Moving Right Along

pond dock

The pond and deck! The pond needs some work, but that is a project I am so excited to tackle!

This whole process has been so surreal for me. We weren’t even looking for a house, but now it seems we might just have a new house for Christmas.

We made an offer on an amazing 2 acre property in the most amazing location. It’s five minutes from our church and cuts Josh’s commute in half! On top of that, there’s a pond, the most amazing front yard to accommodate the Thanksgiving-family-football-game of my dreams, tons of mature trees, over 1000 more square feet than we currently have…I could go on and on. The “pros” of this house sounds like a detailed list of my dream home. The only catch is that it has a galley kitchen, it’s outdated, and it only has only three bedrooms – but those were all small considerations when compared to everything the property has to offer.

The seller countered our offer, but her counter offer was amazingly reasonable. When we heard her counteroffer, both Josh and I planned to agree. However, our agent suggested we accept all the terms the seller added, while dropping the price $5,000. We were nervous; we didn’t want to push our luck. But our agent is amazing, so we decided to trust him. We submitted our counteroffer and the seller accepted it!

The only condition we had in our contract was that our offer was contingent on the results of the home inspection. We had our home inspection earlier this week, and there was nothing overly alarming. We’re moving forward!

I can’t believe how easy all of this has been.

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The House Hunt Continues

Our accidental house hunt is moving along.

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The enormous drainage thingy that drove us away. It’s just begging my kids to tumble down the concrete embankment and drown. Image from Google Maps.

We drove by the property that our realtors suggested and opted not to see it. It was on a busy road, right next to a massive concrete drainage thing, and we weren’t thrilled about the location. We decided that, even if it was the house of our dreams on the inside, we couldn’t overlook the road and the drainage thingy. Both are major accidents waiting to happen. In that house’s defense, it did have good curb appeal – it was a cute brick house with a circular drive (which is something I’ve always wanted to have) AND it was right across the street from a park. But, like I’ve already said, my dream home couldn’t have overcome the potential for danger. I would have never feel safe letting my kids run around outside, which completely defeats the purpose of paying for acreage.

Seeing the drawbacks of this property, and knowing that it was the only other one that seemed to tick all of our boxes, made us realize even more what an incredible property we had already found. We went back to look at the 2 acre property one more time. There are definitely some things we don’t like about it, and it’s in desperate need of updating, but, overall, it couldn’t be more perfect for us. So we made an offer!

Now we wait…

The Accidental House Hunt

Josh and I had a plan. A good plan. A plan we both fell confident about. A plan that didn’t involve buying another house for 2-3 years.

And then my girlfriend emailed me this…

Oh my gosh Mary!! A house with trees on an acre in Keller for $XXX,000! That’s crazy. An acre with no house goes for $XXX,000 ($30,000 less) in Keller. AND it’s three minutes from the church- if that! You’d have some work to do to update, but you’d have immediate equity to draw on at that price.

Just sayin’

Me - taking pictures to contemplate the updating to be done in the first house.

See me in the mirror? I’m taking pictures to contemplate the updating I want to do.

I looked up the property and my girlfriend was so right. It was such a great find! It was too good to pass up. Josh and I chatted and decided to veer from the plan.

We went to see the house. It needed A LOT of love to get in ready for us to live in, including some foundation work and an addition to make it big enough to fit our growing family. We ran the numbers, and the house was such a great deal that, even with the money we would put into it, we couldn’t let it go.

We put a contract on the house!

Benjamin posing in the first house.

Benjamin posing while we looked at the house.

A short while later we heard there were multiple offers. We responded with our best offer and waited. Waited for FIVE DAYS. Five long days, praying all the while that God’s Will be done. We certainly can’t see the future, so, even though this seemed like a great opportunity for us, we begged that God take it away if it wasn’t what was best for our family.

And He did. We didn’t get the house. We were outbid.

We had mixed emotions, but there was definitely relief mixed in with all of the other emotions. We just had a massive, multi-year project taken off our plate. We decided to stick with our previous plan. The good plan. The plan that we were both comfortable with. The plan that didn’t involve buying a house for a few more years.

My Benjamin inspecting the first house.

My Benjamin inspecting the first house.

A few days later, I looked up the property again. I don’t know why. I guess for closure or something. While I was on realtor.com, I stumbled across a different property. It was listed for significantly more than the first property, but it was on 2 acres and in MUCH better condition than the first house. So I fired off this email:

SOOOO…..

I know this is waaay more than we were planning on spending. And maybe it’s way more than we could ever justify spending…

But take a look at this property. It’s got EVERYTHING: land, location, space, pond… It’s crazy!

It needs to be updated, and, obviously, we wouldn’t have the money to do it right away, but it’s just dated, so we could take our time.

