Saturday, October 24, 2009


I have almost made it through the month of October without any major calamities. The closing on the house is set for "Nov 4th or sooner". I'm hoping for sooner. It's been 35 days since I signed the contract, and it's been 35 days of anticipation. Most everything is boxed up - the kitchen cabinets and my clothes in the bedroom are about all that's left. Today the flapper broke on the toilet here, and it just goes to figure! So I went to Ace Hardware and bought a new one, as well as a new globe for the light over the sink which broke last year and I never replaced it. I'm a little nervous about being a homeowner and having to repair and replace such things. A four dollar flapper is no big deal, but I'm going to have major appliances, A/C and roof and screens, etc. to care for. I stopped by my new house two days ago to bring in the trash cans, and so I popped my head inside the atrium. It had just rained so it was good to see how wet it gets and where. I noticed a small tree frog in the atrium, and pondered how he could have gotten inside. I thought perhaps he was born there. Then I looked up and noticed a rip in one of the screens in the skylights. Darn. That'll need to be fixed pronto, as I plan on opening the doors and windows to the fresh air outside. I'm getting a little nervous about monthly expenses. My monthly mortgage payments will actually be less than my rent, here, but I have taxes and insurance to figure in, and a homeowners' association fee. I'll also have a larger area to cool, so my electric bill will be higher. I'll have to start driving my car to and from work - as opposed to my bicycle - so there's gas expenses. I won't be coming home for lunch as frequently - especially once season starts - so I'll need to plan ahead and pack a lunch, or suffer the cost of eating out. And once I have my great new home, I'll have guests over far more frequently, and entertaining is an added expense. Not to mention the invisible fencing for Gracie, the removal of the rooms-full of hideous wallpaper, replacing the old carpeting, all the cosmetic stuff to make it homey. I hope Sarah and Lauren aren't expecting big Christmas presents this year!! Days like today are making me crazy: I don't have to go in to the office, but feel as though I shouldn't be "recreating" when I have to move - soon. It's almost as if I'm going through the motions...
The anticipation is killing me!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

closer to the move

I turned the A/C off yesterday - first time since spring. I opened up the windows before going to bed. When I opened my eyes at 7:00 this morning, it was sixty degrees in the house! Our first cold front of the season. Since I have been out of touch with the local news, etc., I have no idea if this will be a brief front, or if we're in for the cooler weather for awhile. It's nice when it's cool around Halloween; it makes dressing up in costumes and carving pumpkins all the more enjoyable.
Gracie is in heat. She turned a year in mid August, so I've been anticipating this. I took her to a dog park last weekend and she was certainly of interest to many of the male canines there. It will be good for her to go through the majority of this cycle before moving to our new home. Everything happens for a [good] reason, so the postponment of the closing on the house has been fortuitous for Gracie.
Packing is reasonably well underway. Everything that I don't absolutely need has been boxed, labeled and stacked up in the front room. All photos/ artwork are off the walls, save two large mirrors that are hanging in the living room. They're quite heavy and are just as easily kept where they are until time to move them. I won't be taking my everyday dishes with me - I have more than enough sets of dishes - Sarah has expressed an interest in having the everyday stuff, so that makes it easy. I'll have to sort through the miscellaneous plastic storage containers, and some pots and pans that are missing handles or such - no need to move the junk. It has all served my purpose quite well for the past four years, but now it's time for a whole new chapter in my life.
It is a whole new chapter in my life. This will be the first time in 27 years that I will not be living on the beach. Some folks ask me how do I think I will adjust. I love Fort Myers Beach but the past year or so it has become increasingly difficult to live where I work. Politics in a small town. I am looking forward to making new friends in the wonderful new neighborhood to which I am moving. I am looking forward to having my own home - to being able to give Gracie a yard, to putting my plants in the dirt, establishing a new garden. I'll have a dishwasher - HURRAY! I will have ample dining areas to once again entertain my friends, and have dinner parties. I will have a garage! (I have never had a garage! how novel!!) and my garage will have an automatic door opener that I will keep in my car. Darn - if I'm not moving up in the world! (lol!) ...and the master suite ....ahhhh.... the's a dream come true. I dream of how I'll decorate - color schemes, applying feng shui. This house was made for me - according to feng shui, I am a 'west' person, so the front door of my home should face west. It does. The decor in this house has a tremendous asian influence. I don't know if the former occupants were of asian decent or if it was just their taste, but much of the house conforms with the feng shui philosophy. And it all seems just made for me.
I have arranged for the transfer of utilities. I have a plan for moving, but until I have a firm closing date, I can't put that plan in motion. ONe element that I have not confirmed is what to do about TV-PHONE-INTERNET. Presently, I have Embarq for phone and DSL for internet. I have comcast cable for TV, but someone besides me is paying for it (it was in place when I moved in). I haven't figured out what I want to do. I also need to buy a new computer, as I am down to using my work laptop (shhh...don't tell). so I thought it'd be best to incorporate a new IT system in my new home complete with a new computer and new provider. Problem is, I'm not up on the latest technologies, and am at a loss as to where to begin. Techno-geeks out there, I welcome your input.
It is all so very exciting. I can't get out of this place quickly enough. Maybe because I know I have a fresh new place to live, I notice the run down-ness of my surroundings. This move really feels right. There was a time I considered moving out of the county, even out of the state. That could be a possibility in the future, but for now, this move is right. It's meant to be.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stress has got the drop on me....

