After we ate we headed over to where the Bison are. The trail was very muddy today and when we finally got to the place where the Bison are we were bummed to learn we could only see one and he was pretty far away. Luckily the girls weren't disappointed and didn't seem to notice since they were so focused on the mud on the wheels of the stroller.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The weather today was gorgeous so we decided to take the girls to Big Bone Lick State Park for a picnic and to see the Bison. We packed up some picnic food and hit the road. We decided to set up near a playground so the girls had a chance to run off some energy before we ate.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
For the past year we were renting a house and we'd hoped to do that for another year and then buy a house next spring. This plan ended in January when we contacted the leasing company we were leasing our house through and found out that we were unable to renew our lease because the owner wanted to take possession of the house again. We later found out that he'd sold the place because they gave us a credit to move out ten days before the end of our lease. Needless to say we were very disappointed and needed to formulate a plan quickly. At the time we didn't have enough time to find a house so we decided to rent an apartment for six months and start house hunting.
The whole process has had a lot of ups and downs over the past couple months. During this time we have had a lot going on in other parts of our lives as well. Of course we have the the girls that are constantly keeping us on our toes. I transitioned to a new role where I worked which has involved going to training and getting a new certification for this role. Greg has taken on a second job working for the Reds in an usher type role, which he loves. Over the next couple weeks I've decided to blog about all of it so I can share everything we've gone through and learned and also to give us to have something to look back at when and if we decide to buy again in the next 10-20 years. We aren't all the way through the process yet, (we close early next month) but it's been quite an adventure so far. Luckily we've done most of our communication with our realtor (who recommended I blog about it as well) via e-mail so I can start from the beginning fairly easily.
I will be dating the blogs appropriately so you may have to read back a bit to catch up. I also threw in some pics from our vacation before the house buying updates.
I will be dating the blogs appropriately so you may have to read back a bit to catch up. I also threw in some pics from our vacation before the house buying updates.
Friday, May 10, 2013
This past week we met with three contractors to get bids about the updates we want to make to the house. We have developed quite a list of changes we'd like to make and we ran it through with three of them. Once we get the bids back we will choose the one that we think is the best fit and submit it for approval. Here is the list of changes we went through with them:
- Fix Foundation
- Radon mitigation
- Porch fence
- Update Electrical
- Furnace Repair
- Hot water heater
- Fireproof wall in basement
- Update stove & fridge
- Granite counters in kitchen
- Ceiling fans in bedrooms
- Remove wall, create breakfast bar or add island
- New sink in kitchen
- Tile floor in kitchen
- Turn coat closet into pantry
- Master Bedroom Conversion to Master suite
- Update kitchen light fixtures
- Replace cabinet faces with glass
- Pull up carpets and refinish hardwoods (if necessary)
- Move carpet from upstairs to downstairs
- Improved attic insulation
We liked two of the contractors and were not fans of one of them. It will be interesting to see how the bids come back so we can make comparisons and make the best choice for us.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Last week Joy asked us if we'd had the house tested for radon. That was something we'd talked about briefly but we hadn't included in our initial house inspection. Today we got the results and the radon level was 5.7. Anything over 4.0 indicates that it should be mitigated. So we will be getting an estimate on a device to mitigate the radon. Basically they will come in and install a pipe and hook it up to a fan in the attic to take the radon out of the house.
Just another step in the adventure surrounding buying a house.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Today we had our whole house inspection. This was the first time we were in the house since we decided to make an offer on it a week and a half ago. We've driven by it a few times but this was our first chance to get in it again to talk about what we want to do to update the house. My goal with the inspection was to stick with the inspector to ask questions about what he was looking at and also check out the house further.
When we arrived we learned that the termite inspector had already stopped by and there were no signs of termites. Yeah, first hurdle cleared!
We had a long way to go though. Our inspector got to the house a bit before we did and he already had one big concern. The foundation, there is a crack in the garage that was repaired in the past, however, it looks as if it has opened up in the past few years. He said it could be a settlement issue or we could have a foundation issue. His recommendation was that we bring in a structural engineer to take a look so it could be assessed since the house is build on a hill (gotta love Cincy).
After we talked about this we walked around the house and he was amazed at how well it was kept up. All of the mechanics of the house were so well maintained that they looked as if they'd been installed within the past five years. He checked out everything imaginable in the house, the stove, the oven, flushed all the toilets, ran tons of water, turned on lights, tested the whole house fan, walked on the roof. EVERYTHING. Overall, he said the house was in pretty good shape and aside from the foundation, the takeaways I had were as follows:
* Replace the electrical box. It is currently a fuse box, outdated technology.
