Sunday, May 29, 2011

Going Against Protocol

Yesterday was a whirlwind, beautiful, sun-kissed day. It started with a call from our realtor, saying that the sellers want to move forward with the appraisal (without waiting for the aeration tank to be completed). The reason for this is because Ohio has had SO SO many rain days in a row and it could take another month or so for the septic/aeration tank people to catch up and complete our job. The existing tank is functional, so it wouldn't be like we'd be moving in without the ability to use the toilets/sinks and the owners have said the if the work isn't done prior to closing they will put the funds in an escrow account to complete the work after closing. We are making sure that this won't cause issues with our loan but if everything is fine, we agreed to do this. Which means we could be closing on the house in just a couple of weeks!!!!
Speaking of the house, since we were missing the house (it's been a little bit since we've even driven past - the house is an hour from where we live and it's hard to find the time to just drive an hour there, drive past the house and drive an hour back) we decided to drive out there and visit Hueston Woods State Park to see what it has to offer (answer: LOTS!)...a swimming pool, beach, boating, paintball, target practice, hiking, camping, a lodge, a beautiful restaurant (all within 10 minutes from our house). As we were driving past the house, we saw who we thought were the owners out front unloading chairs from a pick up truck, into the house. I forced Mark to stop (Mark is shy and although I'm shy as well, I'm also adventurous) - so I got out of the car and ask the woman if she was the home owner - she said yes(? - confused why I was asking) - and I said "I'm the buyer!" and she said - YOU MUST BE SHELBY!!!! We walked closer and shook hands. I told her we were probably breaking the rules by stopping by - but we couldn't resist. We spent around 1-1 1/2 hours there walking around the property, talking about how much we loved their home and they said they love our home...since soon, it will be ours. :-) They told us some stories about the house, including that there are some blocks out in our treeline where slaves used to hide, as part of the underground railroad. There also used to be a blacksmith shop where they would shoe horses out behind our house and when the farmer tills the field, sometimes you can horseshoes and other treasures (I think we need a metal detector). We ended our visit with a hug and an open invitation that they could come visit THEIR home whenever they were in the area.
We went to Hueston Woods and walked around the lodge a bit, played some games in the game room, stared at the HUGE lake and hiked. Then we drove to my parents' camp - which is about an hour and 1/2 from our house. We grilled hot dogs, the kids went swimming in the pool (WAY TOO COLD FOR ME), saw two deer and a snake, made s'mores, sat by the camp fire and then drove home with three very sleepy children.
After a short game of SkipBo, Mark and I slipped off to sleep and slept until nearly 10:00 AM (unheard of for us...especially in this house) - but everyone was quiet, we apparently were tired and snuggly...this is just a great weekend...and there is still today and tomorrow to go!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

So I've been thinkin'

Ok - first, a quick house update :: the sellers came back to us and asked if we'd be willing to help with the cost of the installation of the new aeration system. We went back to them with two options:
Option 1. We leave the purchase price at $135,000; however, instead of them paying $4500 at closing, we'd bring $2000 to the table. Unfortunately that would mean that we wouldn't be able to purchase their tractor mower, snow blower or other tools (in the amount of $850)
Option 2. We would up the purchase price to $139,000 and leave the closing cost amount the same. Obviously this is a more attractive offer to the sellers (and us); however, if the sellers need the money sooner than later then this option wouldn't work for them.
Yesterday, we received the sellers' sign back - they took the $139,000 offer and agreed to fix everything on our list!!! We signed all that paperwork and sent it back to the realtor. We also received a bunch of new paperwork to sign from our lender (that is signed/scanned and emailed back).
Now, we wait until the ground dries up enough to install the aeration system. Once installed we can have the appraisal done (Mark is not worried about this part at all...I am!) - then we wait for the FINAL approval from the Rural Development Office (our lender says 99.9% of the time this comes back just fine...RD assumes that everyone has done their job correctly to get to that point and they only balk when someone forgets to cross a T or dot an i). It's starting to feel real people!

