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Tuesday, July 7, 1999

I saw Eight different houses today. Among them are two good candidates: 26 Gateway Road and 6 Ascot Drive. Both are center-split houses with plenty of square-footage, and a nice two-car garage. They also both have a half-set of stairs leading down to a family room just off the main area. Neither of these family rooms is as big as I'm looking for, but they both will do quite nicely. Unlike many houses in Chili, both of these have forced-air heating, so either one could have air conditioning added. Both have slightly steep driveways, but both are in a very good location in town.

The less expensive house, Gateway, has a much more open and bright feel. This is especially true in the family room, which has a window on the front wall, one on the back wall, and two on the side wall flanking the fireplace. The bedrooms also seem spacious, and the half-stair leading up to them leads to a open area instead of a hallway. On paper, the lot is a little bigger, but there are quite a few trees breaking up the useful space, and too much of the land is spent on the front yard.

The more expensive house, Ascot, has a slightly wider family room, but the old blue carpet makes it seem a little dark. Overall it might not have as open a feeling, but there is actually 200 extra square feet, including a tiny fourth bedroom that could be a nice little recording booth. This house also has a full basement under the main area instead of the crawlspace that Gateway makes do with. While the lot is technically smaller, the back yard seems bigger and is much more useable. It is the most private back yard I have seen in such a neighborhood, with vined fences on all three sides. I actually can't tell if there is a neighbor against the back of the lot!

Although the one on Gateway had more of an "Ooo" reaction when I walked in, overall I think the one on Ascot interests me more. Even with the $8000 higher list price, I like the sound of the extras it has. I'm going to go back on Saturday and see them both again with my brother Joe. As long as we don't see any striking problems, I plan on making an offer on Ascot that day. If that doesn't work out, I'll then be ready to make an offer on Gateway. Either way I think my searching is coming to a close.

Saturday, July 10, 1999

Well there were quite a few striking problems with 6 Ascot. I Hadn't noticed that the entire back yard slopes slightly to the house. It rained a little in the morning, and the back basement wall was already wet, and there was a musty smell in the downstairs bathroom. Not a good sign considering how dry the weather has been this year. The roof is listed as 7 years old, but it's already curling up quite badly. It turns out this house has insulation placed right against the roof sheathing with no air space at all. That could easily cut the life of a roof to 25% of expected. The slab floor doesn't seem to be quite flat, either.

There were no significant problems at 26 Gateway, so I made an offer on that one. If I get it, which is likely to happen after some negotiation, there are minor things that I would need to do, but nothing as major or critical as at Ascot. The only significant issue is that the kitchen has the wallpaper torn off, and when it gets repainted it will be a little tough to do a good job. The current owners planned on having it finished before close. I only hope it's done right.

Sunday, July 11, 1999

My realtor presented my offer on 26 Gateway tonight. I offered a bit less than they were asking, and asked them to add in the appliances. I figured they would either counter with a higher price, or, more likely, accept the lower price, but ask to leave out the appliances as originally listed. They surprised me by countering with the only changes being to skip finishing the kitchen, and wait for a later closing. The price and inclusion of appliances have been accepted! I had been a little worried about the kitchen being done right anyway, and I have the extra time, so I love this counter offer.

I asked my realtor to call them back and let them know I accept in principal, and will be signing the official acceptance tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 1999

I went to my realtor's office at lunch time and signed the acceptance, so I guess I'm on my way. Now we kick it up a notch as we submit for attorney approval, schedule the inspection, and all the rest. The seller wanted to close on or before September 13, so I've still got a lot of waiting to do. She actually just wanted to be sure her daughter had time to find a place. If that happens quickly the seller would actually prefer to close sooner, which would be great for me.

I'm really bouncing off the walls now that I've made my choice. I've been going over all kinds of options. I'm trying to decide if I will attempt the kitchen myself or not. I've been watching too many home shows on TV. They make it all look so easy and satisfying, especially since every job takes merely a half an hour. I have never been a real do-it-yourselfer, but I've been wondering if owning a house could change that. The kitchen might be a reasonable test. I can try it myself, and if I mess up, or simply quit, I can hire out the work and be no worse off since I would have had to hire it out anyway.

Then there's the landscaping in the back yard, but that's another story.

Wednesday, July 14, 1999

I found this picture of 26 Gateway on the real estate web page. It figures that I would have to go out on the internet to get a picture of my own house.  It also figures that it wouldn't be posted 'till after a sale is pending.

The attorneys for both sides have approved the purchase offer contract, so we move on to the engineer's inspection. All three inspectors (engineer, chimney guy, and HVAC dude) are confirmed for tomorrow afternoon. I plan to bring my camera along to get some more pictures, too.

