<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Category: House Hunting
 

Viewing the 'House Hunting' Category

Couple More Farms

May 10th, 2016 at 12:10 am

Da da da da da da duh, do do do do do do doo... That's the limbo song, and yes, my life is still in it.

There were a couple of farms that came up on my search this weekend in the next county over that would be really nice to go and check out. I just kind of feel like we'd be wasting the realtors time, since we still don't know about the contract. The pre-approval is completely approved now and I have the letter in hand, so we can move on anything if the work situation clears up in DH's favor.

One of them was really kind of perfect when it came to land (over 20 acres) and has two barns and a greenhouse with both water and power to it. The house is older, but in decent shape with newer paint, roof, and flooring. And the house was spacious, but the taxes weren't ridiculous. It's not so far away that we couldn't keep the same doctors and see my mother often, but far enough that no one would drop in without calling first to make sure we were there.

Best of all, no wetlands restrictions, which is something we are really running up against in my county. We found a lovely house on ten acres, but 9 of it had to stay in wetlands. If we'd even been able to use 2 or 3 acres it would have been fine. It was in the middle of prime farmland, too. I don't mind leaving trees and I don't mind leaving swampy areas alone, but to be that limited on your own land is mind-boggling. And it's true on lots of property with no houses, as well.

Sometimes I think they just make some of this wetland stuff up. The certainly didn't care about it when they built the mall on a massive swamp in 1988 and it caused major flooding in the streets because that swamp was no longer there to drain run off into. Or when they put in a huge medical complex in the late 90's. Or when Walmart and Costco went in. That was all true wetlands.

But whatever. Existing farms don't tend to have those issues because that is what the land is zoned for and no one comes in and changes it after the fact as it is grandfathered in to any law changes.

I feel like all I do these days is wait. I don't believe in any day now. It's just another phrase that means nothing. I don't believe in the phrase we'll know tomorrow, either. At least not when it comes to DH's situation. Trying to keep positive in real life, but it is good to be able to vent here.

Pending Mortgage Pre-Approval but Life in Limbo Continues

May 4th, 2016 at 08:25 pm

So we heard from our credit union and have been tentatively pre-qualified for a mortgage. We just have to get them the last two statements from my savings account to prove we have money for closing, the last two tax returns, and the last two W-2's. We had everything except the 2014 tax return, which DH says is at work.

He is on his way back up to Alaska so hopefully he is right, but work can issue him a copy if not, so either way we should be able to send those documents in soon.

But we can't move forward ourselves until the company DH's work has bid on the contract for makes the announcement on who got it. They've known for almost 2 weeks now, but as per usual, they let their announcement deadlines go whizzing past. It is frustrating beyond belief to continue to have to live in limbo.

I am such a planner, especially financially, so not being able to plan seriously screws with my head and my sense of security. It kind of feels like when I have some OCD stuff going on and something prevents me from going through the rituals to calm it down. Like checking my alarm clock four times at night, but I can't because the power is out. It builds up and makes me a little antsy. Only this is bigger than that sort of thing. It's a low level of anxiety that is almost constant and doesn't want to be shoved back down into its hole. And I don't like it.

House Hunting--Sort Of

April 28th, 2016 at 02:10 am

We looked at a couple of houses today, both old farmhouses. One we really liked the property, but the house, while good in overall square footage, was not so good in the usability of the footage. The one downstairs bedroom was too small to hold both our bed and dresser and the closet was pretty makeshift.

And one side of the upstairs was a foot higher than the other end, so a very noticeable slope. It also had two cracked windows, some bad siding (holes, or half missing pieces), what looked like a giant rust stain, and a roof that was only partially new and the rest looked bad. The shop smelled like mold.

It had cherry trees, apple trees, plum trees, and walnut trees, plus blackberries, and plenty of cleared land, really just what I want in land. Just that house was a major no-go. Doesn't matter how perfect the land is if the house is not good. There's always a reason why a house sits on the market that long.

The second house we looked at needs a new roof, new paint, has no hood for the gas stove in the kitchen, and I think the wood stove was installed without a permit, since there is no tile or heat shield under it or behind it. It is up on legs, but I think it still has to have the tile and heat shield. Which would be easy enough to do. Otherwise we really like the house. It was a craftsman and was spacious, the stairway to the second floor was wide and had a good banister on one side and a hand rail on the other. The downstairs bathroom had a handicap accessible shower and had an extra long bathtub with jets.

The land was really nice and next to the river. While it is legally in the flood zone, it hasn't flooded in that area in 150 years. It will flood half a mile away, so we might not be able to get out once in a while, but it doesn't get to the property. So if we did decide on it, we would have to still carry flood insurance. Two of the outbuildings are falling down and would have to come down eventually. The paddock and horse shelter is overgrown with blackberry brambles and would require a machete to be cleared and then who knows what it would take to get the roots out.

But there is a lot of cleared land. 3 acres of it are rented for another year and in potatoes. Unfortunately they use pesticide. Plenty of it is not in use, though, and not been sprayed. It's 6.9 acres, so we could work around it.

Still, there are a lot of other houses to look at. And we are only getting a jump at looking, since the contract announcement isn't made until the end of the week. But if we did find something that was actually perfect, we'd be able to jump on it if the contract goes to DH's company. Or it could be a couple months of looking. Who knows? I won't pick something I don't think we can handle.

Insomnia Has Me Tonight so I May as Well Write

February 14th, 2016 at 12:54 pm

It's been a busy past couple of days. I turned 46 on Friday and made a fantastic from scratch two layer yellow cake (in my new Kitchenaid mixer) with milk chocolate ganache frosting. I received a beautiful locket from my daughter and an amethyst pendant on a super flimsy silver chain from my in-laws. I will have to replace the chain if I ever hope to wear it. I don't do delicate chains well at all. My son cleaned out the van with some help from his sister (a lot of help).

Today we spent a couple of hours at a thrift store and I was able to find a couple of greenish/teal/seaglass glass canisters with bail and gasket closures. They actually had 4, but 2 of them were pretty scratched up, but I didn't get those ones. They match the mixer and the new toaster.

DH picked up another pair of jeans (he's losing weight so fast we are buying jeans once a month at this point, hence the thrift stores. He also bought some shirts that were dressier, but short-sleeved.

I got a barely used wallet. I did find two plates in our pattern, but they were marked up and it didn't look like it would come off with scrubbing so I didn't get them. I purchased a nice waterproof winter coat for $20. It was a Lane Bryant so I know it was at least $100 new. The old coat I have is not waterproof. I also picked up a $10 waterproof jacket for my son and it fit him so I gambled well.

DD came with us and bought some stuff with her own money as well. She has an affinity for grandpa style sweaters and teenage boy style hats.

We did a little grocery shopping, but kept it limited. If I hadn't needed toilet paper and quart size freezer bags I wouldn't have gone at all.

We also picked up prescriptions at Walgreens and some OTC meds as well. I have to build my stash of Sudafed back up again. Now that my son is taking Claritin D all the time we have to have one licensed driver get the one, and another get the other. Then DD will get one for the medicine stash. This way we'll have a couple on hand for when we all get sick again and no one feels like driving. I miss the days when you could buy a 90 day supply of Sudafed over the counter. Stupid meth heads ruined that for all of us breathing challenged types.

I hope after DS's surgery he won't have to use the Claritin D anymore. That would be wonderful.

We may be going to look at a couple fixer upper houses tomorrow. They are low priced sold AS IS. The barns are in good condition and are both almost 5 acres each. We'll have to see about the houses. I know it is jumping the gun and all, but we are just looking. We are not buying yet.

Farm Hunting Update

December 15th, 2015 at 03:34 am

My son and I went to view two of the farms yesterday. And the one house and all its outbuildings that I thought would be perfect were perfect, except there was a ton of water pooled under the house that you could see through the door to the crawlspace and the well pump house was also flooded. And those things would take a pretty penny to fix and at the current price of the home absolutely was not worth it. Also it had owls in the barn, which might be fine if you are raising large livestock, but not when you are raising rabbit kits.

The second house was...adequate. It was spacious and had land and a couple of outbuildings, one of which had a canning kitchen. But the barn had a badly cracked cement floor. There had been severe upheaving, so that parts of the floor were 8 to 12 inches higher than other parts. With my history of tripping over everything, that was not acceptable, and again would require quite a bit of work to fix. And I don't want adequate. I want it to be pretty and not need rewiring.

So neither house is a go. And maybe I should just take that as a sign to wait and not to jump the gun. Although I did see another house that I would really like to check out. It has 12 acres and is still within our price range. But...I think we will still hold off for now. It is probably wisest to wait until after the new contracts are signed at DH's work in March, anyway.

