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Allo, Allo, friends and those who vaguely remember who I am. How goes it?

I missed you so very much.

I realized how much I used this place as a refuge from all the things that pained me. I miss reading your journals, and lurking in the comms, and the reading and the writing of the lovely fics. Especially the writing. It's been so since I've written anything. Not that I haven't wanted to. I've had bunnies - evil, wicked bunnies.

*le sigh*

But life goes on.

Funny kid story -

So I'm singing a lullaby to my son. Now when he was four this was cute. At six - six going on forty - he has less patience with me. He looks at me with a tone of incredulity says "Why does she buy her son such rotten gifts. Can't she tell that the mockingbird can't sing when she's in the store? Why did she buy it?"

I thought you'd like that one. :o)

Oh - I need some advice. Mr. Tart (he's waving hello BTW) and I are looking to buy a house. Our first house. I have no idea what I'm supposes to look for or ask about. I know many of you own homes. Can you give me some pointers? Something that you wish you knew to ask before you bought your own home?

You could also just say "HI". That would be nice to.

I would love to hear from you.
  • HI!!! *waves from Germany*
    I missed you! *huggles*
    And your stories about Mr. Tart and the Tartlet.
  • Nice to know you are alive and well. I have kept my LJ just to comment to folks who are still here.

    Um, house buying. . . Have owned two, one built in 1981 and we were the first owners, one built in 1882 and we are the fourth. I know I had more trouble with the roof in the new house and more trouble with the sewer in the second. In fact, I just spent $5,000 to replace the original c.1908 sewer line.

    House inspection, maybe? Don't have those where I live but I guess they can be useful. Don't get an ARM, if you can avoid it. And decor can be changed. Look at the location, condition and structure. Ugly wallpaper is no reason to hesitate to buy a house.
    • Hello there!

      Roofs and sewers. These things keep me up at night. A lot of houses in the areas I'm looking in have septic system and with my luck I'll buy a house only to have the septic fail in the first year.
  • Hi!

    I know I'm not the best LJ commenter, but hello hello! And tartlet sounds like a six year old. They just begin to discover sarcasm at that age.

    House buying is exciting! I refuse to do so myself, but I'm just me, so I prefer to rent. Also my credit sucks, lol. But good luck and I'm excited for you!
  • (no subject) - lovehotel
  • Don't own a home yet, which is kind of pathetic. My son is five and still likes lullabies. The other night I asked him if he wanted a special song. he did; Revolution by the Beatles.

    I remembered most of the words.
  • Hi! ::waves::

    re the househunting:

    1. quality of the schools
    2. feel of the neighborhood - parks nearby, much traffic, friendly neighbors (I'd even knock on doors and introduce yourself and ask about the neighborhood). This is SO key. If you don't like your neighborhood you'll find yourself driving somewhere else for everything from shopping to entertainment to friends.
    3. how much work it will need and whether you're willing to do it. Be realistic. Don't waive any inspections. You don't want any surprises.
    4. if you're not going to be remodelling any time soon I believe a good kitchen makes a big difference - a bad one is depressing.
    5. after that I guess it's personal. Me, I like a lot of sunlight and a practical floor plan - good flow from room to room, no wasted space.
    • I have noticed how the feel the neighborhood really comes into play. I just went to see a house that looked great on paper, but it was in such a sad, shoddy looking neighborhood, I didn't even bother going inside.

      Thanks so much for the great tips!
  • Good luck with the Tartlet, remember your youth and what you were thinking, and you won't be too far off the mark, LOL.

    And, good luck with the house-hunting! :)
  • Welcome back! Here are a few links that I thought were helpful (we just did this six months ago!).


    The biggest help to us was our digital camera. We took it to every home we looked at -- before we walked in, I wrote #1 (etc) on a piece of paper, with the address, so I would know that all pics after came from that place. It was very helpful -- you think you will remember, but you don't, especially after looking at so many houses! And you will discuss later and be like, wait, how many closets did it have? And you can go to the pics and figure it out :)

    Before we even started looking, we both sat down and made a list of must haves, would like to haves, and deal breakers. It made things easier, and we looked at fewer houses that way. There is a worksheet at one of the links above that helps you with this.

