Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Pre-House Hunting Checklist

Buying a house is not something I know a lot about. Numbers make me nervous, so talking about mortgages cause little beads of sweat to appear on my palms. And I haven’t lived in Connecticut long. I can hardly find my way out of my own driveway, never mind pick out towns with the best school systems.

It goes without saying that I have absolutely no idea where to start.

I wanted to jump right in to the hunting part of this process. Keith has already spoken with a bank and we have been pre-qualified for a loan. And together we’ve done some research on what towns will be good for us. We considered their proximity to our jobs and school systems. We even took a drive last Sunday to scope out some of these towns for ourselves. One we thought we liked ended up having too much of a small-town feel for me, and we ended up discovering another that wasn’t even on our list before.

Pretty house with a wrap around porch, when will you be mine?

So why can’t we just start setting up showings and looking at houses already? 

1. My pinterest board is not done. So far for home inspiration I’ve got colored glassware from West Elm (which I don’t really need because I have a ton of glasses) and these fringe curtains that are not likely to fit in any house we end up purchasing. How can I possibly look for the house of my dreams if I haven’t created the mood board of my dreams?

2. We really should get pre-approved for a loan before we start poking our heads into houses. We went to see a few places, kind of like a test run, but if we want to make a serious offer we need to be able to back it up. We’ve been pre-qualified for a loan, which is just a nice way for the bank to say that unless we are lying about how much we make we will likely get a loan. Now we need to get pre-approved. The bank will run a credit check and do some other more official stuff and if we pass (which they already told us we would) they write a nice letter saying so.

3. We need a realtor. Sure, there’s Google and Zillow and Craigslist and Facebook and a million other places we can find houses we’d like to buy. But when it comes to the actual purchase of a house a realtor will help us through the sale, making sure we get what we want and we pay a fair price. So where do we find the right realtor for us? While I searched Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing, Keith picked up his cell and called the realtor he’d worked with when he bought his condo. One Realtor, check! 

4. I have to wish my brother a Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday, Phil! Sadly, he is still deployed and I doubt he will have much of a birthday celebration. Maybe a picture on the blog will make up for that?

 Phil celebrating his 21st birthday in style.

It’s a close call. Hopefully this and that copy of Catching Fire I send him will help!

Once the pre-home buying checklist has been complete we can start making appointments to view houses. Of course we still have a lot more options to narrow down, like do we want to do a full renovation or do we want a move in ready house? What are our “deal breakers”? And which town do we REALLY want to live in?


But I’m taking it all one step at a time. Tell me, what were some of the first things you did when you bought a house? What steps am I missing?

Friday, April 20, 2012

House Hunting: Let the Games Begin!

Good things come in pairs. Our first wedding anniversary is right around the corner. And it looks like our first home is, too.

It's not what you think. We have yet to make an offer on a property. Or even see a property that we want to make an offer on. But we have begun the house hunt. We looked at two houses Wednesday after work. Both were in need of a little TLC so it was a little hard for me to picture myself living in the spaces. However, a fixer-upper is exactly what we are looking for. Keith likes to get his hands dirty renovating houses and I like things my way. It's a perfect combination. Keith can have as much fun as he likes covered in saw dust and dry wall and I can get the 2.5 bathrooms and a walk-in closet of my dreams. 

We'd also like a house near the water with a porch we can drink wine on while watching the waves crash onto the shore. 
Is that too much to ask for?

This house hunting thing is still new, so I am very excited.

Ask me in a few months and I may be singing a different tune.

Fingers crossed. I'm a very bad singer.

I am the newest of newbies when it comes to anything real estate related. It's true that my husband has spent a lot of time learning the trade these last few years. And while I've helped out at some of the properties and tuned into more episodes of Flip This House than I can count, there is a lot that goes over my head.

Luckily, Keith gets it. He's met with the bank and we have been pre-qualified for a mortgage. He's figured out how much we can afford. And he's researched nearby towns and school systems to help us determine where we want to look. Oh yea, he's also started contacting a few real estate agents in those particular towns to set up showings. I have such a good husband.

What have I done?

I started a Pin board with inspiration for a wallpapered bathroom.

Alright. I hear ya. Bathroom design is very important, but it's time for me to get my head in the game. I want to learn all about buying a house. I want to know what to look for when we walk through houses. And I want to not be confused when the listing agent says something like, "I can sharpen my pencil for you." 