It's Hard to Wait and I'm Not Sure I Want To

December 13th, 2015 at 12:02 am

There are 3 very nice farms for sale right now. One is utterly perfect and two are quite doable. We have enough money for a 10% down payment on two of them and will have enough for a 10% down payment on the perfect one by the end of this year. And I'm swayed quite hard in that direction.

We would be able to afford the payments, all of our expenses, and still save a little each month. It would mean being a lot stricter with the budget. We've got a lot of play right now so that could be accomplished and we'd still have some breathing room.

We'd also be in our home for the first time since 2009. There is stress in living so long with my mother, even though I love her dearly and we get along quite well. I yearn to be able to have my own kitchen and do things my way and not have to schedule around her timetable, which is erratic at best and annoying at worst when you are trying to feed a family.

If we do this now, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about doing a 30 year mortgage. We would have to. I don't particularly like that idea, though, because we have only ever had a 15 year mortgage, and a 30 year mortgage would mean we could be 75 and 76 years old when it was paid off. Oh, I'd throw more money at it as we had it, but that would probably have us finishing at 65 to 70 years old.

The thing is, the practical thing anyway, is that if we buckle down and save super hard this coming year and throw everything at our down payment fund, we could have enough for a 20% down payment by December 2016. Which means we would lower our monthly payments significantly and have a 15 year mortgage. And it would be paid off by the time we were 61 and 62 years old, with no extra payments being made. With extra thrown at it, we might pay it off by the time we are 56 and 57.

The numbers make sense to wait out another year and save like the dickens. My head says that is the smartest thing we could possibly do. My soul says it is not quite sure it can cope with another year of living only in 1000 square feet with 2 teenagers and my husband. And only one bathroom.

We simply have no space. None. The house is very large, but this is the only space she allows us to use, plus we can cook in the kitchen (but must keep all our dishes and cooking stuff in our 1000 square feet). That frustrates me, too, because she has a huge kitchen with lots of cupboard space, two large living rooms, 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms for just herself. And two of those bedrooms are almost empty.

I am torn. I know what makes better sense. I really do. But it has been seven years. Seven very long years. And we wouldn't be struggling if we did it now. I feel like we are struggling though with the emotional part and being packed in like sardines. I want space. I want room to move. I want freedom.

I guess the thing I need to decide is what do I want most? Financial security is so freaking important to me. It is only one more year. Yet when I think about that year it is like a massive weight pressing down on my shoulders. One of these homes could be our escape hatch.

And 2 of them have open houses tomorrow. I will take my son and go look. Maybe in person they won't be as good as they are on paper.

Hay Bale Garden Update and Farm Dreams

September 22nd, 2014 at 08:35 pm

I've been able to get out and do some serious work in the gardens this week. I've got a lot of food coming in, though never in the huge quantities I had expected for some of it.

The hay bale garden has been far more successful than the straw bale garden. It has had far less weeds and the growth has been phenomenal in comparison. So next year I think I will skip planting in straw bales at all and just go with the hay bales, if I do this again.

So far I've yielded $357.25 of organic produce over the price of my start up costs for the gardens. Next year if I start things from seeds instead of buying organic transplants, start up costs will be lower. Since I got started late though, I did the transplants to catch up some time.

http://youtu.be/N_5RvnetdYc

If all goes well with the house sale and if we find a small farm and if we can actually buy it before next spring, I will be building raised beds out of rabbit bedding and rabbit manure, which can be used right away, and setting up compost piles for the bird waste and bedding, since it needs to compost for at least six months before using. We will use wire and t-posts instead of wood to keep things loosely in place and will build it up at least 3 feet tall. With the amount of bedding we could compost in place that will be by far a better method. Then we will have deep mulch as it breaks down to between 1/2 and 1/3 of its original size. It'll still be a foot off the ground so I can pull up a chair to do my gardening.

I'm not going to rush buying a farm, though. We may need longer than that even if the house sale does go through. I want to make sure I find the right place and that we have a big enough down payment that we are not struggling at all with making a mortgage payment again.

I am picky about what I want. It has to have a well for water. It needs to have either a creek or a pond on the property, but not too close to the house in case of flooding. It needs to have either a good barn or several outbuildings, preferably one with power and water, but at the very least power. It needs a house that is one level only, preferably with handicapped accessibility, and at least 1600 square feet with a minimum of 3 bedrooms, though I'd prefer 4, and 2 bathrooms.

The kitchen needs to be of a decent size for canning and processing meat. It needs adequate pantry storage. It needs a garage and no basement as most basements around here have flooding issues. It needs a wood stove and a propane or gas stove. It needs garden space, fruit trees and nut trees, and at least 2 acres of pasture and 2 acres of wooded land. Fencing around the pastures is a must. It needs a good site for a green house for aquaponics and growing dwarf citrus trees, and a good site for solar panels and possibly a wind turbine. Wants, but not must haves are a willow tree and a flowering cherry tree or two.

We will probably buy 5 acres, though if we can save up enough, I'd prefer 10. We don't ever intend to move again after buying our farm so I want it to be right or at least easily able to be made right, like planting my own fruit trees and nut trees, willow tree, and flowering cherry trees.

Actual Mortgage Balance

September 25th, 2013 at 08:15 am

I had guesstimated on Friday when I paid the mortgage that the balance would be around $8937.89, but it was actually $8931.90. That's $5.99 less, not the $1 or $2 I thought I'd be off by. Nice. Just that much less left to pay the thing off.

The roofer is most likely going out on Thursday at that is the only day it is not supposed to rain this week. If it doesn't rain tomorrow though he will give a call and have Mom meet him out there. I've got too much going on this week between homeschooling, DH coming home, running R around, and having to do a meat rabbit slaughter on the one sunny day we have.

On top of that I start Piper's litter weaning on Thursday as they will be 8 weeks old, so I'll have to figure out who are the two biggest and take them away to start the process. AND Phoebe is due to kindle her second litter on Thursday and with all the going in and out of the rabbit shed I'll be doing, she may not get the privacy she will want. I am anxious if the big first litter will be the norm. Since all the other rabbits seem stuck on six kits, it would be nice if she'd kindle 9 again.

And I found a 13 acre spread that I desperately want to go see because it is absolutely perfect for our farming wants. We would easily be able to expand the rabbitry. We could have our flock of chickens, our ducks, our geese, our quail, pigs, goats, and a guard alpaca or two to free range with the chickens. Not all of once of course, but over time.

I should not even be looking at farms until our house sells and we can't put it on the market until the roof is repaired. That ranch will probably be long gone by the time we are ready to buy. But I fell in love with it just from the photos. And it is in our price range.

House Hunting Today

August 12th, 2013 at 04:52 am

We went house hunting today and looked at three houses. One was in town, 1.35 acres, 1950 square feet beautiful four bedroom, 1.5 bath, house in good repair, Craftsman from the 1920's, big kitchen, oak floors in dining room, living room, downstairs bedrooms, slate floors in the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms, cabinets were solid oak wood, closets were made from cedar with real wooden shelves, full unfinished basement (dry) and root cellar. House stairs to basement too difficult for me, but outdoor access to basement has less and wider stairs, they are wider, and I can easily use them. No garage, no out buildings, no garden, no fence, one apple tree. Blackberries and huckleberries in the small woods in the back. City water/sewer. Great for solar. $299,000.

The second house we looked at was 1625 square feet, three bedroom, two offices, huge kitchen, handi-capped accessible master bedroom and bathroom, 2 full bathrooms, sun room, small green house, apple and pear trees, cherry tree, a huge garden space that had gone back to grass and weeds, but I could tell by the variety that it had excellent soil. Two car garage and shop. Car port over patio. Small garden shed. 2 acres. 23 minutes from town. Septic system and private well. There were water spickets access every 25 feet. It got plenty of sunshine, but had a wooded area with some nicely shaded grass for the rabbits. It had huckleberries and blackberries in the woods. Would be great for solar and wind power. $249,000.

The third house we looked at was 20 minutes out of town the other direction. It was large, 1958 square feet, open floor plan, but turned out to be a triple wide manufactured home (though the deluxe version with sheet rock and walls that actually touch each other. Some of the interior doors were kicked in or punched. It had a large garage, overgrown vegetation, huckleberries and blackberries in the woods. Not much open land in comparison to wooded land. Would not work well for solar or a garden without a lot of clearing. Large trees near the house so branches falling in winter would be a problem and pine needles would be in the gutters constantly. 4.87 acres. Felt very isolated and dark. Neighbors 5 acres away were swearing loudly and yelling at their animals. $300,000.

