Thursday, November 29, 2007

My breakfast almost came back up again

We got the disclosure notice from the bank today explaining a breakdown of the mortgage costs as well as the total amount of interest plus principle over the 30 years. I understand the concept of interest but it always seems esoteric when compared to seeing it in black and white: basically, we'll pay over $300,000 total for a house that costs $138,000. That's just insanity. We will definitely be doing all we can to make that 13th mortgage payment each year to bring this down a bit.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Green renovation

Thom and I are very cognizant of trying to make the repairs, updates, and changes to the house as green as possible. One thing we're really considering is the flooring for the hallways, stairs, and kitchen being something that is durable but also renewable. Right now we're leaning toward linoleum (yeah, it's back, baby!) and perhaps even cork or bamboo flooring for the hallway. We'll want carpeting up the stairs and in the upstairs hallway and there are some cool recycled products out there. We'll be keeping an eye on all of these things as we get going. We're also really committed to buying locally as much as possible so as not to support the big box stores where it can be avoided.

Let the planning begin!

Okay, now we're ready to get serious and start planning home renovations! Woo hoo!

Here's what we're thinking. I'll be using my summer salary probably for the next several years so much of the major work we'll be doing will be at that time. We'll be doing some small things over the rest of the time (i.e., not expensive projects).

February/March (first items):
New appliances for kitchen
New washing machine
Refinish (or hire someone to refinish) living and dining room floors
Tear down wallpaper in kitchen and master bedroom
Paint kitchen, master bedroom, dining and living rooms
Install inexpensive, temporary flooring in kitchen (to hide ugly vinyl)
Clean and freshen kitchen cabinets

Tear down wallpaper in other bedrooms
Paint other bedrooms
Tear down wallpaper in bathrooms
Paint bathrooms

Paint exterior side of house
New gutters installed
Tear down wallpaper in hallway and stairwell
Paint and/or install new wallpaper in hallway and stairwell
Renovate kitchen - new countertops, lighting, flooring, storage items in existing drawers/cabinets
Build and install banquette in kitchen
Update bathroom - resurface tub, update fixtures, install new sink and vanity, new lighting, flooring, toilet

Landscaping-new flower bulbs
Fix back porch

Next summer:
Fix back porch
New deck/patio
Remove screens on front porch
Update bathrooms (if not yet done)
New garage

Two summers from now:
Begin attic addition
Update wiring
New garage and/or deck (if not yet done)

General upkeep and repairs:
We will need to keep an eye on foundation on front porch, furnace, chimney, roof, and basement
Repainting exterior

Wow! Lots of work to do but it is awfully exciting. Hopefully, after paying for our oil heat we'll still have some money leftover to do these things!

Monday, November 26, 2007

WE GOT IT!!!!!!


It's ours! I can't be more ecstatic :)

Hip, hip, hooray!

We are celebrating tonight with a lovely bottle of Prosecco.

Still waiting...

We're still waiting to hear. I think I'm just about ready to lose it from all of this anticipation. It sounds like this may be doable - the estimate to replace the attic floor wiring is around $3000 and they have already committed to rewiring the basement which was also $3000. If need be, we'll split it, I think. I spent a big part of the weekend looking at other houses on the market and there's just nothing else out there. We've all committed so much time and emotional energy (and a bit of finances) to this house already and I just can't stand the thought of walking away now. We're just too close!

I know I've gotten emotionally involved with this whole thing and it's not what you're supposed to do but I just have too hard a time envisioning us anywhere else now.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now I'm just starting to get angry

So, still no news. Our realtor called late this morning and said the hold up was that the sellers are trying to communicate with all the siblings (this is an estate, remember) and there's one in Mass that's not getting back or something. There was no idea what the decision was that they were discussing but I have a really bad feeling. Would you have to discuss making changes if you'd already planned to make them before? Maybe I'm reading too much into it but I feel like they're discussing whether or not to walk away. I just can't believe this. I will be very, very sad and depressed if this all is for nothing. I reserve the right to cry.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The nail-biting update

Our realtor called today while were were Christmas shopping in Camden. She said "they're talking" today. She thought we'd hear by the end of the day. Yes, I'm nearly going crazy -- especially after making the heroic effort not to worry about it yesterday. All that nervous energy just built up for today :P

So, I have no idea one way or the other. I would hope they would be realistic and realize that they're not going to get anyone to give them this price, in this market, at this time of the year. I hope they just suck it up and fix the attic floor wiring. Sigh.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

We give our thanks and try to put this out of mind today

I woke up to an email from our realtor. She doesn't think the sellers will walk away from this and that there's some negotiable room here. She offered one option: that we get an estimate and split the cost three ways (us, them, realtor). This was a new thing for me -- it shows me how much she wants to sell this house and how committed she is to us. She thinks they'll be more amenable to this -- I'm just not sure we are. I think we've given a lot here already. I suppose if it's only a few hundred dollars more we're talking about, that's fine -- if it's more like a few thousands, we're just going to have to forget about it.

