Thursday, April 30, 2009

Home Inspection

Chris, Bob and I met up with John, a representative of Home Team Inspection Service, today at the future site of Chris and Callie's home. :-) John did a very thorough inspection and was extremely informative and helpful. Happily, there were no surprises or major problems found with the house. He gave us several suggestions for minor improvements we could make on the house to help with energy efficiency and keeping things in good shape, but there really wasn't anything that that had to be done, aside from the sellers getting the trim and garage painted, and a railing put on the front steps. All in all, though, he seemed pretty impressed with all the improvements made on the house in the last few years: new roof, less-than-1-year-old furnace and central air, new electrical, copper pipes throughout ... and the list goes on.

I'm extremely happy to hear that we don't need to run away screaming from our future new home. We're also having a radon test done, which we'll hear the results of on Monday, but I'm pretty sure that will be fine.

I took some more pictures, but it sounds like my water is boiling now, so I better get to it. Chris and I are going to Ithaca tonight to spend Friday at Cornell's annual "Slope Day." Should be lots of fun. Pictures and more updates to come.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Closing date

After signing all the papers for the mortgage application, Chris and I were going over some documents and discovered that our lease doesn't end until July 31st, as opposed to June 30th, which we had thought. This means that there's an even bigger gap between when the sellers want to close and when we want to. Fun fun.

Although apparently, the closing date isn't really up to the buyer or the seller. It's pretty much up to the attorney. lol So we'll see what happens.

We're all set to get the home inspection on Thursday, though. Hopefully all goes well then.

Happily, I sold my first item through today. I made a picture frame out of wine corks, put it up for sale two days ago, and it already sold! Very exciting.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Contracts, Inspections and Mortgages, Oh My!

After a leisurely weekend back in Albany to see Chris's friend's wedding, we are hitting this week with full-force in the home-buying department. We have an appointment to meet with a Bank of America mortgage specialist tonight, where we'll get all the papers signed and get that part squared away. We have our home inspection scheduled for Thursday, so hopefully we won't have many surprises there. And I've also talked with our attorney that Bob found for us, who will be approving our contracts and the title documents and such.

Currently, I'm in the middle of finding very detailed information about a million different things that is required for the mortgage. My oh my!

To top it all off, the sellers have made it known that they are moving out soon, and would like to move up the closing date to the end of May, if possible. Obviously, I would love to have more time to move and get things painted beforehand, but it's just going to put everything in fast forward for a little while. lol

Before I head back to gathering information and documents for the mortgage application, I wanted to post a couple pictures of the inside of the house. Of course, it's going to look completely different once I get in there with a paint brush ... but you get the idea.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Proof for Skive

Just went through the proof for issue 11 of Skive Magazine, which will include my short story "The Demands." The issue looks great! It's pretty much overflowing with awesome stories and poems. I highly recommend everyone who reads blog go get themselves a copy when it comes out. It should be out June 1st, complete with a lovely devil on the cover.

You can order the issue on the website,, or through, and I think you can also get it through Borders/, as well. It's available in print or as an Ebook. Don't miss out. That would make me sad.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

They accepted!!

After a counter offer, the sellers accepted our new offer and signed the contract! Unless something goes wrong with inspection, we have our house! Yay!
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Friday, April 24, 2009

House Update

The offer is in. Now we're just waiting to hear if they accept or would like to counter our offer. We're sort of expecting them to counter, but we'll see. :-)
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yesterday's love continues

In a slightly surprising turn of events, Chris loved the little yellow Cape Cod. We are in complete agreement that this is a great house, and he even likes it a little better than the two newer houses in the subdivision. Yay!

We're planning on putting in an offer on the house as soon as we decide on the amount. haha
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New prospects

Well, I don't think there's need to worry about the yardless wonder of a house from yesterday anymore. Bob and I scouted out several more homes today, and found two that we're going to bring Chris to tomorrow, (one is pictured right). I also just found another online that's in the same subdivision as one of them, so maybe we'll check out all three. Of the two I saw today, though, both are really nice.

As per usual, however, today my favorite was one of the older, cheaper ones (relatively speaking). If nothing else, Chris can't complain that I have expensive taste. haha I did rule out the farmhouse that was built in 1835, so I can't really say the older the better; but age is generally a plus in my book. There's just something about some of the older homes. I love their character. All the squeaks and knicked up woodwork. They have a personality, a story to tell.