House 3 is definitely a no-go, while houses 1 and 2 will stay on our list. I am leaning most heavily towards house 2 for land, but house 1 for the house itself, but we still have a long way to go with looking.

Still Farm and House Hunting

April 29th, 2013 at 12:54 am

In the vein of finding homes that are too expensive and that we can never have, and DH's pentient for showing them to me, I set out to find something with some serious bells and whistles that we could afford and show it to DH. Not super seriously or anything, just to make the point.

Well, I found a doozy in our price range, albeit it closer to the high end and with yearly taxes of $4700. I went down my checklist. 5 acres. One level. House in good repair. At least 1500 square feet (it's 2500). Outbuildings for storage and for rabbit housing and chicken housing. Garden area. Mature fruit trees. A private well. A shop. Room for DS's model train layouts. A pond. A wood stove for back up heat. A large and roomy kitchen (plus beautiful). Close to family (2 miles from sister-in-law and nieces, 5 miles to MIL and FIL, 15 minutes from Mom and town.) Good school district.

And then for the bells and whistles. An indoor swimming pool and hot tub. A glass and brick green house. And...a small hanger for a Cessna airplane, with a shared private landing strip with dues of 45 a year!

It's $374,500. With our planned down payment of $60,000, we'd still be walking away with a pretty big mortgage and monthly payment. And I don't actually want a super big mortgage with college in the picture soon. The cost to heat a pool would actually be less than heating a house if we istalled a heat pump to exchange air from the house to the pool and back, using the pool as a heat sink. And we could rent the hanger to someone with a small plane so get a bit of income on the side to help with the mortgae payment. I'm not seriously considering it, of course, but I thought it was fun to find something like this anyway.

We are too far away from buying a house yet to be serious about anything. Still just looking and dreaming.



I'd still be happier with the almost 20 acre place for $305,000.

Oh, Dear

April 21st, 2013 at 01:14 am

So after my little talk with DH of him showing me places we can't afford when something new comes up on the housing market, today he showed me something that we can afford...

It's further out than I want, it's painted an ugly color (dark brown with lemon yellow trim) and has awful panelling in the living room and bonus room, and slightly better panelling in a bedroom. But it is over 1700 square feet, has a wood stove, a propane stove, and electric, so you can choose what you want to heat with.

But...but it has a huge barn, a huge shop, a huge garage, a green house, cold frames, mature fruit trees, a garden, a large pond (as in swimming hole size, not something you make from the big box store, you can take a row boat out on it) and it is 20 acres. Half wooded, half pasture. And the land is beautiful. Utterly gorgeous. It's idyllic. I can't think of anything more I want in the land. And the property tax is under $2000 a year. Asking price? $305,000.

Gah.

As DH says, a house is a house. We can paint. We can take off the panelling. We can find a pretty house anywhere. We can't find pretty land anywhere.

Maybe I just need him to stop showing me anything for a while.

The remodelers are supposed to be done today, but they haven't called to say so yet. Same old, same old, I suppose.

Things Change

February 21st, 2013 at 12:26 am

I just realized that our debt to income ratio is at 33.3%. You know, it's been a long time since it wasn't somewhere near 50%. Once the mortgage is paid off it'll be closer to 26%. I like numbers like that. I feel so much more freedom.

DH and I keep coming back to that farmhouse. We have discovered that it flooded in 1950 and in 2000. In 2000 it was actually high enough to get an inch or two of water into the house and the garage and barn both flooded since they are not up on foundations. Every other flood of the river it has not gotten as close as the barn.

Here is where it gets interesting. The city is going to put in retaining ponds. It is starting this summer and will continue doing so over the course of the next ten years to mitigate flooding issues the town has every couple of decades. So that will defnitely help keep flooding off the property.

So in thinking outside the box, DH and I had a thought. Because of the way the buildings are laid out, we could encircle the house, garage, barn and shed with our own levy. It wouldn't have to encompass the whole property. We could bring in topsoil and build up a three foot levy, planting it with grass, and leaving only the driveway clear. Then we could have enough sandbags in the barn that we could cover the gap of the driveway in case of flooding, which there is always plenty of warning of.

There would be access to the rest of the property by simply driving onto the grass instead of the driveway. And even with the sandbags up, we would be within walking distance to the grocery store and if the buses were running, the transit station is across the street so I could go into the main city if I needed to (it doesn't flood over there). If I took my van to my in-laws to keep it out of the flood zone, they could drop me back at the house or as close to it as we could get.

Lots of people near the river build levies and their houses did not flood during the 2000 storm or the 1950 one. It is possible this might be a worthwhile thing to do, especially if we can get them to lower the price on the house. We have found out that the previous owners died and that their five children have been trying to sell the house and property for over a year now. So if we could get it for $235,000 instead of the $265,000 they are asking for it we could afford to build that levy.

It could still be more hassle than it would be worth, except it has so many things that are just perfect for what we want. The only negative is the 100 year flood risk. Which is more like 50 years in actuality.

I don't know. It will require much thinking.

House Hunting, Farm Hunting

January 31st, 2013 at 04:54 am

I ran across two farms today in my search for something like that other farmhouse. Neither is ideal, but neither is in a flood plain, either. One is ten acres, but isn't flat land. The house is located on top of a hill. Actually there are two houses on this property and the second one currently rents for $1800 a month. So for 2 houses and 10 acres it is $350,000. Not too bad if you are taking in $1800 in rental income as well. It doesn't mention outbuilding though.

The other farm is 5 acres and $235,000. It has a good shop, garages, and a nice barn. The only problem is the house is a manufactured home. While I'm not anti-manufactured home per se, I do know that they take an awful lot of shortcuts, like walls that don't actually meet, but are then covered by molding so they appear so, or linoleum that is stapled down instead of adhered to the floor. Like interior walls being little more than cardboard covered with wall paper. Like an improperly pitched roof, or skylights that are not properly sealed. So that's not anywhere I would want to go. Otherwise it's a great property and has a great layout.

I guess I'll just have to keep looking. Good thing we aren't in any rush.

Not to Be

January 28th, 2013 at 08:28 am

Well, that lovely farm with the lovely 1920's farmhouse is not to be. It is in the flood plain after all, and not just in it, but apparently the entire front yard is waterlogged at the rainiest parts of the year or whenever snow melts. I am a little disappointed, but I am sure there will be something else out there somewhere that will meet our needs and wants. Dealing with flooding is not something I want to do. I grew up dealing with a basement that constantly flooded. This house didn't have a basement, but with water that bad it would get in the barn and things would get wet.

So we'll keep looking and hopefully find something similar. It doesn't have to be 7 acres. 1 acre is enough to make me happy outside the city and .5 acre is enough to make me happy inside of it. I'm not in any rush. There's more debt to be paid and I can focus on that for now, while still keeping an eye out.

I did look up exactly when the 0% Chase card expires and it is in August, so we'll have that well paid off by the end of March, no worries. It is the focus of February and March payments and after that we'll work on the mortgage.

Payday Report and EF Update

January 26th, 2013 at 02:57 am

Aside from the most important thing of paying off the BoA card this morning, I finally had time to sit down and pay out the bills for this week. It's not a lot of stuff, since the majority of the money went to one place. Both BoA and AMEX will now be paid off each month with no balance carried forward. AMEX is for gas and miscellaneous purchases I want to track, like OTC cold meds or meals out. We're down to only spending $100 a month on meals out, which generally amounts to one nice restaurant and one fast food meal a month.

Anyway, here's what it looks like:

$2675.84 BoA VISA payoff
__451.16 AMEX
___15.00 Daughter's allowance (DS will be caught up with what he owes me on 2/1)
__100.00 DH's monthly allowance
__100.00 property tax (holding tank)
__300.00 Dental
___25.00 Medical
----------
$3667.00 total money out

That leaves us $274.87 until Friday. I am actually going to try to only use $74.87 out of it. I got my Costco rebate check coupon thing so that should cover a case of toilet paper, butter, and a case of oranges and there is no other reason to spend money, except for milk, between now and the payday on 2/1.

----------

I deposited the dollars from my coin jar, a roll of pennies, and $20 I had left from last payday to my EF fund, total of $44.50. That means the new total in the Emergency Fund is now $1717.50. That also means I passed my January goal of getting the EF to $1700. My goal for February is to get it to $1900.

----------

I think I will have enough points by tomorrow to cash out at Swagbucks for another Amazon $5 gift card.

----------

The man fixing up our old house was able to work there again all day today. Maybe this thing will get done by March. Pray for rain! He can't do his normal job when it is raining outside. I almost feel like this is a sign pointing to things aligning for us to possibly get that farm house. I don't want to get my hopes up, but even my mother is on board with that house and that is saying something. She's notoriously pessimistic sometimes.

