Very exciting! Today I had a new addition to my house installed.
My guest room/office was causing me problems because of the small closet and the lack of other convenient storage. Having done such a great job with my other closets, I called Classy Closets and they had lots of great ideas. We eventually decided to put shelves in the closet for the file folder boxes and shelving outside the closet with a closet rod for guests to use. It is fabulous!
A lot of people have asked me for advice on buying a home in the last few months. This makes me laugh a little because I was a total spazz when buying mine but maybe you all can learn from my mistakes!
So here goes:
RACHEL’S TIPS FOR BUYING, BUILDING YOUR FIRST HOUSE
1. Make a list of 10 must haves and be willing to compromise on half of those things. I had no interest in building. Thought my budget was about 75k less than I ended up spending, wasn’t thinking of an income property and was looking at Daybreak instead of Draper. All those things changed. I also had to compromise on wanting an island in the kitchen and have a non-private back yard that isn’t ideal for entertaining.
2. Focus on the monthly payment not the total price. That’s what got me to expand my budget. Once I divided it down it became less overwhelming. Also, don’t forget to include HOAs, taxes and other expenses into your pricing decision.
3. Someone told me to plan on the house finishing 30 days after the cabinets installed. It was I think 35 days. Pretty good advice.
4. If trying to get FHA loan make sure FHA approvals are in for the unit you are buying. FHA is whacked out and they can refuse a unit within a complex that everything else is approved. It took me an additional month to get FHA approval on the house and it was super stressful.
5. Have a mortgage broker you can trust. Mine was fabulous. Marc and Christopher at City Creek Home Mortgages were very patient. One time Marc went through all the fees and escrows of my home purchase and then after talking with my uncle I was freaking out and he explained it all over again to me. Can’t ask much more than that. https://citycreekmortgage.com/
Their rates were also competitive with others that I checked.
6. FHA loans are low down payment (I think I paid 3% plus closing costs), mortgage insurance for first 5 years but a lower interest rate. Traditional loans have higher interest rate, no mortgage insurance and at least a 10% downpayment. I decided I was diving into my house for the long haul so I went with the lower interest rate and capital fluidity FHA loan gave me.
7. Do as much of the packing early on as you can. I did pretty well with this one. I also recommend buying a packet of boxes from Uhaul. It is very reasonable and if you don’t use any they will buy them back. I needed so many boxes! The nice thing about the Uhaul boxes is they have handles and are really sturdy. http://www.uhaul.com/MovingSupplies/Boxes/
8. It might take a long time. It might not to find the place for you. I was surprised how quickly I decided to build. I also always thought I would need tons of time to weigh my options and make such a big decision, but when it came down to it there is a finite number of factors and at a certain point I was just mulling over the same stats again and again. Just make the decision your gut tells you to make.
10. Find a realtor that gels with your personality and style. If you want someone who will work quickly and be proactive find that kind of realtor. If you want someone that will be cool and relaxed, no pressure, find that type. Mine was the latter. Since most sellers pay realtor fees I don’t see why anyone would want to brave buying a house alone. Why not!
11. Think about the potential of an area. Look at what is being built around it and if there are any vacant lots or construction planned. I know my location is always going to be hot because of the closeness to the freeway and the new adobe building, ikea, outlets, etc. Up in Suncrest is a little bit more removed, which could be a good or bad thing.
12. Get a therapist. I know you think I am joking but I’m so glad I had one. It was a very anxious time for me. So many decisions to make, so much to do, so much waiting (that’s the hardest part) and so much out of your control. I can imagine a therapist would be good for a couple as well (of course, I think that is generally a good idea for couples. Call me crazy!). It’s just a tough time.
13. Find out rules and restrictions of your area for special projects. This would have saved me a lot of grief with my income property. When the range got unapproved I panicked. It didn’t have anything to do with safety but a multi-family code. I don’t think I would have done anything differently because it has all worked out but it would have saved some anxious moments.
14. Be nice to your friends. You will need them for the move 😉 (Some wards don’t do moves any more I discovered)
15. Find projects you can do right away to keep yourself from going nuts. Pick out paint colors or get a patio set. Whatever. I had a lot of fun designing my curtains, closets and furniture before I moved and it least helped me feel somewhat productive. (Although make sure you have enough to pay your downpayment!
