nimitzbrood: (Default)
( Jan. 28th, 2008 10:38 am)
January 28, 2008 10:41 AM

So...we put an offer in on a house on Saturday and it was accepted. The house is a 1955 cedar ranch - red. I’m not going to post a lot of details because there’s still an appraisal, inspection, and closing to go through before we get the keys. We gave the seller the asking price of $169,900 but asked for 3% for closing. Submitted and earnest money check along with the offer and got a call back that evening. (We’ll probably still have to come to the table with some cash for closing but I have a very kind friend that I can ask for it.)

There really isn’t anything we would have to do to move into the place except have DirectTV come by and install a satellite dish (there’s a Dish Network one already on the side of the house) and any electrical stuff I want done immediately. (I’d like to have 220V run to the garage but I’m not sure what that would cost. I’ll have to check on that because if I don’t do it right away then it’ll likely be a long time before I can afford to get it done.)

Anyway I will likely buy two new LCD TVs because I want to reduce our electric usage and our existing TVs are CRT ones. I might even buy three - one for our daughter’s room - and another TiVo unit. All that comes out to about $1400 but with what we save in electricity it will be worth it. (I don’t know - it depends on any fees we have yet to pay.) And after we close I can roll over the credit union loan and pay back some of the closing money right away and still have some cash for the TVs AND still have reserves. The problem of course is getting to the closing point...

So all we’re waiting for at this point is to get all the contract stuff taken care of, have an appraisal, have an inspection, and then close.

A long way to go yet thus why I’m not getting too attached at this point.

There is something I will have looked at though once we buy the house. It currently has a partial basement and a crawl space under the rest of the house. I’ll probably find out how deep the footings are on the house and see if I can’t dig out the crawl space and expand it into a full basement. If the footings are 6 foot or deeper then I should be able to just have them cut the one wall in the partial basement and I’ll just take out a bucket of dirt on a regular basis until it’s empty. Regardless I’ll need to get under there and insulate the floors because there’s no insulation at all under there. But that’s truly a weekend project.

Speaking of projects...

My wife should be bringing home a bunch of newspaper today so we can continue packing the kitchen. Our friend’s stuff is leaving CA on the 4th of February and will be here 7 - 14 days after that. One of the things included in that stuff will be the large china cabinet. I’ve moved that damn thing - it’s heavy. We’re not dragging that thing downstairs. ;-) It’s going to come right in the back door and into the kitchen. That means we need to have our stuff out of the way before then. Not a big deal. I pretty much want us to be packed by the 15th or 20th of next month. I don’t think that’s too unreasonable.

_My_ biggest headache is going to be the stuff in the rack downstairs and the rack itself. That thing was a pain to get in there and I need to take all the systems out of it before I move it. That means being completely down for at least a day or three. Likely less because I fully intend to get the DSL installed and turned on before we walk in the door. That way I can change the configuration files on the firewall, down all the systems, transport them, and then bring them all back up and have them running immediately. The only pain will be DNS changeover at the registrar level because I have some stuff that is not running on my in-house BIND servers. Maybe I should take the time to rectify that before the whole move. It would make my downtime a little less but not too much because I still have to propagate DNS to the root servers. A horse a piece I guess...

*re-reads entire post*

Damn. I’ve become attached. Oh well....
nimitzbrood: (Default)
( Jan. 15th, 2008 11:05 am)
January 15, 2008 11:05 AM

So we’re still in the housing market. Still looking.

The contenders from the weekend had some problems but two out of the five we might make a serious offer on. The farmhouse behind the restaurant needs a washer/dryer hookup but we’re wondering why one isn’t in there already after all this time. And the cedar one might require some immediate sewer hookup done once we buy it. If the sellers can find a way to get us cash to do that I’m fine with that. And putting in a washer/dryer hookup in the one house, provided there’s not a reason we can’t have one, isn’t all that costly. I think that the cedar house has a little more going on for us space-wise but the farmhouse has more class. (The ranch was bland and boring and didn’t really have enough space.) I’ll have to seriously talk it over with my wife as this is not a decision I can make alone. At least not without serious consequences.