----------

We are left now with our 0% Chase card with $5100 on it. It is the last of the credit card debt. And it will be gone by the end of March. We have put our debt to income ratio in an excellent place for buying a house. All of the pieces are falling into place. Hopefully they will continue to do so and we will keep our heads. It is very important not to go crazy now, but to continue to do things rationally and the right way.

One More Day

January 24th, 2013 at 08:37 pm

Tomorrow is the big day. It's the day we get the Evil Empire of BoA off our backs forever. It's been such a long time coming. We'll be down to the one Chase VISA at 0% interest and if the gub'mint isn't slow on refunding our taxes, we wipe that slate clean in March. I am thrilled, as you can imagine. Tomorrow I'll probably be doing cartwheels. In my head, anyway.

It's been raining or fogging heavily this week so the person who is working on our house in his spare time was out there all day yesterday, since he couldn't work his day job (painting outdoors). The inside of the house is now completely primed and will hopefully be done being painted by the end of this weekend. The carpet has been pulled up and the pad.

Then we just do the doors and the new pad and carpet and that baby goes on the market. The doors are going to cost about $1000. The carpet probably close to $5000 since we can get the contractor's discount through our guy and it also needs a bit of linoleum. My mom is paying for it and we'll pay her back when it sells right off the top. She knows it may be a while and is okay with that. She just doesn't want us charging it.

I was worried how Mom was going to get through this week. The 22nd was the first anniversary of my dad's death, though his mind had been gone for a few years at that point. She did okay though. I think it helped to have us around.

DH is only home for a few days. He goes back to work on Monday. We'd like to try to get out to the farm house and view it, but I'm not sure if we will have the time. Possibly next month we will. The one thing I really want to find out about is how old the wiring in the house is. I imagine they brought it up to code at some point, but how far up is the question.

Even if it is up to code we would probably need an electrician to come and put in new outlets if that was never done. 1920's farm houses were not built with modern electrical usage in mind. Many rooms only had one outlet for plugging in two things. In this day and age there are usually four outlets per room for plugging in 8 devices. I just want to know what we'd be letting ourselves in for.

If the house is still on the market in May it'll have been on for a year. We may be able to make a low ball offer. Even though $265,000 is great for this particular property, if I could get it for $225,000 that would be even better, though it'll probably end up somewhere between the two. If, if, if everything else works out right. We'll see.

Dreaming Too Much, I Suppose

January 22nd, 2013 at 12:56 am

Not terribly much going on at the Robin's nest today. I didn't sleep last night so I didn't trust myself to drive. Instead I sent the kids on a walk (six blocks) down to the store and they picked up cheese and milk and tater tots (I know, I know!) Tater tots are the one potato product I have not figured out how to make from scratch and since the store carries one brand of potato products that is Feingold safe for my son's allergies, I do get them from time to time.

We put down some more hay for the chickens on the ground since it is so cold for them outside right now. They have been a little less than enthused about coming out of the coop in the morning and have headed in before dark for the last couple of weeks. They know where their heat lamp is. It got all the way up to 41 degrees F today. I keep waiting for it to snow because the pullets have never seen it before and there is nothing more hilarious than a chicken's first experience with snow.

If our new place ends up being large enough to keep chickens, I definitely want to locate the coop next to a spicket. Dealing with frozen water buckets and carrying water from any distance is a royal pain. Either near the coop or put in one of those miniature wells, the name of which escapes me, but they have kits for doing it yourself. The water table is pretty high at the farm we are looking at and for garden and livestock use, it wouldn't have to be driven too deep.

I keep trying not to get ahead of myself, but I do have to admit that that farm would be a fantastic place to live. DS asked if we did get a place like that if he could have a dog. My answer to that question has always been no. With our allergies, I don't want an animal in the house. But with almost seven acres...well, I told him I'd talk to his dad about it. Maybe a border collie. Something that would help guard chickens and rabbits from predators. And then there's always the much needed barn cats.

I've always been kind of anti-pet as an adult because I didn't want to be tied down, and I didn't want to ever have to kennel an animal for vacation and it was hard enough taking care of two small kids with my disability without adding pets into the mix. But my kids are older now and there are pet sitters/house sitters, and I bet I could find one willing to take care of a dog, a couple of cats, some bunnies and a few chickens when we want to go away. And if not, well FIL and MIL are just five minutes away.

Honestly, I need to stop dreaming ahead. Until our house sells there is no guarantee that any house available today will be available then and even if it is, it would have to pass an inspection. Especially since our house still needs the final coat of paint, the rugs replaced and the new doors installed before it can even be put on the market. It looks like things will be done by March, but I am not holding my breath. I've seen houses sit on the market for years out there.

----------

I added $8.51 to the coin jar today. And that's all she wrote.

Beautiful Farmhouse

January 17th, 2013 at 07:09 am

I found a beautiful house for sale today. It's a 1920's farmhouse and the wallpaper and such is very outdated, but it's got one of those gorgeous farmhouse kitchens with a walk in pantry. Very rustic. It's set on 6.7 acres of level land and is ten minutes on the freeway from the city I live in now. It's got a barn, a shed, and a large garage/shop.

It's got mature fruit trees and backs up to a spring fed lake. It's far enough from the river to not be in the flood plain, but not so far that you couldn't walk to it. It's got a wood stove and plenty of trees for fuel. The land has been in hay. It's less than a mile to two grocery stores, several restaurants and a bowling alley.

There's a cell tower on the property on an easement so no worries about cell reception. It's on the county bus line into the city and has a stop right near the community college. It's a two minute drive to a branch of our credit union. We'd be ten minutes from my mom's house, five minutes from my MIL and FIL's house, and ten minutes to my SIL's house.

It's got garden space, is wired for internet, is on city water and sewer. Taxes are $1820 a year. It is 1679 square feet with 4 bedrooms. The master bedroom is on the main floor and it has 2 bathrooms (not common for that time period). And the very best part is the price...$265,000. It's been listed for 240 days. I am thinking this is due to the old-fashionedness of the house and the fact that it has carpet instead of hardwood floors (though I wouldn't be surprised if there was hardwood under the carpet, given it's age).

I mean, it is 95% of what I want in a house and the land. I have liked other houses before, but I've not had one come so close to everything on my checklist before. Maybe 75%. We could have hens and rabbits and a rooster. Maybe even a barn cat. Can't have a house cat because of allergies, but a barn cat would be nice.

Now who knows if it will be available after our house sells, but it's amazing to realize places like this are actually out there. That maybe we won't have to settle after all.

Change of Plans

November 18th, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Now everyone wants to wait and have the turkey at Christmas. It came frozen and as yucky as I feel, I've decided it's fine with me. I am not up for cooking a fancy dinner right now. Heirloom heritage turkeys sure look different from the broad-breasted turkeys sold in grocery stores. They are longer and not rounded or compact. They have more dark meat and less breast, the way nature made them, which works great for my family since no one really cares for the white meat and it always ends up an ingredient in something else while we eat the dark meat straight.

I love the little packet that came along with it. It has thawing instructions, brining instructions, cooking instructions, a recipe for turkey stock, a recipe for turkey soup, and a recipe for stuffing.

It also has a page with a photo of the turkeys when they were about half grown and says this:

[i]You have purchased a healthy and happy turkey which was raised in sunshine and clean pastures during their growing season (never on fertilized pastures). Diet: A turkey will eat 25% of its diet on grass. Your turkey ate an organic mixture comprised of: Spelt, Emmer, Wheat, Peas, Camolina, Seaweed, and Sea Salt. We guarantee that we never buy grain or corn from China.[i]

So it makes my sustainability goal and it makes my 100 mile foodshed goal, since the ranch is about 50 miles away. Hopefully it will make my flavor goal as well when the time comes to cook it. It also came with a large, insulated bag for free. That will come in handy for our monthly trips there. They gave us another one last week (also for free) that is a little smaller.

Since I won't be making a big old Thanksgiving dinner after all, I've decided on roasting two Cornish game hens. That will give each person a half a bird (since DH will not be here). I will make a small pan of bread stuffing and we will have roasted potatoes and green beans. A mini-feast, I suppose.

----------

DH goes back to the slope tomorrow and he will be working for 3 weeks. Then he will be off for three weeks and return to the slope on New Year's Day. Then it's highly possible he will be doing a 3 and 1, before resuming his normal 2 and 2 schedule.

