Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's official

We got the house. The seller decided to accommodate and fix some of the things before we move in and give us some money in our pockets to fix the rest. Which is completely fine with me. We'll take care of that before we move in. Thank goodness we have a 3-weekend overlap with our rental places!

We're super excited right now. We've already ordered a couple of pieces of furniture, and picked out the colors we're going to paint the house. We're going with an "analogous" color scheme. In art speak that means the paint will be in the blue/green/yellow family (colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel). We're not going for dark colors, we're keeping it kind of light. Our house is smaller, so no need for deep hues in this one. Although, paint can always change. I also want to have some kind of neutral color in the basement place, and our office/studio space upstairs.

Did I mention we're excited? Only a few more papers to sign before the place is ours on September 12th.

We also had a blast at the beach this weekend. It was great! We met up with my family for a long weekend at Bethany Beach (we've been going there for 20 years!!). The weather couldn't have been better. It was warm, but there was a nice breeze, and at night the temperatures would just drop enough to put on a sweatshirt and eat some yummy ice cream (black raspberry anyone?). We played games, walked on the beach, swam, ate some good food...and... READ!

So speaking of reading. I finally read "The Road". It was a very quick read, I didn't want to put it down. The writing was beautiful, yet simple. The story heart-wrenching, the battle to survive in the unknown, with a splash of hope thrown in. It's basically a story about a man and his son, who must survive in the post-apocalyptic world. They are some of the only survivors left on earth. While they're traveling along the road, they come across a lot of hardship, horror, and bewilderment, but need each other. And love each other. It made me cry.

I plan on reading "No Country for Old Men". I saw the movie, and it was dark, filled with peril, and not happy in the least. But what an amazing writer Cormac McCarthy is....

Oh a much brighter note, I had the chance to play Guitar Hero~!! It's awesome. I loved it. It was hilarious and fun. I want my own. I wanted to take it from my niece, but she said no. Oh well, I'll just have to go get my own.

So there's an update for you, lots of stuff going on. And more to come. When I get in the house again, I'll take pictures...and we'll do the before and after shots!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


The inspection was good! We're almost there. There are some minor issues, one being insulation in the attic, and the other being-- part of the roof over the front porch (they forgot it when they put on the new roof of the house?). So today we're going over with our realtor about costs, and if the owner will possibly take care of some of the minor issues before we move in, or knock some money off so we can get the repairs fixed ourselves. In a way I would rather it be fixed before we move in, but since we have a 2 week overlap with our leases on out own apartments, it would probably be fine.

So now the fun part begins. Painting, re-designing the basement, landscaping, furniture, decorating! Yea~! I'll try and take some pictures so you loyal readers can see the before and after images. Although it might be a long while before anyone sees the after pics. Here we are moving into this place in the next month, and work will be in full swing for both of us. I guess we'll just take it a day at a time. All our stuff will have to be in there no later than my birthday.

With that said, I've already started packing. I've cleared out a large number of book shelves in my own tiny apartment. And I'm kind of cheating with that because I'm bring a lot of books to work (s0 I don't have to move a large number to the house). Now I just need to convince J to start thinking about packing. He has lived in his apartment for over 5 years and just has tons of stuff to go through. He'll do it, but I told him he better get rid of any bodies he has stashed under the bed.... ;-)

There will be a few more steps in the process to this finally buying this house. It really makes you feel like a real adult. I can't believe I'm going to be a homeowner. A homeowner that's going to be in the same place for a long long time. I don't think I thought about this a year ago. In fact, I never thought I'd be able to live in this area for a long period of time. I always thought I would have to move from here.

I guess I better give my apartment manager my notice!! It's time to move on!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bid 2

So I got overly excited about the first house J and I put a bid on. Whoops. I guess you really shouldn't announce things until they really happen. But guess what? You all are on the roller coaster with me now, so why not continue to talk about it.

Last Thursday the inspector came to look at the house. He did a full report and it was ok. There were lots of minor/handyman type stuff to do, like tighten this, cover that. BUT the major problem turned out to be the FOUNDATION! The inspector said that we should have an engineer come out if we really wanted to think about purchasing the place. It was an extra thing to pay for but better to pay a fee than become involved with a money pit. And we really liked the house, so we thought we'd need to follow through.

The engineer came in the morning on Saturday, and we met him over there. He looked at the inside of the house, the inside seemed sound enough. We went down to the basement and that is when everything fell apart. He checked out the multiple cracks we didn't even notice before, and told us that the types of cracks that were in the foundation now could be fixed, but it would be expensive ($10,000), and there would be no telling what would happen with in 3-5 years.

Apparently Alexandria and some parts of Fairfax County are built on areas that have Marine Clay. So what happens is when it rains it absorbs all the moisture, and then cracks when it dries out. This is bad because the house will shift a lot. Not to mention it's kind of on the side of a hill. The yard slants towards the house, and the house is slightly lower on one side. And since half of the foundation is exposed (because there is a walkout basement) there is nothing supporting the structure and the side of the house come apart. NOT GOOD! So we didn't even ask him for the full report. We just paid his fee, and decided it would be best for us to move on. -phew-

That Saturday we were a little unhappy, a little pouty. But our really nice realtor said he would be happy to show us other places in the neighborhood, if we wanted. He actually said he had never seen a foundation that bad. We were initially worried about having him play both sides of the card for the other house. He was actually the seller's agent. But he has been nothing but honest, and now he's actually become our own realtor.