* He recommended adding access to the attic into one of the closets. He said generally to get access they have to remove the whole house fan (which is pretty darn cool - not sure how I missed that when we were walking through) and he doesn't do it because he doesn't want to break it.
* Roof is only one layer and looks about 10 years old.
* Add metal brackets to secure the railings out front and consider putting in a railing around the porch for safety reasons.
* Furnace and A/C are in great shape for their age but we need to be prepared for a possible breakdown. We negotiated a one year warranty into the sales price so we are covered for a year.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Tonight we found out our second offer was accepted! Last night Joy contacted us and let us know the owner's had responded to our offer and countered. We talked about it last night and decided what we wanted to counter and I talked to her this morning about what we were considering and we went ahead and moved forward with a counter to their counter. She sent over an electronic copy for us to sign in the afternoon. We didn't expect to hear from her until tomorrow but tonight at 8:30 she gave us a call back to let us know they'd accepted!
Greg was so excited he called the girls out of bed to tell them and we had to get them back into bed. Now to move forward we have to apply for the mortgage, turn in the earnest money and get the whole house inspection scheduled. We are excited to move forward with this process!
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Today we officially made our big move towards becoming home owner's! We made an offer on a house. We dropped the girls off at daycare and then headed over to Huff to meet with the 203k mortgage person and then Joy to make an offer on the "Mid-Century Modern."
We spent about an hour with the mortgage person talking how the FHA 203k works. We learned about the contingency fund, how to select contractors and all the other ins and outs of the program.
Once we were done with this Joy came in and we went through the process of making an offer. We signed a lot of required paperwork and then moved on to discussing the offer process. Joy was awesome and went through the contract with us page by page. Reading to us and explaining where necessary so we had a very good understanding of what we needed to do once we made the offer and the deadlines if it is accepted. Greg and I were a bit punchy from our nerves over what we were doing so we bantered a lot about what we were doing to attempt to keep the situation light. Joy did a good job of keeping us on target and ensuring we grasped what we needed to know about the process. Once we'd read through the contract we discussed the price, Greg and I both had a different idea about what we are interested in offering. We discussed this briefly as we went through the comps and then asked Joy's opinion. She helped us come to a compromise and we came to a number and went with it.
Now we wait. Mr. Impatient already e-mailed and asked Joy has heard anything back and she hasn't. So we wait.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Yesterday, we visited two houses for the second time. The first was the house in Edgewood that Greg liked and I was unsure about and the second was the house I saw without him Friday night. I told him that I saw some potential with this house but I really wanted his opinion on it. We also invited my best friend Dawana along for the ride to see what she thought.
The Mid-Century Modern (revisit): I rode with Dawana and talked to her more about this one on the drive over. This house was not "done" like the other house but it was something I really wanted to consider because of the potential I saw. As we walked through I could see a spark in Greg's eye when he got to the master bedroom and he started envisioning creating a master suite for us complete with a walk-in closet. After a bit of discussion surrounding the bedroom we took a look at the kitchen again and started talking about ideas for expanding it. Greg then decided he wanted to check out the backyard so we went outside. There is a bit of yard and then some woods, as he and the girls were headed up through the woods a deer came by. It was one of those funny moments you think your real estate agent would have planned if she could. As we came back in the house I heard Greg ask Joy where the woodsman was that released the deer while we were outside. In the end, we ended up spending nearly an hour in the house checking it out and talking about ideas. Joy even said she liked the house yesterday more than she liked it when we looked at it Friday night. She said she would research the house more for us and let us know what she found.
Later in the afternoon we got an e-mail from Joy with more details about the mid-century modern house. We were disappointed to learn that the house is not in the Fort Thomas school district. This explains why it's been on the market for awhile. After a lot of thought and some discussion with Greg, I decided that he "wins" and we will put the girls in Catholic school when the time comes.
Today, I spoke with Joy briefly about the house and what we would be able to do with it under the 203k program. She suggested we make a list of the changes we'd like to make and send it to her so she could help us assess what it would cost to make some of the changes. We went ahead and drafted the list and sent it over to her to review. We will chat with her again tomorrow about next steps.
Friday, April 5, 2013
For this outing Greg had to work the Reds game, so the girls and I went out to meet Joy at two houses in Fort Thomas. One of them Greg was particularly interested in and the other I've had my eye on in the listings for some time and we received a notification this week that the price had dropped.
Since we'd met with Joy earlier in the week I'd had some time to talk to my Dad a little about the houses we were looking and sent him a link to one we sort of liked but were not sure about. He recommended I look into houses that weren't already updated and pursue an FHA 203k loan. He also encouraged us to stay closer to Fort Thomas since Edgewood is 20 minutes further away from work for Greg and myself. This frustrated me more but I think he could sense that we weren't quite finding what we were looking for. The one thing he stressed the most was that we have time to look and should not rush into anything.