16. Don’t buy a house over Christmas! That was super hard.
17. I know I initially felt some anxiety about getting pre-approved. It’s a really easy process and doesn’t commit you to anything. You are not committed to that lender (and in some cases builders have particular lenders they want you to use for preapproval).
18. Get ready to sign your name like a million times, middle name included.
19. You will probably gain 10-15 lbs while waiting and moving and that’s ok. (or maybe that is just me…)
20. It’s a hard experience for everyone but the most seasoned buyers. It’s ok to freak out and have break downs. Its a big deal.
21. Throw a open house and celebrate your move in! (Another fun thing to plan while waiting). I did a big custom cake and told all my friends. You don’t have to do that but its nice to show your house to all your friends.
22. Outsource! I outsourced light fixture installation, tv mounting, artwork placement, setting up my grill, furniture assembly. Best money I ever spent. Plus, you get references that can be used throughout the life of your home.
23. Splurge on at least 1 item. For me it was my black out curtains. You are buying a house. Don’t be a cheapskate on everything.
24. Don’t forget to look out for storage. Be open to creative solutions, like in my basement apartment we used a pocket door and set up shelving in the closet under the stairs to make it more usable. It was not expensive and works great. I also spent $453 to put storage in the garage. Great investment
25. If you have an income property call references, and get to know them a little bit. Usually a nice place will get you nice tenants. And don’t enter their apartment without their approval unless it is an emergency. I also spent $300 to put insulation in the ceiling boards to give them more privacy and so they’d have less upstairs noise. Well worth it. I kept thinking if I lived there what would I want? As I lived in a basement apartment for 2 years it was easy to answer!
26. Hold a family/group meal soon after you move in. It just makes a house a home.
27. It’s ok to house brag a little. I felt kind of guilty at first that I was showing off but none of my friends cared. I figure they had to hear all the complaining, the least I could do is let them in on some of the joy.
28. Don’t forget to think ahead. My friend’s husband bought his house before they had met and didn’t think of getting good closets being a man and all. Your life might change and you need a place with at least a little bit of flexibility and that you won’t grow out of in 2 years.
29. Get ready and go for it. It is super hard. No doubt about it but it is worth it.
30. Pray before putting in your offer for confirmation it is right. Pray for strength, peace, assurance and help. Also, once you have moved in have the house dedicated in some way. In our church there is a prayer for that but it could be a new agey thing. Whatever. I think it helps with a sense of closure to the buying process and the beginning of living in your house.
So today was the big day! My ‘Rachel Turns 32 and Gets a House Party’. My birthday was actually a few weeks ago but I wanted to combine my housewarming and birthday parties into one big bash. I hired my Dad’s tenant and our friend Dax to come over and assemble furniture, hang artwork and that was such a great move. It made the house feel really done. Outsourcing is almost always a fabulous idea!
My roommate was a wonderful help with cleaning and organizing for the party and my cousin Danielle came down and got balloons and helped me to clean (she’s the best!). I was a little worried that the emerging storm might scare people off but luckily there was a steady flow of people from 5 all the way to closing time at 10.
I saw old roommates, ward friends, swim friends, cousins, just good friends. It made me feel happy that I have such wonderful people in my life. There were also many who could not come because of illness or other concerns and I could feel their thoughtfulness light up inside of me. I really do have the best friends ever.
One fun thing is that my curtains got installed today and while I was at Costco getting party trays (yum!) the guy worked on the install so when I came home they were done which was a fun surprise. They look so good. I love them! I just love my house! It was so fun to share it and maybe show off just a little bit to my friends. It was a happy moment and I feel full of joy. I really do love my house!
The party was super fun and I’m so grateful for everyone who came. The cake turned out amazing!
Everything else in the party turned out great. There was a yummy spread with sandwiches, shrimp and super good strawberries all from Costco. Seriously the strawberries were delectable.
I made this guest book for the party which I think turned out super cute too.
