Wednesday, April 04, 2007

House Hunting

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.


Paul Dunn said...

Major ups to you guys on pursuing your first home. It is definitely a BUYERS' market right now, so that works heavily in your favor.

My only advice is to look at as many houses as you can, rain or shine. It sounds like you already know what you want before going in, and that is key too. Don't use the agent's recommended home inspector... use someone that is not affiliated with the realtor if possible (the agent's motivation is to complete the sale, not for you to move into a safe home, so their inspectors tend to be more lenient).

I would recommend you find something with a garage, simply because I know how you hate the cold. The last thing you're going to want to do on your way to school is to scrape the frost off (of) your windshield every morning... swearing like a sailor I might add. When Caroline and I finished our basement from October 2005 to April 2006 I had to park outside because all of our belongings that were in the basement had to be moved into the garage. Zero fun.

BTW, I'll be glad to come down and help you pack stuff up when you move. Just let me know when and how I can help.

Also, have you used Google Earth to look at places in Costa Rica? I was using it last night because I'm headed back down there next week. I was trying to figure out where everything is... because there are no maps online of the place. Very cool.

JC said...

Well, MEESTER mac. What kind of mortgage are you getting? 30 yr fixed? ARM? 80/20?

swampbaby said...

BE PICKY! Not to the point you can't be pleased, but this is a major investment and the place you will be living for who knows how long. Everyone can live in a shack with a tin roof for a certain amount of time, but that doesn't mean you want to if you have a choice.

Going off what you said - you will want a garage. For the weather reason, your car insurance will change if you have a garage, storage space, etc. True hardwoods will probably be trashed by your kids (namely Jack) within a couple of years - every toy thrown down, can dropped, roller skate ridden through, etc., is going to knick and scratch it - and they are a lot higher maintenance and therefore a pain to clean (comparatively). Just things to think about.

Congratulations on the job and the house!