The Water Tower House: This was the house Greg was interested in. I didn't love the kitchen in the pictures and I was worried about the ceiling height on the second floor. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the kitchen and found it was pretty functional. There is a weird little desk by the window but otherwise I thought it could work. The yard is fenced and just beyond the fence there is the Fort Thomas water tower. Not the best view but tolerable. There were two bedrooms on the first floor each with decent sized closets. Then we took the very steep stairs to the second floor. It was terrible and very tight and I was correct it's not likely Greg would be able to stand up straight. We were only up there for about two minutes and I didn't bother to look around much before we maneuvered the girls back downstairs. I didn't even bother to check out the basement because I knew the house wasn't going to work.
The Mid-Century Modern: When we drove to this house I was a little thrown it is at the end of a street near 471. As we walked through this one I was a little intrigued by the house because I was thinking about what my Dad had suggested and taking out an FHA 203k loan and fixing the house up. This house seems like it could be fixed up to meet our needs. The kitchen and bathrooms are pretty outdated but the house is pretty immaculate and well maintained otherwise. Joy told me that the style was mid-century modern 2-3 times as we walked through. I'm not much into design so that doesn't particularly mean much to me but I think some of the older features are pretty interesting.
When we were done touring this house a had a brief chat with Joy about how I'm kind of frustrated with this process and how we haven't seen anything I've had an instant connection with yet. She reinforced the fact that we've only seen a few houses and that our price point is very competitive She stressed that we've been very aggressive with getting information about houses that we are interested in and seeing them quickly and let me know that it was fine to continue looking. I let her know that I wanted to bring Greg back to see this one again since we are going to see the Lionfish house for a second time tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
It's been about a week and a half since we last met with with Joy and saw the Cat House. We have a couple more in Edgewood that we are interested in seeing so we saw three houses this trip:
The Wheelchair/Creepy Mirror House: When we couldn't get in right away because the back door was locked. Joy told us that it was being sold by a woman whose mother had lived there and she had passed. It was creepy to me before we even went in because there was an old wheelchair sitting in the screened in porch. Since we couldn't get in the back door we decided to proceed on to the next house. However, Joy noticed in the instructions that there was a garage door code and we were able to get in. The lower level of the house had a quasi finished basement. It is going to need a lot of work to be family friendly. The stairs to the upper level were kind of steep and made me a little nervous with the kiddos. The upper level had a fairly updated kitchen and a good size outdated living room. The bedrooms were a decent size and it had fairly decent closets. However, at the end of the hallway to the bedrooms there was this awful full length mirror that did the house no justice. I decided pretty immediately that this house wasn't for us and Greg acted like it wasn't so bad. It was nixed by the time we pulled out of the driveway.
The Cat House (revisit): I was pretty excited to see this house again. I really wondered it is was "the one." As we were pulling up to it I noticed one thing that counted against that I hadn't noticed the first time. It looked exactly the same as the next 4-5 houses on the street. I'm not a fan of cookie cutter houses. I'm not really sure how I didn't notice this on our first visit. I was still excited to see the inside again, until we walked in and it still smelled like cats!! This time I had a bit of a cold and the smell still hit me like a ton of bricks when we walked in and really the whole way through I could not get past it and I was trying. We didn't completely nix this house with this visit but it's odds have diminished greatly.
After this trip I decided to pose a question on facebook regarding how you know if a house is appropriate for you. The answers ran the gamut and held to two extremes, either you feel an instant emotional connection to the house to not allowing yourself to connect with the house at all but just look at the bones and figure out if it meets your qualifications. To be honest this entire discussion has left me further confused. I am going to meet Joy and see a couple houses in Fort Thomas Friday night without Greg. We will see how it goes from here.
Monday, March 25, 2013
At this point we've seen five houses and met our real estate agent, Joy Amann, for the first time. On Thursday after work, we started with two houses in Fort Thomas that Greg has affectionately named It's a Small World and the Matterhorn (we clearly just returned from Disney).
It's a Small World: This house has been on the market for a couple months and we drive by it daily so even though I was pretty sure it was too small from the outside he really wanted to see it more out of curiosity. It was reasonably updated but just not for us. The stairs were pretty steep and if Greg stood up in the master bedroom the ceiling fan would have likely given him a hair cut. Also, the backyard was not easy to access for letting the dog out. So, all around not a good fit.
