Thursday, July 7, 2016

You Need To Look Elsewhere...

"It just doesn't seem like a winning endeavor for you to buy something in this area."

"You need to broaden your scope."

"Really, you need to look elsewhere. I mean, people commute all the time."

"Have you thought about looking in the Central Valley? My friend just bought a house in Manteca for under $300K."

"Have you considered Hollister or Los Banos? The commute can't be that bad...?"

Have you considered that you probably need to SHUT. THE. F*CK. UP?!

I can't tell you HOW. MANY. TIMES. people told us how ridiculous it was that we were damn near killing ourselves trying to buy SOMETHING in San Jose.

In the beginning, it didn't matter that we were looking at Townhomes. Then we learned there were a ton of struggles with HOA's not accepting the type of loan for which we were approved. So we asked our AMAZING Real Estate Agent, Mary, to include houses, even if they were small, even if they only had one toilet, even if they were 90 years old, even if they needed a little extra lovin.

And so, our search began. Our deadline was drawing closer, as our lease would be up on August 31st. I was growing pretty fearful that we would have to renew and stay in our current apartment. We learned one very important thing during our search: you have to move quickly. Like lightning. Because if you don't, you won't stand a chance.

So here's the story of Lucille. Our 90 year old house, whose keys will get dropped into our eager hands on Friday, July 15th.

On Monday June 13th, I was showing my mom a house that I really like that was on our MLS listing. While browsing the list (let me be clear, there were only 8 houses on the list, and a whole 3 of them seemed habitable...) I noticed there was a new listing, but there was no image. The next day, I logged on to email my agent, and saw that the house I was going to ask about had been moved from active to pending. SHIT! We missed our chance... So instead, I asked about that new listing, the one with no image. The one that sat on a large lot, with only 2 bedrooms and just 1 bathroom.

There was another home that had been listed, in a decent, not good, not bad area, that needed a LOT of work, but that was MUCH cheaper. We met Mary there on Tuesday evening. We learned it wasn't structurally sound, so we walked away. She encouraged us to drive by the house with no image. Check out the neighborhood, and see what the outside looked like.

So we did, and for the next 5 days, I begged her for an appointment to see the house. A "For Sale" sign had not been posted, and there were still workers in the house, but I didn't care. I had to see it.

A full week later, on Tuesday June 21st, we met Mary on North 31st Street at 6pm. I wandered around the small house, and felt like Gramps had done work there, and he was showing it off to us. I stood in the dining room, looked at Frank and Mary and said, "I want it!" That evening, Frank and I discussed what we would offer, and we came to an amicable decision.

Now, let me tell you, I did NOT feel good about this. I loved the house so much, and even though I knew it needed work, I wanted her. I would have done ANYTHING to buy this house. But, I knew there were open houses scheduled for the weekend. And I was 99% sure that someone was going to come in with cash and offer $60K over asking, and our tiny little offer would get washed out.

Wednesday morning, before I'd had a chance to email her, Mary called me. She let me know the seller was anxious to be out, and they had moved the offer deadline. The original deadline was the following Wednesday at noon. Now the deadline was THAT SAME DAY, at noon!

We were ready! Mary completed the paper work, I wrote a letter about us, and at 12:02, our offer was submitted.

At 1:47pm Mary called to let me know our offer had, in fact, been accepted! I didn't know how to react, so I think I almost cried, and threw up, all at once. The house I wanted to much, but was so sure wouldn't become ours, was now more firmly in our grasp.

We went back in to view the house on Thursday June 23rd. As fortune would have it, the seller was there. He was very kind and forthcoming. He detailed the work he'd done, told us the history of how he bought the house, and stood in the driveway talking to Frank for nearly an hour.

On Friday June 24th, I wire transferred half of the money we'd spent the last 4 years saving for the Earnest Money Deposit. I nearly passed out, cried, threw up, and shat my pants...

The following week was a roller coaster with meetings, inspections, and appraisals. The 4th of July came and went, and all I could think about was the idea that we might actually be buying a house. On Tuesday July 5th we met with Mary to remove most of the contingencies.

On Wednesday July 6th, we would learn that the house appraised for more than we offered, and our loan could be funded. We removed the remained of contingencies and entered into escrow. On Thursday July 7th, we learned that we would close on July 15th, just 23 days after our offer had been accepted.