What do you think??

Josh responded quickly and, next thing we knew, we had a showing lined up. While we were there, one of our realtors suggested that we check out one other property that matched what we are looking for…

SOooo, low and behold, here we are – in the middle of an accidental house hunt.

Things I Will NOT Miss About Renting

1. Wasting our money on rent every month! I’m so excited we’re finally adding equity to our financial vocabulary!

2. Having to listen to the rather large person above us on his/her treadmill at the most inopportune times. I totally admire his/her dedication, but I’m definitely tired of watching my ceiling fixtures shake. Added to the whirring of the treadmill and the fear that the next step will be the one that comes through the ceiling, it’s just too much to put up with sometimes.

3. Upstairs noise in general. Some places are better than others, but we’ve lived with our share of dogs running, children jumping, music blaring, and couples fighting.

4. Having to walk our trash to the dumpster. Admittedly, in this apartment the dumpster is right outside our garage. We’ve even lived places that picked up our trash for us. However, I can’t wait to be able to throw it in the big can and wheel it to the street on our designated day.  (which will be Monday, just in case you’re curious)

5. Having to drive any recyclables to some kind of recycling destination. It will be so nice to throw it all in our 64 gallon recycle bin and leave it on the street each week.

6. Patio gardens. They’re waaay too limited. Granted, I did make a HUGE concession on our yard, but I still intend to plant, plant, and plant some more. I can’t wait for fresh veggies and beautiful flowers!

7.  The inability to compost. I realize I could have had one of those self-contained worm composting containers in my kitchen, but come on. I have boys. Those worms would have regularly been all over my house/garage/patio or wherever I attempted to keep them. Building my compost bin is pretty high on Josh’s “honey-do list” after we move in.

8. The white and beige monotony. I can’t wait to paint, paint and paint some more! I think I previously mentioned having everything picked out except the boy’s room. We’ve made some changes and now I have everything picked out except the playroom. The week we move in we’re painting the foyer, living room, kitchen and back hallway. Next comes the master bedroom and bathroom. Then the boy’s room, the nursery, the boys/hall bathroom, and finally the playroom. Hopefully, we’ll have all the painting done, or at the very least everything up to the nursery, before Ben gets here in June.

9. The car wash inconvenience. I have every intention of putting the kids in their bathing suits, turning on the hose, and passing out soapy towels. Maybe for once my car will be cleaned regularly.

10. The inability to send the kids outside. We go outside together a lot. We have an awesome courtyard right behind us and a fantastic park down the street. But sometimes the kids need to get out and run around when I’m in the middle of something. It will be so nice to send them out into the backyard and watch them from the kitchen window while I pay bills or cook or iron or whatever I’m doing at the moment. I’m sure they will be equally thrilled about never having to hear “We can go out when Mommy’s done with _______.”

Truth be told, we’ve had some great renting experiences. And there are definitely perks that come with living somewhere that you don’t own. The place we live now, Boulder Ridge, is definitely my favorite place we’ve ever lived. A close second would be Chapel Hill in Lewisville. That being said, I’m just so over it. I’m so excited that we’re finally going to be homeowners!

I’m even more excited and very proud that we’re doing it all on our own. We know a lot of people who have been given houses or down payments by their parents. That’s wonderful for them, and I’m sure they’re very appreciative for having been given such an amazing gift. But I’ve always been grateful for the way I’ve been raised. My parents have never given me anything. (Obviously, they gave me a lot in terms of food, shelter, clothing, and even a private education while I was younger. That’s not what I’m talking about.) I got a job when I was 16 to pay for my insurance, so I could have the privilege of driving. I’ve worked for everything I’ve ever gotten, including my college diploma. My parents told me I was welcome to live at home for free while I was in school, but I’m a little more independent than that. I moved out and I’ve supported myself every step of the way. Today, there’s a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment in being able to look around our home and know that we earned everything we have. I’m so grateful that I get to experience that.

And now it really all will belong to us. We won’t just being paying someone else to borrow their space to shelter our family. Everything, including the roof over our head, will be 100% ours. A celebration is definitely in order!!

Our House

We went by the house last week to match paint colors and stuff. While we were there we got to stake in the purchased sign! The builder’s agent was supposed to do it, but forgot. I’m so glad she did because I love these pictures! We also got to see that our fence is up, the 2 inch blinds are hung, they hung the front door and finished the tile in the foyer. It’s so much fun to watch it all come together! I almost wish we would have gotten in on the process sooner, but I don’t know if I would have been able to stand the wait. :o) I can’t wait to move in so I can start decorating, doing all my little DIY projects, and of course having everyone over!

Josh and Andy staking the sign!

