Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I've officially stuck a toe into the water


I just called my credit union and left a message with one of their mortgage originators (must be her lunch hour) about what I want to do. I left my cubicle's phone number instead of my cell, 'cause reception is bad in here. Well, what do I expect? Middle of the room under four floors' worth of books, do I think I'm gonna be able to call out? The Verizon "can-you-hear-me-now" dude needs to come scout around in here.

Reactions to what I'm trying to do have been mixed: my mother is so excited I can hear her bouncing up and down in her seat right now. I had to let a teensy bit of the air out her balloon by reminding her that sometimes I can be all talk.

"Look how long it took me to learn how to drive," I pointed out, via email.

"Drive?" She wrote back. "When did you learn how to drive? Have you been holding out on me?"

"No, Mom. That was my point."

Bess (at work) thinks it's great. Nothing like owning your own place, she says.

Jane (another friend of mine, making her first appearance in my blog. Under an assumed name, of course) on the other hand was a total wet blanket. Went to dinner with her last week and the very first words out of her mouth when I mentioned my plans were negative. She was all about how expensive housing is around here, and how much money home ownership costs in general. Didn't have one word of encouragement. I had to bite back my initial response (I tend to do that a lot with her. Maybe someday I should just let her have it), which was something along the lines of "You're just jealous because I'm taking steps to change my situation, and you're scared that I might succeed." She seems happiest when someone nearby fails. I don't know why that is. I don't know why I continue to hang out with her, actually.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have Sunny. I bumped into her in the grocery store yesterday evening. We used to work in the same department, but her tolerance for BS is much, much, much lower than mine, so Sunny found work elsewhere years ago. I haven't seen her in ages.

I told her what was up with me lately and she got all excited.

"There is the cutest little townhouse for sale near me. It looks out over a cornfield. It's near a bus route...and the YMCA...you have to see it!"

She started to describe where it was, and then said,

"Are you busy right now? I'll take you over!"

-We interrupt this blog entry for an important (to me) bulletin-

Just heard back from the woman I called. She took some info over the phone (I thought we'd have to meet or something), is going to run some numbers and email me a "good faith" estimate later on today. Oooohhh! My little heart is going pitty-pat.

-We now return you to your regularly scheduled entry-

So we get into Sunny's car, which she's apologizing for and making excuses about:

"It's filthy. I'm sorry." (Looked fine to me) "That mark on the inside of the door is from where my son spilled hot chocolate yesterday." (Hadn't noticed it 'til she pointed it out). "The smell of death in here is from my stinky feet." (Oh, Sunny, honestly. What are you talking about?). All the way over she's telling me about the horrible job she just left, one that made her look back fondly to the one in my old department. Good lord, she must be joking.

"No, seriously, Vee. These women were Evil." Then she goes into detail and by the time she's done, I have to say that I agree with her. Now she's working for another organization that she likes much better, where they actually praise her for doing good work and don't hold past mistakes against her.

Then suddenly we're in her neighborhood. She drives around a bit. I see a lot of townhouses for sale in the area, but none of them are the one she means. Sunny's pointing out all sorts of things to me:

"See, there's a bus stop...okay, it's not right on the route, but it's close. And there's the YMCA, within walking distance...we could go work out together! And down there..." she points. I can't see anything. "...is the Knights of Columbus, where they have bingo every Friday night."

Then we find it. It is cute. Little. Blue. It's on the end of the row, which means there's a really nice window and no neighbors on the left. Perfect little starter home. And yep, there's a corn field across the street. Or at least, there is right now. Give it a few years and some developer will probably turn it into student housing or single-family dwellings packed in so tightly that when the resident of one house sneezes someone from next door will be able to hand in a tissue from the open window without leaving his own living room.

She decides we need to stop and take a look--and confesses (but I knew this) that she's doing a little living vicariously through me, because she doesn't think she'll ever be able to live in anything but a rental. We pull up in the parking lot outside, and she gets out of the car -- I don't 'cause I'm bit more shy. What if the owner's home? What do we say? "Hi, we saw your for sale sign, thought we'd peek through your windows"?

She comes skipping happily back to the car.

"I think I know your neighbors. That is, unless those two pug dogs in the window aren't who I think they are."

"Sunny! Sweetie, you've got me all moved in and I don't even have a mortgage approved yet."

"Ah, psh!" She waves this way. "Details!"

Then she drives me home. On the way I tell her about Jane's discouragement, and she says one word: "Frenemy."


