Well, I finally got some time to spread this around. Yesterday I finally closed on my very own first house. And on top of all this, my girlfriend is moving in with me. Yay!
IMO (although I suppose there hasn’t been enough time for “buyer’s remorse” to sink in) it’s a great little place. 1400 square feet, three bedroom (master, guest, and one for an office), two bath (a private one right off the master bedroom with a jacuzzi tub), nice big kitchen with tons of counter space, oak cabinets and a gas range, attached garage on a 1/4 acre corner lot. It’s also practically brand new; major remodeling last year basically gutted it to the frame.
Of course, now that I have the keys in my hot little hands, the “project list” has started.
#1 with a bullet is the yard. This was always the main downside to the property (and got me $2000 in concessions from the seller). I don’t know whether it never got started after construction last summer, but it’s just dirt and weeds. And I mean weeds, I haven’t been able to spot a single blade of lawn grass, and it’s definitely attracting bugs. The next week or so is going to involve some major application of weed-B-gone, ripping up the weeds (is a thatching rake a good tool for that?), and roto-tilling it into oblivion. A few friends have “got a guy” to look into how we’re going to landscape. I’m probably going to leave the decorative stuff (flowers, shrubs, etc) for later, but sod is definitely on the agenda.
And since we’re going the “scorched earth” route on the yard anyway, that’s probably a good time to put in a sprinkler system. There’s only one external water spout, so a garden hose isn’t quite going to cut it.
Along with the yard, I’m definitely thinking of expanding the “patio” (10x8 concrete slab outside the back door) into a wood deck. I figure having that at least sketched out would be a good idea before completing the yard work, since it wouldn’t make sense to seed / sod an area and place sprinkler heads where it’s going to be covered up in a month anyway. Gotta see if I can borrow my Dad’s power tools (table saw, miter saw, etc) for that project. Or get my own. :eek:
Further down the line, the outside could use some visual touch-ups. The exterior is pretty monotone (not even any differently colored trim for some “pop”) and it’s a very neutral light brown. Any tips on painting vinyl siding?
I’m in the process of transferring services to the new place (cable, phone, etc), finishing up packing and doing some minor cleaning work before fully moving in. The living room (and to a lesser extent the master bedroom) has some pretty bad carpet stains, I’m going to be seeing whether that can be taken care of with steam cleaning (either myself with a borrowed cleaner or professionally), or if I should just rip it up and get new carpet installed. If replacement is the best option, I’d rather get that taken care of before too much gets moved in.
And then it was recommended that I re-key the doors (more as a “just in case” than because the previous owners were untrustworthy), figure out what furniture goes where, learning to cook with gas, and organizing a housewarming party for late July. Is it bad form to send out party invitations with the note “we are registered at Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears, and Home Depot”?
You will probably end up with a lot of tools of your own, so you may as wel start now!
Invite your new neighbors to the housewarming party, If they are there they won’t be able to complain if it gets too loud!
My wife and I just sold our house and bought a new one (new to us, the house itself is old, built in 1840).
So my advice is, do all of the projects you want done one at a time. Finish one and start the next. We ended up finishing about a dozen projects the month before our house went on the market. The house looks so nice we hardly want to leave!
Congrats Tastes of Chocolate! Welcome to the world of home ownership. If the roof leaks, you pay to fix it. If the plumbing goes wonky, you pay to fix it. If the place needs painting, you get to do it or pay for it to be painted. See, it’s all wonderful!
Seriously, there’s nuttin’ like knowing a place is your own. Well, yours and the mortgage company’s. But, each payment you make makes it more yours.
Do the yard first. If you want a sprinkler system, you’re right, now’s the time. It’s an expense but you’ll appreciate it once you lay sod. Sod must be watered a lot to get it going. If you can afford it, that little investment now will pay off big time later. Not too sure about painting vinyl. You might want to talk to someone who’s an expert at installing and maintaining vinyl.
[Miss Manners] It is always in bad taste to hint for gifts. [/Miss Manners]
Another freshly-minted homeowner here. (Must be something in the water, but there seem to be a lot of Dopers buying homes recently.)
Big, but not necessarily first-priority, project for us will be to install a front yard. Currently, we have a “xeriscape” which is a fancy name for scraggly weedy-looking plants and would-be tumbleweeds. Looks like hell. We want green grass. Oddly, the second-previous owner did this, and just plopped the drought-resistant plants right on top of the existing sprinklers.
Probably the first major project will be carpet. Existing carpet is 15 year old wall-to-wall faded manilla folder tan with a multitude of spills, stains, spots and sun-faded areas. In thse 15 years, nobody’s once vacuumed the edges, so every room has a gray border. Looks just as bad as the xeriscape, but inside, and on every square inch of floor that’s not a kitchen or bathroom.
