Tag Archives: AstroNerdBoy Buys a House

AstroNerdBoy: Home Owner 02

It has been another busy week for me. Monday, I went to Lowes and picked up a new Schlage door knob/deadbolt set for installation. Mr. Disney met me at the condo and he brought his mother along to check out the washer/dryer set I’m selling. She approved, so he’ll be getting it next Monday.

Anyway, after they left, it was time to do my first house project. After I removed the old deadbolt, I discovered that the fixtures had rounded corners and my new deadbolt has square corners on the fixture. That meant that my new deadbolt and door knob wouldn’t fit.

Nice.

So, the old deadbolt was put back in place and I went back to Lowes to find rounded-cornered fixtures. Unfortunately, Lowes no longer sold those for Schlage so that left me with one other choice — buy a chisel. I returned home and chiseled out some wood to make everything work for the new door knob and deadbolt. It wasn’t difficult but it did make the project more interesting and in the end, a sweeter feeling for me upon completion of the project.

I returned to my apartment and called the HOA about getting my satellite dish installed, only to run into a bring wall. My unit faces north and the dish needs a clear view south. That means that the only place to install the dish is on the roof. The manager of my complex HOA, “Mr. Helpful,” immediately rejected the notion of installing a dish on the roof.

“Why?” I asked.

“It’ll put holes in the roof,” was the answer.

“What about the other dishes installed on the roofs of other buildings?” I countered.

“Oh,” he replied. “I guess we need to drive through the complex and have everyone with a dish on the roof to remove them.”

The “it put hole in roof” argument was a non-goer with me. After all, I got into DirecTV because an apartment complex I lived in had dishes installed on the roof of every building because there was no cable service to this new complex. There were no roofing problems because of it. Further, I’ve seen many homes with dishes on the roof and no problems there either. I mentioned this all to Mr. Helpful.

“Well, it would be troublesome to have them on the roof if we wanted to put new shingles up,” he stated. What a complete crock.

Mr. Helpful helpfully suggested I go to the HOA’s website and put in a request for having dishes on the roofs of the buildings. So I went, but the website denied my registration because the HOA has not received official notification from the title company about the sale. The HOA’s webmaster who informed me of this via e-mail, suggested that I call my HOA manager to get something done. I wrote back to explain that I’d already done this and he sent me to the website, thus my attempts to get a dish installed had run aground.

Mr. Helpful then responded, telling me to send them a diagram of the installation and telling me that the wires for the dish should be hidden. So I called DirecTV and they were gracious enough to schedule a visit to my condo to show me how they’d do things so I could get it to the HOA.

That out of the way, I stopped by Best Buy to purchase the new fridge for a Monday delivery. Then it was a call to the former ZeroRez outlet to have an estimate on what it will cost to get my air ducts cleaned and a call to a cleaning company to get a move-in clean done, to include the windows.

Whew!

This upcoming Monday is going to be a busy one, but my new home is slowly becoming “mine” as it were so that by the time I move in, the transformation will be complete. ^_^

AstroNerdBoy: Home Owner 01

Well, ’tis done. I now own my own place for the first time in my life (not counting the mobile home I owned oh so many moons ago, which isn’t seen as a real home by the lenders and everyone else). I met Mr. Ra at 10:00 on Friday, extremely tired from a serious lack of sleep, but happy. He had a flowering plant as a house warming gift, which was cool (though it didn’t come with a plastic tab so I’ve had clue what it was but have recently learned that it is a tulip). We entered the seller’s real estate office and made our way to the conference room. I met Mr. Seller, who was a 58-year old man. What surprised me was that he didn’t live in the home, but had purchased it for his son, who was going to college. I look forward to being that rich, y’all. ^_~

We sat down with two others from the seller’s agency and started the task of signing documents, documents, and more documents. This went on for a little while, with the occasional small talk here and there when the lady running the show asked for the certified funds to cover closing costs. Mr. Seller handed over the certified bank check and I said that my bank should have wired the funds over.

“Oh,” she said, “I was unaware of that.” She then had someone check, and the title company comes back and says that no funds have been wired today.

