Thursday, October 28, 2010

One Step Closer!

Last night we met with our loan officer at the bank for a little check in and update on everything.  We had already been pre-approved to buy a home, so we were not really expecting anything out of the ordinary.  And there really wasn't anything.  We both have pretty good credit (J has almost perfect credit and I'm just on the verge of reaching the excellent status) and had been approved for far more then the price range we're looking in.  But we feel that we need to keep our first house a reasonable price and not get carried away.  Our loan officer was really nice and explained a lot of things to us on how everything would go on our closing day and what our next steps should/would be.  She has worked with our real estate agent before, so we trust that she'll be honest and up front with us, and she's already at the bank that we go through, so it's an added bonus. 

It's starting to get exciting and nerve racking all at the same time.  We're excited to buy our first home, but the stress of knowing that we might OWN a home soon is outrageous.  I'm pretty sure I'll never sleep a full nights sleep again, well at least until we get the house, and probably not for a while after that.  This is such a big step for us.  We're so lucky because we have one of the best real estate agents ever.  He seriously is fantastic.  He has constant contact with us and makes us feel like we're his only clients, which we know we're not.  I'm so happy we decided to change agents, it was the best decision we've made.   

And after taking this first step into adulthood, well I guess getting real jobs was the first step, but anyway, maybe we'll actually get married next summer.  You know one of those other big things adults do.  Who knows, now that we've stepped into the realm of adulthood, we might be making big decisions all the time. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Three House Showings and a Decision?

Disclaimer - this is a long post, so you'll probably get bored half way though.  I apologize in advance. 

So we saw all three houses this weekend.  We saw them back to back, well almost, the one house we had to see on Sunday because the people decided not to show on Saturday.  All of the houses were second or third showings, so knew that these were the three we were going to pick from.  And after seeing 20+ houses, I was glad to have then narrowed down to three.  So lets look at the pros and cons of each. 

House #1

This was the first house we were supposed to see on Saturday, but ended up seeing on Sunday.  It was a three bedroom ranch, with two car attached garage, fenced yard, and finished basement.  

  • 2194 sq ft
  • Fenced yard
  • Finished basement that was large and very open
  • Bar in the basement
  • First floor laundry
  • Hard wood (laminate) floors
  • 2 1/2 baths
  • Large extra room upstairs that could be an office or extra family room
  • Nice landscaping
  • Beautiful deck
  • New Windows
  • Nice neighborhood
  • Very small two car garage, two cars could barely fit in there
  • The kitchen had newer counter tops, but I still would want a full tear out
  • Small odd shaped yard
  • The house across the street had a front yard full of statues
  • Price, this house was on the high end of what we would like to pay
  • Busier street
  • Not within walking distance of anything
So we liked this house the first time we walked through it.  It was in a nice neighborhood and it looks adorable from the street.  The house is very nice on the inside with new windows and wood floors (they are laminate, but looked nice).  The basement was fantastic, it was very open and had a bar, full bathroom, and a workshop.  Unfortunately, the duct ran right through the middle of the basement, so tall people could never stand in the middle of the room or even in front of the bar, but me and J are both short enough, so it really wasn't a huge deal.

The real problem was with the small garage.  It was so small there would be no way J of working on his car.  There was no room for a work bench or our bikes.  And there is no way we could add on because of the shape of the lot.  So that was a real deal breaker.  The other problem was the kitchen.  The counter tops did not line up and had fairly large gaps, and the cabinets were very old.  Plus it had an original faux brick wall.  The kitchen would be a full tear out, and that's gonna cost us some money.  And with this house being on the high end of our price range, would it be worth it?

House #2     

This house was a three bedroom ranch with an attached garage and unfinished basement.