Master bath - the doors… There’s a hotel-style arrangement with the mirror and sink in an alcove off the bedroom, and the toilet and shower are behind a door. Problem is that the door is so close to the toilet that you almost have to hop up on the toilet so the door can move. I’m planning to simply remove the door and put it on the opening to the alcove as a quick fix. Eventually, we want to do some more major remodeling, but for now, we just want it to be useable.
Buy a house and find yourself buying tools - no kidding! I’ve so far, bought a lawn trimmer and a special stapler for running the network cables. (We’re only half wireless - my work computer can’t be used on wireless, and the media device puts too much traffic on the air, so it needs a wired line.) I’ve already got enough tools to fill a 5-foot tall rollaway toolchest and two toolboxes, plus the power tools that come in their own cases, but didn’t have a stapler with the round snout that won’t crush cables.
We’ve only been there since last Thursday, and already have replaced the dishwasher for being original to the house and sounding like it, the disposer for being original and leaky, and the range hood for being orginal and way too ugly.
gotpasswords if you mentioned somewhere about the new home ownership, I missed it, so congrats! Hee! Sounds like my first place. Butt ugly orange shag carpet, lime green countertops, the first hot water heater ever made and on and on. It’ll all come together eventually. Hell, when I sold that house, it was updated all the way to 1990 from 1965! (I sold it in 1992.)
Furthermore, neither Round-up (or another glyphosate-based herbicide; the patent expired several years ago) nor Weed-B-Gone (or another 2,4-D based herbicide) will kill seeds.
So what you really ought to do is regularly water the yard for a bit, fertilize it, water it for a bit more, and when the weeds are looking really healthy and new ones have sprouted up–hit it hard with Round-up.
Thanks for the weed-killing tips. The majority of the infestation is broad-leafed stuff, but not everything. And the “fatten 'em up for the kill” for unsprouted seeds sounds like a great suggestion.
I had heard about xeriscaping, and was halfway considering it (since colorado’s such a dry area). But I’ve never really seen a real-live example of it. Sounds like something to avoid (or be very careful about who does it).
And yes, the “registered at” was definitely just a joke. I had been looking at the projects I want to do, figured that I’m short on a few needed items (rakes, hoses, some small kitchen appliances I’ve always wanted but never had room for), and had jokingly threw in the “registration” when discussing the housewarming get-together with my SO. I’m not actually going to register anywhere (but if anyone offers, hoo boy do I have a list).
No pictures yet. It turns out my digital camera is sitting in the bottom of a box somewhere…
And now I’m off to spend a few hours seeing what can be cleaned and what needs replacing…
Well, if all had gone according to plan, I’d have been a home-owner tomorrow morning. But alas, it was not meant to be. Now I have to wait until next Thursday.
But congrats to all the new home-owners here!
Out of curiosity, all you new home-owners: On a scale from 1 to 10, how stressful was the whole process for you (from first looking, to placing an offer, to actually setting a closing date, and finally closing-- 10 being the most stressful thing imaginable).
Well, I had a couple bumpy months. Overall I’d probably put it at a 6 or 7, with a couple of periods where it was a 9.
It was a short sell; the prior owners owed more on the mortgage than the sale price. From my understanding, they bought it in October, the wife got pregnant, the husband lost his job, and they were 6-7 months behind on their payments. I’m guessing it was a “no money down” deal where all their closing costs got rolled into the loan, probably putting the actual loan amount at around 105% of the house’s value. And late payment fees probably got rolled into what they owed too.
That meant that after making my offer, the seller’s bank had to run numbers to approve the sale to decide whether they’d lose less money on the sale or on foreclosure.
Fortunately for me, they decided to sell. That took a month and a half (I’ve heard rumors of approvals taking up to six months). My original contract was signed the 1st of May, the sale approval went through June 17th.
When the appraiser went out, a bunch of red flags got thrown up. The sellers had been presenting it as a “modular” home, which I had no issue with. Then the appraiser backed out because it was a “manufactured” home, and that requires different licensing on his part. That also threw my lender into a loop, since the one I had at the time does not do mortgages for manufactured homes under any circumstances.
The short explanation is that a “manufactured” home can be (but isn’t necessarily) a “trailer”. Unless it’s attached to a permanent foundation, it’s completely possible to slap wheels on one and drive it away to Mexico, so a bank putting up $190k of their money can be (understandably) wary. It’s also built to federal HUD building codes rather than local ones, but newer manufactured homes (post-1996 or so) are built to a code that’s as stringent (if not more so) than many local building codes. And the original frame was put up in '98, so that part didn’t worry me. Plus, the inspection (from a trusted source) went very well.