I prefer to write important contracts in pen. But if sharp pencils mean lower prices, I'll take them.

Like it or not, I'm going to take you all along with me on this journey to home ownership. If you're buying your first home than I hope my posts help. If you've already done so than I expect you to at least laugh along. Just as long as you're laughing with me and not at me!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Special Delivery: Our Wedding Images Are In!

Excitement is high! Last week I received the most wonderful piece of priority mail—a beautifully wrapped CD containing our wedding images. Since we didn’t hire a videographer, these images are even more special to us. Other than what’s stored in our mind, they are the only window we have into that special day. Loading them up on my computer and pouring through the files brought back so many memories that I had forgotten about. Like this shot of me grabbing my headpiece after our first dance. Keith had just dipped me—the finishing move we had practiced over and over again—and when he picked me back up the headband that was securely fastened into my head shifted a little and I reached to my hair to fix it back into place. We are both smiling because we know we just totally nailed that dance. I love this picture so much because it not only brought back a memory that I had sort of forgotten about, but it’s a moment that only Keith and I know about. Even though we were in front of a room full of people, none of them will have the same memory when they see this picture.

 The first dance. Photo by Cynthia Brown.

I wanted to more more of my favorite images from the day, which happened to be snapped at another of my favorite moments. Before cocktail hour, the bridal party settled down in a bridal suite where a bar and some food had been set up. There were leather armchairs and dark wood paneled walls that made you feel like you were relaxing in a very rich person’s library. Mr. Lawn Club’s Library. The guys all poured themselves bourbon and started posing in front of the fireplace for an impromptu photo session. Naturally I had to be part of the fun, too. So I jumped in did my best impression of Elizabeth Bennett. Little did I know what was going on behind me.

 In the bridal suite at the New Haven Lawn Club. Photo by Cynthia Brown.

Our wedding album is in production! And I’m getting together more images from the big day to share. It’s a wedding photo explosion and it’s all in time for our one-year anniversary.


Friday, April 13, 2012

A Career Change for the Wife

I’ve got some exciting news! I recently started a new job. Actually, I recently started a new career. It was a big, bold and kind of scary move but it was time for a change. I took a deep breath, pinched my nose and dove head first into the wonderful world of wedding and event planning.

Now everyday is new and exciting. I’ve met fascinating people (florists, photographers and cake bakers, oh my!) I love working along with such creative people and taking in all their talents.

What I love about this job is how different each day is. I have plenty of time in the studio to work on projects that really get me thinking. But I also get to roll up my sleeves and do some heavy lifting. Literally. Those bistro tables and receptions chairs don’t get set up by themselves.

photo by Cynthia Brown

You can read all about my new gig here.

It is so refreshing to wake up excited to get dressed and get down to business. Seriously, life is so great when your job feels like more fun than it does work. And it’s too short to not do what you love! I am so glad I made the decision to change careers. 

I hope everyone else is enjoying this sunny Friday as much as I am! Tell me, what's new with you?


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Honeymoon is Over: A Fresh Start for Follow the Wife

  If the honeymoon has to end, it might as well end with a cocktail and a creepy totem pole.

Greetings, blog readers. It’s been quiet here for a while, but I hope you’re still there. I can explain: I took a short hiatus to do some reflecting on the meaning of this blog. I started writing Follow the Bride posts over at Creative Odds ‘n Ends to chronicle my wedding planning adventures. It became a place to gather opinions and share the many tips I was learning along the way. I love that I now have each step of the planning process documented and can look back on that exciting time whenever I want. It’s sometimes hard to believe that a year ago today Keith and I had just attended the final walk through at our wedding venue. I blinked and suddenly we are one month away from our first anniversary. How did that happen?!

Since last spring I’ve been writing about my new adventures as a married woman. I’ve shared my favorite pictures from our honeymoon and discussed important family purchases. I created this blog to illustrate my journey through wifedom. My hope is that it picks up where all the wedding blogs leave off to give readers and intimate and honest look at what it’s like to be a newlywed. Recently, though, things were getting a little cluttered and I didn’t think my message was getting through. Well, I’ve polished off the old thinking cap and I’m ready to take a second crack at it. Here we go, folks. As they like to say, "The honeymoon is over!"