Thursday, October 11, 2012

House earrings and other investments

During our engagement, I inherited a bit of cash from my Grandmother's estate. Did we spend it on kicking the wedding up a notch? No, we kept to our simple plan. Did we put it into a down payment on real estate in Davis, which would now be worth a pretty penny? No, we didn't. We traveled. For us buying a house has been the big Road Not Taken. We don't have any regrets.

Our first trip to Europe, and specifically to Ukraine, was life changing. Visiting Kiev in 1993 was an eye-opening jolt of reality. We met incredibly wonderful people living in such harsh conditions. Never before had I appreciated the basics, like having healthy teeth or something simple such as soap in the stores. On that first trip we also traveled to Prague, back when Prague was still cheap and cool. Ernst bought me a pair of earrings - two little red wooden house earrings. I love them and always get compliments when I wear them. Our joke was we owned not just one, but two houses. A duplex, in fact.

Precious real estate
Once we caught the travel bug we found the only cure was to travel more. We traveled cheap, but for long stretches and to some far away corners of Europe. There went down payment after down payment, invested instead in memories and priceless friendships. But now our little red houses have a third addition, one much larger. This one is the real kind. Yes, we are finally taking the plunge. We officially are no longer renters but mortgage payers. We signed the papers on 10-11-12. :O)

We had to be some of the pickiest house hunters our real estate agent ever met. Our requirements? Not long on description, but very specific about one thing. Location. Location. Location. We were looking for a house in a tiny little area of Sacramento, namely the neighborhood we already live in. We were hoping for a place with less yard work and definitely not a pool. Our wonderful agent Austin Nejera would email us listing after listing in nearby areas, but he finally got used to our dogged stubbornness to stay planted right here.

Because of the limited area we were interested in, we only looked at three houses total, and put a bid on two of them.

The first one taught me to never tour a house on a rainy day. It was one of the few pouring down days we had last winter, and it made all the ickiness of the house seem even ickier. It was also too big, with another large room added on the back and an extra bathroom. It's just the two of us and we don't need so much space. That made it easier to say no to that dreary house.

The second house was so much nicer! It had a wonderful enclosed patio with lots of windows - the perfect room to stage a Moldovan party from. It also had a man cave in the backyard. I've come to be a real fan of the man cave. It was the same exact layout as the house we rent now and was on the street behind us. It was basically just paint then move-in ready. The kitchen was on the livable side of funky for my taste, and it would have been an easy transition. And I thought how wonderful to have a smaller yard to take care of. Our bid of $26,000 higher than the asking price was the second place finisher. Drat! We really, really wanted that house.

So we went back to waiting. It's sort of a strange feeling walking through your own neighborhood wondering which house will go on the market next. It made me feel like a home vulture.

And then we heard some news from our friends, a family who's presence in our neighborhood is one of the reasons why we love it here so. They were going to short sale and did we want to try to bid for it? Talk about feeling like a vulture. Us getting it would only happen if they lost it. My emotions were a wreck, I felt guilty for even wanting the place. We put in an offer at the asking price (this time with a "Beg Letter" with a picture of us and Molly in her kiddie pool) and the bank accepted our offer and we jumped through all the lending company hoops and it's official. We are buying a house in a great location, our own neighborhood. A house with a huge yard. And a pool. Yes, it has a pool. If the dog could talk, she would congratulate us for thinking like Golden Retrievers. Who knows, if she wasn't in the picture, literally, we might still be looking.

We submitted this with our offer. "We need a bigger pool!"

This was our first dog Kodie the night before he died, being spoiled by the kids of the house. Maybe we could just all live there?