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Chug, Chug, Chugging Along*

13 Jan

It kind of just hit me that we will be signing the final papers for our new house just TWO WEEKS from today. Only 14 days until what once felt like a far-fetched dream comes true and they hand us the keys to our very own single family home.

My husband and I have been talking about this dream home for so long, that at times it felt like it would never become reality. It took longer than we thought to finally sell our townhouse and then we had to wait until I found a new job so that we could qualify for a loan. But now, we’re so close I can almost taste it.**

Not that things have been smooth sailing for the last week.

We had our home inspection last Saturday. It mostly went really well, but there is no such thing as a home inspection without any issues to report. There were probably seven things on the list that he suggested we get fixed. Of those items, we decided to ask the sellers to take care of five (the other two are very easy for us to do on our own). Pretty much they need to hire a chimney guy and a roof guy to fix a couple things each.

A couple days later the tests that the inspector set in the basement came back as positive for radon. No big deal, radon is pretty prevalent in Carroll County and all the seller needs to do is install a mitigation system to fix the problem. It would cost them some money, but it wasn’t a deal breaker that would make us walk away from the house.

On Tuesday, we had our termite inspection (which went well) and our well/septic tank inspection.  Since nobody has been regularly living in the house, our water guy warned us that the water tests may come back as contaminated (since the water had been sitting stagnant in the well). Sure enough, the results were contaminated, which means that the sellers would have to pay to have the water chlorinated before settlement.

Yesterday afternoon our agent sent their agent our list of settlement requirements: the five items from the home inspectors list, mitigating the basement and chlorinating the well. There were only seven items, which would require the sellers to spend somewhere around $2,000. Not too bad for them, considering that we’re paying their full asking price (yes, we’re also getting seller help for settlement, but that’s pretty typical).

I should probably preface this next bit by saying that I had a very, very long day at work yesterday – about 13 hours straight. I’m 7 months pregnant and my back was killing me.

Ok, got the visual of my mood? Good.

I received an email from my agent last night while I was still working. It was an email forwarded from the sellers to their agent giving us a couple choices:

  1. They will take care of all seven of the items on the list.
  2. OR, they will take care of just two items on the list (the mitigation system and chlorinating the water), give us $200 and also leave the items on the attached list in the house for us when they move out.

Um, okay. Let’s peruse the list, shall we?

  • Mattress, box spring and bed frame from the guest room (does not include headboard)
  • 32” TV (not a flat screen, an old school box TV)
  • Snow shovels and snow melt bucket
  • Shelving in garage
  • Firewood in backyard
  • Mirror over fireplace
  • Touch up paint for all rooms
  • Spare humidifier screen
  • Screen for front door
  • All house ceiling fans
  • Office desk
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Entry table and mirror
  • Lamp

I’m pretty sure my response was something like, “Are you F”*&(@ KIDDING ME?”

First off, I’m not really sure why they’re including touch up paint, a screen to an existing door and ceiling fans on that list. These things always go with the house (unless they are listed under exclusions in the contract). If we did our walk through and found that they had removed all four of the ceiling fans from the house, it would pretty much be the same as poking an angry pregnant bear. I would have ATTACKED!

Second, there is absolutely NOTHING on that list that we want. Why would someone think that we would trade about $1,000 worth of needed house work for a list that includes a TV that goodwill will not even take (they only take flat screens now) and some plastic shovels and a bag of snow salt? And are they really telling me that they’re going to take the firewood with them?? So pretty much, they save the effort of moving the worthless crap that they don’t want AND don’t have to pay for/hire someone to fix the things that we require?

In the words of Dr. Evil, “Riiiiiight”

After some furious texting back and forth with my agent, we got everything worked out. I told her to let them know that we appreciated their offer, however would prefer that they just complete all the items on the list. Yes, I had to put on my big girl pants to say that and not just dissolve into maniacal laugher at their insulting offer.

So, hopefully everything goes smoothly and they get everything completed before settlement. However, if I do a walk through on settlement day and there is anything missing from that house (aka, the ceiling fans, or doorknobs or something), I pity the fool that angered the crazy pregnant lady.

