So, with the signed contract and job, Mickelle and I are going to Hartsville, SC this weekend to look for a house. We have been pre-approved up to $150k, though we will look at around $125k. There are lots of 3 bedroom houses there in that range, so we'll have plenty to look at. The housing boom apparently missed Hartsville, thank goodness.
If anyone has any advice, please post some comments about tricks to avoid, companies to use, services that save money, etc. I wish I could fly my father-in-law out here to go look with us. He has been in real estate as a builder, developer, agent, broker, etc. for the past 35 years. I'd consider it a money-saving expense to bring him out, but his recent back surgery would prevent him from being comfortable on so long of a flight(s). I can't imagine having a more valuable opinion around than his. I'm sure we'll pester him with a million phone calls anyway (steel yourself Dusty for the onslaught).
My biggest hope for a house is to live somewhere without owners' covenants (review previous posts for why I loathe those bourgeois trappings). I want a garden. I could care less about a garage, other than as storage space. A basement would be nice, even if unfinished. I don't mind doing some fix-er-up work. Mickelle wants a kitchen that's open to the rest of the house. I prefer hardwood floors. A little shed could come in handy. Gravel driveways are fine with me. I don't want well water. It'll be funny to see if we get something even remotely like I've just described.
I lived in a tin shack with dirt floors in Costa Rica. I'm not too picky.