Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Our New Subaru

Andrez and I are the proud new owners of a 2001 Subaru Forester!  I didn't want to get that old of a car, but when we saw the ad on Craigslist, we went for it.  It had one owner, 70,000 miles, and is in almost perfect condition, very few dings, clean on the inside, and new tires.  We are excited to have a crossover type car/SUV that has all wheel drive and can't wait to take her to the mountains and on some road trips to Seattle and throughout Oregon!  I am very excited to finally have a car of my own!  It's funny because so many people in Portland have a Subaru and we are happy to be part of the club now! 

Blueberry Picking

After being cooped up in our house for the past couple of weeks, we finally got out with ours friends, Lester, Rachel, and their adorable baby, Ezra, for some blueberry picking at Bella Organic Farm.  We went early to avoid the heat, and it turned out to be a pretty chilly day.  It was actually nice to get outside when the sun wasn't blazing and just enjoy the outdoors with Andrez and friends (the sun came out in full force later on!).  We picked lots of blueberries and some blackberries, although the blackberries weren't quite ripe yet.  We got so many blueberries that we froze some, gave some to our neighbors, and have already eaten the rest -- they were THAT good!

We also made a little stop at Kruger Farm because Rachel wanted to pick up a basket for farmer's markets.  Andrez and I picked up some natural honey (our allergies have been bad!), fresh salsa, a mango, and the best tortilla chips we have ever had -- they were actually gluten free and we devoured almost the whole bag and all of the salsa in one sitting!

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's Friday! (House Update)

The last couple weeks have proven to be extremely busy from working, moving into our house, moving out of our apartment (who knew two people could get so settled in a one-bedroom apartment with no furniture??), and just living life in general.  On top of moving in and getting all of our belongings that made the long journey from Okinawa to Portland, we are getting some work done to our house.  We are having french doors installed in our living room, a new vanity, sinks, and toilet in our bathroom, and the inside of the house painted.  We already had the floors refinished and they turned out amazingly!  It goes without saying, but after all of the hectic-ness of the week, I'm looking forward to having two days to myself, Andrez, and the pups.  I hope you all had a good week!

Start of the french doors.

Another view.

Our bathroom and soon-to-be vanity.

The drawers to our vanity.

French doors installed with no dry walling.

The mess that is our house when we have a house full of boxes and can't put things away!  We have priorities though, our TV and couch!  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

House (as we bought it) Pictures

In case you don't like to watch You Tube videos or just wanted to see pictures of the house as we bought it, here they are!  I don't have one of the basement, so I'll be sure to take one and add it later because we have some fun ideas for it!  Our floors are being refinished this week and will be done tomorrow, so I will be sure to post pictures because they look so good!

Our front door from the inside.  The little box to the left is our mail drop.

Our living room with a wall size front window.

Other side of our living room.

Our dining room.

Another shot of the whole living room.

Our room.

Bathroom, ugly vanity!

Guest/spare room.

Same room, it has a door to the back yard.

Adorable acorn light in our hallway.  We think it may be original with the house.


Another view of kitchen.

And another view of the kitchen.

The Story of Becoming Home Owners

Andrez and I knew before we moved to Portland that we wanted to buy a house.  We really didn't want to pay rent and knew that buying a house meant that we were investing into our future.  When we got to Portland, we searched on Angie's List for a good real estate agent and we found one, Colleen.  We met with her at a coffee shop one Saturday afternoon and she told us that we needed to be pre-approved for a loan, then we could start house shopping.  We also talked about Portland, where we wanted to live, what we thought our budget would be, and what kind of house we wanted (large, forever home vs. starter home, old vs. new, etc).  

That next week, I went to the bank and applied for a VA loan.  We decided to go with the VA loan for a couple of reasons--we wouldn't have to pay mortgage insurance, the loan is backed by the government, and we didn't have to put any money down.  We weren't sure that the house we'd find would be our forever home, so we didn't want to put a big chunk of money down right away.  A few days later, I heard from the bank and we were pre-approved for a loan, meaning we could shop for a house!  

I posted about our house search in this post.  Right after that post, we put an offer on this house.