And stress is still keeping me off my feed. I’m working on it though. Last night didn’t help because I didn’t get out of work until 9:30 p.m. and hadn’t had any serious food all day. Not good but since I ate on the way home it was ok.

Still a lot of packing to be done at home. I’ve got several empty boxes and totes to fill so I better get moving. And I’m way behind in shipping things out to people. Need to take care of that pronto! It’s going to be cold this week too so working out in the garage is not going to be easy either. I’ll need to fire up our housemate’s turbo-heater if I want to get anything done out there. No biggie really as there’s plenty to get done inside.

The spam problem is getting worse. When I check the main Ameritech account that goes with my ADSL I now get 100+ messages. All of them spam except maybe one status update from SBC. And I’m now getting daily spam on my main personal account. Bummer. :-(

I vote that we take any spammer we find, string them up in a harness above a giant wood chipper. I’m thinking extremely high up. Then give them a cell phone with a half dead battery. Then tell them that the winch will lower them into the wood chipper at a rate of speed depending on how much spam their servers send out. If their servers cease operation for 7 days they will be released. If they resume spamming the cable starts at half the length it was previously. Eventually some spammer is going to be stupid enough to get himself shredded and that will put a serious damper on the others out there.

(Ok I can dream can’t I?)

Regardless something has to be done and fining them doesn’t seem to be working...
January 11, 2008 11:09 AM

So our real estate agent told me today that the one house sold for $137k. I think what’s going to have to happen here is that we’re going to have to re-evaluate what we’re giving as offers on these things.

We’ll see some more tomorrow but I did manage to do drive-by views of three of them. The 100 year old farmhouse looks ok...except...that it’s right behind a restaurant right off the main drag in town.

The second one looks like your average ranch on your average street in your average neighborhood. It’s an average shade of blue and has average pine trees _right_ in front of the small windows in the front. Still...average exteriors often contain interesting things and it _does_ have enough sunlit space for me to do solar stuff.

The one cedar place looks, oddly, exactly like the picture except for the weather yesterday. Not a lot of sunlight there because of trees so no solar stuff for me but maybe the space is right. And maybe since it’s on a hill there’s some wind I can use. That and I couldn’t tell if I could put a satellite dish up due to the trees. Likely not. Still wondering why that one is so cheap...

I’m starting to get a little concerned about time here. It’s entirely possible that if we’re not careful we could miss our funding window. But I’m not sure what’s going to happen there either because the lender we’re pre-qualified with has just been bought. And due to our marginal credit scores nobody else will touch us. I think I’ll try and get a hold of the one mortgage lady at our bank and set up and appointment. It would be nice to have another possibility under our belt.

Probably should run the credit reports again just to see where we stand but I really don’t want to do that too often because when _you_ do it it supposedly lowers your score. Or at least that’s how our mortgage broker explained it to me.

How fucked up is that?! A lender or store or employer or ALMOST ANYBODY ELSE can endlessly check my credit score without really affecting it but if I check it regularly to monitor it I get screwed in the process. More proof that the credit reporting agencies are fucked up.

So anyway we’ll see what the houses this weekend look like. We’re two down from the original list so we’re only seeing four. The one was in a town/village that my wife does not want to live in - she thinks the police are corrupt. (Note - that’s speculation and I have no evidence of such and reserve judgment.) The other one’s listing expired so we can’t go see it.

So that’s one more house than I did a drive-by of yesterday. Well at least I know how to get to three out of the four.


Still a little tired today. I need to start sleeping more and eating better again. The cold medicine I’ve been taking the last couple of weeks has made me really hungry so I’ve been eating more. Not good. But then I’ve also been under more stress than usual so between that and the medicine and the cold I’m not all that surprised that I’ve been slipping into old habits.