 

*I just realized that this title kind of makes it sound like I’m chugging beer or something. Rest assured, as delicious as a Blue Moon looks in a frosty glass with a perfectly cut orange hanging on the side, the only thing I’m chugging right now is water.

**I just recently re-watched the episode of How I Met Your Mother that references that Marshall will lick a plane before he flies to ensure that it won’t crash (and then licks Lily’s pregnant belly to make sure that the baby will be safe). Maybe I need to lick the new house?

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Good Customer Service Rocks My Socks Off

5 Jan

Since it’s been almost a decade since I purchased my last house, I’m suddenly being reminded of all the “fun” stuff that comes along with a home purchase.

One of those things I forgot about is the massive amount of signing* my own name. You sign your name a bunch. And when I say a bunch, I mean you sign a freaking craptastic amount of forms. Whether it’s to put in the initial contract, secure your new mortgage or actually go through the settlement for your new home, you’d better bone up on your full signature because you’ll be signing it over and over and over again.

Ok, I’m back on track from my tangent — one of the things that slipped my mind was that I’d have to call around and get quotes for homeowners insurance.

Even though we won’t be moving until the end of the month, in order to fully process our paperwork our mortgage guy needs to know that we have insurance lined up, as well as a quote for how much to include in our escrow account total.

When I did this forever ago for my townhouse, I asked around to see if anyone was happy with their insurance. A friend highly recommended Erie Insurance (offered through Patterson Insurance in Odenton, Maryland), so I switched my auto policy over to them when signing up for a homeowners insurance policy.

Unfortunately, when my husband and I got married and wanted to merge our auto insurance plans, they wouldn’t take him because he had a couple recent tickets and accidents. We switched both of our auto policies to Geico and kept the homeowners plan with Erie since Geico didn’t offer one at that time.

When we sold our townhouse, we discontinued our homeowner’s insurance plan and instead signed up for a renter’s insurance plan through Geico which gave us a multi-policy discount. Patterson Insurance was awesome about this and promptly sent me out a refund for the remaining money in my account.

Now that we’re in the market for homeowner’s insurance again, I figured I’d quote around at a couple different places. I asked my Facebook friends for their recommendations and got a few to work with. I also checked my account page on Geico to see if they offered the plan, but gave up after looking around and not finding anything.

So, I called the first company on my list – my previous company of Erie (through Patterson). The lady who I spoke to on the phone (yes, it was a REAL PERSON with no touchtone prompts!) was both super nice and super knowledgeable.  In less than 10 minutes, we went over every aspect of the new house and answered a ton of questions so that she could determine its value. She came back with a quote that was 20% less than the mortgage guy guessed it would be. She also went the extra mile to let us know that if we switched back our auto policies (which we can now do since there are no recent tickets or accidents), we could save an additional $200 each year.

Once I got off the phone with her, she emailed me the quote within 5 minutes and included the note that she’d be happy to prepare an auto quote if I send over our VIN numbers.

SOLD!

I didn’t have to yell at a computer for 15 minutes before finally speaking to a human?
There was no pressure to buy their services?
They offered full coverage at great prices?
The lady was knowledgeable about the plans and FRIENDLY?

I don’t even feel like I need to call anywhere else to get additional quotes, since I’m perfectly happy with what they’re offering!

And THAT is how you get business.

So let me do my part to pass on the positive reviews – if you’re looking to get a quote on an auto or homeowners insurance policy, take 10 minutes and call the Patterson Insurance Company.

*I accidentally mistyped that as singing my name, which sounds even more fun. And now I’m singing my name over and over in my head…

Knock on Wood, Cross Your Fingers, Hold your Breath & Make a Wish

4 Jan

I tend to be a little superstitious.

For some reason if I say something stupid like “yeah, I’ve been really lucky and haven’t gotten any pimples in a while,” I will immediately break out like a teenager.

I try not to talk about things in progress because I’m afraid that if I celebrate they won’t actually work out.

Oh, and I totally cross my fingers and knock on wood for various reasons.

Well, let’s break this streak today and have a truly awesome (and hopeful) start to 2012.

You know that contract we submitted for our dream house? It was accepted!

Knowing how negotiations work, we asked for a bit more that we actually wanted – namely money off the asking price in addition to seller help with closing costs.