So there I was, with a house that I was perfectly ok with regardless of it’s official classification, but a bunch of other people seemed to be backing away from with a “Leper! Unclean!” attitude. My loan officer had to find me another lender.
Just to keep the timeline clear: that was last wednesday (June 22). Closing date was June 28th, and my loan officer had to find another lender.
That weekend, I was spending time with my brothers down in Colorado Springs, and my brother’s mother-in-law was there. She buys and flips homes as a business, and she started dumping a bunch of manufactured home horror stories on me. Sub-par wiring, crappy plumbing, ductwork that falls apart after a year or so, expensive house insurance, etc. I’m afraid that I had a very panicy call to my realtor the next day, but he assured me that the inspection and the appraisal (done by a new guy licensed for manufactured homes) both gave very clear evidence of a solid construction, and a market value at least what I was offering.
The seller’s agent was just as confused as the rest of us. She had appraisal and inspection reports from the previous sale, and both of those had “modular” written all over it. Our only theory is that the person who sold the previous owners the house back in October (he was the realtor handling that deal and the one who had had all the remodeling done) had gotten away with something shady to get the sale done. I shudder to think what would’ve happened to those people if they had gotten to the point of refinancing and getting this sprung on them. At least I was presented with all the info while I still had the chance to back out.
Oh my god, this went badly. With the “manufactured” curve ball, we weren’t sure if the closing date of the 28th was still achievable. Heck, I wasn’t sure we were going to make it back on the 17th when the sale approval first went through and we all still thought it was a modular. But to give people their credit, they pushed everything through.
My loan officer found a lender with a comparable loan to what I had originally been quoted. Although he had to switch it to a single 30-year fixed rather than an 80%/15% two loan package which would’ve saved on mortgage insurance (since I put 5% down). Final total monthly payment was a little less with the new loan, although less will be going towards equity. Not much goes towards principal the first few years anyway, and I’m planning on overpaying $200-$300 a month anyway (well, once I figure out my monthly budget for utilities and stuff), so I figured it was a wash.
But then on monday the call went out: yes, we’re closing on the 28th! They scheduled it for 4pm to give the lender a bit of extra time to get all their stuff together.
Then the title company called back: the office they originally set up had all it’s closers booked at 4pm, could we do 2? Well, no, the lender couldn’t guarantee to be ready by 2.
So the title company said they had a free closer for 4pm at their Castle Rock office, which is about 20 miles south of Denver. Well, the extra drive sucks, but anything to get it done.
So I, my loan officer, my realtor, and the seller’s realtor gathered in Castle Rock at 4pm to sign the deal. The lender was still finishing things up. They asked me for a contact at my office for a verification of employment. Dunno why they didn’t accept the one that had been done 2-3 weeks ago. We eventually decided to give up and walk out the door to try again another day, since the closer we were working with had grandchildren in town who were leaving the next morning, and it was 5pm.
And then the lender called, the papers were being faxed and emailed in! And the lender had screwed up the paperwork. :smack: Parts of it had (god knows why) the name of the original lender who backed out when it was discovered to be manufactured. Parts of the paperwork had the single-loan setup, others had the two-loan setup. We rescheduled for 11am the next day (this past wednesday) at one of the title company’s Denver offices.
Then I, my loan officer (a good friend even before this deal started) and my realtor (who I had ended up spending more time with than many long-time friends through this) went to the nearby microbrewery for some beers.
The next day, I worked from home since that would (I thought) make things easier to get to the title company’s office. Then I got a call from my realtor verifying the time and location: they had changed the location on us again (or maybe I just missed this the night before) to an office building a half a block from where I work.
But, I valiently went on. I went into the title company to close this deal. They were ready. The paperwork was consistent. The appraisal fee was $50 more than it was the night before, because the prior paperwork didn’t have the servicing fee. So I paid my down payment with a $10,100 cashier’s check (which would’ve given me $10 of “slop”) and a $40 personal check.
In the middle of this, the lender called to ask for an “endorsement” by the title company stating that this house wasn’t going anywhere. We were frankly pretty confused, because we had a check from them sitting on the table, ready to be cashed (and apparently certified checks can’t get a “stop payment”). But based on the inspection and appraisal reports, the title company said they’d do that. For a $20 fee. :smack: My realtor deducted that from his commision check, and we continued through the finish line. I got my keys, went back to work for the afternoon, then that evening went to do cartwheels in my new living room.