Nice. I was not happy as I’d been assured by my bank that this would be taken care of. The lady said not to worry and so we pressed on with all the signings. It took an hour to sign everything, at which point I inquired about the status of those funds. So, the lady took off. Ten minutes or so later, she returned with news. The funds had been wired and so all was well. I asked what the problem had been. Apparently, the title company only looked for transfers on the current day and didn’t bother to check for funds wired the day before. Nice.

Everything done, I thanked Mr. Ra for his work and then decided to visit my condo…MY condo. I had pulled my old, HQ microwave from my parents home (whom I’d lent it to until they got one of those cool hood microwaves) since my condo only has a standard hood over the stove and dropped it off at the condo. I decided to walk around the place for a few minutes, taking in things because this was all mine. I’m not sure why, but I peeked into the refrigerator and discovered a problem that hadn’t been there during the inspection — water leaking from the freezer into the fridge below.

Nice. Since I was planning on scoring a new fridge anyway, I decided I’ll get one before I move in.

Returning home, I made calls to get electricity and gas activated immediately at the condo. I scheduled cutover service for the phone, DSL, and satellite. Sears called me about the dishwasher I ordered, and I scheduled a delivery for that. It was then that I discovered, to my horror, that the paperwork I took out of Sears when I purchased the dishwasher was no where to be found. I have no idea what became of it. ^_^;;;

Monday, “Disney” is coming by to purchase the washer and dryer that came with the condo since I’m keeping the ones I currently have. I’ll be picking up a new door knob and deadbolt to get that changed. I’ll also order that fridge, since the one I want is coming in at one store for $1000, anywhere from $200 to $500 cheaper than anywhere else.

As those of you who’ve made a first home purchase before, its an exciting time for me. However, considering how busy this week has been, I’m seriously looking forward to some major sleep.

Operation AstroNerdBoy Buys a House 10

This will be my final “Buys a House” entry because after tomorrow, I’ll own a house. ^_^

So, what’s been happening? Tuesday, I decided on which dishwasher to purchase. The one in my condo is pretty cheap and I wanted something nice. I narrowed the choices down the a Kenmore 4-cycle model that was on sale for $399 and a similar model from Whirlpool, also on sale for $399. I went with the Whirlpool because the “basket” that holds forks, knives, spoons and stuff is in the door rather than taking bottom tray space. In the end, another $50 got knocked off at the register, but then since there are charges to take out the old dishwasher and install the new one (I could do it myself, but I’m opting for speed over costs here since it would take me a lot longer to install it myself, having never done so before). That should get delivered Monday.

Wednesday, Mr. Ra called me just before I went to bed that morning to express some concerns about what the status of the HUD statement is from the lender. So, I end up calling the bank and find out the title company is dragging their heels to get the final corrections on the HUD document complete. Nice. The bank promised to put some more pressure on the title company, which I relayed to Mr. Ra. I also made sure the bank would wire my closing costs (or rather the remainder of said costs since the $1500 I paid in earnest money were applied to the closing costs) to the title company’s escrow account. By the time all was said and done, it was noon and so I only managed 4-hours of sleep.

Today (Thursday), I had to do a final walk-through of the place. Looking at what will soon be my place, I immediately thought of how I immediately need to schedule a cleaning crew to come through and give it a good once over. Its not that the place is trashed, but it is a little dirty and the windows are just terrible. While I could clean this myself, I’m again opting for time over costs. I also need to schedule Zerorez to come by to give the air ducts a good cleaning. They’ve apparently never been cleaned as there was residue from when the condo was built. The carpets are pretty new, so I don’t know that I’d have them touch those.

Anyway, but the time I did everything today, it was again noon and only 4.5 hours of sleep. So I’m pretty tired at the moment. I have my close tomorrow morning so it’s going to be another long one tomorrow night, though my boss is allowing me to come in late. Yay!

