Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Home-Buyer's Chronicles - Part... I don't even know anymore

October 1.

October 1.

October 1.

No, I am not going through my collection of One-Day-a-Year calendars, I'm soothingly reminding myself that my life may once again resemble something normal on October 1. On that date, I'll have been in my new home for two weeks, allowing time to complete some light painting, quick handy-work*, and generally make the new (and by "new" I mean "very old") house mine. October 1 will also mean that my busiest season at work is complete and that the sort of heat that even islanders despise will be a thing of the past. C'mon, unaptly named 10th month of the year!

*Note to self: Learn how to be handy.

Until October 1, I'll continue wondering how hectic my work days might end up, pondering whether I'm going to be notified that I need to move out of my apartment as soon as possible, contemplating how much of a pain scraping old paint off my home is going to be, and speculating where my next unexpected home expense might pop up. On top of that, I'll regretfully probably continue treating my blog like my George Foreman grill: enjoying it when I actually take the time to make the most of it, but neglecting it far too much... This worries me, as I'm not really sure where the grease drained from the blog ends up.

Oh dear.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

When I was 29

I woke up this morning with a song in my head. Strange, no doubt. Stranger still was the fact that said song was "Goin' Down the Bayou" from the animated Disney film "The Princess and the Frog." That's right, my 30th year on this planet began with a song from one of my niece's favorite films. As a result, I'm not really sure what to expect in the coming months.*

*I should probably take a quick moment to explain the "Princess and the Frog" thing. Believe it or not, the DVD does not sit on my shelf. Instead, it lies on the hard drive of my parents' Dish DVR. As a result, my niece suggests watching it nearly every time she's at the home of Grandpa Kevin and Grandma Mary. Naturally, by "suggests" I mean "insists on." I'm not saying that she has her uncle wrapped around her finger, but I've watched the motion picture with her approximately 418 times, including twice in one day on multiple occasions. If I ever craft a Writing concerning the correlation between Voodoo magic and frog prevalence, you know I've officially lost my mind. Please send help.

It's true. Today is the anniversary of my birth. (Or so I'm told... I don't really remember the event.) I've officially been around for 29 years- a fact that may surprise many who probably feel that no one could put up with me for that long. (My family is - thankfully - very patient.) The number 29 doesn't mean much in regard to age, other than the fact that it means I'm starting my 30th year. On Aug. 20, 2012, I'll officially be in my 30s.


With such an idea in mind, it seems obvious that I should have really celebrated today, making it quite the party, one that all might envy.

Then again, partying is a lot of work, and - as I've already proven with solid, unbudging numbers - I'm old.

Instead of revelry or party games, my day began (once I'd cleared all Disney songs from my mind) with a trip to Waldenbooks. The bookstore chain is going out of business and, as a result, all books are currently discounted 40-60% off normal prices. That's right: thriftiness seems to be an inherent trait once one turns 29.

Eight books and an awkward conversation with the 60-year-old clerk later, I was out of the store and well on my way to the next adventure: buying toiletries at Target. (Wooooo!) Think of your most nondescript trip to Target... This one mirrored it. The closest thing to an interesting observation that came out of this turn as a consumer was the fact that the clerk who manned the check out counter said "See ya later," as I departed. I nearly turned around and asked him "Will you really?", but fought off such notions... I do hope he wasn't serious, though. I can't afford a stalker.

After Target, I ate lunch at Sonic (where the employee did not note which stall I had ordered from, leading a poor carhop to tote my Sonic burger combo from one vehicle to another, asking if said driver has ordered it... Mmmm. Cold tater tots) and then walked from my apartment down through Aggieville to get a quick taste of the choas that is the first weekend of the summer that all students are back to campus. (Cars and people everywhere... Despite my courtesy wave, I was almost run down while crossing at a crosswalk in the shopping district... Yes, I'm ready to be a small-towner again.)8

*Please free to use this description of a day's events as a sleep aid in the future.

This evening brought K-State's fan appreciation event (there's a reason that schools don't sell tickets to practices) and dinner with two great family members who are gracious enough to tolerate my pointless observations. Now, I sit on my couch with the Royals one television. No, it has not been a day of anything resembling wild parties, but it has been a pretty nice little birthday. I like 29.

