December 23, 2009

New House

We bought our first house and closed the deal on Nov. 2, 2009. The search process seemed long because we were going out to open houses almost every Sunday and we saw many houses in the area we wanted to live. The general requirement was that it should be within 20 minutes driving to work. Then there are other requirements such as 3 bedrooms or more, 2 bathrooms or more, 2 attached garages, among other things. We looked for houses in the $200k to $300k range, as well as some that are in the 400k range. Each time we see a house, we would rank it from 1 to 10, where 10 being the ideal house. Each time Jenn and I will be pretty close; 5, 6, or 7 are common, and a few that gets the 8 rating. We began to realize that price does not necessarily correlate to quality, and the 430k house is not ranked higher than some that are $280k. By September, we were not seeing many new listings, so we felt we should make a decision at that point. What we did was making a trade-off matrix in Excel, with each relevant aspect of the house contributing to a total score. In each category, such as the back yard, we would have a few choices, such as big private yard getting a score of 9, small public yard getting a 1, and we give some categories different weighting factors. Each house would get an overall score, and very quickly we see a house that has 80% of what we want, and is still under $250k. That's the one we eventually decided on.

We went through the purchase contract, lawyer selection, home inspector selection, mortgage selection, and home owner's insurance selection before closing on the house. Each step was a new experience for us, and now we know a lot more about buying a house than when we started. One of the best decisons we made was our choosing our mortgage broker Bob LaPointe at Proline Mortgage, we were able to get 4.25% with no points at the time, virtually unheard of at any other bank or mortgage brokerages we found. We also like Bob because he thoroughly went through all of our questions, the transaction went through fast and without a glitch. We recommended Bob to all of our friends in the market for a house, even our Realtor started to recommend him to his clients.

The house is a raised ranch style house that faces south, close to work in a quiet neighborhood. There are 3 bedrooms, a dining room, a living room, and a kitchen on the upper floor, and there's laundry and family room and a bonus room on the lower floor, next to 2 attached garage. The garage is under the bedrooms, and some parts are not well insulated. I want to eventually increase the insulation there to improve the overall energy efficiency of the house.

The first thing we did after we got the house was raking leaves from the 3 maple trees we have in the front yard. We moved the leaves to the back yard in a pile for them to compost. It has since shrunk in size to about 1/4 of the original height.

The house has 2 fireplaces; one in the family room on the lower floor, one in the living room on the upper floor. We tried the bottom one out by burning some wood and it was fun. It doesn't work very well as a heat source because most of the heat is carried away by the exhaust gas, but it makes a good gathering place to have conversation and watch the fire. It functions like a TV to keep people entertained.

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