I’ll post on the close as part of the “Owns a House” series. ^_^

Operation AstroNerdBoy Buys a House 09

Last Friday, Mr. Ra sent me an e-mail with the seller’s response to the inspection, basically agreeing to fix the kitchen facet, the light above the kitchen sink, and the electrical situation in the spare bedroom. I’m not sure when these things will be fixed (I need to check on that) but that’s pretty good news.

Mr. Ra had also asked me to do a check in with the bank about the status of the loan. So I sent an e-mail to ask for a status. To be honest, I figured that it would be late this week or early next before we heard anything back. However, since he e-mailed me on Monday with a time proposal on when to do the actual close, he again mentioned the bank situation.

So, I call the bank and left a message. They returned my call sometime later to tell me that the VA Certificate came through with no problems and that the VA apprasal also came through with no problems. As such, my loan is cleared. All that remains is for the bank to check with the HOA to see exactly what their insurance covers for the loan. I too need to know this so I can contact my own insurance agent and get that squared away.

Bottom line is that the final step will be the actual close, at which time I’ll sign a ton of papers and will then be the proud (sudo) owner of my own residence. From there, the next phase will begin, which will be exciting, scary, and expensive.

Operation AstroNerdBoy Buys a House 08

Another long day in the can. It snowed a couple of inches last night, so I was delayed in getting out on the road. No point fighting with people going to work on slick roads. Still, I made it to the LookingSprings by 11:30 (about 2-hours). I had expected the El Paso County Records office to have no parking in front of its building since the building is downtown. As such, I parked a few blocks away at the first place I found. However, when I walked down to the Records building, there was plenty of empty metered spaces. *lol*

Since it was so “quiet” at the Records department, I was able to get right to the archives section. Since I already had the book and page numbers for my DD-214, the lady just went to a small-drawer file cabinet, pulled out a small box, extracted a microfiche, and was off to the computerized microfiche reader. A few minutes later, she had copies of my DD-214 (the Member 1 and Member 4 copy) and notarized them. I remember back in 1992 when I filed these, it took forever to get copies out of the archive. Clearly, technology has advanced. ^_~

A trip over to the bank had me meet up with my loan officer and the assistant working on my loan. I did all the paperwork they required before heading to Wal Mart, purchasing a Shamrock for my sick mother, paying her a visit, and returning home. I timed the trip from my job to my future residence. It will take roughly 15-minutes for me to get home vs. the current 6 to 7-minutes it currently takes. That’s fine. Having my own place is worth it. ^_^

Operation AstroNerdBoy Buys a House 07

OK, here’s the latest. The contract was accepted, thus beginning the next phase of the house purchasing process. That has meant quite a bit of paperwork to be e-mailed to me, signed, and faxed back to various parties.

Today, I had the inspection by the man Mr. Ra recommended — Bob. I met Bob at 08:30 this morning (Monday) and we started going over stuff. I got to tell you, Bob, who’s age is unknown to me, but I’d say he’s in his 50’s, knew his stuff. I don’t care what question I answered, Bob had answers and I was amazed. Outside, Bob found some issues (and I may post some pictures down the road when I have a bit more time) where the patio had settled, thus the privacy wall was pulling away from the building. Further, the front stoop was doing the same thing. He showed me signs where the HOA (Home Owners Association) had “mud jacked” the slab, but clearly this had not solved the problem. Clearly, it is something the HOA knows about, but doesn’t want to really fix, which according to Bob would be to just take out the concrete and pour a new slab. They wanted to go cheap apparently and by now, will likely have spent as much doing this nickel-and-dime crap as they would have just fixing it right from the start.

Inside there weren’t any real issues. The kitchen sink has a leak, which isn’t good. While he was explaining some things to me and Mr. Ra in the basement, we heard a loud crash upstairs, and so returned to the first floor to find a light fixture glob over the kitchen sink had fallen off. Nice. The air ducts were pretty filthy, so I’m likely going to have those professionally cleaned before I move in. The dishwasher is as cheap as they come, but it works (how well is to be determined) so that’s on my list of early replacements. However, installing an over-the-stove microwave comes first.

