Thursday, February 3, 2011

‘House Hunting’ or ‘Headache’?

image Anyone who has gotten through the home buying process unharmed and made it out the other side alive should be given a medal of honor for their immense bravery.

image Instead of my typical interior design related posts today I’m going with more of a tirade type rant about the current on-goings of my life because that’s where my mind currently is and will probably stay indefinitely. My fella and I recently jumped into the ‘first time home buyer’ real estate game over the past few months and I have quickly learned, it is not for the weak! In any home hunters process there are associated worries and stresses but our situation is particularly unique and even somewhat dire to achieve. We managed to be approved for a decent mortgage RIGHT before interest rates went up thus we got an excellent rate that it will probably never drop back down to any time in the near future. We happened to just be within our financially comfortable limits and any higher we would have been in trouble so it worked out well for our needs. So, of course we immediately started our hunt but just kept coming up empty handed. What a shame to waste this golden opportunity to save ourselves some money I know, but it doesn't end there.

image The mortgage rules in Canada are also changing to make it harder for the average home buyer to acquire approval. I don't know what they are like everywhere else but in Canada right now you can get a mortgage for 35 years which is what we were approved for. (Add that to our awesome interest rate and we have ourselves one pretty little package) However, starting in March, which happens to be when our mortgage approval also expires, the government has declared that unless you have 20% down or more you may now only receive a mortgage for 30 years. First time home buyers like myself rarely have a full 20% down since a big chunk of our money gets poured down the rental drain. So to put that new change in perspective, if you could be approved for a mortgage of $370,000 at 35 years you can now only receive $345,000 for 30 years. That is the difference between once being able to own an entire home to yourself VS. a little townhouse or apartment. In other words, go find yourself an extra $25,000. That's probably a little more than you can dig out of your couch cushions and piggy banks. I understand the government doesn’t want us getting in over our heads but from our meek little point of view it feels impossible to bounce back from knowing we’re about to get set back $25 grand.

image  So we are in a predicament now to find "the" house, within our price range, meets our needs and most importantly can be fulfilled before our little financial egg timer dings and we're in game over mode. Times up but thanks for playing! We also have to take into consideration that we are looking at living a minimum of 5 years in the home so we need to be happy there for at least that time. I rent an apartment now and if I had bought this I'd be weeping into my pillow everyday knowing I had to stay here five years. We've had the worst luck with noisy neighbors and surly strata. I just want to be done with those things and have a little space to call my own. So what's a house-loving gal to do?

image Do you give up your dreams of owning your own home and settle for something small and ruled by power hungry strata councils and inconsiderate neighbors who hold your sanity in their hands with every crying baby, weekend (and sometimes weekday) party and musical instrument practiced? (I'm describing all neighbors we have actually had fyi.) I'm serious when I say we have the worst luck with neighbors. We complained once about the partying neighbors and the strata actually phoned them and told them we complained. That made for some awkward elevator rides and our door being kicked and spit on so now we clench our teeth, stay quiet and dream of a home of our own.

image Do you hold out and risk possibly losing it all in hopes that at the last second the perfect home will show itself and save you from renter's turmoil like a white horse? Surely buying anything is better than buying nothing and being stuck in limbo trying to scrounge the extra down payment together. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the idea of a townhouse but with the years we've put in being miserable and renting while we desperately saved our pennies dreaming to get out and  into an actual home and for it to then be so close just to suddenly escape my grasp is a major bummer. I feel like we've earned the right to move on up. They let the Jeffersons do it, why not us? Can’t I have a deluxe apartment in the sky? Did I say apartment? Make mine a house….

image It's not as though what we want in a home is fit for royalty either. I don’t expect anything to be gold trimmed or a bathroom for every day of the week. Our only ‘must-have’ criteria was a detached non-strata home on a quiet suburban street with a backyard big enough for a dog to run around. Other than that I was open to anything and felt like there was no task I couldn't take on as long as the house had good bones and could fit our needs, or at least so I thought....

image We've seen a few houses now and I am a little shocked at the way some people will show a home. I always thought I could look past the things like it being cluttered or dirty but I certainly didn't anticipate how hard this was going to be. I wouldn't say I'm a clean freak by any means but I do keep a reasonably clean home. Apparently that's not really the norm amongst some people which is fine, to each their own BUT when you are trying to sell the home wouldn't you go that extra mile? Maybe buy some bleach and a rag and make a night of scrubbing? We saw a home earlier today and I couldn't wait to leave. If you feel grossed out to take your shoes off then there is a problem. To stand in the bathroom felt like we were standing in a petri dish for someones science experiment. It's a huge turn off to think you are about to make the biggest purchase of your life just to adopt someone’s years of built up germs and blackened toilet. Then there are the homes that are completely loaded to the brim with junk which makes me wonder how they could even get it all packed up within a year let alone the time frame for us to take possession by. So will we be adopting their old junk too? There's just so many little things I thought I would have no issue with but boy did I over estimate myself.

imageThrough this daunting process my mom said when you walk into a home you just know if it's going to be the right one for you. I'm really indecisive on most fronts but I'd have to agree with that now because if I can be so sure it's not the home for me that quickly then there must be one out there that will have the adverse effect and scream “PICK ME!” Now if only I could find it and reel it in before it’s too late…



Amber @ fromtheseeds said...

This was such an insightful post for me to read. I understand your pressures and it is an overwhelming decision you are faced with making.
My only thoughts would be that with your talent I'm sure you could turn a petri dish bathroom into a dream loo very easily but I know it's going to be hard to renovate right when you purchase a place.
I know your "pick me!" house is out there, it has to be! You have worked too hard for it not to be.
I'm thinking of yah:)

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

I vote that house hunting is a nightmare!I just hate it!! people do leave their homes in a disgusting state. It doesn't have to be "Martha Stewart" clean, but my GOODNESS people, CLEAN THE BATHROOMS and the kitchen!

Unfortunately, we've bought 3 houses that were fixer uppers. and with the renovation came the DIRT and grime. I've inherited black toilets and a brownish shower. yeah, lovely. I felt like I had to go in with a hazmat suit to clean it before we could use it. bleaaaachhhh!

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