We Own a Home

Day’s Verse:
Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans?
Romans 9:20-30

It’s official. All the paperwork went through yesterday. Linnea gave us the key yesterday afternoon. We celebrated by enjoying some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Tomorrow at 6:00 pm we take possession of our house, unless the sellers finish packing and leave early.

This is really quite a surreal feeling.


Day’s Verse:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Little did Ian and I know, but we had to sign the papers on the house — of which there are many — before the closing date. We learned this on Thursday afternoon and spent some time that evening marveling at the fact that we’ve received innumerable instructions regarding the house, none of which made it clear that signing took place beforehand.

Friday, which as Bike to Work Day I got to work at just about 6:10 am and left at 2:45 pm. This allowed me to arrive in time to eat some food, take a shower, and then get really nervous about the signing, which started for us at 5:30 pm. During the day, Ian arranged to have our money wired to the escrow company. We drove over to the escrow place after depositing a check* and waited in the lobby for a bit. Turns out Stanley Erickson and his wife, the owners of the home, was leaving as we waited in the lobby — I wish I’d paid attention to what they looked like! I was reading an engrossing Seattle Times article on the Mariners’ first win in 2 weeks.

Once the current owners finished signing, the escrow lady brought us into a room with extremely uncomfortable, modern-looking orange chairs, sat us down, and pulled out this enormous sheaf of extra-long paper, all of it densely printed with endless legal jargon. Since this is our first home purchase, she explained the pertinent parts in detail. We signed…and signed…and signed; and then for some variety, we initialed the bottom of a bunch of pages. Then we signed some more.

Linnea, our agent, had warned us when we put the offer down that this involved a million signatures, but although it took like 45 minutes to sign everything, the time seemed to compress into a single momentous instant. It didn’t feel like it took very long at all before we’d signed all the paperwork and the lady was handing us a long, narrow folder filled with copies, shaking our hands, and ushering us out the door.

I think we both felt a little bit giddy — both excited and nervous as the reality that We Will Own a Home Next Tuesday sinks in. I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad, who have so generously opened their home to us for the last 6 or 8 months, will be more than happy to help us pack up. Next Saturday is moving day.

For some reason, when I woke up at 4:45 this morning, I simply could not get back to sleep. Why might that be…?

* I mention this check because it’s the final settlement check for my March bicycle crash. Although I received the bike repaired three weeks ago, I had to then get reimbursed from the bike shop for a $100 part they didn’t replace but charged me for; and I had to get reimbursed for the $985 rental bike cost** from the insurance company. On Tuesday I got the bike shop reimbursement and on Thursday we got the insurance money. Also on Tuesday I saw my doctor and she said that I probably wouldn’t experience any physical effects since nothing has surfaced by now. What a huge relief to — I’ll say this quietly — be done with bike crash money issues. Whew.

** I don’t remember if I mentioned this here or not, but the bike shop I rented the bike from agreed to let me have the rental bike outright. They felt they’d made enough money on it — more than double the asking $450 original price — and happily agreed it was mine when I paid off the rental. I feel satisfied with the overall insurance/bike crash resolution: My original Seven is repaired and running beautifully and I got a “new” (used) bike for free.

Not that Anybody’s Counting…

Day’s Verse:
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4

…but we close on our house in FIVE DAYS. The current owners get 2 days to pack up and move out, and we get the keys the evening of May 27.

Assuming all goes well, Ian and I will own outright 1/3 of a home in one week. ‘Course, it’ll take another 20 or 30 years for us to own the remaining 2/3, but let’s not pick nits here. After almost 7 years of apartment-dwelling, we are joining the ranks of homeowners.


Awesomeness is Dual-State Licensing

Day’s Verse:
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Matthew 22:21 (context)

Today I got a letter from the Washington State Department of Licensing. It warned me that my driver’s license would expire this May 23rd, my 26th birthday.

The amazing, truly awesome thing about this is that I technically don’t have a Washington driver’s license. A quick search reveals I never blogged about the Great Massachusetts Driver’s License Fiasco, but the Cliff Notes summary is that our car insurance was revoked on May 9, 2009 because I still had a Washington state driver’s license. After I obtained a Massachusetts driver’s license, we got our car insurance back and were once again legal to drive in Massachusetts.