Now, with some other news...
I've been thinking about something. Our house means many, many things to us. One of those things is having the ability to create a healthier diet for our family. More home grown - more time and space to prepare (this place makes us WANT to cook) - more storage space to store preserved food. You get the idea. In combination with that and our local Kroger being more like 20 minutes away, instead of five, I've been thinking about challenging our family something pretty grandiose. Originally, my plan started as a thought of being prepared - for disaster (natural or stupid-humans), financial issues...whatever the world throws at us. Then, I thought...I wonder if our family could ever go an entire year without going into a grocery store. Is this possible? I mean, what about toilet paper? What about Hershey Bars? What about everything!? Well, I just think that means we need to prepare. When we buy toilet paper, buy an extra pack so that eventually, we'll have enough to last. Learn what we can live without. Learn what we could never live without and keep a stash (come on...a year? A girl needs her chocolate from time to time). So when do I propose that we do something wacky like this? Well, this year we haven't been able to plant a garden (with the house on hold and not wanting to plant here at the apartment), or financially prepare to do something like this. I'd love to be able to say that we'd be ready around next planting season...Maybe June 1st, 2012? I think that would be our extreme goal 6.1.12-6.1.13 without grocery stores! This sounds like a big challenge with a HUGE reward. I need to still talk to Mark about all this (if you are reading this...Hi honey) - but it excites me. I'm so sick of the grocery store I cannot even stand it and the thought of walking into my front yard and grabbing a couple peaches, instead of opening the Kroger brand container...Pure Joy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Septic - Home Buying Update

The Preble County Health Inspector came out to make the final decision on the septic tank of the home we are purchasing. Unfortunately, the entire septic needs to be caved in and abandoned. The inspector is requiring that an aeration system be installed with an upflow filter and up to 250' of EQ 36 - I have no idea what most of that means...just copying from the report. If anyone reading has experience with the newer aeration systems, I'd love input. The reason he is requiring this route, rather than a new septic and leach field is because the amount of space we have on that side of our property. Even though we have 1.3+ acres, the house sit on the property in a way that about 25% of the land lays on the septic side and 75% lays on the other side.
We got these results last night and immediately sent the sellers our request for them to replace the septic according to the health inspector's requirements and fix a few other minor issues. At this point, we have offered no additional money, although we are not against sharing some of the costs - we just want to see where they stand. At this point, the ball is in their court - they should have received the request last night around 6:00 I am hoping that we hear back from them today. We'll let you know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Oh my...all this rain. It's killing me! We are stuck inside, thinking about the house...and thinking about the house and thinking about the house some more. Good news - our loan came back from underwriting...APPROVED...Nice! But then we also got the final word from the septic inspection and we for sure need a new septic. OY! So now, we are waiting for the "Post Inspection Report" to be sent to us and then forwarded to the sellers. We shall see what they say. Hoping that this isn't a big issue for them and they will just say YES!
Look at our amazing house...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bad Septic Bad!

So the inspections were yesterday. Several were scheduled at the same time - the termite/wood boring insect inspection...this part went well. There appeared to be some termite damage, in the garage, and carpenter bees, in the carport. For around $1000 this would all be taken care of.
The chimney inspection was pushed to Tuesday - the home owners already said that the fireplace is "as is"; however, we just wanted to have an idea of what might be wrong with it.
We did the whole home inspection. This was essentially a 3 1/2 - 4 hour walk through our house, testing toilet flushes, checking electric outlets, water flow, door locks etc. Overall, the house appears to be in great shape, especially considering it is 100+ years old. The inspector mentioned a couple things that we need to have checked, for example the bathrooms don't have GFI plugs installed (which will most likely be an issue for the auditor/lender)...nothing too major though.
The septic. The gentleman that owns the company has a hurt shoulder and was not going to be able to make it and he sent his brother in his place. The man had a slightly difficult time finding the tank. Uh Oh. So he finally finds it, and digs a little, pokes a little and then I hear him come in the back door. "Ma'am?" (he could hear me in the living room talking with Kait) "Yeah?" "Could you send Mark out here?" Uh Oh! I grab Mark and we both walk out. The inspector is slouched over this exposed septic tank hole and wants us to look in. I'm not sure if anyone reading has been exposed to this type of know, smelling a stranger's poo that has been sitting in a "tank" for a number of years. Breathtaking.Literally. The man goes on to inform us that the septic tank is a homemade version, (DING AGAINST US), it is positioned incorrectly on the property (DING AGAINST US), it is roughly 1/2 the size it should be for a house this size (DING AGAINST US)'s not looking good here folks. So we point blank ask "are you suggesting a total replacement?" "Yes Ma'am" "Um, and what are we looking at, price wise for something like this?" ready?...$10-12 thousand dollars. Where we live, it isn't an automatic that the owners would be required to fix something like this. It is something we'd have to negotiate with them and not knowing where they stand financially...we are just very up in the air right now. It's stressful. Even more so because it is just a very hectic time in our lives AND we've got work things happening. Oh! and now it is the weekend, so we can't use extra time to keep on top of everything.
I'm hoping that the next week to ten days pass quickly with all good news. We shall see.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Home Buying Update

