Tag: house

New Homebuyer Guide

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 that’s my advice.  Good luck in your search.

framing house

Went through all the stress of a home build
Went through all the stress of a home build

 

 

Closing

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)

So much to sign!
Me, my builder Dave and realtor Greg
closing 2
So much to sign!

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.

http://www.chl.cc/

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.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/are-we-not-all-mothers/

Control

I am relaxing tonight after a long week.  Work on my house has been clipping along and it looks like I can do the walk through on Monday! Still not sure on closing because of an FHA approval that is ‘in process’ (that is all the government will tell us.  Sigh!).   The house looks great and I’m very happy with it.

It makes me happy as well that my tenants are happy with it and  “LOVE it” (from their text caps and all).   They certainly have been through a lot waiting for this house right along with me and I’ve been so grateful for their patience and kindness.  I definitely chose the right people to share a home with!

Strangely the building (and waiting) of my house was actually the happy part of the week.  It was a very intense week at work with end of the month and end of the year responsibilities.  I’m still packing up my house and had a full schedule.

The real mess started with my soon to be roommate staying up at my Dad’s rental while my house is being finished.  I felt bad but the situation got worse with a break in, her laptop getting stolen and a missing person’s case forcing the police back up to the house.  Then to make matters worse I was still showing the house to potential tenants.  On Wednesday someone looked at the house and LOVED it.  They said ‘we want to sign the contract and get in asap’.

In fact, they wanted to get in the house on Saturday (tomorrow), giving me only 3 days to get the house cleaned, carpet cleaned, move my Dad’s stuff, get it ready to go. Not to mention getting my roommate moved ( I feel so bad about that! The woman deserves Sainthood for all she’s been through).

At first I said no way but then the money convinced me to give it a try.  (Stupid!).  Me and the manager worked very hard to get everything ready but with the snow storm it became clear yesterday that it wasn’t going to happen.  We didn’t want to endanger the cleaners or make things unsafe.

I tried to call, text and email them about the delay and didn’t hear back from them so we kept on working.  Stacia, the manager, worked after getting a root canal done that morning!  Then finally at the end of the day (while I still got my 8 hours in for my regular job and missed my swim!) they sent me a text saying they got ‘cold feet because of the storm’.  Sigh…

It was super frustrating.  I just wish they had expressed some concerns to me sooner or at least been more up front with me yesterday so we hadn’t killed ourselves working on such a tight deadline.  I’m exhausted!

Anyway, it’s just as well.  What made me think of this is I was talking to someone today and they said

‘I’m more of a Spartan when handling such things’

and

‘Why waste energy and anxiety over things you have no control over?’

This made me feel a little sad because I hate being weak.  Sometimes it feels like everyone else is tougher, stronger, braver, better than me and I’m a big wimp.

Here’s the thing I realized- Maybe I am the Spartan because I do get through it all and channel anxiety in the best way I know how?   I take the burden of my fears and worry and still complete the goals in my life.  Doesn’t that in a way make me twice as tough?

Here’s the second thing- I also do it for the most part completely alone.   Yes, I have family and friends who love and support me (thank you!) but as far as the day to day financial, work, social decisions of my life I take all the pressure and have to make all the decisions.

I know women who have made almost no decisions independently of a spouse or parent in their life, ever.  I think it can be hard for these types of people to understand the pressure, anxiety and fear that can go into each choice.

If I have a fear that everything will go wrong and an anxiety for the future maybe it is because I’ve fallen flat on my face enough in life to know how much it sucks?  I think in a way it is a protective instinct.  To protect me from the pain I try to prepare for it.  I also feel like once I had my first panic attack my brain changed and I just don’t absorb things like I used to.  I fear going through that again because it was awful.

Just look at this house- it is 100% all me.  I made every choice as far as colors, size, dimensions, income property, tenants, everything.  Getting the loan, picking the location, going through closing will be only me.  Again, that is a lot of pressure. If it fails I am the one that is blamed.   It is the same way with my work- all 3 of my jobs. Yes, I have associates and support but in the end it is me alone in my apartment working.  No substitutes, no excuses.

And I do it all with a diagnosed anxiety disorder…maybe I’m not so weak?

Here’s the third thing- Asking the question ‘why worry about things you can’t control?’ is sort of redundant for anxiety sufferers because

I can’t control my anxiety!

Yes, I can channel it; and yes, I can learn to react to it more effectively but at a certain point it is there and just like any other illness you have, and you must work with your body to respond in a healthy way.

This is so hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced that out of control feeling but believe me it is real.  I actually feel I have handled things pretty well considering.  Believe me if I had given into every moment of anxiety I felt I would have been way more of a mess!

So there you go world- Just think about it when you use that CONTROL word because what is in my control as far as anxiety may be just as challenging as my control over FHA approvals or anything else.

CONTROL (Maybe that’s why I like blogging I can control it and it is all mine!)

What do you all think about control and dealing with pressure?  I’d be especially curious to hear from my single friends that have to do a lion-share of the decision making and how they deal with that? Especially singles who have purchased homes!

