Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our first house hunting trip was a TRIP!

Some of you have asked how the house hunting is going. I thought I would show you how great it is! After going to see about 15 houses in one day this past weekend with our REALTOR we have found two really great options. These are not for sure houses we are going to bid on but they are houses that give us a lot of hope and direction. We were worried we would not be able to find anything in our price range and in the area we liked. Turns out we are in great shape really!

First we have a house in a great neighborhood in central Austin: http://austinhomesearch.com/Search/Details.aspx?li=283703&or=1&cp=1

This house, we would knock down the wall in the living room to open it up but pretty much everything else is totally perfect! The kitchen is a dream! We love the location, the walkablity to things we like and it is a great investment. It is really the perfect neighborhood for Mr. A and I as it is less than 5 minutes walk to bars, restaurants and best of all the Alamo Draft House! Our commutes to work would only be about 15 minutes.

Secondly this house is also in a pretty good neighborhood but a bit further out of Austin. For those of you who don't live in Austin it is about three exits north on the same highway as the first house: http://austinhomesearch.com/Search/Details.aspx?li=279845&or=1&cp=1

It is actually really close to where we live now, right by the Domain. The area is a bit more transitional and petty crime is higher in this area than the first house. BUT this house has potential of gaining a lot of equity because it is right by a lot of new development. Also it is much much much bigger and Mr. A and I would not have to change ANYTHING about this house. It is exactly what he and I would have picked. We would just have to hold on to this house a bit longer to make money on it.

So there you have it, the two that are in the running as of now. For now we are going to look at the neighborhoods we like, get to know the areas, and see if other listings come up as the month rolls along. The great thing is we are not in a rush!

Let me know if you have any thoughts!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This is growing in my office...

The official Obama Chia pet. it was a gift from a great friend. What do you think? I think it is hilarious!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

But I feel I really need granite countertops.... No?

Want vs. Need is a huge factor in home buying. You have to analyze every house for what it would offer you and what you can “settle” for and what you cannot. Mr. A and I gave each other the assignment to make a list of wants and needs for the house hunt. We have a meeting with our REALTOR tonight so we want to be able to help her in the hunt for the perfect house. 

We are looking all over the city, but our main focus is in north Allendale and northwest Austin. The main difference is going to be space. In Allendale the houses are going to be smaller, but have a lot more character and cost a lot more per square foot and in northwest Austin they will be larger, newish and in general make more sense.  What I mean by “makes more sense” is that the floor plans in the older homes don’t flow the way the newer homes do.  So knowing this I felt that it was important to have two sets of wants and needs the “inside the loop” list and the “outside the loop” list. We also have two different price points we are looking to spend. In Allendale and central Austin we can spend much more and still get way less. Outside of Austin, we expect to get much more for much less money (I am talking 100K difference here people) All of this is going to come into play as we make our decision.

First off the “inside the loop” need list: 

1)      2 bedrooms with an office space
2)      1.5 bathrooms
3)      Over 1200 square feet
4)      Fenced in yard
5)      Needing updates ok, but no major renovations needed to move in
6)      Safe neighborhood
7)      Highly walkable (meaning we want to be able to walk to restaurants and bars from our house)
8)      Quiet neighborhood. Currently our street is super busy with lots of barking dogs!

“Inside the loop” want list:
1)      3 bedrooms
2)      2 bathrooms
3)      Updated fixtures
4)      No carpet, all wood flooring (laminate is ok)
5)      Big backyard
6)      Quiet street, not a lot of traffic
7)      Easy access to all major roads
8)      In Allendale or 78757 area
9)      Over 1600 square feet
10)   Good schools

“Outside the loop” need list:
1)      3 bedrooms
2)      2 baths, 2.5 if two story house
3)      Over 1700 square feet
4)      Fenced in yard
5)      Established neighborhood, no new construction
6)      Easy access to major highways
7)      Good schools
8)      Updated fixtures, and flooring

“Outside the loop” want list:
1)      4 bedrooms, or flex space for a kids play room
2)      Updated appliances
3)      Updated bathroom and kitchen
4)      No carpet
5)      Rainwater retention system, other green updates
6)      Quiet street
7)      Lots of young families and couples
8)      Easy access to shopping, night life
9)      Do not HAVE to take 183 to work
10)   Large master bedroom and bathroom

I am sure as we really begin to look Mr. A and I will come up with more and relax on other items on this list. But for now this is what we are looking for. For those of you who don’t live in Austin you should know we have pretty much NO SHOT of getting into the neighborhoods we like in Allendale for the price we want to pay. We shall see what we can do about that. 

I am so excited to get out there and see what we can find. Wish us luck! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

One of the cutests things I have ever heard

Mr. A and I got approved for our mortgage this week! Woooo whoo to us!

We are so excited.