So you can imagine my delight when we got this letter, and realized that Massachusetts never informed Washington that I had changed states. The beauty of it is that you can renew online in Washington. All they require is your driver’s license number — which they kindly provide preprinted on a mail-in form — and the last 5 digits of your Social Security number, plus of course a $25 renewal fee. Because we’re living with my parents, even the address remains the same as before. As soon as I got the letter, I went online and renewed my driver’s license. Now I have a temporary Washington State driver’s license valid for 45 days, and I should receive my new license in the mail within a month.

That means that, until my Massachusetts license expires or somebody in the government figures it out (guess which will happen first?), I will have valid, real driver’s licenses from two different states.

This is so crazy.

Also, we spent 2.5 hours tonight driving around looking at more houses. Ian’s rooting for this single-family home; I’m rooting for this residential townhome. I foresee tough conversations in the future.

Stalking the Wild House: First Attempt

Day’s Verse:
The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the King of Israel!”

John 12:12-13

Yesterday Ian and I met Linnea Jones for our first round of touring potential homes. We looked at 8 places, 7 town home condos and 1 single-family home. The first two we knew were just not right for us right off the bat.

The third one we walked into, a new construction on Slater Avenue in Kirkland, struck us as having the kind of layout we wanted. We walked through the model, which actually wasn’t for sale, and then checked out another one that was for sale. That one, though, is directly adjacent to the freeway wall. It had about 10′ of grass, and then there was the huge gray freeway wall, with road noise coming through. Not only that, but it wasn’t anywhere near walkable to a grocery store or library, and those are important to us.

House number 4, also on Slater Avenue, had a similar open floor plan that really appealed to us. It’s slightly farther from the freeway but still close enough that you’d constantly have freeway noise and, probably, filth coming in through open windows. Also, this was a middle unit, and I’m not wild about living squeezed in between people like that.

After sleeping on the prospect of those two, Ian and I agreed that although we really liked the feel and layout of the homes, we couldn’t envision living in either of them.

House number 5, which we looked at after lunch, was a definite no. The pictures made it look wonderful, but walking through, the kitchen was clearly isolated from where people would hang out, and it had very high home owners association fees because they kept the extremely nice landscaping up immaculately. It’d be a place to retire to, not to raise kids in.

House number 6 was actually two units, but we liked the model much more than the other one. It received a resounding yes, our only definite yes so far. It was walking distance from schools, 1.5 miles (a reasonable bike ride) from the grocery store and library, and 1.5 miles from Ian’s work. We liked the layout, the complex was small and new and each unit had its own reasonable-sized back yard, plus this unit backed onto a designated green space. The complex was built in a neighborhood of really nice single-family homes, and the unit we liked was situated so you looked into the neighborhood rather than at the other townhomes squeezed in really close to you. Our biggest concerns are with the condo fees and financial aspect of living in a condo vs. owning a residential home. We’ll go back to that one again for sure.

We visited two more places after that, one single-family home that I felt ambivalent about — it was situated on a pretty huge hill, which isn’t an exciting prospect for a cyclist — but that Ian really liked. It did have a gorgeous kitchen with lots of counter space and an attached, open living room. We kept that as a maybe.

Then home number 8, another condo with high fees, directly across from Blyth Park and right next to the Sammamish River Trail. We gave that a maybe, since it met most of our criteria, but for some reason I just couldn’t imagine living there permanently. It did have an awesome kitchen, huge garage, and neat loft with cathedral ceilings. We’ll go back again and see what we think a second time.

Besides finding 3 places yesterday that we want to re-visit, Ian and I have been learning a lot. We’re starting to get a sense of what we should look for in a neighborhood and in a home. I doubt I’ll ever look at a home the same after this experience. I’ll always be thinking, “That fancy roof line just means re-roofing will cost more in 10 years,” or “The master bedroom is awfully far from the kids’ rooms,” or “It’s a nice enough place, but they’re nowhere near a grocery store or bus line,” or… well, you get the idea.