Here are some photos of some of the friends at the party. There were of course many people I didn’t get photos of. Thanks to everyone who came! It’s always so nice to see that old friends are still good friends and that you don’t have to see someone everyday to still be tight. I am a very loved person.
It’s going to be a party that will be hard to top and while I am exhausted it is a happy kind of tired. A feeling loved and a sense of satisfaction tired. Its a job well done and feeling of accomplishment kind of tired. It’s the end of a journey and the beginning of an adventure. Most importantly I feel so loved.
So sometimes I impress myself. With the help of a little outsourcing I basically have my house done. Some furniture to arrive next week, blinds to get installed and a few other little things but for the most part everything is done. I’m really glad I planned my party tonight because it helped motivate me to get things done quickly and put an end to the moving process, something I sorely needed to be done with. I wanted to get to loving my house as soon as possible and today I do love it!
For those who couldn’t come to the party here is a little tour of a few rooms (not including my roommates and tenants room). I LOVE my house and I feel so blessed to be in it. Thank you to everyone for all your support during these stressful months of home building. Don’t you think it was worth it? 🙂
So the day came and I have spent my first night in my new house. I am so sore and I took a 2 hour nap today which is really unusual for me. What a 24 hours I’ve had!
It all started on Friday with finishing up the packing. My friends Rachel and Adry came over with my sister Anna and we got the kitchen and final clothes boxed up. It was more work than I would have expected and you wouldn’t believe how much stuff I have! Kind of shocking! I guess when you think about it I have all the stuff for a home and that adds up.
Exhausted I went to bed Friday kind of dreading the next day and the big move. I was in a lot of pain and so worn out but I was determined to not show it at all. I put on a smile and got the U-haul truck. Anna and I started loading and then one person showed and then another, and one more. Before you know it there were a dozen or so people!
To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I was truly touched that so many people love me enough to help me move (something I have come to understand is the greatest example of friendship). There were even 3 or 4 people that I didn’t even know from my old ward and friends of friends. I figure you have to be an extra special person to help someone you don’t know move!
With so many people we finished the loading and unloading in like 2 hours! I was blown away. I wish I had taken photos of everyone who came but it was just too nuts. We got home in enough time for my sister, cousin and I to start unpacking. Believe it or not today I finished all the kitchen, most of the living room, and a lot of clothes. When I saw all those boxes I never thought they’d be emptied as fast as they have been.
Take a look at all the boxes!
Last night I wearily laid down in my house. I felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by all the love showed me. Overwhelmed by the months of work and anxiety. Months of frustration, tears and excitement. It will certainly go down as a landmark occasion of my life and it felt SO good! I feel blessed and I LOVE MY HOUSE! It was super hard and I’m not going to claim to have handled everything in the best way but I did what I could and am grateful for the learning experience. It was a huge test and I think me and my friends have passed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The big day has finally come! Today I closed on the house. Halleluiah! I met the builder and my realtor who I have both come to know quite well over these last 6 months at the title company and was presented with a myriad of documents to sign and initial (all with my full name including initial which I kept forgetting)
I was very grateful to my mortgage brokers who couldn’t make it to the signing but they did a great job at preparing me for the process. It was through Marc and Christopher at City Wide Home Loans. They were wonderful. Marc actually explained every fee and the entire closing process to me twice so that I understood what was happening (I had gone over it once and then I called my Uncle Tom and he had all these questions so I called Marc back and he went through it all over again. So nice). I highly recommend them if you live in Utah and are purchasing a home.
They also got me a great rate of 3.25 with an FHA loan. I have to pay the mortgage insurance but we decided as a long term investment getting the lower rate was a better plan as the insurance is just for the first 5 years. (that was a drama-filled process!). I’m not going to tell you I understood everything that I signed but pretty close. Integrated Title Services was also good about explaining each document and keeping the process from feeling any more overwhelming than it already did.
So after signing my name about 30 times I was finished. It is done! I’m a homeowner! Finally. Halleluiah. Hurray. Whatever positive exclamation you can come up with! Yes! I am SO relieved and So excited. Mainly I just feel exhausted. A little like I did at the end of my mission, just spent but so thrilled to be spent. I did it!