Later Saturday afternoon, he took us around the neighborhood (he also lives there). He showed us five places in our price range, and one above our price range. It really varied, one place was really scary, dirty, needed tons of work. The next place ok, but needed tons of work. The third place, great price, clean, well taken care of, new windows, great wood floors, a finished basement. The fourth place was on a hill side and also needed a lot of attention. 5th place was nicely painted, corner lot, but the kitchen was really strange, lots of wood paneling in the basement (think 70's), and there was carpet that might have been covering up a problem with the floors. The sixth house was the nicest. Beautifully landscaped, kitchen completely redone and expanded, new windows with nice woodwork, lots of paneling-- but nice would paneling. CLEAN. But a little out of our price range (we'd be pushing it).

So after all that, he also took us to some neighbor's places. These guys were really nice to let us see the work they were doing, and it was amazing. They both had these beautiful additions on the back, and sides. Amazing kitchens (the one guys kitchen had granite with actual fossils in it), beautiful light throughout. Just amazing what they did with the duplexes. So that gave us a bunch of ideas.

With all that inspiration, we decided to go with house number 3. All brick, enclosed porch on the front, and room to put on an addition in the back (a couple of years from now, of course). We feel we can really make it our own. The price was perfect, the owner had an extremely low price, so we offered the full price plus helping us with 1/2 the closing costs.

We met our realtor early Sunday morning and signed all the paperwork, and finally heard back today that the seller accepted our offer. The next step is another inspection. It may happen tomorrow or next Monday. I'm hoping for tomorrow, and then we can figure out the appraisal, and then get to settle. Or final closing date is still set for September 12th! And we'll actually be able to move right in after we paint and clean!!! I'm so excited, J is so excited. I hope this goes though.

It really is like a roller coaster. It's up and down, and nights thinking about all the things you can do, and then all the money it may cost. But we're hoping to be in there for a good 7-10 years (especially if we decide to put on an addition).

So wish us luck on house 2. I'm saving boxes, and I'm planning on packing up little things tonight. I'll be ready to move. I'm ready now...well, just mentally.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


The house will be ours, the inspection is today, so if it all goes according to the plan... we'll be moving in on September 12th!!!

WOW! It's all happening very fast, but we're so excited. I think we're going to take a walk-through tomorrow to measure things and see what exactly it is we need to do!! I can't wait to get started on it. It's going to be like a 1200 square foot art project!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Septermber 12?

That could possibly be our closing date! We met with the realtor today and it sounds as if the owner is ready to sell his home (it's been vacant for a while, he's already moved). It's an exciting time, but I feel nervous (as to be expected). The whole process is a lot to handle, especially when we're kind of on our own. J and I decided we didn't really want to use a realtor. So we're in a unique situation with the realtor who is selling the owner's house. He basically will get 2 commissions, which is excellent for him, and may give us a little wiggle room on the sale price. However, we're still doing a lot on our own and relying on the seller's realtor for information he's giving us. Which may or may not work for us in the end, but I'm hoping it does.

Tomorrow he'll give our offer to the owner, and I will be be turning in a huge check that will go into escrow (I finally understand what that means!)..... YIKES! It's happening fast and Saturday will possibly be the big inspection. If all goes according to plan we'll be moving in on September 12th!! HOLY COW!

And when I say moving in, I really mean we'll begin working on the house. I think the first thing we're going to have to take care of are the windows, then the kitchen/painting, and then the floors. It will be quite an undertaking this fall.... not to mention the work we'll have to do on the yard.

The anticipation is fun in a way, a little stressful, but a good stress. There are tons of papers to go through and read, things to initial here and there. Dollar signs, facts and figures.. It's a lot to take in, but I wouldn't want to go through it with anyone else. A lot of our personality traits are shining through right now. Me, the more nervous type, and J the excited type. We balance each other out a bit. I'm staying on the positive side, though. I am imagining that we're getting this place, and I'm thinking about the colors that we're going to be painting on the wall, the new kitchen we're going to have put in, the furniture going in particular places, Lhotse enjoying her little back yard, and growing a late summer garden.

So we'll know...soon...very soon.....

The funny thing is, the realtor's office is right next to the Thai restaurant J and I had our first date, almost a year ago.... -kismet-

Monday, August 04, 2008

Holy Changes Batman!

A lot can happen in a short summer vacation. One week you're looking at pictures on the Internet of real estate, and the next Friday you're getting approved for a loan. And the very next Monday (today) you're putting an actual bid on a piece of property! WOW! Originally I was thinking we were looking at bidding in late fall (like November). But no. We did our homework, looked at several locations -condos/town homes- and came up with a duplex! Circa 1949!

So we're going for it. We put a bid in today, meet with the realtor tomorrow, and hopefully at the end of the week, we'll have either gone in the direction of buying the property, or searching again.

But this duplex. It's a tad small (1200 square feet). But has a lot of character. A nice upper deck that looks over our small--but usable backyard. A nice front door with a porch that's perfect for rocking chairs. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths (kind of...more on that later) a separate dining area, and living room, and a miniature kitchen (and I do mean miniature, we're already looking at appliances on line, and they're the smallest dishwashers and stoves. At least we don't have to worry about cooking a turkey anyway)

It's a busy time, but a good time. I'm really excited and nervous. I hope it goes through though. I'll post pictures soon, if we get it. We meet with the realtor tomorrow to go over terms...and the bid.

And yes... you should go see the new batman movie....although it really is the joker movie. Heath Ledger is wonderful..and I'm not just saying that.