Maybe I’ll go out and get a tank of propane this weekend so I can grill some stuff. I’ve got a nice pan for grilling vegetables over open flame that I’d like to try so maybe I’ll do that. I need to get back on track with that. I’ve had entirely too much bad food here in the last month or so.
January 10, 2008 2:18 PM

Let’s see...we have...

A 100+ year old farmhouse for $159,900.

A 50 year old frame ranch for $159,900.

A huge (1500+ square-feet) cedar siding covered ranch with basement and garage for $164,900.

Another ranch for $164,900.

A 50 year ranch with deck, storage shed, and 2 car garage for $165,900.

And last but not least a 50 year old brick ranch for $169,000.

Now you’ll notice that all of those are above $150,000. That’s not a mistake on my part. What’s happened is that my wife and I are looking at the higher end of what we can afford because the houses, with the exception of the two that have been bought our from under us, around $150k have had some serious issues.

I’m aware no house is perfect but some of these houses shouldn’t even be on the market at the price they are without some serious cleanup. (Mold Central in the gallery for instance.) And a “unfinished refurb” shouldn’t mean “unlivable shithole that I didn’t bother cleaning up”.

Thus we’ve raised our prices in an effort to get something a little better suited to us. And it’s not like we can’t afford those homes it’s just that the PMI _in addition_ to the mortgage is pain.

So anyway we’re going to see the ones above this weekend and I’ll post more pictures. I’m wondering what’s wrong with the cedar one because the pictures all look good, it’s big, has a full basement, and a 1.5 car garage on top of it. So why is it so low priced?

I wish we had the time to wait on this but our financing has time limits attached to it so we can’t afford to tarry. I just really want the cycle to be finished and done with.

Need to get more sleep. I’m pretty worn out right now. Need to get that back in balance.

Damn. Forgot to grab the empty boxes from work for packing stuff in. :-( Oh well I’ll get them when I’m in on Sunday. (I have to pick up my daughter tomorrow so I can’t take them then.)

I’m way behind on that too. Other than the books and some stuff I’m going to ship to other people I haven’t gotten anything packed really. That’s not good because if we want to move quickly we need to have it already packed.

Watched the movie Stardust last night. It was _excellent_ in my opinion except for the musical transitions. To me they seemed too long and too formal. I know why they were like that , they had to show time passing, but they still felt a little out of place. Other than that I will only say this. I started the movie playing on my Macbook and didn’t get up until it was finished. That’s how good it was. I really liked it. :-)

Now I suppose I’ll have to get the book to see what stuff they left out...
nimitzbrood: (Default)
( Jan. 7th, 2008 11:17 am)
January 7, 2008 11:20 AM

So with the exception of the one sump-pump house I don’t think anything we saw this weekend was a real candidate. So rather than “reverse Walnut Tree” myself I’ve increased my upper limit to $165k. And after getting a bunch of listings from our real estate agent today it seems that was the right choice because the listings I printed out today appear to be much cleaner and a better deal than the ones we’ve already looked at.

Oh and the “reverse Walnut Tree” refers to an episode of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares where the owner of the Walnut Tree restaurant refused to lower his prices to bring in more business. So a reverse of that would be refusing to raise my upper price limit to get a better house.

So we’ll likely do some drive-bys of the properties I’ve printed out today just so we get a feel for them before asking to see the insides. The one property I’m wondering why it’s so cheap because it’s huge, is a newer house, and is considerably less than what I’d expect to pay for that property. If it’s truly that good then I’ll probably make a serious offer on it as quickly as I can. But we have to see it first.

Y’know it’s funny how things shake out of the woodwork. My wife suggested that maybe I should quit my job and just take pictures of real estate for buyers so they can make decisions on the house without having to see it. And previous to this I had a dream that I was doing just that. I had started a business doing just those types of things - taking pictures for both buyers and sellers. So maybe that’s in the future. *shrug* But right now I don’t have time to consider that path.

