every time she sees a stray cat- makes her look really mean. I wasnt carrying a purse or wearing anything to entice anyone to try to rob me and I think that helped.
So it might be several years before the neighborhood changes around enough for me to be able to REALLY walk to places in the city I need to go for shopping or meeting friends- (meaning walking without a dog, with a purse, possibly after dark and dressed somewhat nice)- but this is a really surprising and triumphant start!
I am so excited I don't need to drive 4 streets away, park and take my dog for a walk! I really feel like I am a part of the city now!
And just one observation- many men stopped to ask me if I have puppies or if I breed Casey Jones and I replied she is a shelter dog, not a purebred. So no, I don't breed her. The men were surprised she was from a shelter and asked "from a shelter? Around here?" So I wonder if my city does not allow pit bulls to be adopted out. That's too bad if there is some ban on pit bulls.
I decided to try to shave down my $125.00 monthly cable/phone/internet bill. I learned that if I return the HDTV converter box (allows us to watch everything on TV in High def) I will save $15.00 a month. BB is gone for 3 more months and he took the main TV with him, so the box is not even being used right now.
The cable company wanted $20.00 to send a tech to pick up the box, or I can return it myself for free. I opted to take it in myself.
As I stood in line waiting to return the box I congratulated myself on my decision to take the box in myself and save myself the $20.00. At work I earn $10/ hr and would have to be at work 2 hrs just to pay the tech to come and pick up the box- vs the 1/2 hr of time spent standing in line for free.
After thinking all these self- congratulatory thoughts I thought about how to lower my bundled services bill still farther. I pay $20 a month for a land phone line that I don't even use. We only have the land line so that the home security alarm will work in the house. So we pay $60 a month in home security services plus $20 a month on a land line to be able to activate the home security.
It sure would be nice to make that $80 bill go away. Unfortunately, BB and I purchased our house in a "transitional" or "up and coming" area and we very much need the security alarm. As I was standing in line today mulling it over- trying to anticipate the day that we could cancel both the home alarm and useless land line- I realized that we were actually paying a "hidden cost" associated with our house.
BB and I chose this house because 1) we love it and 2)because it was very inexpensive due to its location. However- buying a house in a bad area is costing us $1000 a year that we wouldn't ordinarily have had to pay.
If I really was concerned I could do some type of cost analysis to see if the lowered price of the house was worth the $1000 a year we pay (but off hand I think we still come out ahead), but really its a useless math problem. We bought the house- nothing we can do about it now.
I still love the house. Paying $80 a month on a service that we wouldn't need if we were living somewhere else is ok with me if that means we can live here. Its just an epiphany I had today while standing in a Comcast line.
And on another topic- my mortgage bill was paid today. I'm a nerd. I LOVE paying my mortgage bill!
First, I hope every mother had a wonderful mothers day today.
I spent the day doing odds and ends around the house. It was great getting so much little stuff done in between TV breaks.
I have spent the last few weeks very enthusiastically planting to get a full cottage garden effect all around the house. Over the last week or so- the enthusiasm puttered out as the days got hotter. I gave myself props that my gardening was finished before it got too hot to plant...but today I learned how much water it takes to keep the garden looking healthy. I found so many wilted plants that I now think I might have to water everyday to keep my plantings alive this summer.
I also touch up painted the back door. BB painted it a nice bright red, but the white trim needed to be touched up. I got that done today.
I polished the hardwood floors. I use orange glow, and like the sheen it leaves behind. I hope it is healthy for my 90 yr old floors..I know todays hard wood is not the same as old hardwood was, and new wood products might damage old wood.
And the piece de resistance...I started on the pocket doors. BB and I got them working months ago- but a previous owner had slapped a coat of paint over them, also covering up the brass door locking mechanism with paint. I spent 2 hours today scraping the paint off the brass locks and am so proud of how they turned out. The 2 hours wasnt too bad. The doors divide the living room and dining room- so I listened to a few "House" episodes while I scraped.
Overall a low spend day. Just picked up some tools at home depot that I thought I would need for the doors- and didn't even use them! A razor blade ended up being the best tool of all!
Oh, BBs mothers day gift was a bit spendy. Used 1-800-flowers to deliver a basket of sunflowers to BB's mom- $85.00!! And it wasn't a same day delivery! I booked this 3 days before delivery! I feel bad that BB's mom probably thinks we spent $30 based on the quality/quantity of the flowers- but that company is expensive and we spent way more than I really was prepared to spend. Oh well.
When BB & I bought this house there was no grass on the lawn at all. Savannah has MONTHS where leaves rain down everyday from all the tree lined streets around here. And the leaves smother the grass. Having a grass lawn is difficult to maintain. Luckily we didn't have a yard full of weeds either. We just had a yard full of dirt and leaves.