Except for Ben, the boys wouldn’t pose with us. I guess there’s a benefit to being pregnant (7 months in this pic); you always know exactly where your kid is. :o)

Two out of three aint bad! :o)

We drove by after church this week and we actually have sod and landscaping now! The electricity was on too! Sadly the camera was dead, so I’ll have to swing by one day this week for new pics.

We were so excited; they hung our door!

The floor plan. Our is actually a mirror image of this one.

Bedroom 2 is going to be the playroom, bedroom 3 is the nursery and bedroom 4 is the boys’ room.

House Hunting Journal Pt 2

Truth be told, I envisioned this “House Hunting Journal” to be somewhat of an ongoing post. I was really excited to be able to document our journey to revisit later and to share our experiences and lessons learned. I can definitely do all of that, but it’s going to be a much shorter series than I originally imagined. Josh and I went house hunting for the first time in our lives on Friday and put a contract on a house on Saturday! Well before sunset on Saturday, less than 30 hours after beginning our house hunt, we were under contract. What a weekend! :o)

Thursday night I dreamed about houses all night long. Friday morning we got up, took the boys to my parent’s house, and met our agents for the first time in person at our first property at 11AM. The journey was officially beginning! I was so excited and a little nervous. I kept telling Josh that I didn’t know what would be more stressful for me, falling head over heels for a house on our first day out or hating everything we saw. Of course I wanted to fall in love, but I was worried about making such a huge commitment based on emotion. My incredible husband tries to give me just about everything I want and I knew if I fell in love, he’d make sure we got that house. That scared me to death.

We already had the basics mapped out, we were only looking in our desired school districts, we’d previewed the houses online, but I was still nervous. Before we left that first house (a DEFINITE no, just in case you’re curious) I was totally comfortable with the situation. I was in love with our realtors and they clearly had our very best interest at heart.

The second house went on the short list to keep. It was a HUD home that needed a lot of love but no major repairs. If we bid on that house, we could have found ourselves with 15,000 – 20,000 equity in a home on the day we closed. Needless to say, that was a hugely attractive offer.

We continued from house to house working our way from Haslett, which was further out than we really wanted to be, but we were willing to consider it in case we found our dream home, back into Keller proper, ending up practically in the back yard of our church. Distance to church was really high on both of our priority lists, as we plan to be very involved and at the church several times each week.

This was my list of must-haves: 1. excellent school district 2. close to church 3. awesome backyard 4. good kitchen (absolutely NO galley kitchens!) 5. two car garage. Everything else on my list fell under the category of “it would be really nice to have ____.” None of those would make or break a sale. I was worried about narrowing down the properties we were seeing, as they all matched up pretty closely with my must-haves. However, it was REALLY easy to mark most of the properties off our list.

We took a break for lunch around 2:30 or so. We ate at this adorable “fresh Mex” place. It was FANTASTIC and we had a great time with Rita and Ron. At that point, we’d seen about 15 properties. The HUD home was still topping our list and we really liked two other properties. We saw several other that we liked, but they didn’t compete with our favorites. And we saw a lot of NO NO NOs. There were a few that we were in and out of in under five minutes.

After lunch we had exhausted the market. We’d seen everything there was to see, with the exception of some new construction. Rita highly recommended one builder in particular. Ron seriously advised against another. We saw 3 homes that were under construction. One home in particular really stood out. I think we spent about 3 hours in the house and in neighborhood, asking Ron and Rita lots of questions and weighing our options. At first glance Josh and I both thought this home was not for us, but the more we learned about it, the more we realized how foolish we’d be to walk away. We talked to the builder’s sales agent and then headed back to the house sans Rita and Ron. They wanted to give us a chance to talk alone about all of our options and pray together for guidance in our decision. (That’s really what they said…I told you they are the most AWESOME realtors ever.)

We walked around the house, through the house, stood in front of the house, stood behind the house just talking and talking and talking. The house itself had everything we wanted. In fact, every project that we would be taking on with any of the other homes was negated by this house. It’s brand new. That means new appliances. That means lots of warranties including 10 years on the foundation. (Foundations are a really big deal here in Texas. You actually have to water them. Yes, that’s right, you have to water your house in Texas.) It’s actually in the Keller school district, so there is practically a 0% chance that the neighborhood will decline anytime soon. So what was the problem? Me. I wasn’t in love, mostly because of the yard…well, lack thereof. It’s on a pretty small lot, but it does back up to the greenbelt so it has lots of space around it.

