Friday, June 26, 2015

Our House-Buying Story Part III

The closing of our home was scary, but worth it. Our real estate agent put in an offer to the seller. We actually chose our real estate agent thanks mostly to our gut feelings. She had been one of the first to respond to me on Trulia. She got us into homes we wanted to see super quickly, always responded to us in a timely manner, and seemed like a real go-getter. We are so thankful she was our real estate agent.

The seller countered our offer. We put in another offer, asking the seller to cover a certain amount of closing costs. They agreed and the process began.

We put in an earnest deposit. This typically runs $500-$1000. This money signifies that you are serious about the home and takes it off the market. This is money you receive back at closing. 

The entire process took about two months. We had an inspection of the home during the month of May along with a mold test. The inspection is not required, but is definitely a good idea. They typically run $300-$500. Tests like radon and mold are extra. We went with an inspector that our real estate agent recommended. The inspection allowed us to create a list of items we wanted the seller to fix and alerted us to any problems in the house. The seller is not required to fix any of these things, but ours thankfully did so. If the seller agrees to fix the items, they are put in the contract and the seller must fix the items before the closing date.

After our inspection, there was the appraisal. The appraisal was conducted by our mortgage lender and assured us that the home was worth what the seller was asking. Everything in our inspection and appraisal checked out. We continued to sign a bunch of paperwork and waited for our closing date.

The day before closing we walked through our home to make sure the seller had fixed everything in our agreement. On the day of closing we walked into law office, review our contract, signed our final paperwork and walked out with the keys.

Every home-buying process is different. Ours was incredibly easy thanks to our fantastic mortgage lender, awesome real estate agent, and co-operative seller. Find people you trust, do your homework, and go with your gut. We love our home and cannot wait to create memories here.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who helped us move! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Our House-Buying Story Part I

Christopher and I have officially been homeowners now for over a week. As I was browsing the internet, it was difficult to find home-buying stories or advice, so I thought I would share mine here.

This post is turning into a bit of a series. There is so much to write about, I cannot fit it into one post.

If you had told me in March that I would be a homeowner in June, I would not have believed you. Christopher and I knew that we eventually wanted to buy a home in this area, however we were content at the time to remain in the apartment.

Then came the Great Flood of 2015...

Noah would have felt right at home in our apartment...

Sometime in March there had been a little leaking from our kitchen ceiling. A local handyman was called, but nothing was done. A month later, our kitchen was FLOODED with sewage water. We ended up losing everything in our kitchen and were unable to live in our apartment for two weeks.

Our landlord was downright nasty about the ordeal and made life very stressful for us.

Christopher and I began searching for rentals, but nothing came up. One day we frustratingly jumped into the car and started driving around Bangor and Brewer looking for some place, ANY PLACE to rent. We stopped in one neighborhood and got out to take a walk around a park. As we were walking we noticed there were a lot of "for sale" signs in the neighborhood. That is when we decided to stop looking for rentals and start figuring out whether we could buy our own place to call home.

That following Monday we called our bank and spoke to a mortgage lender. Before we started the process we wanted to see if we had any chance of qualifying. Our mortgage lender seemed hopeful and submitted a pre-approval application for us. We passed with flying colors and started to search for houses.

Christopher and I had a list of wants and needs. We needed at least three bedrooms, two baths, a good-sized kitchen, a decent backyard for our massive dog and for the home to be within a reasonable driving distance from Christopher's workplace and my school. We also knew we needed a home that was ready to move into. While I would have loved a fixer-upper, we both knew that it was not the right time for us to tackle such a project.  We qualified for the rural development loan, so we wanted a place that meet the loan's specifications. For more information about that loan, check out this website. We wanted a home that had a bathtub (not just a shower), a garage, a laundry room, and was near water.

I used the websites Trulia and Zillow to look for homes. If anyone is interested, I could write a separate blog post about that experience. I really liked both these websites and was able to get a general idea of what was available in our area. I saved homes onto an inspiration board through the website and then sent inquiries to homes I was really interested in.

To see what our touring experience was like (aka the fun stuff), tune in next time. That's all folks!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Our House-Buying Story Part II

And now for the touring!....

Christopher and I ended up touring five homes thanks to Trulia and Zillow. The first home was a dud. The house was beautiful on the outside but needed a lot of work on the inside, especially the horribly outdated kitchen. The agent who gave us the tour was dating and moving in with the owner who was selling it. Guys, do yourselves a favor and find an agent who does not have ulterior motives.

Real estate agents not only help you find the home you want to buy, but also try to sell you the homes they have taken on as, for lack of a better word, their projects. They can serve as buying and selling agents. If you purchase a home that the real estate agent was trying to sell, they will make double their commission. While this is not always an issue, and in some cases can even be beneficial, the situation with the first home we looked at would have just been a mess.

We thanked the guy and walked away as fast as we could without causing suspicion away from the home. The house is still on the market.

The second home we toured ended up being the "one". But first let me tell you about the rest of the fails.

The third home we visited was actually a well-known historical home. I was really hoping this would be the "one", but the house needs major and I mean MAJOR renovations. The house is basically falling apart. The back door does not have a lock. The floors are coming up. The foundations are shaky. There is still damage from a fire that occurred 150 years ago.

There was also the issue of an (aspiring) historian living in this house. Would I be able to make the home my own or would I feel pressured to keep the home the way it was during the days of the original homeowners?

We passed on this one. The home is still for sale.

The fourth home we toured we thought was going to be the "one". Online it looked like the perfect house for us. This is why touring is so important!

The downstairs of the home was nice. The kitchen of this home as OK. It was not our favorite but it was something we could live with. The upstairs was awful. It was incredibly dark with very few windows. The home had been advertised as a three bedroom, but "two bedroom with a closet-sized room" would have been a more accurate description. Christopher could hardly stand up straight thanks to some slanted walls. The bathroom was a 1970's blue nightmare and would have required a lot of costly renovations.

We were incredibly disappointed and passed.
The last home we toured had a wonderful downstairs, but a nightmarish upstairs. The upstairs rooms were all crookedly connected without a hallway. It felt like something from Alice in Wonderland.  The stairwells were steep with little to no lighting and the basement was covered in mold. This was a h-e-"double hockey sticks" no.

The second home, our dream home, the "one"- was the house we bought. The home has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a garage, a laundry room, a mudroom, a great kitchen, plenty of storage, a bathtub and is on the Penobscot River- all of our wants and needs! The home was originally built in 1898 by what we assume was a wealthy family thanks to our second "servant's" stair and a space that would have served as a parlor room. The home was foreclosed upon a few years ago and was purchased by a construction company that completely renovated the place. The home has a lot of history but is in perfect condition- the best of both worlds. The house also qualified for the rural development loan. 

We immediately fell in love with the home when we saw it, but did not want to be too hasty. We scheduled a second tour, hoping we would find some issues with the home. Our second tour made us fall more in love with the house. The day after our second tour, we put an offer on the house....

To find out what happened with our closing, tune in next time!

A Birthday in Camden

Visiting coastal cities on my birthday is kind of my thing. I am basically a fish so the closer I can get to water, than happier I will be. Last year we visited Castine and this year we went to Camden.

We started our trip with a delicious lunch at Cappy's. This place was seriously good. Then we explored some of the local shops, marina and library. The library was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Outside they were setting up for a wedding. There was a little children's garden which had the names of books written by Maine authors.

Our day ended with some ice cream at Camden Cone and more shop exploring. It was a seriously awesome birthday.