I have spent the last 2 months growing grass. Every morning and every night I had to hop about on the yard trying to collect the leaves while not crushing baby grass or disturbing seed. (I didn't spring for Sod. At $20 a bag for grass seed and needing 3 bags..I don't know why we didn't get sod.)I spent hours with a watering can watering the yard because hooking a hose up is just to much work when it must be disconnected again or else it will be stolen.
So yesterday it was time to finally buy a lawn mower!!! I had proved grass will grow, and that it will stay alive.
We bought an old fashioned push mower for $95.00. We bought it because the yard is small, and I need something lightweight because we store it underneath the house, in the foundation. (lots of lifting it in and out.)
In addition, another perk is the fact that we don't use gas for it. (yesterday being Earth Day and all.) We initially bought a weed whacker to cut the grass but I have only used it once because I hate the noise, the vibrating and the weight of it.
It takes me about 2x as long to mow with a push mower than an electric mower- but since it takes me 20 min with the push mower I don't see the problem.
So I don't know if I ever got around to posting about our roof issue.
Anyways, we purchased our house 3 months ago with a 4 yr old roof. The roof was in excellent condition- according to our inspector.
So 2 weeks ago we get 3 days of heavy rain, high winds.
Every morning I kept letting the dog out in the backyard to find shingles on the grass. I would mutter about people throwing their trash in my yard and go back inside.
Finally on the 3rd day there was a sheet of shingles hanging from the power lines by the house. No person can make that kind of toss.
BB & I have a roofer at the house the next day. I was still in denial that we had a problem and kind of felt bad for wasting this guys time.
Anyways, the shingles were put on improperly and the storm loosened a bunch, and we were told this will be a re-occuring problem.
I called my home insurance and had an adjuster come out. He agreed to replace 1/2 the roof (2 slopes that were damaged) to a tune of $4500 minus our $1000 deduction.
We talked with the roofer and set up what I thought was a sweet deal. He will replace the two damaged slopes, add a duct venting system to the roof to help the shingles last longer (our inspector did tell us to get this to increase the shingle life), replace 2 slope areas that had been tarred over and not been correctly fitted with metal inserts, and walk the entire roof, re-enforcing any shingles that were loose on the good roof sides. All for $5400. So $1900 out of our pocket.
I thought it was a good deal, but my home insurance company warned me that they will drop my coverage if I file 3 claims in 3 consecutive years, and that was stressing me a bit. I worry that if our entire roof is improperly shingled, then its only a matter of time before the other half of the roof needs to be replaced as well. And that's ANOTHER claim I will need to file.
BB and I actually want a metal roof. The roofs come in pretty colors, they look cool, they are good for the environment, and they last about 30-50 years. We decided when we bought this house 3 months ago to start saving for a metal roof so we would have the $15,000.00+ when our roof needed to be replaced in 10 years. Well 10 years came in 3 months and we don't have the $15 grand needed. We questioned this roofer about it but couldn't get a price below $13,000. BB and I had privately said the only way we will agree to a metal roof is if we can get a quote below $12,000. So we told the roofer "thanks but no thanks" and planned for the shingle repair.
So...this morning roofer guy comes to the house and lays it on the line. He says "I know you guys want a metal roof and I have not worked in a while, I have nothing lined up for 2 weeks, I need a big project and will replace your ENTIRE roof (and front porch roof) with a metal one for an extra $4500.00."
This new opportunity means we will get a metal roof for $9900.00!! This deal is way to good to pass up.
The roofer actually put the metal roof on our next door neighbors house 3 yrs ago. (We contacted this roofer through the neighbors referral) The roofer also directed us to a house that he installed a metal roof on a few streets away. I recognized the address immediately because it was for sale last summer and I spent several weeks trying to configure how I could make another 100k appear in my wallet so I could afford the house! I didn't get that house; but I did get the same roofer the new owners used!
I am excited. Doing the math, we have the $3500 from the insurance claim, we have $4500 leftover from the $8000 first time homeowners credit, and so that leaves $1900 coming out of our savings.
The roofer is coming out tomorrow morning with a new contract for us to fill out.
I cant believe I am so excited about a roof. I have become so boring.
I am afraid to look at what I have spent in house projects. I know every single project went into the "way overpriced" range. I have learned some things along the home improvement way:
1. When a contractor quotes you a price, get it in writing and make sure it covers the cost of EVERYTHING including materials.
2. Plan out projects. Don't go into demo mode until you have a game plan for the outcome. Making decisions on the fly will have very costly consequences.
3. Always consider the cost of additional tools needed when deciding whether to do a project yourself or hire the job out. Even doing a simple paint job will get very costly when you factor in paintbrushes, tarps, painting tape, ext. if you don't already have that.
4. If you need to embark on a project that
might crop up regularly, buy the tools and do it yourself. Buying paintbrushes and paint supplies is worth it because it is reusable and easy to store. Buying wheelbarrows and sledgehammers to break up and re pour a slab of concrete might not be so re-usable or easy to store.
