Monday, July 11, 2011


Here's my confession: I've never bought a house. I've lived in one, sure. Well, most of the time. Occasionally I was allowed to come in from my regular quarters in the barn, but that's not the same as owning one, right?

Well, I'm about to. Maybe. And it's here on my widely-read and well-respected blog that I'm going to describe the steps that I have taken/will have taken/might have took in excruciating detail.

Some day, gentle reader, you may wish to purchase your own house, and I am here to tell you: sounds like a good idea to me!

And it's EXACTLY that kind of mushy thinking that has led me to this point. Earlier this year, my wife Naomi and I started talking about buying a place. Since we moved down to Florida we've been living in multi-level dwellings - first an apartment building and now a nice condo - and the experience has had its ups and downs. I'm getting tired of hearing the people upstairs and knowing that I am heard by the people downstairs (they came upstairs to tell us so one night, much in the same way I had to go to the people upstairs and let them know that they were being heard by us, the people downstairs [but not as downstairs as the people downstairs from us]). Our rent is not cheap and has gone up each year since we moved in a few years ago. And so our logic went: What if - if, mind you - we stopped paying rent to someone and got a mortgage? And to go with that fancy new mortgage, we got a shiny new house?

Ok, we didn't use adjectives like "fancy" and "shiny" and "new." But we did use professional-grade words like "mortgage," "house" and "got."

And so we devised a cunning scheme: to start thinking about neighborhoods we liked, and started looking online to get an idea of what the market was like. House prices have been falling, and we figured they could fall still further. Someone (I forget who) gave us some advice, though: Don't wait for the market to bottom out completely, as that's when the 'sharks' come out and start snapping up the really cheap places that are halfway decent, leaving behind only the cheapest fixer-uppers. And so we started looking in earnest, even going so far as to contacting a real estate agent.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am compelled to say that Naomi did most of the legwork, in terms of researching neighborhoods, initiating contact with the Realtor, picking out houses for us to view, and so on. My part was to nod sagely when anyone spoke to me in public and to avoid drooling on the carpeting of any house we went to look at. And we did look at a couple of houses. Our agent humored us and took us out to see three or four prospective abodes and then encouraged us most emphatically to get pre-approved for a mortgage. None of the houses we saw really tickled out fancy nor floated our respective boats, by the way, but it was a tantalizing start, and anyway, we're generally nosy and house-hunting is a GREAT way of indulging that.

Now, paperwork -- that I can do. And so I assembled tax statements, records of earnings, histories of employment, declarations of savings, assertions of liabilities, and proclamations of past housing and submitted them for scrutiny. A day later, we received notice that we had been pre-approved for a great deal more than we are worth (both in a moral and financial sense) and we instantly agreed that we were not going to seek a house in that range ($400K, if you must know. Now who's being nosy?)

Needless to say, our Realtor was delighted. And so she sent us leads and researched properties that we (i.e. my wife) had sent her. We decided that we wanted to stay here in mid- to mideast southern Boca, so that narrowed our search. And we didn't want an HOA fee, as those can rise unexpectedly. And so our choices were further limited. We needed a three bedroom, or at least a two and a den -- just someplace to put the computers and our musical gear.

And then Naomi noticed a house online. She showed it to me, and I didn't care for it much. Something about the floors, they just didn't look right. Right neighborhood, sure. The price was in alignment with what we felt we could handle, mortgage-wise. But the floors, the floors ... I was unimpressed, and told my wife so. She didn't pay me any mind OF COURSE, and let Lorri (our agent) know that "we" were interested in viewing it.

And so two Saturdays ago we went out and looked at a few houses, including the one mentioned above. I refrained from rolling my eyes too much as we pulled up to it although even I had to admit that, from the outside, it looked a lot nicer than the photos would have led me to believe.

To be continued ...


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