Thursday, July 16, 2015

Almost Home

Hello dear readers :)

It's been a long and winding road, but we are finally almost home! We found a house and closed the deal on July 9th. We're homeowners again! This is the third home we have owned in our family.

But we have been staying with dear friends for the past 2 weeks because we had to be out of our rental house by June 30th. Words don't describe how grateful we are to them for sheltering us during our homeless period.

We had to put all of our belongings into a storage unit. Minus several items we sold and donated.

But moving day is fast approaching! We will be moving in this Saturday. Just two more days! But because the house needs some repairs, cleaning and new carpet, we're waiting until the new carpet's in before we begin living there. So we'll continue staying with our friends until this Monday or Tuesday and then we'll really move into our new home. And with beautiful new carpet! :) What a blessing that will be. Another blessing is that our new home is only a couple of miles from our old home, which means we get to stay in generally the same neighborhood and shopping area.  SO happy about that!

As I learned in every other trial and hardship, God has been faithful and true and he is taking care of us. Staying with friends is a balancing act. How much to be around and how much to leave them undisturbed. We have tried to strike a balance but it's still tough to do. We treasure these dear friends and thank God for them daily.

Thank you for your prayers for us. I'll update as I'm able to. Have a blessed day in Christ!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Back to Square One

We got the home inspection last Saturday. I was sick with a 24 hour virus that day and had to miss it. But my husband and sons got to go and my husband looked a little overwhelmed when he got home. There were soooo many things that needed to be fixed. I asked him what the inspector thought was biggest thing wrong with it and he said the tobacco smoke. 

The next morning I woke early and innocently thought I'd just map out a course of action to tackle the smoke problem. I had no idea I was about to stumble upon the information that I did. 

From the research I gathered, the consensus from most people is that homes with more than a little tobacco smoke damage are a ton of work and often end up with causing more trouble than they are worth. Sometimes even resulting in breathing problems. Some people develop asthma and chronic coughs from living in a home that previous occupants smoked in. 

The microscopic particulates that permeate the indoor environment permeate everything and seem to become virtuously a permanent part of the home. Smoke smell can be diminished, it can be masked and it can even be deodorized - meaning you might be successful at removing the smell. But those nasty particulates are still there. 
Granted, some people report that they felt they had conquered the problem in the homes they were in. They reported no smell, etc. But the majority reported problem after problem and terrible trouble both financially and emotionally. 

From my understanding, it is not unlike mold spores, which are even more dangerous. The particles are airborne and extremely hazardous to your health. 

Therefore we decided, quite soberly and sadly, that we would rather lose the money we just invested into the inspection, than take on a problem that could ultimately cost us very dearly in terms of health and untold troubles. We are all relieved to be free from a potential nightmare. Lesson learned!

So on with the search we go. We now have 30 days to be out of this house and into another. 

So we are praying for a miracle and trusting God to meet our needs. And even if we have to live in an Extended Stay Hotel temporarily, and go through all the trouble and expense of moving into storage and then into a home, we will still praise him. He is so worthy to be praised! 

Genesis 18:14 - Is any thing too hard for the LORD?

Friday, May 29, 2015

We Got It!

After 3 harrowing weeks on this real estate roller coaster ride, we finally went under contract last night! The house that I just showed some photos of will soon be ours.  We are praising God for his everlasting mercy and favor on our family.

This last week has been stressful. Last weekend the house we are buying had just come on the market and my husband said he almost cried when he saw the pictures. Then when we saw it in person, he said he almost cried again, only this time for different reasons! ha. The house needs a little work and isn't as nice in person as it looked in the photos. But nothing we can't spruce up ourselves.

Sooooo many houses we've looked at have had tiny square footage, odd layouts with multiple levels, older in age, ugly yards and several undesirable factors. 

All representing a lot of compromise. 

We were starting to feel like we would have to compromise on much more than just the 85% rule.

What is the 85% rule, you ask? 

It means that most homes will only have about 85% of what you are looking for in a home. We were fine with that. But the majority of the homes we were seeing had a much lower ratio. Probably somewhere around 65%.  The houses in our price bracket were all too small, in less desirable locations, almost always had some sort of deficits that are very important to us.

Shopping for a home in our price bracket felt like showing up late to a buffet and trying to fill our plate from what was picked over. The good stuff was already taken. And that scenario only represents the adequate homes in our price range. There have been plenty of homes that were a whole other scenario. :-)

Those homes felt like coming to a garage sale and trying to pick through the seller's dirty laundry. Hmm, should we pay top dollar for this crusty sock or these moldy drawers? Decisions, decisions. 

