Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hello...what's this now?

I'm starting this blog as my husband (Adam) begin a new step in our lives...buying our first home. I hope to go from the house-hunt and purchase all the way through the first few years of decorating, projects, and maybe even children.
As my husband get's a little tired of hearing me talk about "house this and house that" all the time (and also because I just enjoy talking about it) I've decided a blog is a good way to get my thoughts out, organized and rationalized. Sometimes I realize how ridiculous I sound once I start expressing myself to other people. Plus, buying a house is something millions of people do every year and a portion of those people are first time home buyers, like us. It's an exciting and a daunting process and I hope to get some advice, and some sympathizers.
I'll start off with a little background on us. Adam and I met online in August 2004 and in person a month later. We married in January of 2008 in a wonderful wedding that I enjoyed every minute of planning (almost). I am an art teacher in a private high school (read: tiny paycheck) and my husband is a chemical engineer (read: much larger paycheck). We live in suburban Maryland, south of Baltimore but north of Washinton D.C. We've saved for 2 years in our apartment to buy a house. Ultimately, though, much of our down payment will be coming from my father-in-law.
We started house hunting in March, going to open houses here and there, just to find out what we wanted in a home. Originally we had planned on having a small townhouse, but since then, we've changed that. When we first talked about buying a house, a little townhouse seemed like it would be cheaper and thus, as young people with meager savings, we could afford it. It turned out, in this area, small townhouses are not that much cheaper than large ones, or older single family homes for that matter.
So, what exactly have we been looking for in a house? It's quite the list, believe me. Here are the major points:
1. A small amount of land. Adam grew up on 3 acres. It was 3 acres of headache. In addition to the house, the yard needed constant care, including 5 hours of mowing every weekend. He did not want a big yard and landscaping to take care of. Just enough room for kids to play and to feel some grass under our feet. We miss squirrels and birds after being in apartment for 2 years.
2. Space to grow. When we started shopping, we wanted something we could live in comfortably with two small children, but it turns out we also have a lot of hobbies, and it also turns out, you need a lot more room for children AND hobbies. Having a room for me to paint is hard to give up when a baby comes along. So, where we initially started out looking at 2 bedroom houses, we've bumped up to three.
3. Entertaining space. We love to have people over. I have an ever growing family that eats a meal together about once a week, there are 8 adults (including us) and 4 small children...and there will only be more in the coming years. Currently, we don't have a house we can gather in and eat a meal together in 1 room. We'd like to be able to host holidays and special events (showers and other parties) and have our family around a table.
4. Somewhere for Adam to work on his car. Either a garage, a carport or even just a driveway. We've lived in an apartment complex for the last two years, and my husband is not allowed to work on his beloved Mazdaspeed Protoge in the parking lots there. He's had to drive to either my parents house or to a friend's house 45 minutes away if he even wants to change his oil. On more than one occasion, he's been stuck overnight away from home since it took longer to finish the job than originally expected.
5. Character. We've looked at a lot of houses, and some have met every one of our wants and needs on paper, but it just had no was a house, a roof and walls, not a home.
6. Safety. Adam travels 3 out of 4 weeks a month for his job. I am often left home by myself. We want to be somewhere that I'm not afraid to take out the trash in the evening and be alone in the house. 7. Storage. It turns out, I like stuff. I love to decorate the house for holidays. When I was growing up, it took days to get the house decorated for Christmas. In our current situation, if it doesn't fit under the bed, I can't have it. We want to have space to store things you don't get out frequently. We have found that most new homes don't have any such space. So, where are we now? Dear reader, you have joined us at a climactic point in our home search...we've found a house we want, and will hopefully be putting an offer in on it this weekend. This Saturday, we will be taking Adam's father to see our potential new home and get the go ahead from him. It is a 4 bedroom 1 bathroom bungalow in a fantastic old neighborhood that has been flipped. It has an open floor plan, 2 car garage, hardwood floors and new carpet throughout, new everything, yet it has all the character of an old home. It is selling for 289,900...we are hoping to talk the seller down to 275,000 or less. Stay tuned for the (hopefully) good news and keep your fingers crossed for us.

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