The Matterhorn: This house looked great in the listing and was somehow at the low end of our price range. We were pretty excited when we saw it come up on the portal. Greg e-mailed Joy and asked how could this house be in Ft. Thomas, as updated as it was AND in our price range. She e-mailed Greg back and said it looked like the back yard had a ravine so that was probably part of the issue and suggested we drive by before we saw it. He had something to do that evening with the Reds so I figured I'd run by it. He'd already had her set up the appt to see it but I was curious. Well, when I drove by I figured out the issue right away, the driveway was the STEEPEST driveway I have ever seen in my life. I tried to talk Greg out of going to see it but it was too late the appointment was already set up. He also didn't quite believe the driveway could be that steep, until we drove up it! When we toured it we liked it pretty well except for the crazy driveway. There is no way in the Cincy/NKY area I could ever get behind dealing with a driveway that steep with the ice we tend to deal with a couple times every winter.
So our first trip out was pretty much a bust. We went ahead and had JA set us up to see three more houses over the weekend in the Edgewood area. This appointment was fun because I was pretty sure Joy thought we were loons because N decided she was going to dress like a princess for that appointment, right down to the shoes. We saw three houses this day.
The Expressway House: This house pretty much met our qualifications but it didn't have a real family room and it was pretty close to 275. Being close to a major through-fair is actually one of our qualifications, my grandfather told me once that any house you look at should be less than 5 minutes from the highway for ease of getting around. The house, however, didn't have a family room and the basement was not really built in a way to add it easily. So another no go. Didn't love this one but didn't hate it either and it had a pretty good yard.
The Cat House: We really like this house. It has this fabulous title because it has been a rental for the past 20 years and when we walked in the current tenants had cats. Wow, did they have cats. However, the kitchen was pretty cute, the bedrooms were a nice size and it had a great family room and storage on the lower level. The backyard was not as flat as we'd like but Greg and the girls ran around it for a few minutes and had a good time. We told Joy we wanted to come back and see the house once the tenants moved out to see how it looked vacant and see also if the smell was gone once the cats were moved out. She said she would contact the listing agent and get us back in once they'd vacated.
The Horrible Layout: This house was not ours from the minute we walked in. It was terribly outdated and very poorly laid out. Not even worth describing.
So from the first five houses we saw, 1 maybe and 4 no-ways. More later as we see more houses.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Now that we have returned from vacation and finished moving out of the rental house into an apartment we have had time to look at some houses. We are hoping to find something in Fort Thomas or possibly Edgewood because of the schools. Greg and I spend a lot of time debating public school vs Catholic school for the girls. I went to public school all the way through Grad school and Greg went to Catholic school all the way through Notre Dame. At this point we are open to both options but decided to look at these two areas because we know they have good public schools available.
At this point we are looking for houses with at least 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, family room, a nice backyard (preferably fenced), an updated kitchen, garage and lots of storage. We are looking in the 150-175k price range because we want to keep our payments low so we can pay it off faster.
Our real estate agent has turned on a web portal for us that allows us to get all of the houses in our price range in the areas we are looking at and weed out the ones we are interested in. It's pretty neat, it sends us a link every time a new house comes on the market that meets our criteria. Now that she has turned it on there are quite a few houses we need to go through to start our search.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Saturday, March 16, 2013
On our fourth day in Florida we went to Disney!!! We went with my Dad and his girlfriend. We managed to cram 3 different parks into one day!
We started the day at the Animal Kingdom. They have a really nifty African Safari and animal jungle. The girls & adults really enjoyed both. Then we went to the Bug's Life show. The girls did not enjoy it. It's in the dark and both girls have a fear of bugs. We found out the Winnie the Pooh characters were available for pictures so of course we took the girls to meet them. L loved the stuff characters, N not so much!
After we met the characters we decided to head over to the Magic Kingdom with a mission to meet some princesses. When we got to the Magic Kingdom we figured out where the princesses were and got Fast Passes so we could do other things while we waited. We went on the Buzz Lightyear ride, watched some of the parade go by and afterwards the girls got to meet three of the princesses! They met Rapunzel, Aurora & Cinderella. They had the best time saying hi to them and getting pictures taken. N made sure to show each of the princesses her new Minnie Mouse toy, Minnie ended up in every picture! After the princesses we went to the Haunted Mansion and checked out the newest edition to the Magic Kingdom. Greg and I then rode Space Mountain and remembered why we don't ride many roller coasters anymore!!!
When we were done with Space Mountain we were all hungry for dinner. Nothing at the Magic Kingdom jumped out at us so we headed to Epcot and had a delicious dinner in Mexico while we watched the fireworks.
I love Disney and was glad we were able to get the girls there one more time before the girls turn three and can still get in for free. It will probably be a couple years before we can take them again.