It was a foreclosure selling at the high end of our budget, but it was beautiful.  It sat at the bottom of a hill and at the top was a huge forest park.  It had 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, had a beautiful dining room and seating area, large kitchen, a large back yard, and a mother-in-law suite attached--we called it a Texas home in Portland.  It was definitely a new (built in 2007, I believe), forever type home, which wasn't what we expected to buy right away. When we put our offer in, we offered about $60,000 less than asking because it was in an area with a high foreclosure rate and it needed a little cleaning up.  Once we put our offer in, someone else did too and we were instructed to put in our best and final offer and the bank would accept the highest.  We didn't budge and we didn't get the house.  We were a little disappointed because you get excited signing the offer and hoping that it goes through, but we knew that since it didn't, it wasn't meant to be.  So, we kept looking, but not for long!  The next day we drove to our house, looked at it, loved it, and put an offer in!  Funny thing is, this house was the opposite of the first one we put an offer on, it was old (built in 1942) and a tiny, starter home.

The thing with Portland is houses are selling fast and they are selling high!  We were nervous with our house because we offered the asking price, plus we asked the seller to pay for closing costs.  We played the waiting game and knew that it looked promising, but also knew there was another offer. Less than a week after writing our offer, we got the news that the seller chose us!  It was a great feeling, but we knew that it was the first hurdle of many before the house was ours!

After our offer was accepted, we had 10 business days to get an inspection on the house.  The inspection is for the buyer and pretty much lets you know if there are any major red flags on the house, like mold, a bad roof, termites, or anything that could potentially be threatening.  I was in Las Vegas during our inspection, so Andrez held down the fort and was able to be there for it.  Everything looked good, especially for it being a 71 year old house, however there were a few things that needed to be fixed.  The chimney needed to be replaced, there were a couple of electrical issues, there was some chipped paint on the outside, the furnace needed to be replaced, and the toilet leaked.  We asked the seller to replace the chimney, fix the paint, toilet leak, and electrical issues, and empty the furnace because we would replace it, if she agreed to fix the rest.  Then, we waited and she said she would fix it all!  We were shocked, but so happy!  Soon after, the bank called to let us know that we were officially accepted for our home loan!

After the inspection, came the appraisal, which is done by the bank (and VA) to ensure that the house is worth what we offered, and if it wasn't, we wouldn't get the loan.  The appraisal was done with the listing agent and we weren't there for it.  This was a nerve wrecking part because we didn't want the appraiser to say that the house wasn't worth what we wanted to pay and we heard that VA appraisers were the toughest (which is a good thing, I think!).  A week later, we got the great news that our house passed the appraisal and that sealed the deal that we would get the house.  The next two weeks were waiting around, the seller getting the repairs done, and us getting tired of living in our apartment!

Last Tuesday, we signed the papers on our house!  It wasn't that bad of a process and a note to anyone looking to buy a house, make sure to only use your first and last name on the loan, so that you don't have to sign your full name on every document.  I was advised to do that at the beginning and I was happy to not have to sign my full name on every document!  Once the papers were signed, we had to wait for the seller to sign her documents and for the house to get recorded in our name.  Then, Friday, after work, we got the keys to our new home and celebrated with Colleen and the pups!

While it was a long process all together, about 2 months, it went pretty smoothly.  We had the BEST real estate agent and loan officer who helped everything go smoothly.  It wasn't nearly as stressful as I had imagined, but it's also not something I'm in a rush to do again anytime soon!  Right now, we are getting the floors refinished, french doors installed in our living room, a new vanity and toilet installed in the bathroom, a new furnace installed, and new paint inside.  I will be showing pictures of all of this progress, so stay tuned!  Sorry for the long post, but I thought it was an interesting process and wanted to share it!

This was us opening our home for the first time as owners.  The pups were pretty excited to go in for the first time!

4th of July

Happy 237th Birthday, America!  

Last year, we were in Hoi An, Vietnam eating some of the best food we have ever had in our lives, getting clothes made, and enjoying spending time together after a long deployment.  We have talked a lot about our post deployment vacation recently and can't believe how much difference a year makes!  I hope everyone has a day spent with friends and family, BBQs, beer, and lots of fireworks!