Thursday, July 15, 1999

I took the afternoon off today to participate in the home inspection. As expected, nothing of great concern turned up. The furnace is probably original, from 1966, but it is still in very good shape. There didn't seem to be any moisture problems, although I should probably correct some grading to help water flow away from the house. This can't be too pressing since there's no evidence of water in the basement. The roof presents a similar situation in that there really isn't enough ventilation, but there are no signs of the damage that can result, so it's not a pressing issue. The slab seems to have some minor cracking, but there doesn't seem to be much movement, so it's probably just some minor settling. All-in-all a passing grade. The house is in fine shape, so I don't plan on even renegotiating.

I did get some room measurements so I can start planning what will go where. I also got some pictures, but my camera is APS, so don't expect to see them here before next week.

Now on to financing. Since I'm pre-approved, there should be no problem here, either.

Friday, July 16, 1999

I went over to my realtor's office to sign the acceptance on the inspections, which is the last thing before I get the mortgage commitment. I then went to my mortgage broker's office to drop off a check for the appraisal. Once the bank has it's appraisal done, I get my mortgage commitment letter, which I get over to the attorney. This running around is a boring part of the whole process.

I did find a 1-hour APS film place, so I have some pictures to share. The interior shots didn't work too well, but the exteriors are good.

The front has some new brick facing on it, as well as the composite siding that the rest of the house has.

I don't know if the flowers are quite my style, but in general the entry is nice. The shrubs are just a little large.

The back yard is a little too broken-up by the shrubs and crab-apple tree. When you come out of the sliding glass door, you don't even see how much yard there is to your right. (Left of the picture.)

Here's the other side of the back yard. I'd rather have one big space. (And I probably will, as shrubs can be moved.)

This shows the layout of the entryway, half-stairs down to the family room, and half-stairs up to the bedrooms.

This picture shows the living room in front. (Same door as above.) This one came out looking a lot darker than it does in person since I forgot to allow for the light shining in the windows.

This is the dining area to the back of the living room. (This is where I stood to take the previous picture.) You can also get a glimpse of the kitchen with the sliding glass door to the patio. The yellow wall is not wallpaper, but glue from the removed wallpaper. This part needs work.

Wednesday, August 18, 1999

Well! I finally got my mortgage commitment from the bank. It took over a month to process. It's a good thing I wasn't moving from out of state or anything. After all this, I find that there are still some items that will expire before closing, and will need to be updated. Ugh!

Rates have been up over the last couple of weeks, too. It looks like they're starting to come back down a touch, so I think I'll be locking in a rate this week.

Wednesday, September 1, 1999

Well after seeing interest rates pop up a tick or two more, I thought I'd wait a while longer to see if they dropped back down. They haven't, and my closing date is coming up, so I figured I should lock in before they get worse. I got 9.0% including some built-in fees instead of points. Paying the points would have saved money in the long-run, but I need the reduced closing costs now, and the savings wouldn't show up for quite a few years. I figure the accelerated payment schedule I plan on will more than make up for the slightly higher rate.

Wednesday, September 8, 1999

My final walk-through is scheduled for Monday at 10:00am, and closing is at 12:00n. I called Coit about having the carpet's cleaned since the will never again be a time when the whole house is empty. They're scheduled to show up for an estimate at the house on Monday at 2:00pm. I hope I own it by then.

I also called all my utilities to set up change-over times. It looks like the only ones who will have to make a visit are the cable guys. I figure since it's just them I can fit it in on moving day. Everything else will just happen. Cool.

Sunday, September 12, 1999

I went around town looking at bedroom stuff, since I only have one bedroom's worth of stuff, and the house will have a guest room. I've come to the conclusion that I will be buying a new dresser for my own room, and using the cheaper one for the guest room. I haven't decided exactly what else I will do in the guest room, perhaps a futon so it can be a sitting room most of the time. (How often do I really expect to need a guest room.)

Monday, September 13, 1999

After nearly a month of waiting, (actually it was nearly a month of signing and returning various papers the bank kept sending me,) I finally got through closing. Compared to all the waiting, the closing itself was quite painless. I'm a home-owner!

I took the day off to have plenty of time for everything. Turns out I didn't really need all that much time, but I got some extra things done.

My buyer's broker, Tom, scheduled a final walk-through for 10:00am, but I showed up at 9:50. (Can you blame me?) The selling broker was there, and I finally got to meet the seller, Judy. She's quite a nice woman, and she's staying in the area, so I expect I'll see her around town. She had done a few extra things for me before she left: She cleaned all the drapes, collected together all the leftover tiles from various projects, and she even got most of the wallpaper and glue off the kitchen walls! They're mostly spackled and ready for paint! This was definitely above-and-beyond the call of duty. Very nice woman, I'll have to watch for her at Wegman's where she works. Needless to say, I had no concerns at the final walk-through, so that took basically no time at all. Tom showed up at the scheduled 10:00, and I was really already satisfied.