My realtor said I was one of his most excited clients. This amazed me because I thought I was pretty subdued for me. What amazes me is how someone could not be excited? You are buying a house for goodness sakes. If you can’t be excited for that what can you be excited for?
Not to be a downer but after my signing I went and visited my Grandma R in a care center. She looked pretty good and is recovering from her surgery and pneumonia. My Grandma W is also in the hospital with heart failure and I’m very concerned about her. She is super special to me. I wish I could be there to help her through this and will get out there as soon as I can. Please send out a prayer for both my Grandma’s that they will be strengthened if it is God’s will to do so.
So today was my birthday and it was a great day! As if written by a screenwriter I got a text from the builder today “Looks like your Birthday mojo has paid off and we are FHA approved!”. Can you believe it? It’s my birthday and we get the approval!!! What a present
I am SOOOOOO excited. There are no words. I am just thrilled. So I contacted the mortgage broker and they are starting the underwriting, title, finalizing processes to get to the closing. They told me there is a 50/50 chance of closing on Friday! That means I could have a house by the end of the week! Wahoo!
I probably won’t move until next week because the deed has to be transferred and everything else but who knows. I could start Saturday. Either way it is happening and the waiting game is almost over.
So what a great way to start off my birthday!
The rest of the day proved to be wonderful with a bit of a hiccup at the end but it was great.
So that was my birthday. Even though I didn’t open a single present it will definitely go down as one of the best. Plus, I got a call from nieces singing me happy birthday and lots of well wishes on facebook and texts (the grandest use of facebook if you ask me).
Maybe the next entry to this blog will be on closing and moving! Wouldn’t that be cool!
Today I did the walk through inspection of my house. We went from room to room with blue tape and marked any dings, nicks or spots. No major problems just little things here and there. So basically everything is ready for closing except for the FHA renewal which everything hinges on. The entire complex has to be approved and I guess my builder had to overnight them additional information on Friday.
Once the FHA case # is posted online it can take 48 to 72 hours for the closing to get done. The builder is hoping to hear back from FHA by Thursday or Friday. This means I probably won’t have a move in this Saturday like I was hoping but we will see. Maybe I will get lucky and things will move right along? (Goodness knows I could use a little luck and especially my poor roommate. What a month she has had!). It took them 10 days to give us an initial response so hopefully the correction (they had listed 107 units instead of 108) won’t take that long. We’ll see!
Nothing we can do but just wait and go crazy (patience has never been my strength)…Sigh
I did some video of my house so that my family and friends could see what it looks like. I think it is very pretty! I know it will all be worth it but I can tell you this- I am not moving for a LONG time!!!!!
Top Floor 1
Top Floor 2
Please everyone say a prayer that FHA will come through and I will be able to close soon. Thank you! I’m so excited for my new house. I think the colors and the choices turned out very nicely. I’m really proud of how it turned out.
Honestly folks what was I thinking? And how come nobody whacked me upside the head and said ‘finishing a house New Years Eve will make you crazy’? I mean isn’t that what friends are for! 🙂 .
All joking aside the gruesome combo of building a house (especially as a first time home buyer) and trying to eek out a good Christmas is not something I’d recommend to anyone else. It’s been brutal. My apartment of 3 years is all a flutter, boxes everywhere (the chaos is making me feel chaotic!) and furniture is being sold or attempted to be sold (3 people have stood me up waiting for them to show up. 1 of them was for a free tv. You think they’d have initiative to come over for a free tv).
The main thing we are waiting on at the house is the cabinets, which finally arrived Friday at the warehouse. Now we have to find out the install date. Once the cabinets are installed countertops, appliances, sinks and carpet can all be installed. Stupid cabinets!
My stomach has been affected by the anxiety and I haven’t been able to digest things well or had much of an appetite. I’ve felt nauseated and yet my sleep has been bad.
The thing is I know everything will be okay. Even if I have to move my stuff up to my Dad’s for a few weeks, I have a back up, but knowing that doesn’t seem to make the worry go away. Last week, for instance, I tried for 4 days to look at the positive and be hopeful, and I was miserable Friday and then Saturday I reached the breaking point where I had to take my anxiety meds (something I am loathe to do). The only thing that makes me proud is that in the past I would have had a full blown panic attack on Saturday but I kept it under control.