Christmas Bonuses usually come out around the middle of December. Last year it was on the 16th and anyone who wasn't there received those checks in the mail a couple of days later. I am trying not to anticipate it, but it's hard. I am a planner and I like to know what is going to happen. Last year it was 5% of DH's income. This year it is rumored to be 10%. I can't help hoping for the 10% because it would wipe out the rest of our credit card debt. But even 5% would do a huge amount of payoff and then our income tax return would finish it off. It will be quite high because we get to claim the full HSA deduction.

I've calculated what it will cost us if the payroll tax thing is not extended. It will be $170 a month for every four week pay cycle, or about $2040 a year. If they do reduce the child credit from $1000 back to $500 per child, it won't really affect us much. We couldn't claim one of our kids last year and only half of the other one because of income eligibility. And DD will be 17 next year, so we wouldn't be eligilbe to claim her in 2013's tax return anyway, as I understand it.

We can absorb it, we will be fine. I'm not so sure about many others though. I'd like to continue to have that money, but I don't resent it. I mean, my mother is on social security and Medicare, my SIL is on food stamps, and my BIL (my sister's husband) is on disability and before that was on unemployment for the full term allowed. I like to look at it as our taxes going to support the programs that support our family members. And we help directly as we can.

----------

We looked at a couple of houses. 1 beautiful 1756 square foot rambler, 3 beds, 2 baths, on one acre with an enormous shop and a smaller shop with attached office, for $239,200. It's just outside of town and mid-way between my Mom's house and my in-laws house. It's a funny piece of land, though, shaped like a pie wedge and the train track borders the property. Since trains go through at least six times a day, I think that would be too disruptive.

We looked at another really nice two story house about ten minutes out of town that has 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, a shop, a barn, and 3 acres for $299,000. It's set up so that the one floor could be used as a MIL apartment.

Then just for fun we looked at a $500,000 house with a lake view and a mountain view. It was spectacularly beautiful and had most of my dream house wants, like a baker's oven, a huge kitchen with lots of storage, a wrap around porch, gables, 1 acre grounds, hard wood floors, beach access. And it had a lot of DH's wants as well, with the shop and four car garage (makes me laugh as we are a one car family). If we could afford it, it would be big enough that we could house my mother, MIL and FIL and SIL and neice on top of our own family. But I do not want to mortgage our lives away. That is not in my plan for future happiness. It sure was pretty, though.

I think we're still a year away from househunting for real, to be honest. The repairs on the old house go slowly. I am hoping we will be able to put it on the market by spring, but I am not holding my breath. If it doesn't sell, we do have a solid tennant willing to rent it for $1000 a month. Average rents out there for that size home are $932, so it'd work out all right, we just wouldn't have money for a downpayment like we would if selling, so we'd have to save up for that, although I'd want to pay off the mortgage first. It'll be under $15K after the next payment. I don't want to have two mortgages on two houses, I'd rather own the possible rental outright.

Hopefully it will just sell though and we won't have to worry about it. There is an investor who is interested in it, but most investors try to lowball and I don't want to deal with a lowball investor, though I will if I have to. Mostly I just want to be done.

Bits and Pieces

November 6th, 2012 at 08:49 pm

The mortgage payment hit today, with $77.42 going to interest and 303.42 going to principal, with an additional $124.14 going to principal. The new mortgage balance is now at $15,377.85, so after my December payment the mortgage will be under $15K. I know that we will probably sell it before it is paid off, but I still like to see it going down.

----------

We're still waiting to hear whether or not DH will be working an extra week or two between now and the end of the year. It's a little frustrating because he needs to know so he can buy the appropriate tickets on the appropriate dates. And of course the longer you wait, the more expensive plane tickets are, especially around the holidays.

He comes home at midnight tonight. I will be glad to have him back as I am really worn down at the moment. Both kids are sick again and I can't really tell if I am at the end of getting over a cold or at the start of a new one. It could go either way, but I'm hoping it's getting over the last of one.

----------

Yesterday I mailed in my voter's ballot and went and made the Chase payment. I also pulled some green onions from the garden. I can't believe we still haven't had a frost. I need to get moving and get the potatoes dug, but I'm kind of being really lazy about that. Without an impending frost on the horizon it doesn't seem very urgent.

----------

My doctor is retiring at the end of the year, so I need to find a new doctor. And I really don't want to as this guy has been my doctor my whole life. He delivered me and we have a great relationship. I'll have DH get me a list of the doctors on our PPO list that are accepting new patients, and I need to make up a list of the medications I am taking and their dosages. I will probably have Dr. A write me prescriptions for a year's worth of meds to send into my mail order pharmacy so that I don't have to deal with meds right out of the gate with the new doctor.

I also need to make a list of all the medications I can't take due to adverse reactions/allergies, namely penicillin and codeine. And the ones I can't take the generic of but must take the name brand of.

I so do not need this right now, but I knew it was coming. My doc is in his 80's.

----------

I ordered some Christmas presents for DS and was notified that they shipped yesterday. I ordered them last week so it's good to hear they're out the door. I'm trying not to be last minutey this year.

----------

The car payment statement came in the mail yesterday so I will write out the check and send that off. I hate dealing with their website or I'd pay it directly. It is nice to see the amount going down substantially now. The first year of payments was like it barely budged. Now I can see the progress being made.

----------

I've spent some time looking at houses online over the weekend and prices seem to have taken another dramatic drop. I am now seeing houses in the $215K to $245K range that a couple of months ago were in the $279K to $250K range. And ones that were in the $300K to 350K are down as well, about by the same amounts. I see more and more of them are pending sales as well. I'm not sure what that will mean for our prospects when we go to sell. Of course we are not going to be overpricing the house to begin with, which I think may have been going on with some of these other houses.

I just wish they'd get done already with fixing up the house since we can't put it on the market until they are.

Househunting and Old House Update

September 25th, 2012 at 03:31 pm

While looking at house listings last week, we ran across two rather surprising options. One is a 1900 farm house, 4 bd, 2.5 bath, 1827 square feet on almost half an acre. Although it is two stories, the master is on the main floor. It also has low porches so not a lot of stairs. And a great, big, wide farm kitchen with lots of light. It's $229,000. I think it's so low because it is near the freeway. The house has special insulation so that you can't hear freeway noise inside the house. Freeway noise outside the house doesn't really bother us because we lived off a highway for ten years and there are plenty of trees towards that side of the property to mute it.

Then there was a 1959 rambler, also on almost 1/2 an acre. It's not as many square feet, 1453, but has a bigger garage and several outbuildings. It is fully fenced. It has a great kitchen, but definitely looks like the era it comes from. It is in a more out of the way location, but not so far as too make anything difficult. The only thing is that there is a fair amount of traffic and the driveway is sharp. Fortunately it is also big enough to turn around in and come out face first instead of trying to back out. Because of the slope it sits on (part flat, part hill) it might be difficult to mow, but it has a ton of established fruit trees on the slope so the land is productive, and we could get a pro in to mow if it was too hard to maintain. It is $235,000. There is also a McMansion for sale next to it for $800,000. Way out of our price range, but it's a pretty view to look at.

We've done drive-bys and these are definitely on our list of ones to visit if they are still there in a couple of months or if they happen to have an open house.

It is nice to see that there are houses in the low end of our price range with actual land. I'd far rather have a mortgage of $200,000 than $350,000. For the most part that has meant looking at houses on 1/4 acre or less, but knowing there are older, less expensive houses with almost 1/2 an acre to be found is nice. And there is no rush. There will be plenty of time to really look once the house sells. If it sells.

Two other options we have looked at before are still available. One is in the perfect location and is really nice, if a tad bit on the small size. Still big garage and a shop for storage so I can work with a smaller house in those cases. It is really nice and has just dropped from $250,000 to $243,500. I would have to take down a couple of trees that aren't too big to make any sort of a garden and it is a smaller lot than I want, but again, perfect, perfect location. I'd be doing a lot of container gardening. But there'd be no chance of keeping chickens. Rabbits, yes, but not enough open space for chickens.

The other is the first house by the freeway, the one with the perfect gourmet kitchen and large back yard, garage and shop. This one we've been inside. Plenty of space and manicured flower beds I would turn into a vegetable garden. Again, freeway noise in the front yard, funeral home/crematorium, memorial park, and elementary school nearby, but you can't hear any of the noises from any of those things in the back yard or the house and I'd spend no time in the front yard as it's tiny. It's sitting at $300,000 now, was at $315,000 for a year. It's quite large, one floor, and handicapped accessible. I think we could get them to come down on price if we were serious about it since it has been on the market well over a year, coming up on 18 months. It's a little further from the perfect location house, but still pretty close, within walking distance to both my mother's house and Trader Joe's and the high school.