Bob thought the place was pretty nice and all that’s left is to wait the results of the radon test, which will come in Wednesday morning. The place will still get another inspection, this time from the VA so we’ll see how that goes.

Speaking of the VA, I have to drive to Colorado Springs now to get a copy of my DD-214 out of archive since I couldn’t find my last spare copy. Then I’ll head over to my bank to sign a ton of papers that they apparently cannot e-mail to me, while handing them a copy of my DD-214. Then hopefully in 2-3-weeks, I’ll have my loan squared away with the VA. Whew. Lord willing, that will all go well.

While I hate moving, I love my new place and am eager to get moved in, assuming everything goes according to plan.

Operation AstroNerdBoy Buys a House 06

Well, Mr. Ra put in the offer, we got the counter-offer back, and I’ve accepted it. Now we are simply waiting on the owner to send in the signed contracts as I’ve given Mr. Ra the $1500 in earnest money.

Which takes me to my next point — fees. Sheeze, there’s a right racket when it comes to fees and home purchases. $300 here, $200 there, $150 over yonder. I figure by the time all is said and done, I’ll have $6000 in fees (with $2500 of that coming from breaking my lease). Man, that’s just nuts.

Operation AstroNerdBoy Buys a House 05

Things are moving ahead pretty quickly. Mr. Ra asked me if I’d be interested in re-looking at my favorite places still on the market before my next weekend. While I was not enthused about having to do a lot of stuff during the day and then have to pull a 12-hour shift at work, the fact that so many properties I’ve looked at are now under contract made me decide to suck it up.

We returned to “Dense Complex” and we returned to “Open Space” which I had images for in my previous blog entry. “Dense Complex” was a concern do to the larger numbers of people combined with more competition if I want to put the place on the market myself at some point. However, both Mr. Ra’s and my concerns about that were alleviated. The building is at one end of the complex and there’s not the crowding issue there. Plus, the other side of the building is such that it won’t be developed with its wetlands.

Inside, I saw what I’d seen before, only now I saw this 1790 square feet place with one word constantly showing up — functionality. There’s no issue with my entertainment center in the living room. The dining room in nice and spacey. The kitchen is pretty large, and certainly would easily allow me to prepare complex dishes whereas other places I’ve looked at (and even my current apartment) has only a tiny kitchen. The only negatives with the kitchen are easily remedied, namely an entire kitchen appliance package. Since the building was constructed in 2000, the appliances aren’t that old, but they are rather cheap. Plus, I want a microwave over the stove.

The basement layout, while unfinished, allow for more options in my opinion, so that was a plus.

The upstairs had a large master bedroom and the 2nd bedroom is nice sized, which would be my office. The fact that there are two full baths upstairs and a half-bath on the 1st floor was a plus, not that I needed 2.5 baths, but in a resale, that’s a plus. And it had a garage.

I was pretty sure that this was the place I wanted, and considering it is $5000 cheaper than “Open Space,” that is also a plus.

Still, going to “Open Space” was what kicked it for me as I thought that “Open Space” was a clear example of style over substance. It looks great but when it comes to being a functional place to live, it failed.

So I told Mr. Ra that in light of so many places under $150K being snapped up, that I wanted to put in a bid. So he’s just sent me the contract and I’ll get that signed and sent back to him to have (along with a scan of the check for my earnest money) for him to have in the morning to present to the agent of the seller. We’ll see what happens as we put in a lower bid than the asking price and expect to get something in the middle or a bit more.

Needless to say, I’m nervous and yet excited. In fact, despite having little sleep, I’m riding on an emotional high at the moment and am wide awake. I imagine the crash will be big in the morning though. *lol*

Operation AstroNerdBoy Buys a House 04

It was another tiring day of looking at places and hearing about how the lower-priced places are going to be snapped up fast. Next week, I’m going to have to remember to bring my cooler with a drink. I think I got a bit dehydrated today. Anyway, it was a rough start because I didn’t see my Realtor Mr. Ra at the first property we were to meet at and when I went to call him, his cell phone was no longer in service. Nice. He didn’t realize that had happened apparently. However, from there on, the day went pretty smoothly.