    Feel free to ask any questions! It's still fresh in my mind :-)
    Also, if the price is too good to be true, there is probably a problem. We found a huge one we fell in love with, in our price range, and we couldn't figure it out -- until we saw the giant power line thing out back, which is a big no since we want kids (giant power lines = cancer).

    Definitely get an inspection!!!! And a home warranty!

    Other things you might need to know, so you aren't shocked -- when you want to put an offer on the house, they are going to want $1000 or so right then (some people don't know that).

    You need to ask things like, what is included -- if they don't say the fridge or stove or whatever is included, don't assume it is. You can call the power company, etc., and they will tell you the average monthly bill for an address. Also, most states or counties have a web site where you can put in an address and see if any sexual predators live nearby. (Are you overwhelmed yet? I was! But don't worry! It's fun!) Also, you'll definitely want to get the bylaws from any Homeowners' Association before you put in a bid -- you want to make sure it's not draconian!

    Edited at 2008-03-16 01:17 am (UTC)
  • *waves* Hi! Good luck on the house!
  • Look at the ceilings.


    I don't know it didn't occur to me the couple of times I looked at the house. I just didn't. There was water damage on the FIRST floor. And a small pucker on the ceiling of the second floor. Never saw it!

    So be sure to look at the ceilings and high on the walls near the trim. See if you see any previous water damage.

    Also, and this sounds stupid, I know, but make sure all the doors lock. I bought my house in the late summer. The couple had indoor/outdoor cats, so I didn't think anything about all the doors being open...until I couldn't lock the sliding glass door!!!!!

    Also, flush the toliets. That will give you a really good idea of how good the plumbing is. Do you have a toliet that barely flushes? Is that what you want? If it's two stories, have someone stand on the first floor while you flush on the second. How does it sound? Are pipes banging together?

    People paint when selling a house. Are they covering things up? Or did they do a really crappy job of painting? This might not seem so bad, but think about what it'll take to clean up their crappy job.

    Where is the circuit breakers? Where are the meters?

    Is there any sort of pet damage? Does a room seem overly fragrent to cover up the smell of pee on a carpet?

    See any bugs? Cause one bug might be indication of a whole lot more in the walls!

    Are they playing soft music in the background? They could be trying to cover up the sound of traffic in the background. Sounds you really don't want to have to get used to hearing.

    How old is the water heater? The air conditioner? The heating system. Have any of these items been moved?

    Is there any sort of bracing in the basement?

    Any sort of water damage in the basement?? Is the house on a flood plain? (If you're interested in the house, call your insurance people and see what they have on the neighborhood. I only found out I was on a floo plain when my insurance company upped my rates!!!)

    Are any baseboards missing? Is any linoleum curling up slightly?

    Can you open and close door easily or do they stick? Same with cabinet doors!

    Do they get any television or CELL phone coverage? It never dawned on me that I was in the ONE valley in the city that didn't get cell phone coverage unless I was on the second floor near a window!! Check and see what your bars are as you wander around the house.

    How many outlets are there? Is this an old house with only one outlet per room?

    Can you get cable? I didn't think anything about the fact that the previous owner had a dish satellite. Turns out that while I could get cable downstairs, the company would not give it too me upstairs because it was TOO MUCH WORK! Do they have cable on all floors? Do they have phone jacks on all floors?

    How is the cupboard space? Closet space? Enough?

    Look at the tiles in the kitchen and bathroom? Are they solid? Loose? Dirty? Hints of mold? Mold can be very bad.

    INSIST on inspections, but get someone YOU trust. Also, I would suggest a radon inspection and a termite inspection. Make sure they go inside the house, up on the roof, etc. Use someone that several people have recommended.

    Also, look into financing. I bought a house using a program for first time home buyers where I didn't have to put anything down.

    Do not accept a balloon payment or moveable interest rates. A solid rate may cost a bit more, but in the long run it may save you!

    • I second everything said above. On the plus side you are looking at a realllly good time. As far as I've heard it is buyers market out there. The houses are rock bottom. *blinks* Or they were really recent. *waves* Welcome back BTW ^_^

      LOL Kids say the most amazing things at times. I love the look that says quite clearly Are you mad woman? *shakes head*
    • (no subject) - thetreacletart - Expand
  • Hi! *waves*

    I'm glad you're still alive and well - it's always more fun with you around.