We are still a few weeks out from putting our house on the market. The outside painting of the house, front and back porches, and shed is complete. Two interior rooms have been painted and next weekend they hope to finish with that. They also need to put up the new gutters and drainpipes, replace the broken window pane and paint the play structure, as well as paint the new porch overhang on the shed roof and put new roofing on the shed roof since it is two different colors from a previous repair after a major windstorm a few years back. The house looks pretty nice now, though I don't like the exterior color much.

Originally I asked for a pale blue with gray trim, this is sort of a beigy-green with white-gray trim. But I did okay it. The painter gets to keep any leftover paint from previous jobs and he had a bunch of this from one, so we got the outside paint free and I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth. If I had to live in it, that would be another thing entirely and I would have paid to tint the paint a different shade.

Once all the painting is done we will have someone come in and give an estimate on carpet cleaning and whether or not it's worth it to bother or just put in new carpet. I think we can keep all the carpet in the bedrooms, but the carpet in the living room and great room will have to be replaced. We'll see. Then once the carpets are done it will be ready to be sold.

Everyone seems to be agreed on $110,000 as a starting price (except DH and I). We want to see what a realtor says. House is assessed for taxes at $91,000. I am thinking more along the lines of $90,000 as a starting place.. I know how long houses sit out there if they are overpriced. We paid $65,000 and honestly I'd be happy to just get $10,000 above that at this point. It would give us $40,000 for a downpayment, pay the realtor, and pay off the remaining mortgage, and give us a little extra in the bank for all those unexpected expenses that crop up when buying a new house.

Found a Possible House Today

August 26th, 2012 at 09:39 pm

I mean, we're not ready to buy and we're not going to buy right now, but that doesn't stop us from looking and this one would fit our needs in more ways than I expected.

First off it's nearly 3000 square feet with a separate living area MIL apartment set up. And it's on .62 acres, and partially fenced. So it would be perfect for raising and butchering rabbits or chickens in the city without freaking out the neighbors and still have space for a large garden and maybe a hoophouse. It has a creek bordering the property, but nowhere near the house, so no fear of flooding, and we could fish in season.

It has the right number of bathrooms. It has a small wood lot for the fire. It has the right number of bedrooms. It has a huge kitchen. It has space enough to not feel closed in and a place for me to write. It has a good garage. It is in the right school districts. It has a hot tub! (Not a necessity, but nice). And best yet is the asking price of $225,000.

So what's wrong with it? It's ugly. I mean...UGLY. It was built in 1951 and looks every inch of it. Heavy dark wood panelling in a couple of rooms. Heavy brickwork in a couple of places. And an aluminum roof. Yet the potential is huge. Most of it is cosmetic. There is almost always sheetrock under panelling. And bricks can be painted. And we could have a little farm in the city. It's a big enough lot we could raise miniture goats for milk if we wanted to (we don't, but we could!).

It is ugly enough that it may set there for a good long while. Maybe even until we are ready. But even if not, this house shows it is possible to find what we are looking for. I want to drive by it in person just to see if it is really as ugly as it looks. They don't show a full outside shot in the photos.

House Stuff

July 30th, 2012 at 09:48 am

I hate nights where I have insomnia. Or at least "not tired enough to fall asleep until it's really late-ia." We spent a good portion of today out at the house determining what we wanted to keep and what was going to be hauled to the dump of the stuff in the yard and shed. We locked up what we are going to keep and everything left is going to be junked. It's probably 4 pick up loads worth of stuff that will never be usable, like the 2 extremely heavy bags of solid concrete that got rained on. They used to be powder. Or the patio table umbrella that somehow managed to grow an entire layer of something green and fuzzy.

We ended up basically keeping very little. I'm not sure how we ever accumulated so much useless stuff. Having lived in 1000 square feet for the last two and a half years has given me a lot of irritation at our formerly cluttered life. And I am not looking forward to going through the stuff in storage, though that will be our next step, because the smaller the unit we can get into the less we will have to pay.

The guy who wants our car is going to put in $1000 worth of labor in fixing up the old house for it. We will buy the primer, but they have a bunch of leftover paint from other jobs that their boss just gives away after a house is done and that will be free. They already have all the equipment. They will tape and mud and fix some small holes (nail holes, when we changed out the thermostat and put it at the other end of the house) and paint the inside and when that is done we will have the carpets cleaned. The one guy says he has seen carpets in worse shape than ours come back great with professional cleaning so we're hoping we won't have to replace the rugs.

They are also going to take all of the junk we sorted out today to the dump and get the yard ready for sale. He's got a guy who wants to tear down the carport, which is falling down, for free, so he can have the wood. He'll also take all of the greenhouse demolition wood and the broken fencing away.

They want to paint the outside of the house, too, again with free paint from other jobs and they will spray it as they have that equipment.

The other guy is getting estimates on the broken window pane repair and on how much it will cost to replace the four doors and one door frame that need replacing. And also where we can get replacement sliding doors for the closets and how much.

And they want to do all the yard work needed to fix it up. They know we can't pay a lot because of my son's medical bills right now, but it sounds like as long as we pay for the supplies they can't provide, any additional labor costs can wait until the house is sold. I know the head guy is doing this because he really likes my mother, but I don't want to get too far beholden on a house we may not make much from at all.

I really would like to get moving on this and get it on the market, but I want to pay as we go, too, which may not be possible at a quick rate. But I think just getting the house painted is a step in the right direction.

---------------------

As for steps in a different direction, two of the houses that we have had our eyes on for a while both had substantial price drops. The one house, which is pretty much perfect except for the location (which is not a bad location, it's in our chosen school district, it just is not where exactly I want to be) dropped it's price today to $200,000. Which would be a really nice mortgage to have for a house with it's square footage and yard. The only thing I don't like is that I have noticed the neighbors are creeping their stuff.

They are parking one of their brokendown cars partially on that property and their junk is also creeping over. The house has been empty for a while and I don't really want to have neighbors who start taking over bits and pieces when you aren't looking. Plus there was so much clutter in their garage and the yard seemed trashed. All the other yards in the area seem fine, but I don't want bad neighbors. I've had them once and I will not knowingly buy a home next to them.

The other one which is a block outside our desired neighborhood and is only outside it because it is across from the freeway and the noise is loud, was $330,000 when it was taken off the market after a year several months ago, and it came back on the market at $300,000. It is a perfect house for us in a better area. Handicapped accessible, handicapped bathroom shower, a large yard for gardening, a big garage/shop. You can't really hear the freeway from the back yard and it's pretty quiet from inside the house, but it is very loud in the front. All of the bedrooms are in the back though and we've lived with road noise when we lived in the country next to a highway. But I still think it's going to drop more.

If our house had sold and we had the downpayment in hand we'd make an offer. It would be closer to $225,000 to start with, going up to $250,000. I can't say with the road noise it is ever going to sell for more than $275,000. Considering how long they've been trying to unload it, it's just been vastly overpriced. It's also on a dead end, not easy to give directions to, and behind a crematorium/funeral home so it can't sell like the same house picked up and moved to another location and they have to accept that. Once they do I think the price will fall again. When it does, I hope we can take advantage of it.

I told DH today though that I really want to have at least $30,000 in the emergency fund before we start saving for a downpayment. I don't want to go without it.

He said there might be a possibility of him working an extra week. They had fired two people in documentation (they were alternates) and have not rehired replacements even though it's been months and he's sort of been doing both his regular job and the job of the person who is gone. And the second job is falling behind because he has his hands full with his own job. So he may see an extra week of work. Which financially would be great. It would give us enough to pay off the last $1500 of DS's medical bills and still leave us with some money for the house renovations. But I remember how hard 3 weeks on were on everyone including him. And that was 3 on/3 off, not 3 on/1 off. Yes, the money might be nice, but we would muddle by without it to the new year when everything will get easy again. At least I hope so.

Househunting

July 9th, 2012 at 05:10 pm

Yesterday the kids and I went to look at an open house. It is about four blocks from my mother's house. It is 1611 square feet and a very nice house. 3 bedroom, 1.5 baths. It has a very large concrete pad patio in the back yard. I mean it is big enough to set up one of those giant swimming pools like they sell in Costco, a barbecue, a picnic table, and still have room on it. The back yard otherwise was a small strip of grass, about ten feet wide, a small storage shed and a line of scraggly cedar trees against the back fence. The grass strip got a lot of sun, though so would be a good spot for a vegetable garden.

The front yard was bigger and could easily accommodate blueberry bushes and an Itlalian prune tree and the empty front flowerbeds could accommodate strawberry plants. There is also a strip down the side of the house that could be a garden area as well.

