Thursday, November 4, 2010

Home Sweet Hill

As many of you know, Justin and I have been looking for a house for quite sometime (about a year to be exact).  I am happy to report that we’ve finally found our first place! It’s a cute Federal-style porch front row home, located on the edge of Capitol Hill (some might call this area “Hill East”).  This adorable house has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and needs some TLC. Justin hates it when I use the words “fixer-upper,” but I feel that there’s no better way to say that it needs a little fixing up!

Yes, that's us in front of our lovely house. Excuse the window unit (we'll be getting rid of those soon enough)...and excuse the the various signs, the random ladder (it was the inspector's), etc...

While the house is generally in good shape, the kitchen is atrocious.  It seems like an afterthought to whoever built this house; the kitchen doesn’t seem to be fully integrated with the total layout of the house.  Located in a closed-off extension of the house, the kitchen has very low ceilings and little room to move around, to even make the smallest of people want to complain. We knew we wanted to put our own personal touch on our first home; however, the amount for renovations and the down payment for our mortgage posed a huge challenge.
Our realtor Greg told us about the FHA 203k loan program, in which home buyers are given a home renovation loan, combined with the mortgage.  The unique characteristic about this FHA loan is that you only have to make one monthly payment, for what actually is “two loans rolled into one”.  We figured this would be a great way to get the kitchen renovation we wanted, along with some other things (e.g. energy efficient windows).  The added bonus with this loan (or with any other type of loan we could have used) was that we locked in a great mortgage rate. 
Upon buying our first house, I never thought we would be in charge of a major renovation.   Neither of us had experience in planning home renovations, but here we are doing everything from obtaining contractor estimates/bids to examining floor plan sketches.  There’s also the endless amount of paperwork to fill out that makes me feel that we’re providing the same information over and over again.
We are hoping to close next month at then end of the month, but we still have to complete some requests from our lender.  Our lender has given us about nine to ten questions, all regarding our personal information.  For example, some of these questions include: “Why were you living at addresses x, y, and z during this time period” Uhmm…I didn’t think it was that unusual to be living at my parents house, a sorority house, and then an apartment within a four to six year time span, but apparently it raises some red flags.  Another question, wanted Justin to clarify whether he was an independent contractor or whether he worked for a Federal agency (Justin’s company’s client).  In my mind, I’m thinking that whoever asked this question is not from the DC Metro Area and familiar with the large amount of government contractors EVERYWHERE in the area, or the actual concept of a government contractor. Around here, almost everyone I know works as a government contractor; if not, they’re a Federal employee themselves, or an attorney, or a Hill staffer, or....  Hopefully, we’ll be deemed credit worthy after we complete this laundry list of demands to explain the last twenty to thirty years of our lives. J

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