Tuesday, June 24

The Whole Home Buying Adventure

This is one of those things I need to write down...but dread since it's so much info and my memory is vague (even though it was 2 months ago.) Shocker. :)
Well this spring Dan and I decided to start looking at homes in Orlando since his job was starting to solidify. Of course this was a moment I had been dreaming of for years...but I had NO IDEA what we were in for! Man, this was quite a ride! First of all I felt as if I was a dog shoved into a college class and expected to know what the heck was going on. I had NO clue what I was doing. It was scary...and annoying. Real estate vocab was flying around my head and I just kept swatting at it. I clutched "Home Buying for Dummies" pretty tightly (thanks EB!) and read it often. I felt I had a sign on me that said, "Please take advantage of me...I am an idiot." Dealing with banks, agents, insurance, PMI, home owners, equity, escrow, good faith estimates, crime /sexual predators reports in neighborhoods (have one 0.12 miles from here), proving who we were a bazillion times, having a credit report pulled 9,000 times, finding out if an IRA is usable for a down payment, choosing a roof color....the list goes on. Rachel Wagner and Aunt Judy were super helpful in defining all I needed to know.
But all I wanted was to pick out a cute house with the number of bedrooms I wanted. :) Needless to say, this process is NOT for the faint of heart. You gotta want it. Especially in this market...they wanna make sure you can pay cash before you can buy a house! Not really but kinda. And I wanted it...but I wasn't sure I did THIS bad. SHEESH. Yes, I did. Renting for 7 years...pretty much stinks.
Anywho...on to the fun part. The actual house shopping. We saw homes with several different agents. Here's a helpful hint: if you see a house you LOVE then basically that agent is going to be your agent to buy that house. They have dibs on you. As we were "shopping agents" I was not fully aware of that. Oh well. I came to Orlando several weekends with different people accompanying me...most of which were quite an adventure. I saw lots of houses. None were really sticking out to me. I figured out WHY when I went to see my sister in Nashville....cause I am a SOUTHERN GIRL! And I like southern homes. And Florida ain't the south if you haven't heard. Not even close. And brick homes are rare here. You don't realize what you are used to...till you don't have it. But let me tell you what they do love...STUCCO on top of concrete blocks (necessity with hurricanes and so on). Not so much a fan. Not that I hate stucco houses...I just didn't wanna live in one. I don't think they age well. Guess what we are living in? Yupper.
So I saw this one on the MLS listings that an agent sent me. I liked it from the beginning. But you have to be careful when you check out those pics. (As an aside, I am super guilty of loving or hating a house based on decor, smells, and other changeable parts of homes. It was hard for me to see past those things.) Those pics could make the house look awesome OR make it look awful. I mean those pics are important! If you are selling a home...be sure those are lookin' good. Anyway, I tried not to get my hopes up since it may stink like dogs or have "welcome friends" decor everywhere. :)

Our criteria was as follows:
--as close as possible to Dan's practice.
--4 bedrooms (room for guests since we would be so far!)
--NO pool (no way with my babies toddling around, plus didn't wanna mess with maintenance, and planned on being social in community at the YMCA.)
--lots of natural light, lots of windows
--decent yard (which in FL means larger than 10 ft from back porch)
--washer/dryer connections :) ...not hard to find.
God has blessed us richly with the home we bought. We are so thankful to God! We have a 4 BR house...but not a typical one. Actually the 4th room is built into half of the 2-car garage. Sounds odd, I know. But there is still room for one car and a work space for Dan. It was built in 1978. We like the older homes. This house constantly reminds me of my Nanny and Granddaddy's house on Hathburn Ct. Our yard is a nice size...actually "large" for some of the homes we saw. We love the trees...well till we have our first bad storm. Here is the best part....as they always say "LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION." Dan's practice, the YMCA, and Daisy's elementary school (a few years away) are all 1/2 mile from our home. We could walk...if it wasn't 300 degrees outside. Dan can come home from work for lunch. And by the time he calls to tell me he is on the way...he is pulling in the driveway. We are really enjoying it!

I don't post this to sound "braggy" or "look how great things are for us." (In fact sometimes I hate that tendency in the blogging world.) I hope you don't take it that way. We have been in school for 7 years and lived in some "interesting" places and could NOT be more thrilled with our current life situation. For those of you who have known us thru all that...I know you understand. :) God is good. But God has been good this whole time...in Mtn Lodge and Tanglewood. :) The real things in life like loving Him, and having loving family and friends are what really matter.