    I've bought a couple of houses, so here's what I'll add to the great suggestions above:

    1) Find a really good realtor. Seriously, if you find one you can connect with, it will make your life so much easier. I was having trouble articulating what I wanted in a house (such as nice quality, not a starter house) and all I could manage was "it needs to have six panel doors and stuff". From that stupid comment, my realtor was able to understand better what I was looking for, and she showed us some great houses. So definitely ask friends for references, and don't just go with someone because you met them once and they seemed okay.

    2) Out in California, radon gas is a huge problem, so when we moved to Minnesota, we requested radon testing as a requirement for closing. Our first house didn't have it, but our second one did, and we ended up getting the seller to pay to put in the proper ventilation. So ask your realtor if radon is an issue in your area, and make your offer subject to negative results.

    3) Always make your offer subject to inspection. And make sure your inspector looks at everything. When we had our current house inspected, the inspector opened up the chimney floo and a bird flew out of the fireplace! This is when we learned there was no screen on the top.

    4) If you're getting your downpayment money from a brokerage account or any account not located at your bank, make sure you deposit the funds at least five days before your closing. Banks have strange rules about how soon you have access to money you deposit, and ours required 5 days. We had to scramble at the end to make sure our downpayment check didn't bounce.

    That's all I can think of right now. Have fun house hunting. Here's a link to one of my H/R fics about Harry and Ron going househunting. Enjoy!
    • I would never have thought about any 5 day's rule on anything. Thanks for the heads up. And thanks for the link. I like the idea of losing myself in a few fics this evening. :o)
  • Hello, darling one. I'm excited y'all are looking for a house. It's been 14 years since we've bought one, but I can tell you a good real estate agent who knows where you want to live is a godsend. They do a lot of tracking down and eliminating and go-between work.

    *hugs* My love to the boys.
    • I miss you most of all scarecrow. *hugs*

      I plan to get a realtor. I need someone who's livelihood is dependent upon making me happy. And I won't buy it unless I am happy.

  • As someone who also hasn't been the best at keeping up with posting, I offer you this: WELCOME BACK! You were missed.

    Don't worry about the fics. We were lucky to get what you have already given us. If all you do from this point on is give us glimpse of life a la Tart, then all will be well.

    If you are going house-hunting, decide for yourself if you are going to be there for the long haul, or if this is going to be temporary (a few years, at best). This will help guide you in terms of the neighbourhood you pick, the trade-offs you are willing to make, and the investment that you would be willing to put into improving or expanding the house you buy.

    Definitely get a home inspection first. Although you are in the U.S., you may wish to look up www.safehomescanada.ca for some tips from building inspectors up here. Here is a pertinent quote from that site:

    Buyers should ask home inspectors about their education and work experience, and about the thoroughness of their process. Do they have a Building Sciences education? Do they go all the way through crawlspaces and attics? Do they travel onto – or at least up against – roofs? Beware inspectors who inspect with binoculars or make excuses.

    Best of luck to you!
    • Thanks so much for the excerpt. I never would have thought to ask any of that stuff. I would have thought binoculars were a good thing.
  • Hello :) I'm glad you're okay.
  • Having purchased and sold (well, nearly sold) two homes and being on the hunt for the third, here's my advice. You can take it with whatever grain you wish :)

    1. Choose an area. If you've already decided to purchase where you rent, that's half the battle.

    2. Schools. Can your child continue at the same school he's already at, or will the child be changing schools (elementary to middle, for example) and continuity is a moot point? If your child can't continue in the same school, are there good schools in the area you're looking in? Great Schools is a reference my husband and I have been using.

    3. Availability of shopping. That doesn't mean shoes or clothing necessarily, but groceries. Can you walk down the street or is the nearest grocery store five miles away? Is it a specialty store (Trader Joe's, any organic store) or basic grocery?

    4. Availability of transportation. If you currently take/use public transit, will you be able to continue to do so? Does public transit service the area with good coverage or is there one stop 20 blocks away?

    5. Type of housing. Do you want a single family home, townhouse, condo, twin/duplex, or acreage? Do you want a garage? How many cars do you need to be able to park at your residence? How many bedrooms do you require and how many do you want (these can be two different numbers)? What about bathrooms?

    As for the house itself:
    1. Feel. Could you picture yourself living there or does it give you a creepy, up-the-spine skittering feeling upon entry?

