Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Loan

On our way. Today, Tim met with Emma to do the loan application package, and he brought it home for my signature(s and initials everywhere). It consists of:
  • 5-page Uniform Residential Loan Application
  • 3-pg Initial Good Faith Estimate (of loan related costs)
  • 1-pg Truth-in-Lending Disclosure (??)
  • 1-pg Certification and Authorization Disclosure
  • 2-pg 4506-T (??)
  • 2-pg Service Provider List
  • 15-pg Multi-Disclosure Document

I'm kinda bored and stressed just looking at the list. Thank goodness Tim and I know our strengths, and the money stuff is his.

Mine is daydreaming. So, yeah. I'm already furniture shopping at Threads, Etc, a resale/consignment store in Logan Square, and found a few things I want. The money guy says we have to wait to see how much our monthly costs go up once we're owners instead of renters. But I do think we need a buffet to hide our liquor. (After all, doesn't owning a home mean you're a grown up, and thus the Cuervo bottle is no longer is the focal piece in your living room?) And this one is just right.

Also, this one, for considerably less, reminded me that we can make do with just about anything.

I did fall in love with this funky green-gold chair, though. Look how it shines through from the middle of a bunch of nondescript pieces!

I've been looking at other house buying/renovation blogs, and feeling 1. relieved, that we don't have to do a gut rehab, and 2. kinda left out that we won't be doing much to make this house (if we get it) our own. And a secret 3. Totally Insecure about my sense of design and what we can do on our practically nonexistent budget. I think I'll always feel like a college freshman trying to spruce of a cinder-block dorm room, and never like a real grown up when it comes to decorating my home.

But I forget, the true thing that's important to me—making my home this warm and cozy:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Inspection day!

Today was inspection day, and Shakespeare passed with . . . I'm not sure flying colors is the exact right phrase. More like gliding pastels.

I want Tim to describe what an inspection is like, because I didn't participate in this piece of stress, but I want to share some of the sparse pictures he took. Tim says the family currently residing in the home appeared somewhat stressed to have inspection invaders in the house for 2.5 hours (and really, can you blame them, poor renters? They're about to be displaced from a very lovely home.), so he wanted to respect them by not taking many pictures. Here are a few he managed to snap at my request under pain of death.

But first: An example of the inspection. One small bit of the 34-page document. The blue is of no concern. The red are current/potential issues. If you can read the first red issue: Shakes needs a new roof! And a lot of messing with the electrics.

View to the east, of the neighbors, from the kitchen window. The picture appears hazy because there is condensation in between the window panes. This window really needs to be replaced.

This is a straight-back view of the yard. I wonder how much of a sense of space you can get in this picture? And with the snow everywhere, too.

Here's a satellite image from Google Maps to give you a birds-eye view. This block, unlike typical Chicago blocks with lot lengths of 125', has lots of 150'. This picture also shows off the fantastic sun the backyard gets in good weather. Go urban gardening!

Ok, on to the bathroom. Exciting for me, because this one--I know it appears small in the photos--is TWICE the size of our current bathroom!

Ok, now on to the kitchen. Not quite as great as our current kitchen. I know, I know, why would we buy a place that has a worse kitchen than our rental? Oh well. It's called sunlight and a PANTRY. And there's a window in the pantry! (Also needs replacement.) I want to put a beaded curtain in that open doorway. The door to the left is the backdoor.

Space for a small table. I'd like to put a low butcher block with shelving there instead, under the window, and maybe a narrow, tall bookshelf to fit between that and the open door, for spices, teas, and cookbooks.

Moving counter-clockwise from there is the fridge and stove. Whoa! Look at that light!

The tiles are a blah tan, but nothing offensive enough to replace quickly. The cabinets aren't in perfect condition, but there is a nice warmth to their color. Will go well with my idea of pumpkin orange walls with metallic gold stencils.

Now, master bedroom. Front of the house, tons of light. Views going clockwise from entrance.

This here is the closet entrance. The closet stretches the full length of that wall. All the bedrooms (3) have great closets.

So, that's it for now. It's exciting to see photos. Right now, the next step is to wait for the seller's bank to go out and appraise it. We're staying optimistic about the time frame. The seller is super motivated to unload the house, so hopefully he and his realtor will stay on the bank to hurry up and get this done. In our fantasy (and contract), we want March 29 to be our closing date!

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Excitable Boy

So I am an excitable boy. Not in the Warren Zevon sense, but more in the very passionate, never-looks-before-he-leaps sense. I'm a spaz and proud of it. I have no desire to be moderately intrigued by events or people or places. I want to fall in love with them and run around in circles and walk home 4 miles instead of taking the train because I just like how good walking feels when there's a little pep in my step and the sun is shining. I want to have something to play my harmonica about. To obsessively think about. To daydream about.

I say all this to put it into perspective for you. So when I say "I am damn excited about this house", you know that I am DAMN EXCITED about THIS house. Yeah, I've already walked all over today. I've played my harmonica, I've daydreamed . . . sheee-it, I might just bust a little bass here in a minute. This house is awesome! Let me tell you why:

1) It's exactly the right size for us. We've looked at a lot of places that have been much bigger and we've fantasized about the clean, sparse, open feel that we would cultivate in such places. However, as much as we like a clean, sparse, and open aesthetic, that is fundamentally NOT who we are. We are burrowers. Creatures of cozy contentment who ultimately prefer the reassuring embrace of snugness to the graceful openness of sparse. We are also hoarders. I have fought it for years, I always wanted to be associated with a powerful, sleek, dangerous animal like a panther or a puma, but when you get down to it, I am a squirrel. It's true. I like to climb. I like to jump. I like to scamper. And I like to hoard. I also like nuts and acorns. This house allows to both burrow and hoard. I love it.