Today we meet with the lender and provide the remaining paperwork. Tomorrow we have our inspections scheduled and hoping there are no issues! We got a phone call today from the seller's realtor letting us know that the homeowners are having a big garage sale prior to moving and wanted to give us first pick! What a nice family!!!! I have a nervous feeling in my stomach right now for some reason...I think there is just so much to think about that I keep feeling like I'm going to miss something.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


This week was so exhausting. The previous Sunday we had essentially abandoned the thought of having a home any time soon. Our credit score wasn't where it needed to be and it would be another 6+ weeks before we felt comfortable to pull the credit again...just to check. But as I previously posted a miracle happened and after pulling together all of our information and sending it to the underwriter, we were approved for a loan. Shaking, nervous and crying happy tears we felt like all the preparation we had done flew out the window...but once we looked through that list of homes we remembered why we loved this house and didn't love that one. After we developed that list of seven homes and set up appointments with each one we prepared for a whirlwind of home visits all on a Saturday morning.
The first home - the beautiful home on 18+ so beautiful. Each surface of the home would need to be touched...and by touched, I mean COMPLETELY gutted. Water damage everywhere, sheets of paint falling from the settling ceiling, kitchen cabinets painted in a yellow and blue pattern. OY. I actually said the words "Ok, I think I've seen enough". We aren't against work - but this was a bit much. Adding to the fact that we were already at the TOP of our budget with this home. DISAPPOINTING.
The next home was very nice. The downsize was that it a little tight through the living room and eat in kitchen (I was dreaming of a separate, but connected dining room). This house definitely made the short list though.
The third home - oh! LORD! What a mess! Mold growing on the ceiling from a water leak - the sides of the living floor were so "settled" that there was probably a three inch difference in floor height from the center of the floor. Again...not anti-work...but this was a bit much. I couldn't see it.
The fourth home - needed some updates. But nothing too major. It appeared to be mostly cosmetic - pulling carpet to expose hardwood floors, taking down wall paper etc. Unfortunately, although the home was on 10 acres, they had rent out 6 acres to a neighboring farmer. Since our loan is a USDA Rural Development loan we aren't able to have crops on the land, even if they aren't our crops. Perhaps we'd be able to make a deal to just purchase the four acres on the home site sits on, along with the beautiful bank barn.
The fifth house...was the blue house. This is one we just loved months ago. Since our realtor hadn't been to this property previously I asked if she wanted us to give her the tour of what we love about the house. She agreed. As she step out of her truck her first words were "Oh, this is beautiful."...while walking through the home there were lots of "ohhhhs" and "aahhhhhs" from our realtor. At one point I turned to her and said "we are looking at this home through starry eyes, as a realtor, is there anything throwing up a red flag for you?" her response "Not yet!!!!" It was obvious that she was falling for this home in the same way we did. As we walked into the last bedroom (eventually we are hoping this would be the boys' bedroom), she pulled out her cellphone and said, I'm going to cancel the next showing. She said she had been in that home and it in no way compares to this home :-). She said it was our decision if we wanted to go to the final house tour....we cancelled that as well. So we stood in the bedroom and she said..."well, I guess the next question is, are you ready to make an offer?" My knees buckled a little. Were we? What's my name again? Is it hot in here? I think we are.
So what next? We decided to grab some food and bring it to the realtor's office and put together a reasonable offer. I'll disclose everything to all of you. The house was listed for $139,900...well below what we were approved for. Knowing that we didn't want to necessarily want to bring money to the table - we offered $135,000 and for the sellers to pay $4,500 in closing. I had always thought that a portion of the closing costs was to pay for the realtor's fees - but I learned it was literally to cover the costs of closing the loan and we rolled the cost of all of the inspections (whole home, septic, well, termite, fireplace) into the closing costs as well. We submitted the offer Saturday evening around 4:30. We were told later that night that it would most likely be Monday before we heard anything...due to Mother's Day. On Sunday, I received a call from our realtor and she said she had a "counter" for us. They agreed to the price and to pay closing - the only things they were asking for were 5 days after closing, to allow time to move out (we asked for possession at closing, but it really didn't matter to us) and they said they had already disclosed that there were issues with the fireplace, so even if the sweep and inspection came back and the fireplace needs repair, they are saying that the fireplace is "as is". AGREED. So apparently we bought a house...on Mother's Day. Now, we wait for the inspections - I'm hoping to have these complete by the end of the week/beginning of next week. Then, we wait for closing (which is currently scheduled for June 17th). Hurry up...and wait.
So that is what happened on the house front....let me tell you what my amazing children and husband did. I woke up to a not-so-lazy Sunday...The kids showered me with presents - I got a clay stingray figure, homemade from Cora. Drake gave me a small pillow that he stitched himself, with "I love you" on it and a beating heart origami (LOVE!). Gage made a card and handpicked some of my favorite candies and taped them inside. BLISS! Kait gave me these awesome Rooster plates from Cracker Barrel and Tiff gave me a McIntosh apple tree. Mark and the kids together gave me a gift certificate for a shopping spree at Marvin's Organic Gardens - for a fig tree, some berry bushes and a daisy plant. We'll go after we close on the house and pick out the very best ones. After that, we had scheduled a breakfast with Mark's 96 year old. Then off to Mark's parents' house for a visit. We were planning on heading to my parents' camp - but they were working on projects and we're able to visit. So we came home and chilled for a bit and then off to dinner at Young's Dairy Golden Jersey Inn (YUM). After we got home we collapsed. I am a proud Mama, as always. I have the most amazing kids and husband I could ever imagine. We went from giving up to home owners in one week. It's crazy. Wish us luck on the inspections...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

