Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The House Hunt Begins

I'm one of those people that says "If this job falls through, maybe I'll become a Realtor" because I love looking at places. Really, I'm that friend that goes on apartment showings when you have to move in the dead of winter and I'm the friend that holds your hand as we cross the threshold into the first of many potential first homes. So when the Baconator and I first started talking about moving over four months ago, I was super stoked. Initially it was a discussion about renting a schmancy and updated two bedroom downtown in the Loop. It was only January, but I set out looking at apartments for our April move. That's how excited I was.

Since we have lived in our current one bedroom since I was entry level and he was a barista, we have a super low rent to pay, but we are missing a lot of things that married couples have... Like a dishwasher... And a legit closet. This also meant that moving to walking distance from our offices into a two bedroom with all the modern amenities would result in a rent DOUBLE our current place. Gulp. That's a big deal.

So one Sunday while watching an HGTV marathon, I turned to him and brought up the logistics of buying out own place. I think it went something like this:
Me: Nowadays, do we really need 20% down to buy a place?
Baconator: I don't think it's a requirement, but he more you put down, the smaller your payments.
Me: So we could theoretically buy a place now?
Baconator: We'd need to run the numbers, but we could.
Me: Then I think we should buy a place instead of using all that money to pay someone else's mortgage.
Baconator: WHAT?!?

The poor guy was caught totally off guard. I've been flirting with the idea of moving abroad as long as I can remember so he had shelved the idea of buying a place for the next few years. I don't really know what made me look seriously at the prospect of being homeowners but something tells me that getting a dog was a big factor.

No, I'm not some crazy person that was over come by the urge to get a dog so badly that I succumbed and through all caution to the wind. It's quite the opposite, actually. We have put lots of things on hold in case we get the chance to move abroad from little things like our registry to big things like adopting a dog, but it was the dog adoption that really made me realize how many things that we were putting aside for the "just in case."

So with the conversation started, I jumped head first into the online world of home buying. Suddenly I had accounts on Trulia, Zillow, Red Fin and a handful of other listing sites. By the time we actually met with a prospective realtor, we'd already been to four open houses, had a list of favorites a mile long and had talked ourselves out of the 3 bedroom dream into a 2 bedroom reality. Meanwhile, the Baconator was busy working numbers in Excel to calculate our max budget, how assessments & taxes might impact our lifestyle and that wiley mortgage insurance that is required for loans without 20% down.

I emailed 3-4 different realtors who had been recommended to us and we ended up having sit downs with two of them before deciding that Alley's straight forward personality and easy going, non-salesy style was what we needed. We met with a mortgage broker to get pre-approved then we were set up for MLS searches. Now I get a daily email from the system begging me to stop working and peruse through potential homes... And sometimes those emails win.