The house is in an ideal neighborhood for us. It is in the right school districts. And it is going for $224,900 which is at the low end of our price range and we could actually make the payments right now before we sell the other house. It is a two or three block walk to the grocery store.

It has been completely remodeled, but was built in 1920 and has a lot of that old house charm, but with new windows, siding and roof. I did notice a week spot in the walk in closet upstairs. I noticed it because I walked across it, but other than that I did not notice anything wrong with the house. It was very clean and did not smell of animals despite having had a cat there formerly (it was in the online photos, but the house is empty now). The carpet was very comfortable to walk on in bare feet.

It had a nice kitchen for cooking, and neither stove or the dishwasher were next to the fridge (bad to have heat users next to a cold maker for electricity costs). Not as big as I'd like for storage space, but the laundry room was so large you could put a king size bed in it and still have space for the washer/dryer and a path to walk. So I think shelving in there would expand the pantry just fine and there is space for a chest freezer. We would have to keep our table pushed against the kitchen wall when we weren't using it or find a smaller table at Goodwill or something. There is no seperate dining area.

I don't know. I'm waffling because it doesn't have a garage. DH has always wanted shop space. Yet at the same time a garage makes things cost $40,000 more. There is not enough space to build a garage one day , either.

The master bedroom was as big as the one I am in now. The whole house felt very airy and open. Maybe that is because we are used to living in 1000 square feet right now. All things being equal, I think I could be happy there. I'd certainly be happy with a lower mortgage.

There is another house I want to look at, too. We've driven by it before but never seen the inside. It is $209,000, has more space, and a bigger yard with raised beds and room to build a shop. It also has an unfinished basement. It is in the right school districts, but is not as ideally located. Well, it is walking distance to the mall, but not really to any grocery store. And it's about 2 miles from my Mom's house so not really walking distance for the kids. Not that two miles is too far, but part of the walk would be on a busy five lane road.

It has hardwood floors and a bigger kitchen plus dining room. The only thing I would worry about is the basement flooding. It is very wet here nine months out of the year and basements in older homes flood a lot because inadequate drainage was put in when they were built. I grew up having to turn on the sump pump every time it rained too hard and that is not something we want to deal with at all. So I want to look at it for water damage.

The best choice is to just keep saving our money and work on getting our house on the market and not move forward too quickly, especially with DS's new medical expenses. But it is nice to know that there are options out there that we can afford right now if we needed to. I just don't think I'm quite ready to get serious. But it is nice to look.

It's Late and I Have Insomnia

May 5th, 2012 at 09:10 am

Good a reason as any to blog, isn't it? I have to be up in the morning to let the chickens out at 8, but then I can go back to sleep if I can for a couple more hours. It will be a full day. There is one open house we want to hit up on the hill. It is a rather spacious house at $262,000. No hardwood floors so I imagine it's all the carpeting that makes it so they can't ask for ridiculous pricing. We will hit that house early as we can. The open house starts at ten so we will be there near the start.

After that we will head to Sedro Woolley to Skagit River Ranch. They have a farm store that is open only on Saturdays from 10 to 6. They are a farm that sells grass fed animals. They also sell specific cuts of meat in their farm store and I would like to get some ribeye, t-bone, chuck roasts and hamburger and try them out before making a decision about buying a half a steer later this year. Mom wants to go in on it with us and buy the other half of the steer. Buying a whole cow together would bring the price down a little.

We'll see how it tastes. I am considering this farm and another one that is in Bow. The one in Bow costs less, but it's Chiangus as opposed to just ordinary Black Angus. I know I like Black Angus, but I don't know what difference Chiangus makes in taste, flavor or leanness. I am hoping to visit the other ranch on another day to see if I can buy samples as well.

Then when we get back DH has to set up the computer. The cobbled together mess DS has been using finally stopped working. They were financing 18 months same as cash, so we got an inexpensive desktop only, since our monitor is in perfect condition. DH finally took the back up laptop in to be fixed before the warranty runs out. Hopefully they won't have to wipe it because there are no backup discs for reinstalling windows. I have $200 in the laptop fund, so that money will go towards paying for the new desktop. I was hoping we'd get ahead of the curve on things that were going to go wrong and I'd save up enough before we got to this point, but the thing gave up too soon.

The kids have to have one fuctioning computer between them to write on for their writing assignments and no one wants to give either one of them one of our laptops. They are too hard on things.

It is time for DD to visit the eye doctor and if needed she can get new lenses. Not frames of course, those are every 18 months. She has been complaining about headaches and she thinks her prescription might have changed.

I forsee a very expensive spring/early summer. And sometime before fall I'll need to buy a chest freezer if I am going to get that much meat.

House Hunting, Free Lunch, Chicks & Ducks

April 29th, 2012 at 11:06 pm

So today was a major day for Open Houses for my city. They were doing a thing of some sort. Anyway, we looked at a lot of houses, and it served to reassure me that there are a lot of houses out there that would be right for us, which means when we are really ready there will still be a lot of houses that are right for us. Although almost perfect house is still almost perfect. It was really nice to see it, I really liked it, it had some problems, mostly fixing the paint would fix, but it was nice. But there were a lot of people looking at it and I did not feel bad about that or territorial or anything, so I think I am well over my irrational urges to buy right now.

We did see an absolutely gorgeous house about 3 blocks from my mom's house, too. It was truly exquisite decorating. It was like walking into a piece of art. But a comfortable, liveable piece of art. The fixtures and the floors and the wall paper and the way the walls were painted, it just was such a feast for the eyes, but not in a way you'd ever get tired of. The landscaping was incredible. You could just really tell that the people who owned it adored their home and had put a lot of effort into making it so beautiful.

----------------------

What was really funny was I ran into a man that I have not seen since high school (although we were friendly in middle school we had no classes together in high school so it felt more like not having seen him since middle school). He was friends with the realtor showing one of the houses and was waiting for him to finish up. It was so strange, because I almost never run into people like that. DH always does, but almost everyone I knew back then took off for Seattle or Oregon or California. But it was nice once we figured out how we knew each other. 24 years changes you a lot.

The had free Subway sandwiches at the last place we looked at, so I split half a six inch sub with my son and DH had one, so that took care of a late lunch. We were starving by then. I really liked the realtor who was friends with the guy I knew from school. He wasn't pushy but he was interested in helping us when we were ready. He was younger, maybe 30, but he felt honest and I got a good vibe off of him. We might decide to use him.

-------------------------

The bathroom remodel is almost done. They've put in the vanity cabinet (but not the sink) and the toilet is in. The final coat of paint is on. The sink still needs to go into the vanity. The mirror needs to be put on the wall. The glass door needs to be installed on the tub/shower, the showerhead needs to be put up, and the shelving needs to be put up. We may actually have our bathroom back by mid-week. I hope so. I am tired of not having one. Of course we may have to wait for all the caulking and stuff to finish drying so it may be the weekend before we can use it, but I will just be so glad to not have the workmen in the house.

---------------------------

The chicks and ducks are now allowed to go outside after they made a great escape yesterday. They tore the mesh netting free so they could get to the layer mash on the other side of the coop and then came outside after they had eaten it all, so Mom decided today to just let them go out now. They are loving it and the weather is nice so they are happy. They are big enough. They are mostly all flopped together in a heap under one of the blueberry bushes but they adventure out a couple at a time. Totally adorable.

Make it Stop

April 27th, 2012 at 02:56 am

Why do near perfect houses keep coming on the market in the neighborhoods we want to buy in? It's like if they all sell before we are ready, what is going to be left when we are ready? It makes me just a little bit crazy. This one is four blocks from my mother's house, right school district, right price range and appropriately priced, a gorgeous Craftsman (my favorite style) 4 bed 2 bath with hardwood floors and a yard the size of a postage stamp so barely any maintenance at all, but a great back deck. It has two bedrooms on the main floor and two upstairs, so accessibility is good, too. *sighs*

And I have to drive by it four times a day five days a week so it's going to be right there in my brain all the time. It's the shortest route to the schools so I'm not going to not drive by it and waste gas going a different way. But it is taunting me. The only really good thing about it is that it is for sale by owner so chances are it will linger on the market. A lot of folks do not want to deal with someone not using a realtor because of all the extra hassle involved. Me, I don't care.

We have $1,526.94 left to pay off to get our debt to income ratio at 45%, which is where they want it to be to qualify for a 2.9% mortgage at our credit union. Our credit scores are already in the right range. Tomorrow I will make the car payment, another VISA payment, and the AMEX payment. Then on Monday when the money arrives from ING, I will make an additional VISA payment. So we will be below that 45% range by Monday, though it may not trickle through to the credit bureaux until mid May. Not that it matters with no down payment money, but it is one more step in the right direction.