The fun part is that Chris tends to lean toward the motto of the newer the better. He likes clean lines and no cracks. I think we balance each other out well, though. If he didn't weigh in, I'd probably pick out a house on the verge of toppling over, and then where would we be? And I guess I help him realize that a few small repairs doesn't neccessarily have to stand in the way of bidding on a great house. See? Compromise is a wonderful thing.

The love of my today is this yellow Cape Cod built in 1930. It's the perfect size, has a nice yard, and it's a little quirky. The ceilings in the hallway upstairs are probably only a few inches taller than 6 feet high. lol It's funny things like that, I think, that make me really fall in love with a particular house. Just like people, I believe you have to love a house for its flaws.

Unlike people, though, I love getting to make a list of all things I'm going to change about a house if I move in. (Not something I recommend doing to people. haha) In a house, some flaws add personality while other flaws are makeover projects waiting to happen. haha I don't think I would be happy moving into a house that was already painted in lovely colors and didn't have any room for improvement. Where's the fun in that?
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who stole the yard?

Just looked at a new house on the market. By far the nicest one I've seen inside, and it's not even the most expensive! Beautiful kitchen, gorgeous new bathroom, big living room, 4 good size bedrooms. Really just fantastic inside. But the outside just breaks my heart. There is no yard. Technically, yes, there is a small front yard and a little square backyard which is entirely hidden behind the 2-car garage. And of course, all the houses around this house have nice size backyards. I think they must have all conspired together when the seller put the house up for sale and moved all their fences to make their own yards bigger. lol

It quite a dilemma, though, because that's at the top of the list of "Things You Can't Do Anything About." Bad carpet, ugly kitchen, unfinished attic; these are things I could work with. A little creativity and investing some money in it can erase these problems. But the world's smallest yard? The only thing you could do about that is complain. :-/
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back in the saddle again

In keeping with my dad's comment on my last post, I will remain positive. Using the website our Realtor suggested,, I've already found 10 more houses I'd like to check out. My favorite feature of the website is that I can search for houses by a specific county. That way, I can focus on areas that are a little more suburban and a little less urban, which is what Chris and I realized we wanted when we saw the house we ended up bidding on.

We haven't totally crossed the houses we've already seen off the list, we just want to look around a little more and see if we can find another house that makes us want to instantly put in an offer like that last house did. Fingers crossed everyone!
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

All that waiting ...

All for nothing. As it turns out, the seller accepted the other offer, which was above asking price. It's a whole different market out there than what our parents are familiar with. I only had to wait two restless nights and two and a half very long days to find that out. Blahhhhh.

Back to the drawing board.

No time limit

Something to keep in mind for first-time home buyers: ask your Realtor to include a time limit in your offer for the seller. Apparently, this is a fairly common practice, asking the seller to accept or decline your offer within 24 or 48 hours. This, however, is not standard operating procedure for some companies, such as Remax. As a result of omitting this time constraint, I've been sitting nervously by my phone all day waiting for the call from Bob to tell me whose offer the seller accepted. It's been about 50 hours since we originally put in our bid, and I must admit, all this waiting is getting old.

If you don't want this to happen to you, future home buyers, set a time limit up front.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Update on our bid

Just heard back from Bob. There's another offer on the house, but the agent took it off the market and isn't showing it anymore. So it's between us and them. It's awful not getting to know what the other bid is. The seller's agent is going to call the seller at 7:30pm tonight and accept the higher offer. We don't find out anything new until then. This is going to be a long afternoon ...

Bob the Realtor

Chris and I decided a month or two ago that we would begin casually looking for a house. It all started when we went to get haircuts at Bayberry Hairstylists. Chris's stylist, Nina, mentioned that she had just bought a small house and only pays $400 a month for the mortgage and taxes. Until then, we weren't sure if we would even buy one this year, but we figured it was worth taking a look.

Nina gave Chris the card of Bob Allen, her Remax Realtor. We sent him an e-mail and a few days later, he had us meet with a mortgage guy from Bank of America to get an idea of our price range and how much monthly payments would be. As it turns out, we could easily find the kind of house we wanted--sort of small, not too big of a yard, but with a spacious living room--and pay less or equal to what we pay for rent now.

Sounded good to us, so we started browsing through listings that Bob sent us. We got busy for a few weeks (see Disney World posts, lol) and didn't look at any houses for a while. When things slowed down, I started going to look at a few houses with Bob while Chris worked and brought home the bacon so we could afford a house. haha The list of possible houses grew, and we started to narrow down what exactly what we wanted.