After letting us know that “the sellers were not happy with our offer,” their agent then called our agent less than an hour later to let us know that they were sending over a counter-offer. The adjusted contact came back over and the final numbers ended up being exactly what we wanted to pay in the first place.

And the extremely dorky happy dance begins!

Well, actually for the moment it’s a little bit of a cautious happy dance. Hmm… I’m actually not sure how to do a cautious happy dance. Maybe the same amount of booty shaking and arm flailing, but more of a pensive expression on your face? Anyways, moving on…

Although my dad checked the place out last weekend (he is a custom home builder/renovation extraordinaire and uber-qualified to determine if we were making an [all caps kind of] BIG MISTAKE), we still need to have the place reviewed by the home inspector this Saturday.

They’ll be doing a radon test at the same time and then next week is the water, septic tank and termite tests. All of these expenses are totally adding up (over 1k so far) so my check writing hand is not very happy. And yes, I know that the sellers are giving us a bunch off at settlement, so it really does all even out in the end. But right now my checkbook is on fire and I hate spending money unless it’s for something fun or yummy!

Once all the tests and inspections are finished, we still have to hold our breath until the mortgage stuff goes through. Of course, I’m being silly because we’ve already been thoroughly checked out and pre-qualified. I just have that feeling that things are too freaking awesome to be true and something big, bad and smelly is just around the corner.

If all goes according to plan, we will be going to settlement on the new house on January 27th. Yes, that’s right… 23 days from today. Holy crackers!

I don’t know whether to reconvene for a group happy dance with my husband and dog, run home and start packing, or breathe into a paper bag! All three at once would be difficult, but I am a very good multitasker…

New Year: New House?

2 Jan

After a much needed week off from pretty much everything (including blogging), I’m back!

This past year went by so quickly and I was surprised when I got an email from my blogging site that congratulated me on 77 posts. That’s a lot of posts! I mean, I’m no Younghouselove posting 2 times each weekday, but I’m pretty proud of myself for keeping this going since last March.

My goal for 2012 is to post at least two times each week and get to a total of 125 posts for the year. With a new job, new baby, new house and lots of marketing/business stuff thrown in there for good measure, I should have a lot to talk about!

Oh wait, did I say new house?

If you’ve been following along with my saga, you already know that we sold our townhouse in October. However, since I also lost my job around the same time, we couldn’t buy a new house and instead moved into a rental. As luck would have it, I landed a new job pretty quickly and started in early December.

Even though we weren’t really *looking* for houses, I was still using redfin.com on a regular basis to keep track of what was out there and save potential winners to my account favorites. On Christmas Day, my husband and I drove around to our top 10 houses to check out (um…by this I mean stalk) the neighborhoods. Based on our drive-by, we were able to knock a bunch of houses off the list and also mark down two of our absolute favorites.

Since I was off work between Christmas and New Year’s, I went and toured our remaining top six houses with our real estate agent (who also happens to be my aunt) and my mom. The two houses from our drive-by favorite list were pretty great inside too – so I set up a second showing so that my husband and father (a custom home builder who wanted to “kick the tires”) could see them.

We came up with one clear winner – a house that meets almost every single piece of our ‘dream house’ criteria.

It’s on two acres of land, has a four car garage (yes, my husband is doing a happy dance), a beautiful kitchen with granite, and plenty of rooms inside to meet our needs. There are a number of projects that need to be done to really make the house perfect for us, mostly wallpaper removal, painting, buying a new oven and dishwasher, and completely renovating an ugly bathroom. It’s all pretty doable though, since I love a good project to focus on.

After much deliberation, we decided to go for it. We submitted our contract early this morning (after signing a few dozen sheets of paper last night around midnight) and now we’re waiting to hear if they accept our offer or will be sending through a counter-offer. Since the property is available immediately, we could go to settlement by the end of the month. Which seems absolutely incredible if you think of what a mess everything was just a few months ago!

We hope to hear something back from their agent soon, so I’ll be trying to keep my mind off of it for the rest of the day. Yeah….as if that’s possible. I admit I’ve pretty much drawn out plans for decorating each room of the house already. Cross your fingers that I don’t get my heart broken!

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