    2. Existing appliances. Are the existing appliances sufficient for your needs? This refers to both kitchen and bathroom(s). If they aren't, could you afford the upgrades after you purchase?

    3. Obvious problems. Are there any obvious problems like water stains on the ceiling, damp carpets, peeling tiles? While not an immediate "run away" item, check the disclosure about water problems. These things could just be leftovers after problems have been fixed.

    4. Yard. If you want a yard, is the yard a good size? Does it have good drainage? Is it fenced with a fence in good condition? Is the yard itself in good condition? If you don't want a yard (such as purchasing a zero-lot line townhouse), this doesn't matter.

    5. Furniture. Will your furniture fit? Granted, you can replace furniture, but that's an additional expense (and hassle of getting rid of the old).

    6. Space. Is there space for both living and sleeping? Some places have large bedrooms at the expense of communal space, others the reverse.

    Er, that's all I can think of now. In our hunting in the Seattle area we've looked at still-under-construction homes and ones 50 years old. Our two previous homes were 110+ and 85 years old, respectively. Homes, whether new or resale, have a "feel" to them. There will be some that turn you off immediately and others you fall in love with at first sight. Before you set foot to look, know how much you can afford (and, if you're considering condos, don't forget to factor in the homeowner's dues, usually called HOA or HOD).
    • Thank you so much!!!!

      This is great.

      We are actually moving to get my son out of this school system. I'm not thrilled with what I'm seeing in my son's school. It's the final straw. I'm willing to put up with a lot but not when it come to my kid.

      Thanks again. This is incredibly helpful.
  • Hi! *sends greetings to Mr. Tart and snuggles to the Tartlet*

    I think the most important lesson I've learned from watching my parents buy houses is that there is no point in pursuing legal debacles into paying your lawyer more than you're suing for in damages.

    I can also tell you now is a good time to buy, as that part of the economy is in recession--my dad's company depends on realty to function. *G*
  • (no subject) - alt_baie
  • (no subject) - shoeless_girl
  • Nice to see you checking in from time to time! Tartlet sounds adorable.

    Best of luck with the house. I'm afraid I have no advice to offer because I have zero desire to buy a house, but I hope you're able to do so without too much stress :D
    • Hey there!

      I think house buying and 'much stress' go hand in hand. Can't be avoided. But I stress out about everything anyway so I might as well have a small house with a little backyard to show for it.
  • You've discovered the difference between a sweet, accepting 4-year-old and a snarky 6-year-old :D

    HI!! *hugs*
  • Hello! *hugs* Oh, I've missed the Tartlet stories :D

    As I have never bought a house before, all I can offer you is good luck!!!
  • Well, looks like everyone else has already hit most of the points I was going to make. I would also add that it's important to first make sure your financial house is in order before you shop. Pull your credit reports (from all three agencies, for the both of you) and correct any mistakes that might be there. You get one free report per year per agency by federal law.

    Also, make sure you have enough cash for the stuff that always crops up, like closing costs, furniture, and other things for the house. Honestly ask yourself how long you plan to stay in the house because this affects what type of financing options make sense for you. In the current climate, adjustable mortgages are usually not a good deal because there is not much interest rate benefit. They make the most sense when you don't plan to stay in the house long, you feel the interest rates will fall with time, and/or the rate is at least 1% less than a comparable fixed rate mortgage. I used an adjustable for my house back in 1999 and it worked out perfectly because the latter two criteria fit. :) A good mortgage broker can help you find financing that's right for you.

    Regarding the home inspector, try to get one who's certified by ASHI. Keep in mind that most inspectors will only check things that are readily accessible. If there is later a problem, they are often only liable for the cost of the inspection, not repair costs.

    Remember that the agent selling the home is not working for you. He is working for the seller, although he has a fiduciary duty not to misrepresent or otherwise lie to you. If you want someone to represent your interests, hire a buyer's agent. Traditionally, the commissions for both agents come from the seller (in CA at least; dunno about other states). If the buyer's and seller's agents are the same person, ask for a commission reduction (if you pay for it) or a price reduction from the seller (if you don't). Never hurts to ask. :)
  • ::waves frantically from Kazakhstan::
  • Just poking in to say Happy Birthday to you! I hope you have a great day. :)
  • Happy birthday! :-)
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