  • 1340 sq ft (unfinished basement)
  • Beautiful landscaping
  • Nice size yard
  • Large windows
  • Huge garage
  • Very large basement
  • Nice neighborhood
  • Quiet street
  • 2 full baths
  • Fenced Yard
  • Carpet thought the whole house, blah
  • Outdated kitchen with all original items
  • Strange floor plan
  • High Price
This was the house that J went and saw the other day while I was at the dentist.  He said it had potential and he wanted me to see it.  It was a decent square footage considering that the basement was unfinished and could be finished.  A very large family room or rec room could be put down there and probably make the square footage of the house well over 2000 sq ft.  The garage was huge.  It was perfect for what J would need it for and plenty of room for my car as well.  The yard was very nicely landscaped, probably way better then I could ever do.  It was beautiful

But there were some glaring problems that I saw.  One the kitchen was all original, meaning it had yellow counter tops, yellow sink, yellow appliances, as well as yellow floors.  That means all the counter tops would need to be replaced, the floor would need to ripped out, and all the appliances replaced.  And it had a single sink, and there was not room for a double.  I don't think I could live with a single sink.

It also had a floor plan I didn't like.  You walked in, to the left was the door to the kitchen and to the right was a hall to the bedrooms and next to that was an open staircase to the basement and then your living room.  An open staircase to an unfinished basement in the living room.  It was so strange.  I just didn't like it and I didn't like that it wasn't an open floor plan.  I love open floor plans and that's why I want a ranch house.  I just wasn't feeling this house at all.

House #3

This is a three bedroom ranch with a two car detached garage.

  • 1843 sq ft
  • 2 full bath
  • Nice neighboorhood
  • Quiet street
  • Large garage
  • Full finished basement including workshop, extra bedroom and full bath
  • Nice size yard
  • Hardwood floors (real)
  • 3 season porch
  • New windows
  • New counter tops and sink in kitchen
  • Bay window
  • Upstairs office
  • No landscaping
  • Small deck
  • Unfenced yard
  • Long driveway
  • Flooring needs updating in some rooms
  • Bathroom needs a little updating
  • Lighting needs updating
  • Needs a new paint job
So this was the third time we've been through this house.  We really like this house.  It has almost everything we're looking for.  It needs a little updating here and there, but nothing major.  The hardwood floors are beautiful and are in such good shape for being original.  The floor plan is very open and great.  It has a beautiful large bay window in the living room.  They just replaced the counter tops and sink in the kitchen, and they are beautiful.  The three season porch is huge.  We would like to put a patio door from the porch to back yard, but that can be a project for next summer.  The yard is large and very private.

The house does need a little updating.  I'm not a fan of the floor in the kitchen, J keeps telling me that it's not that bad.  The yard isn't fenced in, so we'll have to decide if we want to fence it in or get invisible fencing for little Yoda.  They just painted the house blue, and well I'm not a fan of blue houses, so we discussed painting it next spring, which will be easy since it's a ranch.  Like I said before, we would like to put a patio door out to the back yard from the three season porch to kinda open it up and make the flow a little nicer.  The bathroom needs some updating, but nothing a little cosmetic work and some paint won't do.  There is a half wall as you walk in that we might take down and we would probably take down a pair of upper cabinets to open up the flow of the house.  Then we would also take out a built-in in the kitchen to add a little more counter space.


We think we've made up our minds and we're going for house number 3, I know big surprise.  We just really like this house and think that it has almost all the things we want.  We've done our homework and looked at almost every house on the market, and we keep coming back to this one.  It has the least amount of curb appeal because the lack of landscaping, but has the most potential and everything we're looking for.  We're talking to the lender today about closing costs and getting a pre-approval for this specific house (we got a general pre-approval when we started looking).  Then we're going to make the appointment to really go through the house and check everything; faucets, windows, water pressure, open and close doors, etc, etc.  And after that visit, we're planning on making an offer.

It's exciting and scary all at the same time.  I've already started freaking out, but I know we'll be happy with our decision, we really did our homework and planned everything out.  So I'll keep everyone up to date and hopefully everything will go to plan.      