It was amazing to see how many people will completely wreak havoc on the home they live in and then just put it up for sale. Unbelievable! They trash it up and then say, Here you go! YOU clean up our mess. You get the house, the scum, the dirt and the whole broken down ball of wax all for one amazingly high price!

That is a seller's market. I recommend it to no one! Had it not been for our the new property management forcing us to lease again or move, we would have waited till autumn or winter to buy. 

But God knew what he was doing. And he has ways of closing and opening certain doors to help us and guide us on the path he would have us to go. 

So we kept looking and praying. And praying some more. Every good house was being swept out from under our feet by higher bidders. 

We just couldn't compete. It was looking like we were going to have to get a not so great house or be homeless.

Then along came this house.

We put in an offer on Saturday, May 23rd. It's a long story. But the seller put us through FIVE days of nonsense and stalling before he finally accepted our offer.  

So not only did we get the house for $18,000 under list price (which was already $15,000 lower than comparable homes. AND we did it in a seller's market! No, we didn't do it - the LORD did it. Truly he is our shield and strong tower and he knows those whose hearts are trusting in him. 

Once we put some sweat into bringing it to it's full potential, it will immediately be worth $34,000 more than we paid for it. 

Praise the Lord!  Only HE could do such a thing for us. And just in the nick of time!

As it turns out, we'll be able to put all new flooring in before we move in as well.

The next three weeks will be spent on home inspections and the process of escrow and closing. And then the big moving day. The house is about 9 miles from where we live now so it won't be too long of a haul. 

Thank you dear readers for taking time out of your busy days to pray for me and my family! As the Lord leads, I would appreciate your prayers for us to have a peaceful closing and moving experience. 

May God bless you!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On The Precipice

Today we will find out if the house we put an offer on will be accepted by the seller. It's a 2003 home that is a little distressed. But it is in a nice neighborhood with plenty of room for our family. It has 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, plus a loft. It has 1,960 square feet of living space and a 700 sq ft basement.

I love the covered front porch and tile roof.

It has a double sided gas fireplace. (The railing that's visible above is the loft.) 

I'm not sure what I would do with that see through area above the fireplace. My husband wants to frame and fill it and put the tv up there on the other side. I think that area is perfect for some kind of sculpture or flower arrangement.

It has a nice big kitchen with Maple cabinetry and a pantry. Laundry room is small, but at least it's not in the basement! 

No formal dining room, but there is a large space adjacent to the kitchen for our dining room table. My husband wants to rip the flooring and that half wall out and put in hardwood for a seamless flow.

The loft is bright and cheery and overlooks the entrance and front room and has built in storage. 
Down the hall are the bedrooms and bathrooms.

It also has an unfinished basement for storage and/or finishing.

The previous occupants did not take very good care of the home and it is in need of a thorough cleaning and a little fixing here and there. 

The window blinds are covered in grime and even though the carpeting was steam cleaned (and still damp when we viewed it the other day), if we got it, I'd have it professionally cleaned again! :) 
The interior of the home has a prevailing marijuana smell, so I don't know how that would be remedied. Maybe an enzyme product sprayed around.

But all of the things wrong with it are things that we can remedy ourselves over time. 

The yard is good sized, although it looks larger in the photo than in real life. I'm amazed at how the wide angle camera lenses can distort a photo and make the space appear MUCH larger than is true to life.  In the photo below, it almost looks like the yard alone is a quarter acre. 

But when we got there it is an average sized yard. The whole property is .21 acres, so that gives you an idea how big the yard is. 

But still, it is big enough for us!  :) And it overlooks a wide open field with a few cattle. Very peaceful.

We think it would be a fabulous yard for our family. Just big enough to play some Croquet, plant some flowers and a garden.

And enjoy the sunsets on the big patio.  
(The pergola is also in need of repainting and sealing.)
The view from the kitchen window would be so nice.

The exterior paint on the garage door is in really rough shape. 
Worse than the photo shows. 

It's hard to see in the photo, but the front door paint is also badly in need of paint. 
But these are easy fixes that I'd actually enjoy painting myself.  
My guess is that the builder didn't use quality paint when this home was being built. 

It is a lovely house that we would enjoy calling our home. 
But we are prepared that if this house is not what the Lord has for us, we will still say, "blessed be the name of the Lord." 

He is still greatly to be praised. 

Our situation grows more urgent with each passing day. 

We are relying on and trusting in the Lord to provide a way where there seems to be no way. 

We have 33 days to be out of the home we are in now. 

