Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Scoop...

House Hunting Day #1 is done. I saw a total of 4 houses, including the one I pictured yesterday. There were two houses that we weren't able to get in to today, so that will probably be the bulk of my next house hunting day. Of the ones I saw, only the one that I pictured yesterday is really a consideration, and here's why:

The first property Suzy took me to is a fairly large house (4 bedrooms, 2 baths), built in 1898, that sits on a very busy street. She had picked it because it was about $15,000 under my maximum price. I think this was intended to be the one that shocked me into the reality of my buying situation! It was AWFUL! While it did have a roof, several sections of it had fallen into the living space of the house and water was just kinda freely flowing into the house. Most of the kitchen had been gutted (and I mean that vandals had broken in and stripped all the useful stuff out - not that licensed contractors were remodeling!). Part of the staircase was missing and had been replaced by a ladder, and it was pretty obvious that some squatters had been using the house up until recently (or maybe they're still using it, and they were just out to lunch when we stopped by). Afer about 5 minutes, even Suzy said, "yeah, this place is over-priced". That made me feel somewhat better.

House #2 was actually a lot better, although it was over my price range, but highly negotiable. It had been recently remodeled and had an awesome kitchen with granite counter tops and all. The down side was that it was in an "up and coming" neighborhood, that's decidedly more "coming" than "up". Suzy said it was my decision, but she would not choose to live in that neighborhood. Noted. Check that one off the list!

House #3 was really, really sad. It was built in 1809, and once upon a time was probably the most adorable little house in town. Its right on the edge of my price range, but it would require at least $50,000 to make it habitable. Not the kind of money I have. Not to mention that it was in that same questionable neighborhood. It was pretty dirty, too, and when we came out of it, Suzy asked me to spray my shoes with bug spray before getting into her car - apparently the hosue is known to have fleas in its nasty carpet. Nice.

Finally, we moved on to the Dream House. It was as adorable on the outside as it was in the pictures. The inside didn't disappoint either, except that it was small - but it would be more than adequate for a single person with 2 cats. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a large open room on the second floor that could be another bedroom or an office or something. I, of course, would use it as a craft room, naturally. The hardwood floors had all been redone, and they looked spectacular. The kitchen was renovated, and although it was done cheaply, it was done well. The yard was really big and has a fairly large garage, which could be used for a car, although its being used as a shed right now. The only issue that we could find was that there's some kind of wackiness going on with the electrical panel - it has 4 extensions cords coming out of it that run off to different parts of the house. "Not up to code at all", Suzy says. So, the bottom line is that its still priced WAY above my budget, but Suzy is going to call the owner's realtor and tell them what I can afford. If they say no, they say no. And they probably will, but there's still a chance that after 7 months the owners are sick of it and want to seel, at any price. We'll see.

Above is a picture of one of the 2 houses that I didn't get to see today. Its an 1819 "workman's cottage" that's right on our river. Am I brave enough to take on a really old house ont he flood plain?? Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Hunt Begins!

Well, I've finally heard from my realtor and with any luck tomorrow will be my first day of house-hunting! Yippeee!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm really, really trying not to get too excited - I still live in a rather pricey area and I've only been approved for a relatively low home loan. So, there aren't really that many houses in my price range available right now, but my realtor assures me that as the effects of the stimulus package and its magic home-buying incentives kick in, more and more owners will be putting their houses up for sale. So, tomorrow is more of a reconnaissance mission than an actual shopping trip. I'll get to see several places that are below my maximum price, several that are above it and several that are significantly above it but might be very negotiable because they've been on the market for so long. It should give me an idea of what to expect. I get the impression that my realtor, Suzy, is concerned that as a first-time homebuyer I may be expecting way too much for my money. She's probably run in to that before. So, I'm anticipating that she's going to try to shock me with some real eye-sores in my price range tomorrow. However, I don't think I'm expecting too much - in fact, my mother (who might be the world's most conservative money-spender) keeps telling me that I need to think bigger about what I want. So unless Suzy shows me a house that's missing its roof and has a toilet installed in the middle of the kitchen, I don't think I'll be all that shocked. We'll see!