Yesterday, Bob and I dragged Chris along to go back over the 4 houses I thought Chris should see. Funnily enough, we liked houses all over the spectrum. There's a great little houses for $59,000 with an unfinished attic that could easily be turned into an enormous master suite. There was a nice one for $74,900 that needed some cleaning and a kitchen makeover (pictured above). And then there was a large 1600-square-foot home with four bedrooms and no work needed (pictured below). We decided we could see ourselves living in any of them. We were all set to go back and discuss our options when Bob sprang another one on us: a small ranch for $89,000 that just went on the market the day before. Only two bedrooms, one bath, but new roof, furnace, siding, hot water heater ... you get the picture. So we decided to swing by on our way home and see if we could get in to see it.

We pulled up to a very sweet little house in a gorgeous suburb. We realized then what all those cute little city houses we had already looked at were missing: the house was set back a bit a ways from the road, and there was so much space between it and the neighboring houses. It felt completely different than the other houses.

We were eager to take a look inside. The seller's agent was still at the house, taking pictures and getting things cleaned up. We even watched her wrangle the "For Sale" sign into the front lawn. Lucky us, Bob managed to get us in to be the first people to see the house. It was clearly built in the 1950s (Bob said it was in the second generation of houses built after WWII) and obviously decorated in the 1970s. Bright green shag carpeting, old paint on the walls, bad wallpaper, the whole package. haha

But the living room was spacious, the master bedroom bigger than many of the ones we've seen, and a large kitchen with plenty of counter space. It met just about all of our requirements. Because of the great neighborhood, we knew it wouldn't be on the market long. We circled around a few times, talked through where the furniture would go, planned out future projects like putting sliding glass doors in and a deck out back ...

We headed home to get lunch and talk things over. About an hour later ... we put in an offer on the house! We drove over to the office last night to sign the papers, and Bob was going to try to track down the seller's agent right after we left. So now we wait. (I've come full circle and am back to playing the waiting game. haha) We're hoping to hear something soon, and I'll be sure to post the news right away. Fingers crossed that we'll get it ... and that I'll be able to tear out those awful carpets easily if we do. :-P
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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Okay, I've made a decision ... I think

I talked to four professors at Syracuse University teaching in the Advertising program about what the program would offer me. I met with the president of a local advertising company to find out what he looks for when hiring someone new. I even interviewed for an advertising internship with a different ad company. And after all that, I determined that this particular program isn't exactly right for me.

As for the journalism program, I'm just not sure it's right either. I'm starting to think that I'm not going to attend either of the graduate programs at SU. While they are both excellent, prestigious programs, I just don't think the value of that education for me would be worth the price tag. If I end up going to grad school for anything, I think I would try to get accepted into a Master of Fine Arts creative writing program.

I know, I know. I've had such great luck finding a job with my undergraduate degree in creative writing, you must be wondering why I would ever consider getting another degree in an area that won't get me a job. Well, I guess my only answer would be: because I love it. Writing is my passion in life. Becoming a full-time, published writer is my dream; it's not a job, but it's a part of who I am. Any more money that I put into my education needs to be helping me get closer to my real dream, and not just a job that may or may not be an adequate fit for me.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Decisions Decisions

Life has very quickly gone from waiting for months and weeks for one thing or another to a great big avalanche of information to process and consider.

After attending the Masters Preview at Newhouse for the two graduate programs I was accepted into, I was more confused than ever about what to do. I'm unsure which--if either--program is the right fit for me. I have a meeting this afternoon to talk to some of the Advertising professors about the program. I'm just worried that I'm paying to be trained for a job I might not like, or that I could get hired now with a company and work my way up slower and learn from the actual company. It's a huge decision and I just don't feel like I have enough information.

So I decided to enlist the help and advice of some of the advertising companies in Syracuse, to get a different perspective on my situation. I've heard back from a few, and one even wants to meet with me to discuss an internship this summer! It's unpaid, but it still sounds like a really great opportunity. Now I've got to schedule meetings to talk with several advertising executives and hopefully gain a little insight on the right path for my future.

To top it all off, I just found out that I've been awarded the Dean's scholarship for whichever program I choose at Newhouse. That certainly makes the prospect of attending the Masters program a little more managable financially, but I still need to find out if it's right for me.

I guess I better come up with a list of questions to ask the Newhouse professors in a few hours.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mediterranean Food

Last night I decided to branch out a little from my usual one-dish dinners to make something a little more ambitious. I found a great recipe with Better Homes and Gardens for Vegetables, Beef and Couscous.

It turned out to be the most colorful meal I've ever made. The best part was that even Chris liked it ... well, everything but the olives. lol

I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a change of pace.