Looking back, I've realized that the last month has been about as eventful as any in my life. I've searched for a house, found a house, agreed to buy a house, signed 486 papers relating to said house, been curious about the future of my company, been curious about the future of my job, been acquired - along with my company - by a much larger company, been working long days with no lunch breaks, been picking up more freelance work than I've ever done before, been enjoying the company of friends and family on a basis more frequent than any time since I graduated from college, been seconds away from a head-on collision and perhaps inches away from rolling my car as a result, been fortunate enough to have my health and great people around me, and now... now I'm officially older.

What will life as a 29er bring?

Beyond a new home, new bosses, and new awkward encounters each and every day (guaranteed), I really have no clue.

That said, I'm looking forward to finding out.*

*A decent football season would be a nice start.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Home-Buyer's Chronicles - Part Three

"The waiting is the hardest part." - Tom Petty (and/or Heartbreakers)

If there's one thing I've learned throughout the home-buying process, it's that you should never offer to pay for a home with your baseball card collection. If there's a second thing I've learned, it's that attempting to buy a home involves an awful lot of waiting.

That's been the theme since my last Writing: waiting. We knocked out the official home inspection; then it was time to wait for results. (Official verdict: not bad.) We then waited longer for results from the radon test. (Official result: not great.) Now, we wait for the official report from the official appraiser. Said report was supposed to be completed today so that I could officially make a post-inspection response, but I was informed upon meeting with the realtor that the report is officially not done. As a result, I'm officially waiting even longer. This is officially painstaking.

Nonetheless, the waiting has not been a completely horrible thing. After all - as previously mentioned in this depository of written thought - August tends to be the busiest time of year around my office. (Now you realize why I did not date much in college*; Timing is not my thing.) Beyond that, I've had a chance recently to pick up some more freelance work (yes, I realize that the idea of people using things I write to actually generate money is absurd). This all means that my line of thinking cannot afford to be 100-percent consumed by all that's involved with buying a home, which means that the waiting cannot drive me completely insane and the lack of activity has allowed me to maintain my current status as a competent employee. (Note: "Competent" is a relative term.)

*Clarification: That's one (of many) reason(s) I did not date much in college that doesn't involved NCAA Football on the Gamecube.

As things currently stand, I wait to hear what the appraiser thinks of the place. From there, it's time to jump back into more meetings, more negotiation, and - potentially - more waiting.

Hmmm. Now I guess I know what it feels like when people wait for me to actually post some new content. D'oh.

"Ah, the waiting game sucks! Let's play Hungry, Hungry Hippos." - Homer Simpson

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Home-Buyer's Chronicles - Part Two

Note to self: Next time you decide to cannonball into the pool of obligation that is house-hunting, make sure that you are not in the midst of your busiest season at work. You'll thank me later.

When we last left our story's hero, he was fending off the advances of women who wanted him for his home-purchasing power*. Since that time, his life has been consumed by meetings. Lots and lots of meetings.

*Raise your hand if you just responded, "Take what you can get."

First, there was a meeting to be preapproved for a loan. As far as meetings go, this one was fairly painless. One simply listens to the bank employee explain things, provides financial information, and then learns what sort of loan he-or-she might be preapproved for. Ah yes, there's also a short period of silent-prayer that one takes part in when the man behind the desk checks one's credit.

Next up, I checked out a house and met with a realtor. Taking full advantage of my multitasking (/lazy) nature, I combined my realtor meet-and-greet with my first home viewing. Did things go well? I'd like to think so. Was the experience endlessly awkward? I can confirm that to be true. You see, when it comes to spur-of-the-moment questions, I'm pretty horrible at generating them. It's for this reason that I'm a horrible reporter, a horrible first date, and a horrible house-hunter. Are there an abundance of questions that one should ask when viewing a potential home for the first time? Absolutely. Did my mind generate any of those questions? Certainly not. Luckily for me, I had backup. Like a rich-beyond-comprehension rapper, I showed up to the house-viewing with a posse in tow: my parents, my brother, and his wife. The realtor may have thought we were a lost tour group at first, but she was soon answering questions from all members of the party. Whew.