So...question. Does it make sense at all to do a 3% down loan if I am going to make double payments (not just double principal payments, but doubling the first payment with all the extra going to principal) until we've paid off 20% of the loan or is that just asking for trouble? We will have that much money available once the credit card is paid off in a month or two. Or should I stomp on my desire to get out of here and buy a house "right now" and get that 20% saved up. It will take us about a year, less if we sell our house.

How do we ever get past our wants prompting us to think they are needs? I know I could save 3% down in just a few months, but that is probably a stupid thing to do. And it's not like I've even seen the inside of this house. Gah. If we just stay here another year we will be so much further ahead. We'll be out of debt except for the car and the under $18K mortgage (which will go away when we sell the house). We'll be another year gone on the car and I'll have been making extra, extra principal payments on it, too. We'll have an EF of better quality and we'll have the downpayment saved. Life will be less stressful. Okay, I think I've talked myself out of trying to do anything rash or stupid. Trying. But not wanting.

I can do this. I don't need to throw my hard work away on impatient desire. *deep breaths*

Okay, and for the DEC, money spent today was $374.91 for a new twin mattress, box springs, and Hollywood frame for DS. We borrowed Mom's truck and brought it home ourselves and plan to put the old mattress on the curb with a free sign, so no delivery or disposal fees tacked on.

Speaking of wants, but not of wants that make me irrational, while we were at the furniture store waiting for the paperwork, etc., I sat in a lovely recliner in front of a giant screen TV. 70 inches of HDTV beauty. It was playing a scene of ocean waves crashing into a gorgeous tropical beach. I wanted to go there. It was like taking a mini-vacation in my head. I am happy with the big screen TV we have, but that thing is going on my future wants list way down the road, or something like it. We don't go to movies more than once a year usually, but we like to rent them and that thing would be great for the big sci-fi blockbusters.

It was surprisingly not horrifically expensive. Under $3000. I remember when you had to pay that for a 30 inch cathode ray TV with nowhere near this kind of quality. We never did, but I remember when. And there would be an installation fee, because that thing has to be mounted to the wall studs and we'd want it done right. It's on the dreams list, but it's not even in the top ten. And it's a much easier want to squelch than the house thing.

And is it just me or has anyone else noticed that the new article columnist seems to be very into brand names and very anti-generics? It's getting to be a theme.

Why Do I Look at Houses Before We Are Ready to Buy Again?

April 2nd, 2012 at 03:49 am

Sometimes I think I just like banging my head against the wall. A house came on the market on Friday and it's just about perfect if you could just pick up the house and plop it down where you wanted it to be. And the price! $219,000 for 1747 square feet, with an unfinished basement. The outside was cute, not the greatest color, what I like to refer to as one of the least offensive shades of bland, but nice windows and doors, and the inside looked great from the photos. Hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, and master bedroom. Main floor master bedroom with ensuite. Gorgeous, big kitchen, large enough to put the table in and use the dining room for the piano and exercise machines. Open floor plan. The second floor has 2 bedrooms, plus a big rec room and there is a second bathroom, a must.

It has a fenced yard with five raised beds for gardening, is a completely flat yard, and has mature fruit trees. But it wasn't too big a yard either, so easy to mow. We drove by it. The only thing it didn't have that was bad was a driveway and there is no street parking, but there is a place for one car under the trees. I don't like the idea of parking under trees as there is so much sap and bird droppings that get on the car that way. There is no garage or storage either, which isn't necessary with the basement. But it looks good otherwise. It really does.

It is even in the right school district for both kids, though right on the borderline for the middle school. And the location is the reason why it's got a lower asking price than the norm. It's close to the freeway. Close enough you can hear it, but not as close as our old house was to the highway. It sounds more like a river than traffic. The neighborhood is okay, but not a favored area for me. I'd say it's lower middle class and I'm not sure what direction it is going, up or down. I looked for signs but they were mixed.

There were some very nice homes there, and a lot of minivans that were at least from this century, but probably early to mid last decade (probably all paid off!). There were also a couple of condmened houses being torn down and a house that had obvious burn damage that was being worked on. There were no wrecked cars and cars up on blocks, there was no sign of trash and the yards were all maintained. The front porches were not all cluttered up with junk. Some of the roofs had a lot of moss, but many where spotless. It was raining hard and a couple of the yards were flooded, which might indicate trouble with basements getting water.

We will probably not make an appointment to look at it. I know I need to have patience, and not push to look at things yet. And as nice as it is, there is enough for me to go, no, it's not got quite enough of my ticky boxes checked. And I don't want to rush into something. We rushed into something in 1998 and I have been regretting it since then. I don't want to make the same mistake we did before, being in a hurry to get out of where we are and not going into things with our eyes wide open.

I want one of my preferred neighborhoods. I want walking distance to certain things. I want to be closer to mom than that (but not so close she walks to me!) And I really do want a driveway. *sighs* I need to stop looking but those shiny real estate sites are just so...shiny.

----------

Ex-BIL is being a jerk again, no surprise. He has decided to sue SIL to try make her sell the house they still jointly own because she is messing up his credit by not making the payments on time. Of course, he is late every single month in giving her his share of the mortgage, not to mention child support, so of course she cannot make them on time. Kind of a duh thing.

This is the house that two of his children, whom she has full custody of, live in. It takes a special kind of selfishness to be such an awful human being. This is so the cheating, child-molesting idiot and the woman he is currently shacked up with can try to buy a house together. The only reason he is doing it now and not sooner, like when they divorced, was because one of the conditions they had when they built the house through an assistance program, was they had to wait at least five years to sell it or pay a major penalty. Guess when the five years was up?

Bits and Bobs

March 19th, 2012 at 05:13 pm

Again, not too much going on right now. I added $10.16 to the coin jar today. I had given DD a $20 as she went to an all day thing yesterday and I knew she would need to eat twice. She brought back the change so it went into the coin jar.

I paid $100 on DH's 3 months same as cash for his glasses. That leaves $100 left on that to pay next month. I set it up online so that I can send it directly.

I paid a medical bill of $105.62.

I will be entering my info into all the spreadsheets I got behind on when my laptop died today. EF tracking, HSA tracking, Holding Tank Tracking, finishing entering the last week of Feb's expenses, create the March budget spreadsheet of the budget template and entering in everything that has been paid so far, which is everything. Also create an April budget from the template. I hate being so far behing, but I did not want to work with Open Office's Exel-alike program. They can say it's compatible all they want to, but things get lost.

Spent some time looking at "dream" houses this weekend. Calculated that they would also involve hiring a groundskeeper and a maid. And a person to clean the docks and the boat. Decided those particular dream houses can stay just that. LOL Though I really would like my own moorage and swimming area on the lake one day. *sighs* Or a condo there. The condos seem affordable for us when we no longer have kids at home. It'd be the HOA fees that would probably be the kicker.

I just don't want to buy a big house anymore. I mean, I want room, but DD goes to college in two and a half more years. DS goes in six and a half. And having a big house with lots of bedrooms encourages children to move back home after college. And I really don't want that. I want my kids to stand on their own two feet. And I really don't want to have a bunch of guest rooms that encourage people to drop in on us for weeks at a time, or some such after the kids are grown.

It seems silly to have a big house for ten years and then sell again and get a condo on the lake. But I know we can't stay here that long. Well, we can, but we'd go insane well before the sell-by date if we do.

Hmm...Just Thinking

February 16th, 2012 at 12:47 am

There is an itty bitty house on a double lot going for $145,000. It's around 418 square feet, set up like a studio apartment. But it's on an otherwise empty double lot. It is in an ideal location. It couldn't be in an anymore perfect location. 2 blocks from the grocery store, less than a mile to each child's school, near the library, near our credit union, on the bus line.

Running the numbers, a 10% downpayment would be approximately $15,000. The monthly payment at 3.4% would be less than $600 a month. It is currently rented at $700 a month. We could come up with that downpayment pretty fast if we pushed. We could make the monthly payment easily on our own without a renter. I don't really want to be a landlord, but I'm not adamantly opposed to it, either.

We could work on paying it off while we live here and then build a house to suit us. I think if we paid the regular payment plus the amount from the renter on top, we could move pretty quickly on paying it down, especially if the old house sells, then get a construction loan to build.

Also, the itty bitty house currently in existence might be an ideal place for DD to live while going to college. Or just nice for storage or something.

Anyway, just thinking aloud, really. I know we still need to pay off the credit card first and then save up for a downpayment. It may not still be there when we'd be ready. The house has been for sale for a long, long time, though. You never know, and it might be the way to go. Certainly an option to consider anyway.


<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>