130111-193125
Trying to figure everything out
130111-193038
Worrying Rachel
130111-193707
Try to smile through the fears

Two Week Notice

stress11

Today I found out that my house is officially delayed by 2 weeks…sigh.  The cabinets took longer to install and now the countertops aren’t ready until next week.  I might get lucky and things will be done sooner but at this rate I wouldn’t count on it.  I have increased my leave date in my apartment complex and let my tenants know.  They were all bummed about the delay but understanding, which I am SO grateful for.  I really found the best people ever for my new place.  Everything would be so much more stressful if they were unhappy.

The truth is it is out of my hands but that is exactly what makes it so nerve-wracking.  I am just at the whim of this other group, tossed about from one week to another.  That is very frustrating, but also the nature of the beast.

Any of you out there have any strategies for dealing with the next few weeks in a healthy way? Maintaining my anxiety, not getting to worked up, etc?  I kind of wish I hadn’t started packing so early because it adds to the sense of chaos and lack of control in my life, creating more anxiety, but how was I to know? As late as last week they were still committing to the 31st as the end date so you have to prepare for that.

I’ve been trying deep breathing, my sleep hygiene, exercise, essential oils, and even some medicine on occasion, but what other tools help all of you out there dealing with anxiety during intense times of change?  I would really appreciate some feedback on this one.

Have any of you built a house? Perhaps you can relate to what I’m experiencing.  I’m now realizing what a bold move it was to dive into not only home ownership but a build and an income property and I know that is part of what is overwhelming.  However, on the same breath I know it is right but the right things can be overwhelming and full of anxiety (ie pretty much every day on my mission…).

I would love to hear your experiences from any of you that have been through home builds.  Unless it’s horror stories.  Save those for another day!

At least I know what’s coming and am not waiting in limbo for contractors to get back to the builder.  That was worse than a delay.  In the meantime, I’m trying to count my blessings and manage my anxiety that is nearly constantly bubbling inside me (I told my Mom today I can’t help it.  It’s just there all the time.  I can help how I respond to it but not make it go away).

Reunion, Wedding and House

So a lot of memorable events happened lately.

First, I have walked in my house!  The framing is up, no sheet-rock yet but I’ve gone over all the floors and I’m so excited about it!  I also think I might have found the right fit for my basement apartment.  I had tons of interest but have narrowed it down to 2 great choices.  Tough call.  Will be checking references and doing some careful thought but either would be terrific.  The whole thing is so thrilling!

I think my shirt says it all!
In my master bedroom!!!

Then Friday I had my 10 year reunion at BYU.  I still can’t believe its been 10 years.  I’m not goona lie it was an introspective moment for me.  Thinking about the last 10 years, what I’ve done, what I wish I could have done, the pains, the triumphs, everything.  Sometimes I worry that I peaked at 21. That I had my happiest years then and have never quite been able to duplicate it. I’ve had great times and moments but as far as whole years that was one of the best.  Do any of you feel that way looking back at your life? I guess the older you get the more muddy your life gets. I envy the simplicity of that year.

Anyway, grateful for a moment to think about my life and all that I have accomplished and the great memories.  I was in charge of creating a video entitled ‘Then and Now’ for the reunion.  It was more challenging than I expected but here is what I came up with.

The reunion was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed chatting with fellow graduates and hearing from Setema Gali, former Super Bowl champion for New England Patriots.  I was very moved by his heart felt words.   I was expecting just a pep talk but it was very raw.  He said ‘be prepared’ for whatever God wants you to do and look out for ‘compensating blessings’.  That last concept really struck home with me.  There are usually compensating blessings whenever God gives us a trial.  Hard to see it sometimes but true.

I will include the group photos when I get them but here I am with my friend Shawn.  I am honored to be able to participate in the reunion committee and will forever be grateful for my BYU experience.  If I am any good as a human being today it is because of my BYU experience.

I don’t know how you go to a reunion without wondering- what do the next 10 years hold?  What does God have in store for me? We will see… 🙂

My friend Shawn and I at the reunion

Next up yesterday I went to the wedding of my dear friend Camille.  She married Tom Griego and while I haven’t had a chance to get to know him he seems like a wonderful person (just loving Camille means he’s a smart guy!).  Camille was my roommate for nearly 3 years and we grew up together.  I went to Hawaii twice with her and our relationship has always been dear to me.  She is a great listener and has always given to others more than focusing on her own needs.  I’m glad she has someone who can focus on giving to her.

The pretty bride and me.

More than anything it makes me happy to see my friends happy!  I have always been blessed with good friends, the best. I got to visit with a bunch of friends I haven’t seen for a while in addition to seeing Camille, which made the whole wedding a lot of fun. I don’t know what I did in the previous life to deserve such wonderful friends.

3 girls from the Maryland ward. We made it! 🙂 Me, Camille and Bekah Denhalter
Camille and Tom

Anyway, it was a great weekend! I feel so blessed.  Blessed for new starts with my home.  Blessed for the memories of the past at my reunion and blessed for the comfort and happiness of friendship at the wedding.  God is certainly good to me and I know that He has a path for me that if I am faithful my life will keep being an amazing journey.  In truth, I know I have not peaked.  What is to come? I’m excited for Him to show me. More than anything I know that I am loved by God and my friends and family.  Who can ask for more?

I’m Building on Up!

The big purchase. Earnest money paid!

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!

Now on to my open water swim.  What a week!