I'm really trying not to think about it anymore today and just enjoy our first Thanksgiving (albeit a bit lonely) here in Maine. Happy Turkey Day to all of you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I think I might cry

After spending an hour this morning signing my life away to a mortgage (well, at least the next 30 years), we heard tonight from our realtor that now, at the last minute, the sellers don't want to remove all of the knob and tube wiring in the attic floor. Our understanding was that they were going to take care of all of it (that's why we went through with the inspection and certainly the application for the mortgage). Thom thinks they're doing this because they think, "Hey, these idiots are upping the asking price to take care of the chimney problems so what the heck...maybe they'll pay for this too!" I don't know what I think. I know that I will be heartbroken if this falls through and we told our realtor that if they don't fix this we will have to walk away -- again, we're back at the whole "we can't get insurance on this house" thing. I'm soooooo sad.

Please keep your fingers crossed for us - I hope they're just bluffing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

So is this it... do we have a house yet?

I think we may finally have finished the offer process! After two weeks of gut-wrenching, insomnia-inducing, alcoholism-producing mania, I think we're done with the offer process. I know that this house isn't actually ours until the closing date (January 31st) but it is a nice feeling to know that they have accepted our offer, the inspection stuff is all taken care of, and now we just have to wait.

So t-minus 60 something days to go until the keys are in our hands!

Chimney flue blues

We finally received the estimate for the chimney repairs. The sellers got two different estimates with the first at $3000 and the second looking to be $2200. The second guy also did an estimate for a new clay chimney flue liner for $2100. To my surprise, I found out that this liner is only for one flue - that of the furnace. We have a second flue for the fireplace which may cost up to $1000 for an additional liner. I am certainly learning a lot about structural issues in houses.

On the note of fireplaces, I was kind of hoping the liner issue would take care of our repairs for the fireplace especially due to the high cost of oil for our heating. I think I'm going to seriously pass out. I talked to the people the homeowners have used for their furnace and oil and they said that the home has used an average of 970 gallons of fuel per year to heat the house. When I happily then asked about getting on the budget plan (i.e., spreading out payment for oil over entire year), I was informed that it was too late to join the budget plan at this point in the year. At this point, yes, I almost cried. This means that we may very well be coughing up $500 per month to heat this house. $500! No, let me say it again: $500! Per month! $500?!?!?!

Sigh, sigh, sigh. It makes me seriously wonder how low-income families can afford to heat a house here. They must have to use woodburning stoves - but even wood is expensive. I have made a call into a local HVAC guy to see about getting an estimate for installing one of the new cold climate heat pumps. They're actually made here in Bangor - very new technology that will heat efficiently up to -30 degrees. This may be expensive up front but is supposed to be one third of the cost to heat compared to oil. On top of all of that, it's environmentally friendly as it uses external air to heat instead of a fossil fuel. I guess we'll see...I would hate to ever say that I'm happy we are experiencing global warming but for the people in Maine this winter, I hope it is a bit warmer.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Patience may be a virtue but...

I'm having a really hard time waiting for all of this to move forward. Right now we're waiting on an estimate from the seller for the chimney repair. I heard today that he is now going to get another estimate -- this is interesting. Is it that the first estimate was too expensive, in his mind? I wonder if he doesn't yet know that we're going to up the offer price to compensate for it. We're waiting on all of this to happen before we can do the financing. I just want this all said and done so I can start worrying about something else :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

And some more...

Again, note the beauteous wallpaper. Don't miss out on the awesome carpet either.

Some inside (i.e., before) shots

Here are some inside shots of the house. Note all of the hideous wallpaper that must be destroyed. Pretty much, you want to find me in 2008, I'll be in the house taking down wallpaper.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Something interesting

As I was trying to determine the architectural style of this house I ran across this on the Internet. Pretty cool - our house may have been a kit! Check out that price :)

Inspection report

We received the inspection report this morning. As I mentioned before, this puppy was worth every single penny of our $510. It not only includes every detail of that house but also has information about a maintenance plan for the next 10 years. How cool!

So, we're waiting on the estimate from the seller's chimney guy. I hope we have it today. It sounds like if we can negotiate something (and it's not too expensive) we may have a done deal here. I hope so. I can hardly sleep!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I look forward to sleeping again when this is over

Well, another hour passes, another item is added to the list of things to stress about. It looks like the sellers are not all that keen on spending more money beyond the wiring. They said they might be willing to fix the chimney if we went up on our offer price. After talking to Thom, I think this is worth it -- within reason, of course. I think I felt a bit taken advantage of last week, trying to be nice considering they grew up in this house and their mother just died, yadda, yadda, yadda. I also thought that we would have to spend a lot rather soon on things like a new furnace, a new roof, etc. Finding out that, besides the chimney, the house is in excellent condition, I now think that we're getting a great deal on the house. If it only costs a few thousand to fix it, I think we'd be willing to go up in price. Our realtor also mentioned that we could split the difference, which would be even better.