Days after checking it out, I decided it would be worthwhile to make an offer on the home. Enter: another meeting. This time around, I had the chance to practice my signature... Plenty of chances to do so, in fact. Like a professional athlete at a trading card show, I jotted the letters that comprise my name endlessly. There were papers to make the offer, papers to seek a warranty, and papers to choose a pest inspector. At some point I went cross-eyed and my signature began to resemble little more than two horizontal lines. I attempted to keep up with all the sheets of paper that the realtor explained as I was signing, but the task proved to be a bit like driving while building a medieval castle out of toothpicks. Can I be certain that I did not sign anything that might donate my first born to the Malevolent Order of Slack-Jawed Yokels? No. No I can't.

Once the seller had my offer, negotiations ensued. He demanded I pay more money. I demanded that a Mercedes come with the home. (I drive a hard bargain.) He demanded that I send chocolate cupcakes every Thursday of the Lenten season. I demanded that a professional wrestler perform a puppet show in the backyard on closing day. The game went back and forth, but eventually a deal was struck. We were in agreement. Once I made the offer official, I'd be that much closer to owning a home. Alas, you know what that meant: more meetings, more signatures. And I'm only just beginning.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Home-Buyer's Chronicles - Part 1

When you're looking to buy a home, everyone wants to help. Such is the lesson I learned recently.

As I mentioned a couple weeks back, I've decided to enter the housing market for the first time in my near-29 years. It's a fairly big decision, but after 10 years of paying rent/housing fees for dorms, apartments, and condemned structures that a "landlord" attempts to pass of as an apartment*, it's time to own. It's time to have a yard to mow, home projects to think about, and solicitors to turn away. It's time.

*If you read ill-will in that statement, dear reader, congratulations, you're perceptive! Here's a lesson kids: don't sublease for an old friend if the building looks like it might fall over as the result of an ill-timed sneeze.

In attempt to share the news that I now consider myself a prospective home-buyer, I recently posted something about it* to Twitter (and, thanks to the wonder of importing, Facebook). I didn't really expect much of a response. Naturally, my best guess was wrong. Within minutes of posting, I had comments wishing me luck, telling me to enjoy house-hunting, and offering tips on homes to check out. Alas, the strangest response was yet to come.

*Odds are strong that I deemed the comment clever, as I often set that as criteria for anything I post to Twitter... Odds are also strong that - since it came from my head - it really wasn't clever at all.

When I checked Twitter that afternoon, I noticed that a follower had sent me a comment. A female follower.

An admirer?

Not exactly.

The comment was from a girl I once went on a date with. Said date lives in infamy as the strangest I've been on. You see, we met for ice cream and shared awkward conversation (an area of which I'm well-experienced). I did not feel as if things were proceeding horribly (aside from the fact that she mentioned that she had read this very blog, but then outright admitted that she could not even remember the subject of the post she'd read), but after just 45 minutes, she not-so-subtly mentioned that she had to leave soon to let out some hounds that she was dog-sitting. "Soon" can be a relative term, so I figured she might mean after another 20 or 30 minutes... Not five minutes later, she was thanking me for a dish of overpriced ice cream and bolting for the door. Being the gentleman that I am, I caught up and walked her to her car, wading through a stream of confusion with each step. Had I said something offensive? Did these dogs really exist, and - if so - did they suffer from night-blindness? Had I forgotten to wear pants? Was I simply repulsive?

I chose to give her the benefit of the doubt and emailed the date later that week. A response never came. It was a strange turn of events, but there's little about dating that I might deem "normal" or "expected." I've used the situation as an anecdote of dates gone awry since that time.

And now? Well, now she's offered her realty services in helping me find a home.

The moral? Guys, women are only interested in you for your ability to net them commission on the sale of a small home in a rural area.

What, no good? Offensive? Dang it.

Okay, let's try this:

When you're looking to buy a home, EVERYONE wants to help. MOST of it is appreciated.