The other night when Mr. A got home he said one of the cutest things I have ever heard. Her walked in the door an got on his knees and called our dog over. He then proceeded to tell him that he was so excited because we get to buy him his very own "poop land"! He then asked Harry is he was excited and played with him! It was so cute.

How could we not want the best for this little guy? He makes the cutest "sad" faces when we leave. This guy needs his own yard!

Monday, January 9, 2012

What's a girl to do?

Over the last two months I have made over 30 dozen cookies. I made them to hand out to friends and family over the holidays. I even made cute bags to put them in see:

I still love these bags! I made 50 of them for like 4 bucks!
I made ginger snaps, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies and coconut macaroons. Yummy
Well after the trip out to my sister's house in Houston, picture below is the back of my car with just the kiddos gifts in it, just had to share:

We have eaten way more than I should have. Now, my head is conflicted on what I should eat. The picture below shows what I mean:

Eat the cookies or the apple and granola bar? Hmmmm. What's a girl to do?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We are buying a house WOOT WOOT… now, how do we pay for the thing?

As referenced in my earlier post, Mr. A and I are buying a house this year! What I did not tell you is we are buying a house VERY soon.  Since we are going through the process of buying our first home I thought I would blog about it and see if anyone has any advice. It is overwhelming to say the least. A little help from y’all would be great.

We have begun the process of getting pre-approved for a mortgage. We meeting with the broker next Wednesday and we are spending a lot of time this weekend preparing all of the documents needed to apply for all the different loan types. We found this broker through my office. I work for a real estate related regulatory agency, and was referred to this broker through the best contact I know. I am sure we are working with a great person. I do know this; don’t just go with anyone off the streets. There are a lot of shady people out there. 

Here is the breakdown of everything we need to bring:
1.        2008, 2009 and 2010 tax returns with W-2s. If you decide to do any first time homebuyer programs, three years of tax returns are required.
2.       Most recent one month of paycheck stubs.
3.       Two months of bank statements from each bank account.
4.       Most recent retirement and/or investment account statements.

We are considering several loan options:

1)      The first and most likely will be FHA. If you don’t know much about FHA you are with me. I have been doing lots of research on this and the basics are that we can put less down, there are stiffer qualifications, and restrictions but the money is backed by the Government. 

2)      The other option will be to do a traditional 30 year fixed mortgage and put more down on the house. We could do anywhere from 5% to 20% down. We can do this, but we will be wiped out of our house fund. I anticipate there being a lot of other little costs involved in the home buying process and I am not totally sure I want to throw everything we have at the down payment.

Some additional factors that I think might come into play and get us a great rate are that we have almost perfect credit, and no debt. Right now a lot of people can’t qualify for a mortgage because of their debt to income ratio and ours is well within the approved rage for all mortgage types. We also have a long credit history so I think we should be able to get the best rates, probably better than most.

So there you have it. We are real life adults and we are moving forward with this process. I hope after analyzing all of this and thinking about every angle we have not left anything out and we end up getting approved for like $50K.

Does anyone out there have any advice or thoughts on the pre-approval process?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas shoes...

I got shoes over Christmas break for myself. Don't judge. They are Clarks, Mary Janes and heven on my feet. What do you think?

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 is going to be a great year!

How do I know this you ask? Because I am still in my "life is full of possiblities" high from New Years Eve, but I can tell you that I really do belive this year will be my best yet.

Reason why this year is going to be awesome #1: Mr. A and I will be buying a house this year!

We are meeting with a mortgage broker next week to get pre-approved. We have asked our good friend Molly to be our Realtor. We went and looked at some houses from the street and picked out some neighborhoods we love on New Years day with the family. I just can't wait to get started on the hunt. I am so over apartment living.

We are going to be looking in the 78757 area of Austin, as well as south west and north west Austin. Milwood has been surprising to us and we have already found a house we love in the neighborhood. Oh boy! 

Reason #2: Many babies to be born... Not ours (yet)!

We have been blessed with a Niece and two Nephews and being and Aunt and Uncle is so much fun. This year is the first year our FRIENDS are having little ones and it is going to be awesome. Kelly, is due in March and Sarah (our great friend from Philadelphia) is due at the end of this month!!!! So much fun. We have several other friends pregnant as well. It is just going to a baby-full year! Can't wait for this new transition in all of our lives. Should be interesting.

Reason #3: Travel

Mr. A and I are planning trips to Philadelphia, and Alaska this year. We can't wait to visit friends and family and get out of Austin for a bit. This of course is all contingent on the home buying process.

Reason #4: We are debt free!

This year Mr. A and I are totally debt free. We only have my student loans to repay and I don't count those because they ultimately make me money as well. It is a great feeling to not worry about credit cards, car payments and everything else.

Reason #5: See reason #1!!!!!

WE ARE BUYING A HOUSE!!!!!!!! OMG! I can't wait.

Happy New Year to you all! Here is to a great year and a lot of fun!