We Made an Offer!

On....drumroll please...THE BLUE HOUSE! Woot.

Now...we wait.

Friday, May 6, 2011


We got the most amazing, wonderful, exciting (and a little scary) news the night before yesterday. Desteni, from our mortgage company, contacted us to say that the pre-underwriting process was approved and as long as we paid two additional bills we were qualified to go and look for a home. So let me explain the underwriting thing...essentially, since our credit score wasn't quite where it needed to be, Desteni reached out to a couple of the lenders that she works with regularly to see if an exception can be made. If we could prove that our credit/financial challenges are truly something of the past and we've really been on time with paying our bills over the past 12 months there is a chance that the underwriter would believe in us and approve our loan. So what did we have to provide? 3 - non traditional bills for the past 12 months (these are bills that don't typically hit your credit report...such as electric, gas, cellphone, car insurance etc) - we provided 14 months of our electric bill, 13 months of our gas bill, and a year of car insurance (all paid on time). We sent our W2 and income tax returns, copies of my pay stubs (they asked for a month, I gave them two months) and signed two approvals for them (one stating that we were going to enter into a loan agreement and another allowing them to get Verification of Employment and bank information etc.). She requested these items on Monday afternoon and by around 1:30 AM Monday night/Tuesday morning! Tuesday afternoon we were told that Desteni forwarded everything to the underwriter for approval and that this process typically takes 2 days...We were counting on an answer today. On Wednesday evening at around 5:30, I got an email with the subject line "GREAT NEWS"!!! I spent the next hour shaking and crying - we've worked so hard to get here. I can't believe that we made it to this point!
We contacted our realtor that night to share the news and start putting together a list of homes we'd like to tour. She sent some possibles - We already had a list going. Now it was time to get real - which of these home could we REALLY see ourselves and our children in? We narrowed down the list and will meet up with Kathi, the realtor, tomorrow morning, around 10:00 AM to actual go into these homes. We'll walk on the floors that may some day be ours. We'll run our fingers along the woodwork. We'll smell the Earth that surrounds our home and dream about where we will plant all of our trees.
So who are the front runners?