Thirty-three days to buy a home, close, and move in! Or perhaps find another rental home. Or liquidate as many of our belongings as possible, place the rest in storage, buy a travel trailer on Craigslist and live in that over the summer until we find a home. That would be the most drastic option. But at least we would own it and not throw money away on rent. 

However this turns out, we are trusting in God's provision and love for us. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

We're Keepin' On

Thank you so much for your prayers for my family and our housing situation!

We got the news this morning that the house we wanted so badly went to a higher bidder. We sort of figured it would because this seller's market is absolutely crazy. It's like Black Friday and people are losing their minds to win the bid.  

My husband had the day off today and will be taking the next 2 days off as well, so that will ease the  pressure from me quite a bit. Our agent showed us four homes today and my husband and kids didn't like the one I liked. The rest were all at the top of our budget and will likely be involved in bidding wars, so I felt like they were a waste of time even viewing. 

It's amazing how many people have odorous homes. I'd say around at least half of the homes we see pump their homes full of air freshener to mask the odors. I always have to get out of those homes quickly because the toxic chemicals give me a headache.

So come along with me on my house hunting journey and I'll share some pictures of the homes we're looking at.

The runner up home I told you about is still available, amazingly enough!
And it has no odors, no air fresheners, and smells just normal. Like normal fresh air. This says so much about a home, to me. Especially one that we need to move right into with little time to fix up. The only problem is my husband and sons don't really like it. :(

It has a 3 car garage and good curb appeal. Pretty, right?

The back yard was lovely and green with sprinkler system and a great deck. Plenty of room to bbq and the rest of the yard has three big trees. I like it.

I could work with this kitchen (after repainting it).
It's got good cupboard space and a good "working triangle".

A cute powder - laundry

A display niche and real hardwood floors on the main floor. 

 It is also in a very nice neighborhood, which is important and just minutes away from some good friends. 

I think the mural throws my husband and sons for a loop, though.
But it's just paint that we can easily paint over.
It's a tri-level home, not our favorite style, but it is newer and in very good condition. 

What do you think of this one?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Houses, Houses...My Head is Spinning

Our agent showed me four homes yesterday and 6 homes today. I think I am officially overwhelmed. 

We haven't been through the home buying process since 2008 and it has changed. They have internet "portals" now with live MLS listing updates. They do a lot of texting and a lot of electronic signatures. Gone are the days of sitting down in the agent's office and being shown the contract carefully. Now it's emailed. And we have to go over ourselves. Terrible way to buy and sell something as important as a home. 

What I'm having trouble with is trying to choose between our priorities, because not every home hits all the criteria.  There is always a mix of them with some omitted... great location, great kitchen, great yard, great condition, good layout, master 5 pc bath, storage space/unfinished basement, garage space, etc.

When a house is missing one or more of these features, my mind starts doing loopty-loops trying to reconcile which combination would work best: 

do we want to live further out in an awesome house or closer in with a lesser one?  
Do we want to pay top dollar to get more square footage and have a dreamy back yard but sacrifice newer flooring and trim? 

Do we want to have a formal dining room but have the laundry in a dark unfinished basement? My biggest dislike is having laundry in a basement. I mean, what kind of architect thought that homemakers — or anyone — would enjoy trudging up and down one or two flights of stairs to a basement while carrying mounds of laundry... multiple times per week?  They had to be out of their minds. So when I see laundry in a dreary, dark basement, I cringe. It's almost an instant loser.

So this afternoon, my head started aching with all the decisions to be made. 

The only one I keep dreaming of is the one I showed you yesterday with the dreamy kitchen. Everything about it just sends me into a tizzy of dreamy excitement at the thought that it might actually be ours to live in and enjoy.  

They are supposed to make a decision today. 

And I'm on pins and needles. 

We threw in a last ditch effort at getting it this afternoon with my husband offering to give them $2500 in carpentry services on their next home. 

That house also has the laundry room upstairs by the four bedrooms. 

And a 5 pc master bath with soaking tub and separate shower. (And private toilet room.)
Double swoon.

And a dreamy little fountain pond in the lush and private backyard. There is much more to the yard, but this is the only picture available. 

And this is the adorable and charming dining area adjacent the kitchen. 
So bright and cheery. I love that it has a regular glass door to the back yard instead of a sliding glass door. 

Yes, it's true.

Good or bad, I have fallen in love with this house! 

Even if we don't get it, I'm still shamelessly in love with it.

I've also given it to God. 
I even picked out a runner up home (in the same neighborhood for $28,000 less) if this one should go to another. :-) 

Thank you so much for your prayers!