I have the sneaking suspicion that this blog is very quickly going to go from random stories about my daily life to all real estate, all the time. So, in an effort to embrace my new obsession, I've decided to start posting photos of the houses that I'm focused on. Today's selection seen above is a cute 1940's bungalow that is of a style very common in my current neighborhood (in fact, its in my current neighborhood). Its one of the houses that I'm supposed to see tomorrow, and its in the category of "over my budget, but possibly negotiable". It actually needs very little work, and recently had a few renovations done to it, but for some reason its been sitting on the market for going on 7 months now, so I feel there must be something wrong with it!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Beginnings...

Yesterday was the first day of spring - always a great day on the calender. As it happens, a couple of other "fresh starts" took place yesterday:

First, MISS BESS IS AN AUNT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Her little neice, Elizabeth, was born last night, and I can't wait to see pictures!!!!!
Congratulations to Josh and Kam and to the proud grandparents. And Bess, you're gonna be a GREAT aunt. Let me know if you need some pointers!

And the other new start: I got my home loan. Thanks to the economic stimulus package and some hard work on my part to pay off my car loan, I can now look towards buying my own house in the near future. Homeownership here I come!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Proper Knees Up!

Apparently, the proper terminology is a "Pimms Cup"

And these are the proper garnishes

Awesomest cupcakes ever!

Okay, seriously, Phil?


As you can see in the pictures above, I had a pretty rockin' 30th birthday party last night! Thanks to G, the hostess with the mostest, we had an awesome time with an adorable British theme. We drank Pimms and Lemonade, which might just be the new drink of the year, ate Dubliner cheese (which, okay, is Irish - but that's part of the British Isles) and listened to British punk rock. God bless her, vegetarian that G is, she even served fish and chips (with three dipping sauces no less)! As usual, I did really well taking pictures when I first arrived, and then my ADHD kicked in and I completely forgot about my camera (thank you to cousin Beth and friend Elizabeth, who stepped in periodically and took over camera duties!) so most of my pics are from about the first half hour of the shindig - I think we were all little more sloshy later on.

Everyone brought presents, which I wasn't expecting but greatly enjoyed opening! You all are so thoughtful and creative - I mean, who else can say they got a vintage tablecloth, a monogrammed tote bag and a pair of wooly fingerless mittens for my freezing office on their 30th birthday??
It was an awesome night, and I really feel like I marked my 30th with style! THANKS G!!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

RIP 20's...

So, this is it. Today, Thursday, March 12th, 2009. This is officially my last day of being in my 20's. Tomorrow when I wake up, I'll be in my 30's. I really should have thought of some way to see my 20's off, but life has kinda gotten in the way recently, and I hadn't really even stopped to think about it until last night. Perhaps I should have planned a sky diving trip for today. Or maybe I should have planned to do some crazy thing you can only excuse when you're a twenty-something. Or maybe I should hike up to the top of a mountain and watch the sun set on my second decade. Or maybe I'll go home from work tonight, pour myself a glass of wine, toast the end of an era and cap off the evening with watching Survivor. Yeah. That last one is probably more in line with what I'll really do.

Here's to you 20's!

Monday, March 2, 2009

And Then There Was Snow...

Hmmm....Guess the spring planting season will have to wait a bit longer!

The view of my landlord's yard from my front door. Note how nice all his junk looks in the snow.

This is Sasha, my landlord's Siberian Husky. As usual, she has been left outside for the day. However, she seems to be LOVING the snow, so I'm trying not to worry. She's from Siberia, right?

It's March 2nd. And we have snow. Serious snow. Like 8 whole inches! For this part of the country, that's practically the storm of the century! After a really disappointing winter snow-wise (I love snow), I pretty much figured we were done for the season, but good ol' March rolled in like the proverbial lion. I'm loving it! Actually, I think that just maybe God or the Fates or whatever divine power sent this snow storm just for me. I have been at the museum working 10 to 11 hour days for 8 days straight now, and because of this weather we were forced to take the day off. It's like heaven. I admit I'm feeling a wee bit guilty, because at the moment the sun is out and we probably could forge a path into the museum and get back to work, but I'm not feeling guilty enough to actually do that. Besides, I just checked and my car has been buried in a snow bank by a city plow. I can't go anywhere, right? RIGHT?? You all agree with me, RIGHT?