I guess they're going to get an estimate today so we'll know soon, I guess. Neither Thom nor I slept well last night thinking about all of this so it will be nice to know it's all done - one way or another. Of course, I'd rather we just got this house that I now am desperately in love with...if we have to start this whole process all over again I may need to go on medication.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I may develop a drinking problem

After spending days negotiating on a home while away at a conference (which I do not recommend doing) it looks like we've settled on an offer. To my absolute surprise and shock the sellers have agreed to remove the knob and tube wiring. Once we heard that, we were off! The very next day we had the home inspection as well as getting an estimate on home insurance (which we couldn't even discuss with them until the wiring was off the table).

So I spent four hours with an inspector. I first really paled at the $500 price tag but it was worth every single penny for that amount of thorough and meticulous attention to detail. I learned so much about that house and appreciate knowing all that I now know, especially considering the age of the house.

What did we find out? Well, in my mind, it was 95% good and 5% bad. Everything I expected to hear about being wrong or in bad shape was actually in good shape (roof, furnace, windows). While I knew the chimney had problems (we could see it in the attic) I had no idea, however, it would be so bad. Basically the whole thing in the attic and above has to be rebuilt. It is pretty much a fire danger right now and I'm pretty shocked it has been this disregarded for so long. My realtor thinks this is about $1500-$2000 in repairs but I'm a bit skeptical. But, either way, if the sellers don't fix it, we won't buy it. We certainly don't have that kind of money after closing to fix it... sigh.

I felt so optimistic going into the whole thing and that optimism grew and grew as we progressed through all of the good news in the inspection. It just plummeted to hell after the chimney news. Double sigh.

We'll see what the sellers say tomorrow, probably. We may get a chimney sweep in to inspect it (another $100?)... keep your fingers crossed for us!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Knob and tube nightmare

This is the second house I've fallen in love with that has a knob and tube wiring problem. We put in the offer to have this fixed before we close but the seller is only willing to spend up to $500 to fix it and it's probably going to be more like $3000 to fix it, according to our realtor. This may mean that we have to walk away from this house, making me very sad. The last house we liked the owner was unwilling to fix it. Basically, insurance companies won't insure houses with it so I don't see how they're going to sell this house without fixing it. They want us to get an estimate so that should be on our list for this week as well as the mortgage application and the inspection. I have a feeling that the offer craziness was just the tip of the iceberg!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The offer is accepted

One lesson learned: Never make an offer on a house before you leave town for a week. I don't know what I was thinking in this regard. We made the offer Tuesday night and I flew out Wednesday morning. I spent most of Thursday and Friday on the phone with our realtor, the bank, and with Thom. What a nightmare!

I think, however, it's "a done deal." It's not been easy, though. I think I somewhat romanticized the whole process and also over-emotionalized the process on behalf of the buyers. I think, in the end, I feel a bit nickeled-and-dimed by them and I was trying to be benevolent considering their circumstances. Another lesson learned: Don't learn too much about the sellers. In the end, it's just a business deal so don't get emotionally involved. I don't think we did as well as we could have in the end with the price because I was trying to be "nice." Blah.

So now comes the more difficult parts, I would imagine. Mortgage paperwork and the home inspection. I'm mostly concerned about the home inspection as it is an older home and I'm worried they're going to find something terrible/terribly expensive and it's not going to work out. If they're being picky now about money I can't see them getting better when it comes time to do repairs. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Some more views

Here are a few more views of the house - doesn't it have great potential?


As much as one prepares and reads and researches, there are always surprises, I suppose. As this is our first house, we're a little low on funds for up-front costs. We thought we've been smart getting pre-qualified (totally worth it) and getting an FHA Loan with a small downpayment of 3%. We're going to ask for closing costs in the offer to save some more money too. So, when we heard we needed a couple thousand up front before we even buy the house, we were surprised. First, we need earnest money - this is a weird tradition that I'm not sure I understand, especially since it's not technically required. So that's $1,000 we weren't planning upon. We will also need an inspection, which we knew about, but were surprised at how much it will cost ($500). Then we will have to pay application fees to the bank for the mortgage (another $400). It also looks like we'll have to buy some new appliances upon moving in -- can anyone say Home Depot credit card?

So, yes, all in all - you can learn a lot from books, the Internet, and other people but there are still some cash surprises waiting for you in the end.

Our House: The Offer

Thom and I have begun the home buying process. I have to tell you, it's been quite the journey so far and we haven't even made the offer yet! We've spent a lot of time researching, reading, and learning about home buying and about our new neighborhoods here in Maine. We had originally not planned to buy until summer but with the amazing market here right now and the great deals you can get on real estate in Maine, we couldn't resist.

This is the house we hope to put an offer on today. It's an American FourSquare style home, built in 1920. We love the charming character of the house with its beautiful woodwork, its gorgeous fireplace, tall ceilings, and great potential.