One thing I’m amazed by is how some builders clearly chose style over functionality. There’s one place that I like for the most part, but it has a wasted wall, seen partially here on the left (sorry about the brightness — I had the ISO set too high).

What you don’t see (because I forgot to take the head-on shot apparently) is the little cubby-hole for ~36″ TV, which is on the left side of the fire place. Above that and the fireplace is a giant, empty space. Across from the fireplace is the dining area (the right side of the picture, beyond which is the small kitchen).

I mention this because I have this really cool and expensive entertainment center, that when together is roughly 8-feet long. In this house, I’d have no great place to put it until the unfinished basement was finished off. So, if I buy this place, for now I’m thinking the entertainment center would go long-ways where you see “holes” where a couch once was. While that would unfortunately block some of the excellent light into the living room, that’s the only solution I could come up with. Mr. Ra suggested maybe putting it in the dining room area, but that was a non-goer for me.

The wall with the fireplace and cubby-hole are a complete waste of space as far as I’m concerned. Anyway, I’ve seen a number of these townhome-style condos in our looks as apparently the builder went nuts and just built tons of them. However, they don’t stay on the market very long, which is what Mr. Ra reminds me.

I looked at a number of other properties today though (I took the above pictures because I wanted to make sure in my mind that the Entertainment Center would be OK where I envisioned it). There was one that had a more practical floor plan, a real kitchen (rather than the tiny thing at the first place where I took the pictures), and looked pretty good on the inside. However, Mr. Ra noted how dense the neighborhood was and how many properties were for sale there, thus making it, in his mind, not so attractive even though the price was the same and it was a bit bigger.

He showed me to another one in that same complex, this time for ~$9000 cheaper. Apparently, some renters had just been evicted and it was being dumped on the market “as is.” It had a finished basement where a den and 3rd bedroom had been made as well as a 3rd full bath. However, one had to step over mounds of filth and abandoned stuff to see the place. It was in horrible condition. Were I to take it (and there’s no guarantee that the mortgage holders would go for the cheaper price asked by the Realtor trying to unload it), I’d be paying at least $300 to get the thing cleaned out (I really wish I’d taken pictures because it was a nightmare), then another $2000 to get the carpets replaced (that’s just guesstimates). Then I’d have to buy closet doors because apparently While the location of this property was at one end of it, thus removing some of the crowded feelings my Realtor had concerns over, the giant lot across the way from where my master bedroom would be facing was about to have stuff built there. So it would be noisy for a while.

I eliminated a few places I saw last week by going through them again this week. One had really looked sweet last week, mainly because the lady of the house is an excellent decorator. However, this week I came with an eye for practicality and saw many problems space-wise and with storage. So despite the fact that they dropped the price about $2500, its off the list.

Another place of note this week was a 1050 square foot 1-bedroom condo. Yeah, 1050 square feet for a 1-bedroom place. That’s bigger than my 950 sq ft, 2-bedroom place I rent now. Mr. Ra wasn’t sure I’d want to see it and had a few concerns as it was a brand-new 2006 condo, but I said what the heck. When he said “brand new,” I didn’t realize he meant, “never lived in.” If I wasn’t so keen on having an office, it might have had some consideration. For starters, it had a proper kitchen, and is the ONLY place for sale that I’ve seen with a proper pantry. Being an upstairs unit, it was similar to my place in Denver, only much, much larger as the access to the condo was on the ground floor, and the stairs up were in my unit.

The bedroom was huge and I could have worked the desk in there two-ways, though I would have purchased a divider of sorts to section off the area where my desk was (which is a corner unit, each side being 6′ long). The bathroom was the biggest bathroom I’ve ever seen in my life. You walk into this thing from either the bedroom or from a door catty-corner to the bedroom door. You had this nice, ultra-fancy sink, with a fancy toilet. Then you had a shower with fancy glass. Then you made your way to this giant tub that would make the Japanese proud, which looked like it could be set up as a hot tub. To the left of that was a humongous, walk-in closet.

