Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On the Prowl

The hubby and I are on the prowl.  Our prey: A HOUSE!  Yes, we have made the giant decision to start looking for a house.  We are giddy with joy because this has been our dream since we were seventeen.  Yes, we were weird seventeen year olds.  There are so many factors that went into this decision; the main one being the amount we are currently paying for rent is more than a mortgage payment.  One option for us would be to move to a place that was less expensive, BUT the reason we chose this townhouse was that it was as cheap as an apartment.   Also, anything lower in price than our current place is located in an unsafe neighborhood, is smaller in size than our place is already, or is in really poor condition. 

So, for the last several months we have been pinching our pennies and putting our heads together to figure out how we can finance a house.  There are a lot of programs out there for first time homebuyers where you only need to put 3% down, but with any loan if you come up with less than 20% down initially you have to pay PMI (Prime Mortgage Insurance).  PMI sucks.  It is a type of insurance that is typically required if you take out a loan for 80% or over of your homes value.  It is insurance for the bank that protects against a loss if the homeowner defaults on the loan.  So, it is basically an extra fee that does not go towards your principle of your loan.  Depending on the percentage of your down payment this can range from less than $100 a month to over a couple hundred dollars a month.  The upside is that you get into a house a lot faster! Other options are actually saving the money, getting loans from friends or family for the rest of the 20% that you don’t have, selling assets, cashing in savings bonds, or anything else creative you can think of that will get you cash. 

Once we figured that actually buying a home was within our reach we asked family and friends if there was a realtor in the area they could recommend.  We thankfully were connected with a fabulous agent!  What we like about her is that she is enthusiastic and willing to show us any property we suggest, but she also searches for homes makes suggestions based on what she thinks we would like.  She also keeps us up to date on what’s new on the market.  Any questions we have had so far she has looked into right away and will e-mail us or call us the moment she gets the information including nights and weekends!

After looking at several houses and getting excited about one specifically, more on that later, we spoke to a lending agent to get pre-approved for our loan.  This is a process that may take several days depending on your bank.  Our loan agent requested things such as driver’s license, bank statements for 2 months, and tax information to get the approval process started.  If you are thinking about making an offer on a house it may be a good idea to get pre-approved because it makes your offer stronger because you already have the ok from the bank. 

So here is the lowdown on what we are looking for:


·        3+ bedrooms
·        1.5+ baths
·        3+ car garage
·        2,000 square feet
·        Structurally sound
·        Spacious lot where your neighbors can’t see into your bathroom
·        Oodles of CHARM!

Wish List:

·        Wood floors
·        Deck
·        Walk out basement  

I know our demands are high, however, I am not delusional and realize it is our first house on a tight budget and compromises will need to be made.  When we started to actually tour houses, as opposed to drooling over them on the internet, we quickly realized where our priorities were at and which items had more weight than others.  To us, the outside lot is a huge deciding factor.  We are both country at heart and want an outside lot that is spacious enough to barbeque without being too crowded in a neighborhood with houses on top of each other.  BUT we are in the city so we do realize that yes, we will see our neighbors.  Since we want to DIY the house in a way that fits our taste the floor plan is more important to us than the “pretty” factors inside.  We see outdated kitchens and baths and ugly paneling and tile as wonderful opportunities to customize the house and add equity.  However, we do want a house that has enough “charm” and personality structurally that it will be able to shine with a little elbow grease.  We also want the house to be big enough for our family to grow because we don’t want to make assumptions of where the market will be at when we do decide to add to our family.  A house with two bedrooms wouldn’t give us much room to expand, as we would like a room for guests and an office, so three bedrooms is pretty important to us!

This two story bungalow and this craftsman bungalow have the charm and feel we are looking for:

house overall

I love the columns in the front and the beautiful porch areas.  We have seen four properties so far and have had one that really caught our eye.  However, we do want to see more rather than jumping at the first thing we see.  Keep checking in for updates about our house hunting adventures!

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