Time’s a-wasting and we need to get something bought here soon. I’m fairly sure that we could get pre-qualified again without too much trouble but I don’t want to take that chance in this market. The annoying thing is that this whole thing is an inverse proportion problem. The longer we wait the chances of finding the perfect house increase while the chances of us getting finances for that house decrease.

Incredibly annoying from my point of view. We’re creating our own pressure for when we want to move and here is this OTHER pressure on top of everything that we really don’t need.

The worst part about it is that if we do lose our financing then we’re almost certainly renting until we can sock away at least $10k for a down-payment. And that will massively delay our search because renting _eats_ money without really giving anything but a place to live back. That makes it almost an order of magnitude harder to save money in that kind of environment. You become “rent poor” without having the benefit of at least gaining equity. Sucks big-time.

So we’ll try and look at more houses this weekend but since I’m off on Wednesday I’m hoping I’ll have time to do drive-by pictures at the very least. I can maybe get some drive-by pics for my wife and then we can decide if we want to see those houses. Nothing beats an in-person visit but the pictures can at least give an idea of the current curb appeal before we make an actual appointment.

Personally though I’m of the opinion that curb appeal means little as long as the house is solid and/or acceptable to us. I’m willing to live in what some would consider an “ugly” house until we fix things up. Most of what I’d be doing would be in the garage or inside the house anyway so the outside being “ugly” for a while doesn’t bother me.

But then I’m not your average appearance-obsessed humanoid on this planet... ;-)
nimitzbrood: (Default)
( Jan. 6th, 2008 01:59 pm)
January 6, 2008 1:59 PM

So we went house hunting again today. (Pictures here: http://www.terminalcore.net/gallery/House_Hunting)

The first two we saw (Round 5 and Round 6 of Experiments in House Hunting) had some serious problems. Round 5 was a stone house that was sinking in front so much that the living room floor was significantly parabolic in shape. It also had point heaters in the bathroom and utility closet indicating that the furnace was not working. Round 6 was a hellishly incomplete rehab that we didn’t look at really long. It was just way too much work.

The next one (Round 7) was something that was move-in-ready but the sump pump was constantly cycling while we were there. It’s been a thaw the last couple of days so there was a lot of water and the lot slopes down to the house. The house is a serious contender if we can figure out what to do so the sump pump doesn’t need to run all the time. The other issue is that the house isn’t centered on the lot. The front lawn is HUGE while the backyard is tiny. I could put a workshop on that space but it would obscure the curb appeal of the house unless it was put really close to the front of the house. Of course what I could do would be to put a large garage+workshop in at the front of the property and then close off the existing garage and use the space for another bedroom or family room.

The second to last one I like to call Mold City (Round 8). It had a hellishly large amount of space in the basement that was unfinished and quite suitable for ALL my project needs. Unfortunately every drywalled wall in that basement looked like it had mold as well as the bathroom. It also looks like it needs electrical work. On the plus side there was a cop living across the street, a satellite dish installed, a fenced large yard once the fence by the garage was repaired, and a large garage.

Round 9 was the house that tried to kill me with it’s deck. (Okay maybe kill is the wrong word...maybe...bite would be a better word.) The deck hasn’t been cleaned in years and as I said it’s been a thaw for the last couple of days so it was slick and I slipped on it and landed on my ass. Other than that the house only had a few minor issues. The washer/dryer was in the kitchen area, the furnace was older, we’d need to buy appliances, and the electrical panel was an old fuse panel instead of a breaker panel. On the upside the garage was huge and it had central air. I’d have to mount the satellite dish on a pole or in the front yard possibly but something could be worked out there.

I actually like Round 9 the best despite the work needed. Unfortunately Round 8 and Round 9 are corporate owned and require the ernest money to be in certified funds as well as requirements that funding be completely in place when making an offer. That might kill the deal right there if they require something like a large cash outlay. I hate dealing with corporations. The MLS listing also has a buttload of disclaimers. Did I mention I hate corporations?
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