Phew. So the house search wasn’t too bad (I found this place after about a week of looking). The month and a half delay for the short sell approval was rocky. The “manufactured” curve ball almost gave me an ulcer. And the closing was a circus. But it all worked out.
Congratulations! I bought my condominium about a year ago and every so often I still get a little thrill of ownership (Mine!:D).
As for the process of buying the place, you have to understand that I had a truly appallingly bad realtor. You see, I had been renting the place when the owner decided to sell and, since he was a nice guy, we stuck with the realtor he was using who was also his cousin. I told her up front buying a home was something I’d never considered and I was inclined to worry about money. The process of buying the place, despite the best intentions of buyer and seller, was a disaster. At one point, when I was coming home after yet another setback, one of the board members asked me how the sale was going. I told her I was having troubles and she asked me who my realtor was. I told her and she said, “Oh! She’s crazy!” Nevertheless, I think I paid a fair price and I still love the place!
sciguy, good luck! I wouldn’t rule out the xeriscaping – it could be rather cool and look a lot better in summer than a half-dead lawn. Maybe you could start small, xeriscaping only part of the yard and seeing how it works.
Ah yes the joys of closing. My first house was a breeze. Well, the previous owner had died and her daughter was wanting to sell the house real bad. Everything went through smoothly. The second house went pretty well. Except for that a##hole of a lender. He was on some kind of power trip. Kept coming back asking for the pickiest of details on stuff. The last time he did this, I blew up in his office. I told him I’d had enough and that if he did not want to lend money, I could find another lender. Two weeks later I closed with that lender. House number three I had built, even though house number two was a brand new house. I couldn’t stand it cause I had thought about building before I bought number two and just couldn’t get it out of my mind. So I sold number two, moved into an apartment and built number three. I’ve had a house built now, so I’m over that. Jeez! I won’t go into that but it was one damn thing after another everyday for five months to deal with. Ok, closing on house number three. The builder had quoted a price to build the house with everything I wanted. The loan was done for that price. At closing, he proceeded to present me with a bill for $600.00 in “overages.” I said there was no clause in the contract for overages so I wouldn’t pay and walked out. This was January 28, 1996. One way or the other, as of February 1, 1996 somebody had to start making payments on that house. Since I hadn’t signed the final papers yet it was not gonna be me. The builder, however, was responsible for it until I took possession so it woulda been him. The next day, those overages disappeared. HMMMMMMM… mysterious!
So, averaging houses one, two and three together, I’d give it a five overall for all three.
I’d say everything was pretty low stress, accept for deciding whether to make an offer.
I was lucky, in that I was living in a cheap apartment while I was house hunting, so I was under no pressure to buy soon (in fact, I wanted to delay closing at least a month for tax reasons) and under no pressure to move quickly. I think that was a big help, stress-wise.
And the only reason deciding on the offer was stressful was because the place I bought was the only house I seriously looked at. But, there were only a couple homes available on as much land as I wanted that were in my price range, and this was by far the nicest of them (I didn’t see the others because I could tell from the curb I didn’t want them…).
Wow, there is something in the water! My inspection’s next Thursday and if everything looks okay I’m closing before August 31 (I could go as early as possible, but I don’t know if they’ve got a new house yet or what).
I don’t believe I’ve slept since I put in my first offer; it wasn’t stressful natively, it was stressful because I made it stressful. There was a good amount of haggling over price, but if I’d been able to just let go and not obsess over it it wouldn’t have been anything.
The inspection’s some concern, however, because the house was built in 1928 and of course there’s going to be stuff wrong with it. Termite, however, are not much of a problem in that area, with those old houses, luckily, but we’ll see.
Personally, I have the blackest of black thumbs, and I’ve been reading everything I can get on how to actually grow things. I’m interested in native plant gardening, found some books on the local natives but haven’t been out to any garden centers or anything. The unfenced part of the yard has decent grass, but not the fenced portion. I’m considering trying a reel mower, but am concerned about the weeds as evidently they don’t mow them very well.
**swampbear ** - I forgot to mention that our neighborhood comes complete with bears. There’s one right across the street.
It’s going to be a very busy weekend for me. On top of replacing the nasty old kitchen sink faucet and the wobbly old door locks, hanging new towel bars, replacing broken shower knobs, finding a blacksmith to help me join the new range hood’s rectangular outlet to the existing round vent, I still need to slither around the crawlspace to run network and phone lines.
And find and eradicte the mice. I can handle busted shower controls and outlets that buzz and spit if you get too close, but I’m not happy about our surpise guests. :mad: Our dog has been entirely uninterested in the little beasties.