I just returned from Lake Buena Vista after 3 days of 'clerk school'. I rode with Dianne from Bonita. What a delightfully charming lady. I truly enjoy her company. This was the first time I've attended 'the academy' for the 3 days. Until now, my attendance was for a full week, but now I'm running with the big kids. ;) My name badge now has a sticker that says ADVANCED as opposed to FIRST YEAR or SECOND YEAR or THIRD YEAR . Woohooo!
I was anxious to get home, though, as the house buying thing is ever on my mind. Let me say right now, that if you are in the market to purchase a home, do not - i repeat DO NOT - use Wells Fargo. I assume that they are not interested in making conventional loans: They will do government loans, i.e., FHA OR VA, because they are secured. Maybe Wells Fargo is in such deep doo-doo with the housing market that this is the only way they can hope to survive. They wasted over three weeks of my time going through the motions of writing a loan. I pushed for some numbers and gave them a deadline. Two weeks before closing, I called and asked for some final numbers. "Don't worry, you're approved - it's just a matter of how much you need to bring to the table. " Then there was chatter about my income to debt ratio: I have co-signed for loans for both of my daughters: auto loan and education loans. I explained things, sent documents, made phone calls. This was Tuesday, two weeks before closing. I informed them that I would be out of town the better part of the next week (clerk school) and that I needed some numbers by Friday. They assured me that there was no problem, and that they would have the final numbers for me by Friday.

Friday noon I got an e-mail from the Wells Fargo mortgage consultant and the subject was requesting I call him when I got the e-mail. I called him and he said that I needed to bring $98,000. to the table. Yes, you read correctly: NINETY-EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS.

I chose to apply for my mortgage loan with Wells Fargo because they are the recent parent company of Wachovia, which is the bank that has had my business for sometime. The local branch is a very good group of people with whom I have a great history and rapore. When I told them of my experience, they were genuinely mortified. They are retrieving some of my expense for the appraisal and application fee.

I'm now with a mortgage broker, a woman I have known for nearly ten years and whose office is here on the island. The closing is set for Nov 4 or before, the appraisal is set for Monday morning, the underwriters have given their conditions which can easily be met. The survey is done, there's clear title. An interesting piece in this is that the CD I have with Wachovia is sent to mature on 10/24/09, so I am not subject to the penalty that would have resulted with the 10/20/09 closing date. It's all GOOD! We're good to go!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's been a fast and furious fall