Here are some recent pics of the casa:

Isaac's room was this color green when we moved in. I had these red curtains and we used Aunt Julie's art she gave us to tie in all the colors. We have a "locker" of sorts that hold clothes and had drawers from Uncle Scott. Isaac's room is the smallest one. But he hasn't complained yet. :)

Oh, and I hope to ditch the changing table soon...but big boy is just too much to wrestle on the ground every time he needs changing! :) And still working on the decor...

Sorry these are kinda blurry. But I feel like the flash does not make room look nice.
Anywho...below is our playroom. It's just off the kitchen. It has the sliding glass door to the porch in the back. I love this area cause its hidden from guests unless they come all the way in to the back side of the house. So it can be left messy.

Below is the den area. Our TV is in this room. It's looking very BLAH (and keep in mind the speakers are moved, the cable will be tucked in...ignore that stuff). I need some decorating advice....see the area below the long window (2nd pic)? Between the TV cabinet and the red chair? Well it needs something. I have NO idea what. Please comment. And oh, I don't want to much bulk there. I want the room to be open. So think just the wall. AND kid friendly. OH and we have an IKEA here. :)


emily said...

congrats on the success of buying your first home! i remember that the real estate lingo was a whooole new language to me too... i love your play room.... and the fact that it is HIDDEN from guests! that's great.

my immediate thought about the space under the long window was to put a bookshelf there..... if you could find a narrow one that wouldn't stick out too far, that might cozy up that space really well. you could put little baskets at the bottom for a few toys (to keep y'all's books more out of isaac's reach). but that may be the "bulk" that you were saying that you don't want.... so a bookshelf might not be what you're looking for. we just put a ladder bookshelf in our bedroom and it kept the "open" feel but added the storage and "something there" that we needed. i don't know if they make shorter ladder bookshelves, but it might be worth looking into. i'm curious to read others' suggestions!

Micah, Amy & Nicolae said...

I LOVE it, Mel! i'm so excited for you. as for decorating...i think you've seen my house, you don't want my advise

Rachel said...

Love the house! I don't think of telling about your life as "bragging." I had a hard time with that too but then I remember...I don't make anyone read my blog...if they don't want to read what I have to say they don't have too:) We WANT to know what is going on in your life...good and bad! :) I can't wait to see the house! Take my advice...Hire a decorator! Furniture stores have them and if you ask around you can probably find somebody who freelances. I had one come yesterday for the first time!! It was AWESOME! In one hour we had lots of great ideas...you know very well that I'm not very creative. It is a huge help!

torinem said...

The house looks great, Mel! Glad you guys are settling in so well!

Jessica said...

here's a thought...get your sister to come and visit!! I'm sure she's loaded with great ideas being fresh out of school!! I love your house! It's adorable. We are about to delve into the whole home buying process again soon and I cringe everytime I think about it. James wants to flip a house...I can already feel the tension building up in my neck! That 4th bedroom is going to come in handy for your frequent visitors! So glad that ya'll are happy there. Isn't God so good to us??

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blessdtwice said...

Mel- LOVE THE HOUSE! I am so excited for you guys to finally get "settled" The only idea I can off offer on the LR is to put "fake" shutters under the window...I saw on HGTV one time where they had a high, narrow window (which it seems to be with you) and they put plantation shutters on the window part (open and close ones) and then fake shutters (only closed) below...so it lenghtens the window. Does that make sense? Sounds really tacky, but it looked good...and I second getting Julie to visit- or your mom, or any other "coker" woman- It'll be great in no time!

Courtney said...

Here is my thought, pictures, gallery style (straight line)under the window.

Its flush, is past the kids reach, its meaningful.

Use the $3 picture frames from WM, use the ones with mats, it looks nicer.

Cheap. Simple. I have this in variations all over my house.

Love it!

And, bragging? No. You finally got what you deserve sista! :)

Courtney said...

Oh, and save up or use a coupon to get a deal on a ficus tree - $20 at most, behind that recliner. It would warm it up. It also would decrease the need to do much on the wall beside the window.

You could do another gallery on the wall behind the recliner. To add interest you could vary the directions the frames (horizontal/vertical).

That would pull the room together a little bit.

Ooo, and another idea is the $7 crown molding shelves. Three of those staggered, and 8x10 and 5x7 frames to set on the shelves would look good on teh wall behind the recliner too. Not that you asked about that wall. :)