2) The yard is HUGE! Extra-long lot, my friends. Plenty of room for vegetables, trees, lilacs, and barbecues. Oh yes, and wiffle-ball.

3) It's on Shakespeare. I just like that. And I can walk to Rosa's, one of the finest blues bars in the city of Chicago and hence, the universe. I can walk to Jon and Kirsten's place. I can walk to the Brown Sack. I can walk to the YMCA. Oh yeah.

I will post more about my earlier housing heartbreaks and the rigors of the search. I might even weigh in with a more subdued and balanced look at this possible house. But for now, I am only interested in wiffle-ball-worthy backyards and a place to finally put all 12 volumes of the OED up on the shelf in the cozy room next to the upright bass. Oh yeah.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Third time's a charm?

We put in a bid this morning on a new place. It was accepted, and we are now under contract. (Ish.) There was one point of clarification on the part of the seller, so we're resending our approval of the contract tomorrow morning. On Tuesday is the inspection, and then we wait.

And wait.

This house is a short sale, so Annie said to plan on at least 6-8 weeks (at the bare minimum) before hearing so much as a whisper from the seller's bank about it. We did put in a clause that we are allowed to back out if a month passes without word from the bank and we'd like to move on.

But hopefully that won't happen, and we can close happily on this one: a three-bedroom with gorgeous hardwood floors, a beautiful staircase, sunny kitchen, and monstrously long backyard. Superficially, it appears to be in fantastic condition. We would only want to paint before moving in, and buy a washer and dryer. Nothing else really needs to be done.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Soldiering On

I suppose the reason why you should only buy exactly the right house is because ideally, you would then never venture again through this deep trench of hell called a house hunt.

We didn't get that darling house (I'm going to call it Porches from now on). The owners accepted a bid before ours came through. It was a heart breaker for me. Even though Annie says, "don't move in until you MOVE IN," how can I help it? If I like a house enough to bid my future on it, then I want to be excited about it. And also, Tim and I are the type who do get excited about possibility, and I think to try to change that, to become more aloof to protect our hearts, well, that would be like trying to change who we are at our core.

So in the meantime, I, at least, am nursing a broken heart, but am looking on to other possibilities. Going to see two other places tomorrow; Annie already has contracts drawn up for each, in case I like them as much as Tim did yesterday.

It seems pretty odd to make a decision so quickly on a house that will affect the rest of our lives. (Or, at least the next 10 or so years.) I still have Porches on the brain, and nothing will really compare to it. (At least not for the next week or so.) So seeing others and trying to get excited about their own, individual possibility seems unrealistic, and unfair.

After losing out on several, though, I feel like we are narrowing down our Want List, which I suppose makes the search more streamlined. The first house (we call Shakespeare) sold us on specifics about backyards, and decks. The second (the Holy Kitchen), basements. Porches, well: porches. Also, the desire to punch holes in the ceiling and install windy staircases.

Immediately upon hearing the news of the Porches loss, I started this post. Wasn't much in a place to hear what people inevitably say, "Oh, that just means an even better one is right around the corner for you!" Or, even worse, "It just takes time. You'll find one." I don't really want to hear that. I want mostly some affirmation: "That sucks. A lot."

But now, a day later, I'm in a new mindset, preparing to see several new houses tomorrow, and putting in bids. Thinking about how cozy a smaller house would be, instead of how cramped. See? Soldiering on.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

First attempt

We put in a bid Thursday. This is not the first house we've loved, but the first where we were able to reach the bidding stage. Now we wait on pins and needles to hear back from the seller. No word yet, which is agonizing. How long does it usually take to hear if your bid garners interest or is soundly rejected? Annie, our intrepid realtor, thinks perhaps the seller's realtor had a family emergency or is out of the country, or something else completely unrelated to us, so we're trying to be patient.

We love it. It is so darling and perfect for us. Keep your fingers crossed, send good vibes, prayers, whatever it is you do, our way!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Some random day in October, 2009--no, not a random day; October 7, the day after Tim came home from APT and decided the best way to ease into life together again was to have a big State of the Union discussion about our future. This is the day that our lives changed.

No, not really. They only started to change. We decided we wanted to own a home someday.

This is not something we had ever thought possible, but as it turns out, the stars (and family, and the economic climate) aligned, and we figured out, just maybe, we could do it.

And thus, the search begins.

In some ways, we are quite ill-suited to finding a home together. Mostly, I have a love for the round softness of even numbers, and Tim prefers the angular sharpness of odd numbers, so we disagree on which side of the street we'd like to live; but in other ways, our interests happily collide. Sunny rooms, high porches, space for a garden, and space for lots of musical instruments. Hidden staircases, and reading nooks. A good kitchen. Deep, rich colors, and quirky design.

So far, it has been quite disheartening. We've loved and lost interesting homes, can't afford the area of the neighborhood we really like, nor much past "needs work" and "needs a lot of work." The latter isn't too bad, actually. Since I grew up in various stages of home construction, it seems pretty normal to me, and I'd kinda like to create my own home.

But we'll get to that.



So far it's just been pretty stressful trying to get to the point of putting in a bid. Not sure what will happen after that, if it's been so stressful already.