Lucille is old. She's got a lot of termites, her backyard is a shitshow, she doesn't have a proper ventilation system, and she'll need a new roof in a few years. But her walls are a lovely dove grey, she looks like something Gramps would have built, and she reminds me of my childhood home. From the moment I walked through her front door, I SAW US living in her.

Ok, but why is her name Lucille? Ever hear me reference Grandma Lu? Her name was Lucille. She was the source of all my comforts when I was a child. I miss her every. single. day. And since this house seems like something Gramps would have built for Grandma Lu, it seemed only fitting...

Here's the truth: We sought a house in San Jose because THIS is where we live. THIS is where we work.THIS is where our families live. THIS is our home.

And so, we bought a house HERE. Not elsewhere.

Oh, and by the way, our new address is: 259 N 31st Street, San Jose, California 95116.
Say it out loud. It flows off your tongue. And it's almost ours...


Friday, July 1, 2016

We Bought A Zoo...

We Bought A Zoo... Well, not really. In reality, we bought a house. But, there is enough land for me to have chickens, and a goat, and a dog, and maybe a turkey. So we may as well have bought a Zoo. Albeit a petting zoo, but a zoo, nonetheless.

Yup. I said it. We. Bought. A. House.

Except that we haven't. YET.

I guess I should say We. Are. Buying. A. House.

Did you know, that in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, home prices are nearly TRIPLE what they are in similar climates across the nation?

Did you know that the average number of days a house in the San Francisco Bay Area stays on the market is LESS THAN 10?

Did you know that this is a SELLERS market? Because crazy ass people like me and Frank are more than willing to "play the game" and offer obscene amounts of money OVER the list price because, we, like most other married couples in their 30's, are crazy, and want to be property owners.

Did you know that Flood Insurance can ONLY be purchased through FEMA? And you LITERALLY have to jump through hoops to get it? But also, that you can't actually finish purchasing your home UNTIL you have valid proof of Flood Insurance?

Did you know that houses, yes, HOUSES - not townhouses, can be purchased in the San Francisco Bay Area for LESS than $530k? The house might be 90 years old, and need quite a bit of work. But at least it has walls, and a floor, and isn't falling down!

Did you know that Frank and I are crazy? Because we are. Because we are buying a house.

Do you remember when I may or may not have told you that planning a wedding was probably the most stressful and nerve wracking thing I'd ever done in my life, up to that point? Well maybe that was true, UP TO THAT POINT in my life. Up to THIS point in my life, trying to buy a house has been the most nerve wracking thing ever.

And now I'm pretty sure you're reading this saying, SHUT. UP. LAUREN! Tell us about the house/petting zoo you're trying to buy!

Here are a few details of the house we're buying:

- It's located in the "Little Portugal" area of San Jose, CA.
- It is, in fact, 90 years old.
- If all goes as planned, we will close escrow by July 20th
- The garage looks like it might fall down if it rains too hard (I verified with the inspector that this WILL NOT ACTUALLY happen.)
- It has 2 bedrooms and one bathroom - which means there is only ONE toilet
- It has a newly remodeled kitchen (sans dishwasher*) and newly remodeled bathroom
- The texture used on the plaster in the living room and dining room is called "Italian Swirl" (Apparently, there aren't any plaster/stucco workers left in the area that know how to create said texture.)
- When I walked in for the first time, I felt like I was walking into a home Grandpa had done work in, and he was bringing me there to show it off.
- The property is located in a Flood Zone - and apparently, acquiring a quote for flood insurance is an exercise in futility, because every time I think I've supplied what they're asking for, they ask for something additional.
- There's a "Bonus Room" / Screened In Patio in which we will host parties, family dinners, and probably Christmas.
- The walls in the living room, dining room, bedrooms, and bathroom are a lovely dove grey. And my inner interior designer can't wait to bargain shop herself into oblivion buying accessories and throw pillows and window coverings and wall hangings and themed table runners and new Christmas decorations and a wreath for EVERYTHING!

Monday will mark this Nation's 240th birthday. To further demonstrate just how free we really are, Frank and I have exercised the ULTIMATE display of Freedom and Independence...

We bought a zoo, err, a house, err, we ARE buying a house.


Since my new house doesn't have a dishwasher, if you'd like to purchase a house warming present, we'll accept Costco sized bags of paper plates, plastic cutlery, and red party cups ;)