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Almost There - Narrowed Down to Three

    Picture from
    I don't have much for you today.  All the stuff we're doing and going through right now really has us stressed out.  But the good news is that we have narrowed down the houses to three of them.  All of them have their perks and their downfalls, but they all are really nice and have what we want.  J went and saw one of them by himself on Tuesday (I had a dentist appointment), he said it was really nice and that we should add it to the list.  So that one was added to the other two.  It really has a beautiful yard and it's a really big house, so I'm excited to see it.  

    I'm really looking forward to finally make a decision.  I can't wait to live closer to family, friends, and work (and a grocery store).  I know owning a house is hard work, but I think if we can cut our daily commute (45 min each way, plus 45 on the bus) out, I think we will have so much more time and we won't feel as exhausted every night.  And it will be great to live closer to friends and family, we'll actually be able to do things with them without the hour+ drive.  And best of all, I'll be able to paint my walls what ever color I want.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    The Light at the End!

    So I think we actually might be nearing the end of our house search.  After two more open houses this past weekend and what I think will be our last home showing this week, I think we're getting ready to make that big decision.  I think we might actually be ready to sit down and decide which house we want to pursue.  It's exciting.

    We did two open houses this weekend.  One was a nice house, but needed a lot of updating.  And the basement had water damage, so we weren't as thrilled as we thought we would be. 

    Picture from

    But the other house we liked a lot.  It's in a nice neighborhood and has a lot of square footage.  It has a two car attached garage and a fenced in back yard.  It is a three bedroom house with 2 full baths and one half bath.  It has a wonderful finished basement with a bar and one of the full baths.  There was even a work room in the basement and a pretty nice size crawl space. 

    It had a family room/den off of the kitchen and a beautiful deck off of that room.  The bedrooms were on the smaller side, but not tiny.  The living room was nice and roomy and had a large picture window that let in a ton of light. 

    The house looks pretty nice, but it did have it's cons too.  The yard was tiny and a strange shape since the house was on a bend in the road.  The garage was small, really small.  There was no extra room in it at all, so no work bench or tool box would even fit.  And the house across the street had a front yard full of angel lawn statues.  And the largest con was the price.  It's a bit on the higher end of what we were looking for, but the sellers are motivated to sell, so we might be able to get it for a nice price.     

    But even with a few of the cons, we have added it to the list of house we are interested in.  It's a strong contender for our final cut.  We have one more house showing this week and I think that actually might be the last one.  We've been through list after list of homes, and I think we've exhausted all the homes in our price range.  I really hope make a decision soon, I'm starting to get sick of looking at houses.  You know, I'm looking forward to the frustration/exhaustion from the actually buying process and the moving process, Yay buying a home (insert sarcasm here).                 

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Another Home Showing!

    So Monday night we went back and had a second showing of this blue house.  We really like this house a lot and think that it has a lot of potential.  But we want to make sure that we are making an educated decision when we buy a house because, well it's a pretty big important purchase.

    And because of that we will be looking at another house tonight.  It is roughly the same size and they are asking the same amount for it.    It is also a ranch, so it's a pretty good comparison house.

    The real estate agent also said that he would go through the list and see if there was anything he though was worth us taking a look at.  He's such a nice guy, he doesn't talk down to us or act like we have no idea what we're doing.  He has told us that we have done our homework and though this is our first home, we seem to know our stuff.  I really like working with him.  He also fully explains stuff to us and doesn't sugar coat anything. I love working with him so much more then any of the other agents we've dealt with.

    I'll keep everyone updated and hopefully have some more pictures to share tomorrow.


    And in the shameless plug region, J has a gig at Distortion Thursday at Mr. Robers here in Madison tomorrow.  If you are looking for a fun time and some great music, stop on down.  You know you wanna get out there and skank (for all of you not into ska, this is the actual term for the dancing you do, you can look it up on YouTube)!!!!!  