What feels frustrating is I can’t explain it very well. It’s a non-nonsensical experience. It makes me feel like an idiot and a also a little guilty. I know I am so blessed to have a house with amazing tenants. Even writing that I want to throw up.
Sigh…And then there is Christmas. I have had a nice holiday season but it has been more of a welcome distraction than a season. I kind of wish I could pick it up and have it in February instead of December but I’ve done the best I can to be festive and happy. Will it go down as one of my best Christmases? Probably not. Some of my friends seem to have the perfect responses to being single and stressful at Christmas. I’m trying but I can only do so much when I feel like my brain is going to explode. At this point I am on survival mode trying to be as happy and stable as possible, with as few breakdown as possible before move in day.
The truth is I’ve also felt very close to the spirit during this time. I know what I’m doing is right and that means everything. When I feel anxious, prayer and study have helped me to calm down and lessen the nausea. In a way I suppose I have been able to focus on the true reason for the season because everything has been so crazy. Yesterday we had a tremendous Christmas program and it reminded me that Jesus Christ was born, lived, and died for me. He loves me and love means everything.
So to getting through the next 2 weeks without any breakdowns! (ok maybe 1 or 2 will be allowed? 😉 ). I will write tomorrow to let you know how my solo crazy Christmas went. In the meantime Merry Christmas!
(My thoughts have been so jumbled I’ve tried to write this post 3 times and failed so take it for what it is worth. It’s been a challenging time for me. Exciting but challenging).
As everyone on facebook and twitter knows today I took the brave step and decided to sign a contract for a new build townhouse in Draper. I about had an anxiety attack before signing the papers but I knew deep down inside that it was the right decision. I had thought about it from nearly every angle and I think it will be a good move. For only a $100 plus more a month I will own a home as opposed to renting. It is viewable from where I currently live so no real transition there and will be much bigger.
The key determining factor for me (aside from liking the layout and space) was that I looked at worst case scenarios and it still seemed like a good choice. If I were to say lose my job than I could get 2 roommates, 3 if I finish the basement and that could cover most if not all of my lease. Knowing it could work out even if things turned south really helped me make the decision.
The condo I had offered on was smaller and does not have the roommate potential of the townhouse. The only real benefit of the condo is the kitchen was bigger but still the townhouse is a better choice. The resale value will be better than a condo and I can get most of the nice features of the condo. One thing I liked about the model home is that everything I liked seems to be included in the basic package. Things like granite countertops, wood laminate, upgraded carpet, 2 tone paint, large garage, soaking tub, etc are all included with the purchase. Other model homes I’ve been in everything seems an addition.
I am surprised how quickly I made the decision but I had a limited time period to decide. In fact, they may have had another interested buyer this morning and it was the last lot left! Phew! But in reality I don’t think the decision takes that long. There is only so much data to look over and then the decision has to be made. Sitting and stewing over it only makes me more neurotic and anxious. Plus, its just the reservation so you have time to mull over little decisions like any upgrades or little financing decisions.
In some ways building is perfect for me because it allows me to take each step in small doses and it gives me the house I want (or at least mostly want). Aside from approval process I don’t have to close on the loan right away, not until it is done (scheduled to be finished 12/31/2012. Should be my biggest Christmas gift ever!).
Today I feel proud of myself. I am officially a grown up (only took me 31 years!). I’m a super independent person but for some reason I never thought I would buy a house by myself. It just seems so big for one person but I’m doing it! Hurray! It just makes me feel like I can do anything if I can do something this big.
I’m actually excited for the next part of the process, picking finishes, and watching it get built. How fun! If anyone wants to see the model I’d love to show it to you. Thanks to all my friends for your love and support during this fairly anxious process.
One nice thing is the mortgage broker I was working with, referred to me by my uncle Tom, works for the same company as the builder’s broker. That saves me applying to 2 brokers (I’ve already applied for 2 others, so 3 total and I think I have the best rates). They will have my preapproval to the builder by Monday. One less thing to worry about!
So there it is. I am a homeowner in training. Should be a fun 6 months!