That was all well and good. The $155,000 price tag wasn’t. A rep from the building company for this property came by, much to Mr. Ra’s annoyance. I’d just been inspecting the kitchen before he showed up and there had been three very loud bangs from the floor, which didn’t sound good at all. Mr. Rep blew them off as “settling” since no one has ever lived in this unit to help it settle. Remember, it was built in 2006. Anyway, Mr. Rep was pretty desperate to unload the place. He didn’t even blink and talked of knocking $10,000 off the price, throwing in a free (high quality) washer and dryer as well as a free (again HQ) fridge to get me into this property. I told Mr. Ra later that if they knocked it down to $125,000 (or less) and did all that other stuff, I could make it work and would live with the cheaply built deck. Mr. Ra didn’t think that would happen. Man, if these guys couldn’t unload it in at least 1.5 years, I can only imagine the nightmare if I ever wanted to sell it.

The other places weren’t anything special, so I won’t bore you with details about them. Its still scary to me when I think of actually buying a place. I guess that’s understandable, considering this is my first place.

Operation AstroNerdBoy Buys a House 03

Whew! What a day. I looked a quite a few places today. All were condos, but some were called “townhome-styled condos.” I didn’t realize there was such a thing but there you go. I guess I should start at the beginning though. I met “Mr. Ra” (my Realtor) and we discussed things, including when my lease will be over. I guess it is better to grab something now rather than later when more people will be in the market.

The first place we went to was a non-goer because it was right off a busy street. It didn’t have a central air conditioner (or any other for that matter), which is something I really want. I didn’t like the cramped feel of the place, and considering the condo was empty, that’s saying something (despite it having two stories and a finished basement.

The next place we visited was a place I’d seen online and had liked what I’d seen there. Indeed, the place, 2-stories and an unfinished basement, was just as bright, airy, and spacious as I’d seen in the pictures. However, there were some flaws. The kitchen was small, had little storage area, and no pantry. The living room, while nice looking, had no place to put my large, HQ entertainment center. Apparently, but builders felt people would never own a wide-screen TV and so only had a small “cubby hole” for a TV no larger than 32″. Next to that was a large gas fireplace and above that was a lot of wasted space. Mr. Ra wondered if I could put my entertainment center up there. Not happening, sir. So, I made a note to measure my entertainment center (and snap some shots of it for my Realtor) as it is possible that the it could be placed somewhere else.

Downstairs was the unfinished basement, which had an incredible number of dead spiders piled in the corners. It was set up to put in a full bath if I wanted (or a 3/4 bath). It could be turned into another bedroom (which is how another place I looked at did) or an entertainment room. That’s an idea I like. I could put the entertainment center down there, but I don’t want it down there until it is finished. But if it did become a den of sorts, I could see myself buying that “Big Guns” pinball machine game. ^_^

Upstairs were two bedrooms and a large bathroom. I’d make the small bedroom and office, but the busy road outside the window was a negative for sure.

I saw a few other places with the identical floor plan. As I said earlier, one had a mostly-finished basement turned into a bedroom. I could make that an entertainment room but they’d not finished the bathroom and used it as a dumping ground. And the laundry area was a disaster as well and would need some work. But, it could be done. The other places were empty, but the last one of that floor plan, though empty, was a filthy mess. I told Mr. Ra that I wouldn’t buy this house on principle alone. Seriously, I can understand not wanting to clean the place when you leave, but pay a cleaning service to come through and make it presentable. *shudder*

The only other place to catch my eye was a 2006-built condo on the first floor. It was 1100 square feet and pretty nice, even if smaller in total floor space than the other places I’d looked at. There were no obvious issues inside the place, but I was concerned about the possibility of people living above me. If the place isn’t built right, it could be a nightmare with people moving around and doing things. Transversely, it is possible that I *could* make noise that would disturb them. I’m going to try to find out more if I can make contact directly with the owner, or with others in the complex.

Needless to say, after only half a day of looking, followed by running some errands, I’m pretty pooped (add to this that I was sick Saturday night/Sunday). Still, it was a good day I’d say. We’ll do this again next week.