We've nicknamed all the homes - based on either where they are or another description. This is the "Georgetown-Verona House" A 4 bed/1 bath sitting on 18.5 acres...also the most expensive home.

"The Blue House" - Oh we just love this one. It's the largest home, but not too much land...

"The Big Barn, Railroad Track House" - A 3 (really 4) bed/2 bath home on 10 acres. One side of the property (away from the home) has a train track...thinking of warm nights listening to train whistles...LOVE!

"The T House"...because the house sits at the end of a T in the road. This home is on 5 areas...I'm not too sure about the size of the home though.

"The Triangle Property" - Decent size home, with several outbuildings. It's on 8.2 acres, but the property is literally shaped like a triangle.

"The Limestone House" - This is a great house, on just shy of two acres. No air conditioning though - I know that needing air conditioning is not very "green" but Ohio humid summers just call for air at times.

"The creek, big hill, trashy neighbor house" - ha! Not a great description...I know. This house has a creek that runs under the drive way and sits at the top of a large hill. The property to 9.5 acres...I'm thinking that the house is too small though. It is the smallest of all.

Oh, so what about those two bills we had to pay? Well, because we've paid all of our credit cards off and have money in the bank - we were able to pay the two bills (around $3,000) without too many pains and certainly without borrowing money from my parents or Mark's parents/grandmother. That is an amazing feeling (KNOCKING ON WOOD!!!).

In other news, Mark has been substitute teaching a lot these days and has a summer job as an educator at Aullwood farm set up. The extra bits of money here and there definitely help and others see his teaching style - we've noticed an increase in teaching job postings over the past couple weeks. Hoping that once we narrow our home search down that he'll be able to secure a good job. This is an exciting time for sure.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Kids Hold Snakes!

I love that I am "that mom" - the mom that, even though the thought of a snake winding back and forth through my front lawn used to scare the bejesus out of me, I now can stand by and encourage my children to pick up garter snakes. We were at Grandma's yesterday and a little snake, maybe a foot long, was out front and although you could tell he was nervous, Drake picked the snake up and held it. He even handed it off to Cora for a bit. After we explored the snake for a bit and everyone pet it and held it...we walked it back to a wooded area and set it free.

Yesterday - we also went to Mark's parents house in the morning to celebrate his brother's birthday. Afterward, we replanted our two pawpaw trees and our McIntosh apple tree (that Tiff got me for Mother's Day) - we also cut back one of our trees (the other McIntosh) because a good majority of the tree is dead and I don't want that to hurt the rest of the tree. We trimmed back some of the garden out front and went to the home depot to get some shelving and a 2x4 to finish off Tiff's bed. That's right, we made a bed for Tiffany. She had been crashing on a mattress on the floor in the kids' room - during the day she'd lean it against a wall, Murphy bed style, but we wanted her to have a space to call her own. We built a platform bed out of 2x4s and plywood. We built the legs tall enough that she could slide LARGE totes under the bed for storage. I think it turned out really well.

We have a busy month planned for May, including another work trip to PA, a Dayton Dragon's game, kids field trips, a visit to COSI in Columbus and more.

On the house hunting front...Since our credit score didn't budge a bit, we are working with the lender to see if someone would be willing to make an exception. We've submitted our cancelled rent checks for the last 12 months, a letter of recommendation from our landlord and a completed rental verification form from the landlord. Suggestions I have for anyone trying to buy house without stellar credit - keep copies of your cancelled rent checks (since this isn't something that we normally do, we had to go into our bank branch to get copies older than six months - since our bank will archive the last six months online). They also ask for copies of bank statements and paychecks - AND tax return forms. We started a folder and keep all this paperwork together. Each month, we just add new copies of everything. There is obviously a reason that we haven't qualified yet. Perhaps work or life has some changes coming in store for our family. Perhaps a different house is coming on the market. Perhaps we've found the right house, but need to wait until the sellers are ready to lower the price. Who knows? This is such a wild ride...can't wait to see where life takes us.