Sunday, January 29, 2012

Some house pics

When we were at the house for the inspection, I took some pictures of the inside. Here's to bringing the house into the 21st Century!

This is the front entryway. Definitely want to update this area soon. The front doors, lighting and flooring are stuck in the 70s, but the entryway is really big. You can faintly see moldings on the wall next to the light switches. A nice touch. There is a large coat closet to the left of the doors. The picture is taken from the stairway leading upstairs.

Coming into the house, the living room is the to left. The house has original hardwood floors in most living areas. The living room has a large front window and a side window.

From the living room you walk through to the dining room. Some wallpaper and outdated light fixtures, but it's a good size for our hutch and dining room table.  To the right in this photo is the doorway to the kitchen.

The kitchen will be our first big project. We are excited to play around with the layout of cabinets and appliances to get exactly what we want. It's going to be a lot of work so we are still trying to figure out how it will all come together. We want a designer and contractor to help the project come together, but still want to have a lot of control over pricing and where materials come from.

On the opposite side of the house from the living and dining rooms is the family room.  It is the size of the living room and dining rooms combined.  The paneling isn't our favorite so I'm sure we'll end up painting it or taking it down.  It just depends on how much money we will have to spend.  It has a big window out to the front of the house and a fireplace.

The other end of the family room leads out to the screened porch.  The floors are pegged wood floors which are different than the rest of the house and has wooden beams on the ceiling.   It's a room with a lot of wood so we are most likely going to tone it down a bit.

To the right of the family room picture there is a hallway that has a bedroom/bonus room, full bath, laundry, and entry from garage.  There is a lot of space in the hallway so we anticipate putting in some kind of storage that helps with laundry and is a landing area for coats, shoes, purses, etc. when we come home.

Upstairs there are three extra bedrooms that are all pretty big.  They are each unique with the ways the closets are set up and window placement.  All of the bedrooms have hardwood floors.  I didn't end up taking a picture of the master bedroom for some reason, but it is located upstairs as well.

The master bath needs updating.  The fixtures are older and the layout is really cramped.  We would like to figure out a way to close off an area for the toilet, put in a double vanity, and make the shower bigger.  We may end up consolidating the master closet and bathroom to create a larger bathroom with a closet attached.  This remodel is high on the list for sure.

The other bathrooms in the house are just as outdated, but aren't as pressing to update.

The basement is considered finished.  It has walls and a tiled floor, but not in any condition to spend a considerable amount of time in.  Eventually we want this to be a family room and music area where Sky can play his guitar without disrupting the rest of the house.  This is a remodel that will have to wait.  For now, he will probably put his music stuff in the bonus room off the family room.

Here is a picture of the screened porch from the outside.

This is the view from the back of the house.  There is a creek in the wooded area called Holly Creek, hence the name of the street.

Here is a view of the house from Holly Creek Road.  The landscaping appears to be pretty minimal, so easy to take care of.  We plan to do something different with shutters and take off the criss-cross window panes.  We don't have as many ideas for updating the outside as we do for the inside.  The updates to the outside aren't as pressing so no rush I guess.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Making an offer...

Upon visiting the house a second time with our realtor, we have decided to make an offer! The general feeling of the house is inline with what we remembered from our first visit. The impression that it is a place that we can make our home held true. There are large and small projects that need to be done which is ok because we wanted to get into a place that we could put our stamp on and make it exactly what we want anyway.

We are excited to take this next step. Once we settle on a price (cross your fingers) we'll have an inspection done to ensure that our impressions of a well-maintained, outdated 40-year-old home are accurate.

....about a week later....

We were able to negotiate a price that works for us and the sellers. We have our house! The price ended up coming in around 90% of the asking price, which we are happy with. Our realtor did a great job walking us through the negotiations and I think we came out with a great deal! We negotiated a March 2nd closing date with immediate possession which will give us a couple days to move before we have to give our keys to the new owners of our place.

Today Sky and I were both able to be at the house during the inspection to talk with the inspector and ask questions. Overall, he said he was impressed with the condition of the house. Other than a few minor things to keep an eye on, he said that the house is in really good shape. What a relief! Our realtor plans to go over the inspection report with us to talk through anything we want to ask the seller to repair.

It sounds like our next step is to solidify financing and decide which type of mortgage will meet our needs. February 1 is next week which will put us a month out from closing! That month will fly by I know. I haven't started the packing process, but I know once it gets going it will grow into a huge task.

We haven't decided if we want to hire someone to move our stuff, ask family and friends to help, or a combination of both. We also need to think about renovations for the kitchen and master bath, as well as flooring options for a few places around the house. We will certainly have our hands full for a while. The fun begins!

Monday, January 23, 2012

This one is interesting...

After being out with our realtor for a couple weekends looking at houses all over the metro area, we think we've found a house that we are interested in. I didn't experience a magical moment like I wondered if I would, but when we first looked around the house we started talking about how we would use the space, how our furniture would look and ideas we had for updates to the house to make it our home. I would say that's a good sign!

Initially we weren't head over heals with the house itself, but the location is perfect! It's near 79th Street and Westfield Blvd in the north central part of the city. You can pick up the Monon Trail just around the block practically. The area is wooded where the houses sit on larger, contoured lots. Whole Foods is just 15 blocks north, indoor soccer is about 5 miles north, and indoor tennis is about 2 miles southwest. Living the healthy, active lifestyle we currently drive 30 minutes for each way, will be cut to a 15 minute drive round trip!