I did pull a tricky move. I arranged for Tom to drive me from the house to the closing, and then to my apartment afterwards. That meant I could get both cars to the house the first day. That also meant I wouldn't have to find my way to an unfamiliar office downtown.

We got to the bank's attorney's office right at the scheduled time of 12:00n and my attorney, Steve Butcher, was waiting for us. This, as usual, was the first time I actually met my attorney. He's quite a nice guy, not overly serious. While we waited a few minutes for a conference room, I played some solitaire on my Jornada.

Once we got a conference room, the bank's attorney, my attorney, and the seller's attorney went to work. I was surprised that most of the time was spent with each doing their own thing, with little interaction. I played more solitaire. Once Steve had gone over everything himself, he quickly (and sometimes humorously) explained each item to me. Then he passed the stack over to Tom to feed to me as I signed everything. While Tom and I were doing the ink-and-paper shuffle, Steve got to work on doling out the closing cost checks. (One weird spot: the final amount going to the seller by way of her attorney was 96,096.96. I think I should call 96 WCMF, they would get a kick out of it.)

By the time I was done signing what Tom fed to me, Steve was done. We were out of there in 45 minutes, including solitaire!

Tom drove me back to my apartment so I could get the other car. Result: the first item moved in to my new house was my Cobra. Somehow I think that's appropriate. I had to grab some lunch on the way back to the house since I had to meet the Coit guy at 2:00. It's a good thing I did take-out, since he was there at 1:45. I opened up my house (I just had to say "my house") and we did some quick figuring. Turns out I got carpet and duct cleaning for about what I wanted to pay for carpet, so I went for it. I had planned to schedule the job for an evening, (which would have had to be Wednesday as that was Coit's only option,) but They offered to squeeze me in for Tuesday morning since someone canceled. That sounded fine to me as that would be one day sooner that everything would be done.

Once the Coit guy left, I brought in my takeout and had my first meal in my house. (There I go again.) I would say it's also appropriate that my first meal was from Wendy's as that is where I have eaten the most in Chili.

I got both cars into the garage. It may be plenty big enough, but it's been quite a while since I backed into a garage, so it was quite nerve-wracking. I'll get used to it soon enough.

Then I went to work with my tape-measure, so I could start figuring out where all my stuff can go. After spending some time in my house, (stop it,) I realized that there actually is a little traffic noise there. I'm not on a main street, but it is one of the more central roads in the housing tract, so a few cars are going by. This means that the original plan of using the bedroom at the front of the house at the recording studio might not be the best. The other large bedroom is at the back of the house, but I don't think I can get the piano into that room because of how the door meets the hall. The other back bedroom is the small one that was going to be the guest room. Perhaps the piano will go in there with a futon. Any guests can play piano lullabies to themselves at night. The rest of the recording can go on next door, and I'll use the front room as my bedroom. I don't think what little traffic noise there is will bother me after living at an expressway entrance for 9 years.

Later that evening, I decided to move over my first batch of stuff. (Other than the Cobra, that is.) I thought I would make a symbolic gesture, but moving my Disc Golf discs first. After all, it was Disc Golf that introduced me to Chili, and after spending nearly all my free time last summer in Chili playing Disc Golf, I simply fell in love with the rest of the town. I don't know if moving in only my golf discs was poignant, poetic, or just silly, but I did it anyway.

All-in-all, quite a day.

Tuesday, September 14, 1999

I got up early so I could go meet the Coit crew at my house. (I just can't stop calling it that.) When I showed up I parked in the garage again, even though I wasn't staying long. I figure I need the practice. I already feel more comfortable backing through what seems to be a tiny door. (It's actually a quite normal double door.)

While I was waiting, I checked the phone and it was already on. I figured "the 14th" meant "the end of the 14th" but I guess they came through. Also while I was waiting, I realized we miscounted the heating vents in the house, which is what Coit's price quote was based on. They stuck to the quoted price anyway. Good company.

In the evening I came back to check their work. The rugs don't look new, but they're much improved.

Now for all the rest. I plan on actually moving out of the apartment on Wednesday the 22nd. I'll be bringing over little stuff both before and after that date. I plan on having any new stuff, (like the futon and dresser,) delivered on Saturday, so the weekend should be quite fun. Once there's a place to sleep, I'll probably start staying there even before all my stuff shows up.

So much time, so little to do . . . - - - . . . wait-a-minute . . . Strike that, . . . reverse it.

Page maintained by Mike Stutzman, stutz@earthling.net Last updated: 12/04/03 04:54 PM