I was doing quite well, there, for awhile, chronicling my excellent Alaskan vacation. Then one friday afternoon, I took a drive through a neighborhood that was of interest to me for shopping to buy a home. I saw a few homes with for sale signs and I jotted down the addresses and the realtors' names and numbers. Saturday morning I called one of the realtors, and she was very un-friendly to me, almost rude. She told me the asking price, and I said, "That's high ..." and she didn't say anything. So I said, "That's high for this neighborhood." and the realtor told me about another house in another neighborhood that was a short sale. I clearly sensed this realtor didn't want my business. She said the house I'd called on was vacant, so why didn't I go look around, and if I wanted to see inside to call her back. I hung up and called Deborah, a friend and realtor who has been successful even in this market. "Would you be willing to help me with this?" I met her in her office and she called the realtor and we drove up to the house and looked inside. It was a dream home. On a lake, landscaped with beautiful gardens, even a doggie door from the garage to a fenced area. Nicely tiled throughout, great porches and updated kitchen and baths. The asking price was $220,000. Appraisals for this neighborhood were coming in around $165,000-$185,000. We wrote up and offer of $170,000., I got a pre-approval letter from the bank and we submitted the offer. The seller never even countered - just flat out refused the offer. We were dumbfounded. But Deborah was determined to get me a house, and signed me up with I looked at hundreds of houses online, and dozens on foot. I looked at short sales, forclosures, and good old fashioned homes for sale. Some had pools, some had yards, some needed alot of work. The short sales were sad: clearly folks just walked away - leaving belongings, even dirty dishes and food. I looked at what I would call McMansions - brand new homes - never lived in - tiled throughout, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, simply gorgeous. But they were built right to the set-backs, and in new - or newer - developments. I wanted mature vegetation, and a yard.
Then I noticed on listingbook a house in a neighborhood called Heritage Farms, which had mature vegetation and nice sprawling homes in a quiet area. I placed it in my favorites, and drove by to see it. We had been having a lot of rain, and this neighborhood backs up to the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, so it was a good time to see how wet it gets back in there. The lot was half an acre with mature live oak trees. I didn't get out of the car, just drove by and checked out the neighborhood. It needed some work, it appeared, but otherwise it was very charming. Deborah called me the next day: "I see in your favorites a house in Heritage Farms - do you want to go look at it?" We drove up after work. Deborah learned that the house had been empty for two years. The occupant was an elderly woman who suffered from alzheimers. She had a dog, that messed throughout, and the master bath needed work. It was 4 bed/ 3 bath. We walked in the front door, and it was a goofy layout - it had two living rooms and two dining rooms, with a kitchen smack in the middle. There was obvious signs of a leaking roof, and the master bath didn't need work, it needed to be completely redone. A friend of mine who makes his living as a building inspector offered to give me a free look, so I took him up on the offer. He pointed out signs of copper piping that were damaged, signs that the floors had water damage, obvious roof damage, and so on. There was a large oak near the rear corner that was uprooting the foundation, and low hanging limbs that were beating the roof. Money Pit. The seller should raze the building. It was disappointing.
I returned home and adjusted the search criteria in listing book. As I browsed through dozens of homes, I told myself that I'd just wait - obviously the time wasn't right.
The next morning, Deborah called me and asked if I'd considered McGregor Woods. "No," I said, "I don't want to live in a gated community with Homeowners Associations that tell you how to live your life" "McGregor Woods is different" she said. "I'll send you the listing." That was Friday morning and I was busy at work and didn't give it another thought. At 4:30, Deborah called. She was going to go look at the house in McGregor Woods, did I want to meet her there? I reluctantly said yes - reluctant because I'd become discouraged. She and her husband were already there when Gracie and I pulled up. The house was darling. The neighborhood is beautiful, lovely landscaping, peaceful and well maintained. The house was perfect. The back yard backed up to a drainage swale and a wooded area, the side yard was adjacent to a large common area of lawns. 3 bed/ 2 bath, very well maintained. Sunken living room with cathedral ceilings, formal dining room as well as breakfast nook, screened porch and patio outside. But the best part was the master bedroom suite. Large room, walk in closet, master bath with large walk-in shower beautifully tiled. Both the bedroom and the bath had sliding glass doors that opened into an atrium!!! This is truly a dream home. "Do you love it?" Deborah asked. "Yes!" "Do you love it enough to make an offer?" YES! The asking price was $220,000. We went back to her office and wrote up an offer of $180,000. The next morning came a counteroffer of $195,000. which we accepted. That was September 19th, and closing is set for October 20.
I have been busy packing. It couldn't come at a better time, because of difficulties here where I'm renting. I can't get out soon enough. I'm going to love my new home!
so I probably won't finish my alaskan vacation chronicle - we are now in home ownership mode!