Tag: housing

Pied-à-terre

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This weekend I am getting a little break.  A break from work, waiting, life and hopefully headaches. Tomorrow begins the 2014 LDS Storymakers writing conference in Layton, ,UT.  This is my second year attending and I am so looking forward to it.  I write more as a hobby than a career but I think I’d go even if I was just an avid reader.

I’m such a nerd that I actually miss taking classes and learning new things in college.  If I could think of something I wanted to study and had the money I would totally go back to school.  Yes, it is challenging but also very rewarding.

And yes, I could learn all of these things on my own without a conference or a degree, but I have found I always do better with such support in place.  That’s why I still take voice lessons because I know without them I wouldn’t sing and singing is important to me.

But I think even more than the learning I am grateful for the break.  I’ve taken  my fair share of long vacations and those are great too but there is something nice about a long weekend that gives you just a breather from ordinary life.

I think that is why I like movies, they are just a little break from life.  A novel or a TV show are a  a serious time commitment where a movie is just 2 hours to devote to a story.  I love that.

I’ve always liked the concept of the pied-à-terre.  This is a  word  (french for foot on the ground) that in real estate means a small second home that is meant for temporary stays and trips.  A lot of times you will see these types of homes in the cities like businessmen in Tokyo may have a pied-à-terre in the city when he works late while his primary lodging is a 45 minute drive home.

Ideally for me these types of homes are bare-bones, simple places that you wouldn’t want to live in full time.  The house my grandparents had in Hawaii was a good example (especially the cottage).  It wasn’t fancy, had no air conditioning and provided simple basic features.  It would be a challenge to live in that house full time but as a stop over to sleep and eat it served the purpose very well.

Granted most pied-à-terre are owned by very rich people and are not the type of places I am referring to.  This is more my idea of what I would want, what appeals to me.  I’d love to have a place that is simple, easy, and a break from everyday life.

It’s not a vacation but just a chance to change scenery for a day or two.   It’s organized, similar whenever you go, and easy, that is what I want in a break.  I don’t want to sweat or have sore feet or any of it.  I just want to rest, learn, swim and reflect.

My boss Kelly lives in Portland and they go up to Bend Oregon frequently and from what I can tell it’s a pretty simple place.  She works the whole time she is there but it still feels like a break for her and her family.  That’s what I want. That’s my goal. I’d like for my regular life and vacation life to flow naturally together without the sense of loss I feel after a fully immersed vacation.  This is just a natural part of my life, making the planning and recovery easy and the experience all the more rejuvenating.

It’s interesting because I used to have such a desire for travel in my early 20s and it has basically died out.  One time I was talking  with my brother and he said ‘I’m over traveling’  and I thought he was nuts but now I find myself thinking the same thing.

My Dad and sister are in Germany right now and another sister is going to Europe for a month in June. On one hand, I am a little jealous of the exciting experience they are having and on the other I feel tired just thinking about it.  The appeal is gone.

But a pied-à-terre? That sounds appealing.  Someday I would love to own a place by a beach somewhere.  That’s my goal- the tinier and simpler the better! For the moment LDS Storymakers and staying in a Hilton Hotel for the weekend will suffice.   It is just the pied-à-terre I need while I wait, worry and work.  I’m so excited!

I’m also very excited for my trip to Tampa coming up next month!  Thanks to my friend Kim for inviting me.  To relaxing, learning, resting and starting afresh!

What about you guys?  Have you found your desire to travel diminish over the years?  What about a pied-à-terre?  Is that concept appealing to you? Let me know.

relax

 

 

 

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

 

 

Walk Through of House

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!!!!!

Main floor

Top Floor 1

Top Floor 2

Basement Apartment

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.

Holidays and Moving

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).

moving-house-holidays

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!