Thursday, April 30, 2009

About time to Pop the Champagne

(Photo: Waldo Jaquith)
We've official semi-closed on the house, i.e. we've signed all of our loan documents and we are awaiting the review and funding of the house. So, if things go right the house will be ours on Tuesday!

Beyond that we've gotten quotes on carpets, ceiling work, and I audibly gasped in front of my fraternity brothers when I saw a nice Stainless Steel side-by-side fridge at costco. What have I become?

More updates coming soon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't pop the champagne yet; Escrow and timetables

So, escrow. Escrow, in terms of real estate, is the final stages of buying a house where the buyer and the seller use a 3rd party (the escrow company) to facilitate the transfer of deed to money (borrowed, hopefully for a fixed rate, for 30 years). If this were an action movie escrow would be the final act leading up to the showdown; Arnold yelling "get to the choppah", that sort of thing.

The thing about escrow is that ~70% of the time it's delayed by some amount; so far we're looking at a 2 week delay and it could honestly be worse. The point of all this? That house isn't yours until escrow is over with, so don't go making plans and spending money until escrow is locked and loaded.

Case in point is something I heard today from a friend at my old job: this guy, Dave, knew a couple buying a house who gave themselves 4 weeks for escrow to go through and get approved. This was a hard 4 weeks; leases ending, boxes packed and needing movie, money being spent. And then escrow took 6 weeks to complete and this couple had to rent storage for 2 weeks and move back in with her mom while they waited for escrow to close. That sucks. No offense to her mom.

So we're getting into our second delay of escrow but we've been lucky. Our apartment complex doesn't mind letting us pay for another week of living there, the utilities are the same, and we haven't scheduled any work that can't be moved a week; if all goes well we'll close escrow next Friday and start tearing things out. Anyone up for some demolition work in the next week (escrow willing)?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Appliances Continued


So in keeping with the theme of appliances I wanted to share some of our methodology for searching out appliances in the wide world of Lowe's, Home Depot, Costco, and Sears (among others).

1. Bring a camera. We've taken to snapping photos of each and every appliance we're interested in and throwing them into Evernote (my favorite note taking program and system). We use that to compare each store's offerings.

2. Look for Energy Star appliances and Energy Star rebates. Lowe's is running a 10% off all Energy Star appliances. Costco has a few sales here and there for Energy Star fridges.

3. Take notes and check for shipping costs. Lowe's and Home Depot tend to have free/subsidized shipping while Costco warehouses expect you to handle your own hauling and installing.

4. Consider the quality. We're steering pretty far away from the generic Chinese washers, dryers, fridges and the likes, and going for the ones that are at least headquartered in the US. There was an interesting post on Gizmodo about about the relative quality of no-brand HDTV's; essentially a no-brand has less incentive to provide a comprehensive service and warranty plan (including home service and shipping) then an established brand. So while the two may perform similarly, it's when things go wrong you might want the better (and more expensive) brand.

5. Figure your colors and finishes out. Your washer and dryer? Probably don't need to be designer colored (yet). But your fridge/dishwasher/oven? They should look alike and probably be a color that you like and/or love. Our friend Jim pointed out an interesting note though: Stainless Steel appliances love some fingerprints and need special cleaner to get the job done. Right now we're waffling between Stainless Steel and gray paint. Decisions, decisions.

Finally, throw everything together: can you get a color and style and size that you like from a manufacturer you want? Can you do that for everything you're looking for? And what about the delivery? Balance that all together....and let us know because we're still fiddling with it.

Natalie's comment reminded me about looking for interest free financing; generally the big box home improvement retailers offer 12 months no interest financing on large orders ($1000+) over big weekends (Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc...). Beyond that if you have a real big order (fridge and oven and washing machine and...) you might be able to finagle interest free financing anytime
(this is especially important to us as the gov't tax rebate for new home buyers takes 8-10 weeks to get processed). So grab some coupons from the USPS, get a big list going, and look for some deals.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Appliances, Carpet, and Flooring Oh My!

Fuscia Foot via FlickrHi everyone! Today we went shopping for a lot of different things... appliances at Lowe's - think we're going to go with stainless steel or stainless looking ones, carpet - a light beige or grey seems to be the consensus, and we've been looking at Costco's hardwood laminate flooring - the Brazilian cherry looks pretty spiffy. So many choices! Still not quite sure what to do with the 3rd bedroom area... possibly a dining room.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Welcome, welcome, welcome! While the title of this blog is pretty self explanatory I shall expand upon it here:
we're buying a house!

we've got to fix it up; we've got carpet, flooring, paint, repairs, landscaping, and general de-lousing to look forward to for the next oh, 30 years or so (minimum). So we'll be posting photos of before, during, and hopefully after. Beyond that I (Ted) will be posting reviews and impressions of the tools we'll be using and I'm certain Christina will share her thoughts with everyone else too.

So bear with us while we start figuring this whole thing out. Now if only escrow would close.

Also, here's a map of the general location:

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