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Kiwi In Wisconsin

    So I'm starting to get over the slump I was in yesterday.  But just a little bit.  Stress is a funny thing and sure takes a lot out of a person.  But anyway, no more whining on here, that's not what this blog is about.   

    One of the things I can't wait for when we move is to be able to plant the garden I've always wanted.  Right now I have a potted garden (not a pot garden people, come on get your minds out of the gutter).  I don't mind using the pots, but I'm limited in ways to what I can grow, so I can't wait to have a large garden with all the yummy veggies and fruit I can imagine.  Believe me my list is long.  With almost everything you can think of.

    And the most exciting thing that I found out was that I can grow Kiwi in Wisconsin.  It's a special Kiwi plant called the Hardy Arctic Kiwi and it produces a kiwifruit that sweeter then the New Zealand Kiwi.  You have no idea how excited I am about this.  I mean I can grow sweet, wonderful Kiwifruit in Wisconsin, that's pretty awesome.

    They grow as vines and you need a male and a female plant to produce fruit.  And from what I've ready, they are really beautiful plants that many people just grow for their colorful leaves and flowers.  They are also insect and disease resistant and will grow in poor soil.  That sounds like and awesome plant.  I can grow them on trellises along the house.   

    And look at that fruit.  The best part is the fruit is sweet and it doesn't have the brown skin.  You eat the skin on these.  It's like the skin of a cherry.  That is super awesome.  And from what I've read so far, they said the fruit is best off the vine, but can be canned or used in jellies and pies.  Even better.  

    I found a few places online that sell the plants.  You do need a female and a male plant to make fruit, but most places sell two or three plants, so that's great.  I'm going to do a little bit more research and then check out some local nurseries, but I will have kiwifruit growing next year, I promise this.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010


    So I guess I'm suffering from a mid-week slump.  I know it's Thursday already and then it will be Friday, but I'm still just feeling, blah.  We have been busy every single night since J has gotten back from training.  But not with fun stuff, just with normal everyday activities.  You know; grocery shopping, cleaning, dealing with the neighbors and now the landlords need to talk to us.  What the heck?  I just want a day where I can sit down and relax, or at least do something I will actually have fun doing.

    See, right now we live in a tiny, tiny little town that doesn't have a grocery store or a pharmacy.  It has an outlet mall because it's right on the main highway between Madison and Milwaukee, but no grocery store.  Yes, I can buy a Coach bag, but not milk.  And yes we have plenty of gas stations, 4 to be exact, and I can run there for milk, but those places are so over priced, it's ridiculous.  So every time I need to go get groceries, I need to run to one of the surrounding towns.  Blah. 

    And don't even get me started on our neighbors.  We live in a side by side duplex on a privately owned road of duplexes.  When we moved in, it was so nice.  Our first year was pretty nice.  The apartment is smaller, but fine for us.  We have a yard and a deck and a basement and a garage, you know all the nice things that most people don't get when renting.  Then the neighbors moved in and everything went to crap.  I honestly can't stand living there anymore.  It's not just the neighbors, It's just a number of things that I can do with out.  I really can't wait to buy a house and move. 

    We're also trying to figure out the right bus for me to take in the morning.  That's pretty interesting.  But hopefully we'll get that figured out soon.  And as long as J gives me about an hours head up of when he's going to leave work in the afternoon, I'm good on which bus I need to get on then. 

    I'm just having an overload moment.  I'm sure with some rest this weekend, I'll be back to my old self, ready to take on the world.  And I better rest up, the real estate agent will be back from vacation next week.  We have three houses we would like to compare the blue house and then it's decision time; keep looking or put an offer in (I really think we're going to put an offer in).  So no craziness this weekend, just rest and relaxation.  Hey I just got an order of beads to play with, I have to get out of this slump so I can start to create.  :-)

    Thank you for listening to me vent, I promise this won't happen very often.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    My Dream Bathroom

    So I know me and J haven't purchased a house yet, but I can't wait to make my dream bathroom.  It's probably my second favorite room in a house after the kitchen.  Well maybe it's my third favorite room after my studio and then the kitchen.