"Frenemy. Acts like she's your friend but is really an enemy. All she does is chip away at your joy. Happy when you fail, though she does her best not to show it. Happier still when she can keep you from trying to succeed. Frenemy."


I have a new word.

--Added later: Got the Good Faith Estimate. Need to talk to the mortgage originator about it, as I have no idea whatsoever what any of it means. Right now it looks like closing costs are twice as much as what I'd need for a down payment. In a fret, I emailed my sister asking her to talk sense to me and bring me in off the ledge. She has done that, but I need to speak to this woman. In the meantime I'm playing around online looking at houses. Can't find a listing for the one I saw yesterday, though I am pretty sure I was on the website of the right agency.


Just Me said...

First of all, Sunny sounds like an awesome person. I can SO identify with the self-conscious (and groundless) apologies.

The blue house might not be online yet. Sometimes it takes a while even though the "for sale" sign is sitting on the front lawn.

I like the remax.com search engine. It gives a Google-type map with icons for available houses based on your search criteria, and they include other realtors' listings as well, not just Remax.

I'm glad you're moving forward with this. Change can be hard, but the ones that are most worthwhile often involve a challenge.

I don't have to tell you this, but stay away from the pessimists. (frenemy - I might steal that!)

Oh-Oh-Oh! I love the way you told off your professor! I captioned an art class several months back, and I was stunned when the instructor took implement in hand and tinkered with a student's drawing. I couldn't believe he did that. When the student was out of the room and he was nearby, I casually mentioned that if he tried that with my sister's work, he'd have broken fingers.

Oooooh! I hope you find the perfect, cozy castle!

Today's word sounds like a Swedish martial-arts discipline: fjudko.

Anonymous said...

V - this post is bringing out the father-figure in me. I apologise.

However, my younger daughter (the single one) was in a fairly similar situation up to a year or so ago - though she wasn't in her own apartment then, but sharing a rented house at well past the age you can be comfortable not worrying about the state of the kitchen. She asked me about buying a house and I remember not being very encouraging. I think my main argument was that, as a single person, a house of your own can pin you down, take away your mobility, freeze you into a job you wouldn't otherwise stick at, etc. Not to mention the never-mentioned costs of keeping a house maintained.

She listened respectfully, then went ahead with her purchase, and it's all been good. In particular, she has freedom from landlords and fellow-tenants, doesn't have to worry about tenancy agreements and rent rises, and is not bothered by other people's bohemian behaviour. (Were the Bohemians really as disgusting as all that? Research project...)

She's the one on the left in the morris dancing photo. If you asked her, she would say go for it.

I, however, would remind you that owning a house can take away your mobility, freeze you into a job, yada yada yada, etc. etc.

Just Me said...

G makes some excellent points, but I don't think you're planning on job hopping anytime soon. Having your own home is liberating in other ways.

As he mentioned, no annoying neighbors on the other side of the wall, BUT you may have annnoying neighbors on the yard next door, and you've just committed to a twenty-year mortgage. If Sunny knows these potential neighbors, get all the "skinny" you can. A nice neighborhood is a dream. While I am not BFFs with a good portion of my neighbors, we all pretty much mind our own business, keep our parties semi-civilized, and keep our kids under control. I wouldn't move out of here without a VERY powerful motivating reason.

You're also free to do with your house as you wish. Wanna paint it purple? Go ahead. Wanna put an archway into that former-bedroom-now-home-office from the living room? Okay.

Maintaining a house IS costly, but repairs are done to your standards, not the landlord's.

I feel a post coming on...

Reckless Sarcasm said...

I am very excited for you ditter! :)
Of course I am biased but home ownership is one of the best things you can do investment-wise.
Housing prices, for the most part, are stable and given the fact that in 5 years or whenever you decide, that you don't want to live there anymore, you can sell. The hardest part is getting into the market. Once you own, you get so many other benefits. Tax deductions, equity in something solid, etc etc etc. :)

Ok, before I get off my soapbox I just have to say that though the media is portraying this doom and gloom situation in the housing market it's not everywhere. PA has not been hit as hard as places like California and Florida.

Anyway, very happy for you and if you want me to come up and go with you to look let me know. Of course, I will let the other agent do her job. :) And when it's time for you to move, Pete and I will be there with paintbrushes, muscles and anything else you need. :)

Oh and the Frenemy thing. Have always loved that term. Yes, all friends that delight in others failures should be banished to an island together. They can feed off their own bad energy for all eternity.