Sunday, September 29, 2013

House Shopping With Nick and Rory

Nick and I had a house goal almost as soon as we got married. We dreamed of getting a house right after marriage but reality slapped us hard when we realized we couldn't even afford an apartment. Apartments were expensive and truthfully I couldn't stomach the idea anyway. The privacy, and opportunity to truly be on our own was appealing. However, the monthly rent was not. I could not wrap my brain around the idea of dumping money into something every month with no return. I really wanted a house. Then, I figured that the money we put into it wouldn't be gone forever. When we moved in with Grandma we created an incredibly tight budget for ourselves in order to save money. I'm talking twenty dollars a week on groceries. The whole budget was fairly unrealistic but we were able to stick to it because we had so many relatives willing to feed us. Grandma took us out to eat fairly regularly in the early days, and my parents fed us several times a week. Before we knew it we had a couple thousand dollars saved.

Meanwhile, Nick was working at a bank. He was a loan officer and got fairly familiar with different types of loans, grants, and mortgages. He also really started to appreciate the importance of saving wisely for the things that he wanted. Not that he was ever out of control with spending but between the two of us, he started as the impulse buyer (we may have switched at some point).

Nick and I sat down and decided that we wanted to be able to pay down twenty percent of our future mortgage right off the bat. Our "plan" was to buy a house that cost exactly $100, 000 dollars, pay off $20,000 of it at closing (to avoid the insurance), and proceed to live happily ever after. We decided how long we would need to live with Grandma to accomplish that goal and had all of our timelines ready. We continued to save and scrimp and go to the park for our dates. Everything was going well until Grandma started to decline. During some of the scary times I thought to myself that an apartment would not be so bad.

Anyway, we got to the point with Grandma that we knew she would need to be moved out of her own house. This left us in an interesting situation. The house needed to be sold, her possessions needed to be sold, and we needed to be out. We made a deal with my dad and his siblings that we would clean out the house if we could live there long enough to find a place of our own. Nick was fairly prepared for this. He had done a lot of the tasks that needed to be done before home shopping. We were pre-approved for a mortgage loan and we had a realtor. We moved Grandma to a care center, proceeded to gut her house of 50 years worth of memories, and began looking for a place of our own. All during school. We were lucky that Nick didn't have a job at the time, because house shopping was a full time job. I went to look at different houses occasionally but for the most part it was Nick and Rory (our realtor) doing everything.
Bedroom Closet

Having not saved quite 20,000 dollars yet, we were even more determined to find a cheap home. Rory told us that $100,000 was bit unrealistic considering the fact that we wanted an actual house but we asked him to keep it as low as possible. We looked at a lot of houses in West Valley, specifically within a few minutes of the school I teach at. I really didn't want to live by my students and I really wanted to live a bit closer to my parents. Nick monitored the HUD home website very carefully because that is where we found the best deals.

Downstairs Room
One day, a little house popped up in Midvale. Rambler with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two car garage, and a yard. We were already living in Midvale so I knew I was comfortable with the area and the house had all the major qualities we were looking for. Nick and Rory went to see it and Nick immediately liked it. I went with them to see it later that week and felt the same. The house reminded me of my parents house. Which as many of you know, is older with a lot of interesting features. I walked through the dirty, abandoned, uncarpeted, smoke stained mess and thought to myself, I think I could live here.

When we got home we talked about it briefly before deciding to ask Rory to make an offer for $120,000. Rory thought that was a safe bet, but called us back a few minutes later to tell us that HUD had already accepted an offer. We were slightly heartbroken but decided that that must not be the house for us. I didn't know how I would know when we found our house. I just knew that that house seemed okay. We continued to search for the next week and a half when we got a call from Rory.
Sketchy Stairs
Less Sketchy Stairs
The original offer on the little house we loved fell through and they were opening up the bidding for one more night. We told him to go ahead and bid for us but to only bid $115,000. We were a little bit wary and didn't want to lose the house twice on a higher bid. He called us soon after to tell as that if we wanted it it was ours.

We got the house inspected and learned that we couldn't test the plumbing. This meant that there were probably issues. It was winter, which meant that we couldn't see the yard. Most of the house was in need of intense repair and cleaning. We decided after fasting and praying to buy it anyway.

Bedroom Closet
Near the beginning of March we signed all of our paper work and put down 5% instead of the original 20% we planned. But the house was ours and we got it at a really low interest rate.

We changed the locks and made a list of the many, many things we needed to fix. We prioritized, we budgeted, we bought supplies, and we recruited a lot of help. We had many family members and friends who helped on multiple occasions and who did less than pretty jobs. We managed to clean and paint almost our entire top floor in one weekend thanks to all the wonderful people in our lives.

Downstairs Room
Nick spent countless hours at the house while I was teaching and we devoted every weekend from March to the end of May getting the house fixed up. I learned a lot about Nick in those months. He was good under pressure, he was very resourceful, and he knew a lot more about houses and yards than I did. He redid our hard wood floor, fixed the plumbing, rewired a lot of the lights, changed out all kinds of fixtures, put in a new ceiling and wall, communicated with a lot of different professionals to get things figured out and set up, and supervised the changing of our house. Then Grandma's house sold and we were able to move in. Prices on houses all over the valley shot up the next month, other houses on our street were sold for nearly $50,000 more than we paid for ours in the next couple of weeks. The timing of everything worked out perfectly and I can only think that everyone involved was blessed because of how smoothly everything went. For one reason or another I know without a doubt this is where we are supposed to live for right now.

We moved in on a late rainy night with the help of my family. I took one day off of work and got the majority of our stuff unpacked. We continued to work for the rest of the semester making most of our house livable. Then summer came and we did almost nothing. That baffles me. I don't know if we were both exhausted and overworked or what but we made very little progress that summer. Now we are close. We still have projects (I suspect we will always have projects), but looking at the original list of goals we made, we are almost there.

I am so grateful for my house, my wonderful husband, my great family, all of my awesome friends, and for a Heavenly Father who helped us along every step of the way.

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