    I have already made J look at bathroom fixtures with me at Menards.  We were there to pick up some lumber for one of J's amps, and I got distracted.  Well actually it's pretty easy for me to get distracted by bathroom or kitchen fixtures.  They're just so pretty.

    We've both decided that we will put a whirlpool tub in what ever house we get (unless they already have one).  We both grew up with one and would love to have one again.  I would love one of those with the circulating air and the water jets, but that is just a dream.  So your standard whirlpool tub will do.  I looked at those this last weekend.  It was so nice to think that maybe someday I can relax in a whirlpool tub again.  Oh, how nice that will be.

    I've also been looking at bathroom sinks.  I have the one I think I want all picked out.  I wasn't sure if J would like it because it's a little on the modern side, but he loves it as much as I do.

    I mean look at it, it's so pretty.  I'm not sold on the faucet, but I'm sure we could find one we like better.

    I just think this would look fantastic.  Now again, we haven't even put an offer in on a house, but I think I would go with this sink no matter what house we bought.  They have it in three different sizes, so depending on what size bathroom the house has, I can still go with this sink.  That's awesome.

    When we were doing the open house thing this last weekend, we saw a bathroom that I fell in love with.  The walls were painted a slate gray and trimmed in white with a little white bead board behind the pedestal sink.  I fell in love with the gray walls.  That's so modern and clean looking.  I think I might be in love and I think I might go that direction when we move.  I like this magnet gray a lot.

    I'm glad we went to that one open house*, the house was a lot smaller then we were looking for, but it was decorated beautifully.  The people that live there now have implacable taste.  I got some great ideas.  Also they had added crown molding to every room.  It looked great and it just proved my point that crown molding adds such a finished feel to every house.

    So now I have my color schemes for the master bedroom, living room, and bathroom down.  Now just watch, we'll buy a house and I'll go in the complete opposite direction.   

    *I'm also glad we went to this open house because they had a kitty and I got to pet him.  He was so pretty and well behaved, nothing like our two. 
    And also this is not a paid post, boy do I wish it was, I just really love that sink.      

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    J's first day!

    Well today is J's first day at his new job.  He finished up his week of training in Columbus, IN on Friday and now it's on to his first day of work.  He actually has a class today, so it won't even be like his first day of work, but close enough.

    We drove in together today, and he seemed a little nervous, but I'm sure he'll be fine.  From what everyone tells us, the company is a really good one and is really good to their employees.  They are growing and expanding and have a great policy on diversity in the workplace.  One of the founders actually help organize the march on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr.  That's pretty awesome.  They believe a diverse work place makes for a better product and better marketing.  By having people working there from all different backgrounds, they have a better understanding of different cultures and countries, which is a great policy if you ask me (the company J worked for before didn't really seem to see it this way).  So hopefully J will enjoy it and I'm sure he'll be excited to be back as a design engineer, doing what he does best.  Okay, so I'm a little confused on what he does all day, he tried to explain and show me once and I looked like a deer in headlights, but I'm sure he'll enjoy it non the less.

    In house hunting news, we drove around again and did the whole open house thing again.  We've pretty much got this thing down to a science.  We covered 25 houses, in only a few hours.  Like I said, we've got this down.

    There were a few houses that we liked and wanted to add to our list to go see, but we still pretty much like the one we looked at a week ago.  The real estate agent sent us pictures of the new counters and sink in the kitchen.  I really like them.  Just update the floor to match and I think the kitchen looks great (and paint the walls).

    We're going to look a few houses in the same price range and size and then look at this one again and decide if we want to make an offer, or keep looking.  I'm leaning towards making an offer because this house really does have all the things we're looking for.  But you don't know until you've looked at all the rest (okay maybe not all of them, but most of them).  The real estate agent is out of town on vacation this week, but as soon as he gets back we'll be trucking right along.  So I'll keep you posted.