5. Don't fight the house. Your wallet will lose. If there is a major structural reason you do not like something- learn to overlook it or don't buy the house. I have embraced my closet sized master bath with 5'8" ceilings that BB cannot fit into. The room is mine-all-mine!
6. If you are "not in the mood" to get started, work on a project- don't do it. It will turn out terribly. Likewise with buying something needed for the house. If you need a rug; don't pressure yourself to find a rug just because your husband cant stand staring at a rug-less dining room. The rug you buy will end up very overpriced, poor quality, and not really match the rooms color scheme at all- or any other room in your houses color scheme. Poor quality is poor quality and now you are stuck with the $50.00 rug. (Same goes for a guest room bedspread...and a master bedroom bedspread for that matter.)
7. Craigslist and ebay is only a deal if you are searching for the item listed. If you come across it and it is a "good deal", it "kind of fits the description you need" or "you cant tell from the picture of the quality or color"...don't buy it! You cannot return it, and (if using craigslist) when you go to the persons house it sure is awkward to look at it and say "thanks but no thanks" (not to mention the time wasted). Canoes-yes. ladders and hammers-yes. Rugs- no. curtains-no.
8. Understand the emotional strain of a DIY project. This is the amount of tempers lost, ensueing fights, and petty comments that are created during the project. After numerous project attempts, I learned that my husband has a "the mind is willing but the body cant" attitude and wasted a lot of time buying into BB's plan to fix, put up, renovate this or that..only to get started on the project to learn that 1) his back flat out will not let him do it. or 2)he is determined to do it despite screaming pain and suddenly everything around him is getting on his nerves (including me).
If you must stop a project after its been started and get a pro out to the site to finish, repair, or clean up...you run into lesson #2. If you allow your husband to grit his teeth and attempt to work through the pain...a long, heavy fight is immenent. And if you escape the fight without losing your mind, you have to tolerate his moaning and groaning for the next week every time he needs to perform a mundane task around the house like putting on shoes. Sometimes there are hidden COSTS to a DIY project that has nothing to do with your bank account.
I have been stressing over the house exterior colors and it has come out nicely.
I was totally uncertain right up until the end when the last of the teal was painted over.
Once the teal was gone the rest of the colors came together and made a pretty picture.
We will be painting the "arms" of the cement the brick red color- but we had to stop painting when a tornado came into town this afternoon.
Anyways, this is the finished product. I do like teal...on someone elses house though!
I am repainting a lot of the house this weekend. I am very worried about doing it. I love love love this house. And one reasons I love it is the bright color scheme on the exterior.
But over time I noticed that the house is actually a dark green. The house is painted a dark grey-geen color. This will sound ridiculous but I thought our house was teal.
Our foundation, steps, and front porch are painted a blindingly bright teal color. And the teal was so bright that it was the most noticable color feature of the house and I just assumed the whole house was teal.
I'm not the only one. Our next door neighbor said she has never looked at our house color either because her eyes could not get past the teal.
So I bought "brick red" paint and started working on the foundation. We will paint the porch and steps creamy "Catalina Sand" color, and also have basic white to touch up the trim.
Now I have noticed that the house looks kind of dark. And a bit Primary. I mean primary red with a primary green and a primary white all on one house.
If the teal did one thing it certainly "brightened" up the house. So these paint choices did have this one unintended consequence of "darkening" the house. I think I just need to get used to it. Or maybe once the porch and steps get their coat of creme....
I have come to realize I prefer light colored houses. I like the light green, yellow, white, or light blue houses. This green color would not have been my first choice for a house color (But if the HOUSE was painted in teal I think I would love that!)
Anyways, I have concerns. I am concerned that the house will look mundane and boring now. I am concerned that the "creme" color will look out of place in this sea of primary colors. I am concerned the creme color will look odd next to the white trim (not enough color contrast). I am concerned the house will look overall dark.
But I keep telling myself that if I don't like the final effect then maybe I can paint the foundation the creme color from the porch and steps....Funny how colors sitting next to each other give off such different effects than when they are standing alone.
Anyways, this blog entry was mostly for me to sort out my own mixed emotions about these paint colors...
After painting all day:
I felt like a grown up yesterday. I called our home insurance company to add our cars onto the list and also get an umbrella policy.
I'm not completely positive what an Umbrella policy is and covers, but I do know that I have been told to get one.
I think in the event of a lawsuit of any kind the policy covers everything I own and protects my assets.
The woman asked if I wanted a million dollar policy or a two million dollar policy and I quickly tried to mentally figure my net worth and asked her for a "half million dollar policy".
No go. They don't have those. Just as well. Some day the economy will swing back to good and real estate will rise, I will be frugal and not increase the policy and that's the day I'll be whacked with a lawsuit for something. It was only $140 a year which seems very fair to me!
On another note; the appraisal we had purchased for our new home came in today-it appraised for $43k above what we paid for it! Before we put in the $10k of work! Exciting stuff, but I do love this property and hope to never leave.
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