We’re also starting to get a sense that most everybody we talk to has some really important, crucial advice on home buying that will keep us from making a horrible, life-ruining decision that they just have to share with us. And don’t get me wrong — I appreciate and value advice, especially when I don’t know anything about what I’m doing. My first reaction in an unknown situation is to do research and talk to people who’ve done it. But my gosh, people will talk forever about what features to look for, how to look at homes, what kind of home would be right for us, how to finance the purchase, and on and on. It’s amazing. I suppose this is really just giving us a pre-taste of what it’ll be like when we have kids.

My Life Is Full

Day’s Verse:
There was a man named Cornelius who lived in Caesarea, captain of the Italian Guard stationed there. He was a thoroughly good man. He had led everyone in his house to live worshipfully before God, was always helping people in need, and had the habit of prayer.
Acts 10:1-2 (context)

So I’m sorry if you had something else you wanted me to think about. My memory and processing power are all used up, and you’ll just have to wait until I complete some tasks and free up some space.

What’s filling my brain? Why, thank you for asking!

  1. House hunting. Holy mackerel, there’s a lot to think about with purchasing a home. We landed with Linnea Jones as our realtor, and one hour with her convinced me that she’s going to be a huge asset in our house hunt. She’s an expert we can rely on, and I’m really glad to have that resource.
  2. Financial details. In addition to paying for the home we choose (yesterday we got a pre-approval letter from Cobalt Mortgage, the financial people Linnea recommended, and somehow seeing those numbers on a piece of paper makes it feel so much more real), we also have to think about details like the fact we don’t actually have any furniture.
  3. Bike repair. Of course, the struggle to obtain money from Hertz to repair my bike continues. I haven’t heard anything since the adjustor came by last Thursday, even though I called the Hertz guy Monday morning. I also have to choose a shop to do the work, which is tough since I don’t have relationships with any shops like I did with Landry’s.
  4. KDOG activities. Yesterday evening I picked up 750 free KDOG door hangers printed by Leatherback Printing. Now I have to organize volunteers to distribute them all — before the Big City Council meeting on April 6th.
  5. AmeriCorps activities. Of course, I can’t leave out AmeriCorps! I’m working with another intern to plan the Pod meeting that takes place in Othello on April 2nd. Also, on Friday Every and I have a site meeting with the gal in charge of the interns, and I have to have a self-evaluation filled out by then.
  6. Internship activities. Let’s not leave out my job; I have a new volunteer coming for training tomorrow, and another prospective volunteer to prepare materials for, and training materials to prepare, and a commute brochure to finalize and get printed, and a 10 to 12 minute REI commuting seminar to prepare for early April.
  7. LCI activities. I’m co-teaching a Traffic Skills 101 class in late April, and of course that requires serious prep… If I can squeeze it in among all the other stuff.
  8. Church volunteering. I’ve agreed to start volunteering at Journey Church at some point. I’m assuming that will start in the next month or so, too.

All that said, I think it’s clear I may be feeling a little stress and that the chaos may be getting to me. However, I’m blessed with a commute that soothes many ills.
East towards Bellevue 2

And the Moral of the Story?

Day’s Verse:
You are always righteous, O LORD,
when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?

Jeremiah 12:1

Cooking involves cleaning up. I know because the Seattle Times told me so. Actually, I thought this was interesting: Chefs at fancy restaurants see cleaning up as part of the job. The meal isn’t prepared until your cooking area is clean and ready to prepare another meal. I suppose a person could extrapolate this to a principle that applies to life: Finish what you start, you’re not done until you’ve covered every detail, follow through on your commitments, etc.

I doubt this knowledge will actually change my cooking habits — I’m happy letting the non-cooker do the post-dinner cleanup — but I have high hopes that I’ll be practicing my cooking and baking in our own home very soon. Yesterday Ian and I went to an open house at this town home; tonight we meet with to a real estate agent for the first time. Right now we have a goal of finding a home by April 30th, to squeeze in the first-time home buyers tax credit.

And honestly, April 30th doesn’t look that far away right now. Not far at all. I’m excited and apprehensive all at once.

We’re open to any and all home-buying advice, as long as it’s constructive. We already know to avoid homes infested with carpenter ants, homes on cliff-sides, and homes in Renton.