Actually, as I sit here writing this now, I realize just how ridiculous I was being about not having fallen in love with the house, especially not in a love-at-first-sight kind of way. That’s not really me. With the exception of a few pairs of shoes, I can’t think of anything I’ve ever actually fallen in love with at first sight. I just don’t do that. At least not with important things, like anything that requires a major commitment of any kind. When it comes to things like that, I “jump in” about as quickly as I do in a cold swimming pool. (I’m the one who wades in as slowly and cautiously as possible, letting each part of my body adjust to the water before going a little deeper. It drives Josh crazy.) Taking that into consideration, I don’t know why I was expecting to fall in love. I guess I’ve watched too much tv in my lifetime. :o) But I digress….

Around 7 or so as it was starting to get dark, I told Josh I didn’t want to talk about it any more. I missed my boys, and I didn’t really have anything left to say anyway. We headed back to my parents house to get the boys. We ended up talking to them for a long time too. They even pointed out a few other things that we hadn’t thought of like rising interest rates (We’re getting an incredible 4.5% on this loan!) and inflation. After talking to them, we were more convinced than ever that THIS is our time to buy. When we were finally driving home around midnight, I turned and asked Josh, “So, are we going to buy a house tomorrow?” He responded, “Yeah, I think so.”

We made arrangements to see the house again the next day. Saturday morning I was surprisingly not exhausted. (Staying up past midnight is most definitely not something my pregnant body is usually capable of.) We headed back out to the house with most of my whole family in tow, as they were really excited to see this house that we talked so much about the night before. They all loved it. They oohed and aahed through the whole house. They took the boys and headed back to their house. Josh and I stayed behind to put a contract on the house. Builder’s contracts are a little different. There’s no negotiating back and forth, so we knew exactly what the terms where before we went back to the sales agents office. The paperwork took about 45 minutes and that was it. We put a contract on our very first house!

I think Ron and Rita were as excited for us as my own family was. Ron told Josh that we had better go out and celebrate. Since we were exhausted, we opted to head back to my parent’s house for pizza with the family.

So what’s our house like? It’s a 4 bedroom, 2 bath ranch. Brick and stone exterior. Gorgeous eat in kitchen. Huge master bedroom, situated separately from the kiddos rooms. We’re getting all kinds of extras like a fridge, washer & dryer, sprinkler system, security system, privacy fence and a garage door opener. The house is energy star certified (extra tax deduction!) and we even get a little certificate attesting to that fact. The neighborhood has a pool, splash park, playground, soccer field, basketball court and several greenbelts. And we’re about 10 minutes from church – we can see the steeples from our neighborhood!

Saturday night we headed out to Ikea and Garden Ridge to start shopping for our new home. Sunday after church we hit up Lowes for more shopping and to look at paint colors. We’re pretty much settled on the colors for everything except the nursery and the play room. We’re heading back out to the house on Thursday or Friday with our paint samples to make sure they look good with the carpet, tile, cabinets and counter tops. We also have learned all about installing crown molding as that will be our first big project along with the painting.

I just can’t believe all of this is really happening! Everything is coming together seamlessly! Next step, get a new vehicle to accommodate our expanding family!

House Hunting Journal Part 1

After what feels like an eternity of wishing, praying, budgeting, saving, paying down debt, figuring out exactly where we are going to live and watching House Hunters and Property Virgins on HGTV, it ‘s official. WE’RE IN THE MARKET FOR A HOUSE!! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! We’ve been talking with our awesome realtors and we’re spending the day with them Friday. I’m so excited that this is finally happening!

Here’s my favorite part of the journey so far. Shortly after we moved here, we heard about a HUD home that was available for an amazing price. We contacted the listing agent, who referred us to her preferred mortgage lender. Ultimately, we decided it wasn’t quite our time and this wasn’t quite the right house.

This past week after we filed our taxes, (thanks be to God and Mary Kay for the most unbelievable tax refund we’ve ever gotten!!) we realized that this was it. Our time had finally come! Josh contacted the same lender and got our pre-approval. Since we had lost the first realtor’s information, we decided we were just going to find an agent at church. However, after talking with the lender, Josh said he really wanted to meet this couple the lender recommended. The lender went on and on about how great they are with first time home buyers, and, by the time she was done singing their praises, Josh was sold. Josh called the agents (a husband and wife team) and lo’ and behold they go to our church!

One of the things I’ve been praying for a lot lately is a church family. We love our new church, but we haven’t really taken the dive and gotten involved. Because our church is so big, there are a lot of options for involvement. We’ve basically been observing and praying to see where we fit in. Anyway, by the time Josh got off the phone with Rita, he was convinced that we not only found our real estate agents, but had several invitations to various events at church, most of which were things we were already considering getting involved in.

Those of you who know me know that I don’t believe in coincidence. I was ecstatic, not just because we’re finally going to own a home, but because I wholeheartedly believe God’s hand is guiding this whole process.  So thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU Lord for our amazing tax refund and our awesome agents Ron and Rita Weldon!

Stay tuned for more of our journey to home ownership…