The house was built in 1970. It appears to have been impeccably maintained over the years. Nothing is in disrepair, however, there are some updates that will need to be done. The kitchen is original but in good shape. Everything is in working order, though not our taste. The exciting thing about the kitchen being out of date is that we can design a new kitchen that fits our needs and taste and it will be exactly what we would like to have, rather than having a nicer kitchen that someone else designed. The master bathroom and closet area will also have to be remodeled. We would like more modern amenities than it currently has and luckily the bedroom/bathroom area are big enough to be able to make it what we want. Likewise, the other bathrooms will need to be updated as time goes on.

As for flooring, the entire house has original, solid hardwood floors that look great. Surprisingly the house isn't covered in wallpaper. The dining room and kitchen are the only rooms that have wallpaper and the kitchen would be remodeled anyway. The paint in the rest of the house is off white; not exactly what we would choose but certainly not something that we would have to change right away. It has what I would call a semi-finished basement, an attached garage, a screened porch, a family room and formal living room. Plenty of space for sure! There are five bedrooms which includes the master and a bonus room that Sky will most likely use as a music room until the basement is completely finished. To top it all off, the lot has woods in the back with a creek running from the side yard through the back.

We plan to go back for another visit to make sure that we aren't just remembering our fantasy of what this house is. Fingers crossed, if it is as great as we remember it, we might have to make an offer!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Finding a new home

A lot has changed in the way you look for a house in the last 7 years, or should I say the way we look for a house. When we bought our current home we used the books of 'homes for sale' in the front of grocery stores and the newspaper to find open houses. Driving around getting to know neighborhoods and looking at paper maps to determine where homes were located before going to open houses was quite a cumbersome process.

Today, though, many things have changed for us when it comes to finding a new home. First of all, this time we are working with a real estate agent to find homes in the areas we are looking. We chose to stay with the same realtor we used when we bought our current home which was nice since she already knew us. We told her about the areas of the city we were interested in and criteria for homes that we feel will fit our lifestyle, and she put the information into to create a daily email feed with properties that fit our criteria. In addition to the information she gave us, we searched weekly online using the Remax and F.C. Tucker sites to see properties that were available.

Using the internet to search for a home had some advantageous and challenging aspects. It was great to have all of the available properties in the city at our fingertips. We could use a map function to find properties within blocks of our desired locations and compare them side-by-side. However, seeing all of the properties could be overwhelming and we became numb to all of the information after a while.

To make things harder, we weren't exactly sure where we wanted to be, rather we had a better idea of where we didn't want to be. Our searches were open to Zionsville, Carmel, Geist, Pike Township, Washington Township and Center Township. We wanted a single-family home, with at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Ideally it would have a finished basement or space for Sky to play his guitar, but we weren't beholden to that. In fact, we weren't really beholden to anything except a good place to hide the litter boxes! We wanted to be close to family and friends, near amenities like groceries and sporting facilities, but those wants could be met in many areas. As far as details in a home, we figured if we found a place in a great location that didn't have what we wanted, we could always do some remodeling to make it ours.

All of this has made for an interesting search. We've kept our agent busy as we've gone between thinking that we definitely want to be in Carmel with good schools, close to family and grocery to deciding that no, Carmel isn't for us, instead we want to be in the Fall Creek area in an older Arts and Crafts home. She has been very patient with us and has helped us narrow our focus. She has shown us almost any home we have sent her way, narrowing down our list to those she thinks we would be most interested in. Hearing her ideas and feedback has been valuable as we weigh all of the options.

It's only about a month and a half before we have to move, so we don't have a lot of time. I don't want to be too romantic about all of this, that really isn't my style! But, I figure with all of the homes we go through, we'll 'just know' when we've found the right one :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Now's the Time

Over the past seven years I'm not sure how many times Sky and I said that we were going to move. When we first purchased our house we went into it thinking that we would be here 3-5 years; we saw this as a starter home. Originally we chose to buy a house near both of our jobs, which made a lot of sense at the time. However, over the past few years, we have realized that there are things offered in the city that we want to be closer to and all of them are on the north central side of the city.

It is so frustrating when all I want to do is make breakfast on Saturday and the ingredient I need is a 30 minute drive away at Whole Foods! Our entire Sunday has to be coordinated around making a trip to the northside of town. Sky's game is at 12:00, we want to do grocery shopping, we're celebrating a birthday later in the day, but before that we have to get a gift. All of these things have to be taken into consideration because we only want to take one car and even though we both don't want to do all of these things, we end up doing them together.

So moving to the north central part of town has been something on our mind for the past few years. We had our realtor come to our house to put it on the market right before the decline in housing a few years ago. The prospect of selling our house seemed too challenging in that climate, so we held off until last Spring. Sky had gotten a new job and we were making considerations for future expansion of our family, so it seemed like a good time to try our luck and sell our place.

I didn't realize how stressful it would be to have our house on the market! I'm the kind of person who does a big clean every couple weeks, so little cleaning jobs daily just 'in case' someone wanted to see the house was pretty stressful. We settled into it though and it has been a good exercise in keeping our house tidy. Showings came in spurts. Good weather, updated pictures, and a drop in price kept interest coming. In November it was time to either do another price drop or do something to set our house apart from the field. We anticipated a drop in showings around the holidays, so we figured that was a good time to put in some granite countertops. By the first business day in January we were right back into it. We hadn't had a chance to update our listing to reflect the updates before we had our first, and last, showing of 2012! The family was interested in the house before they even knew about the countertops. The updates really seemed to seal the deal!

So, here we are. We've gone through the inspection process during which they didn't find anything that we need fix. Lucky us! The appraisal is tomorrow and we are home free from there! It will be hard to say goodbye to our first home. It's not real for me yet. I know I need to pack up our things, but I haven't gotten the urgency that will come with a fast coming deadline. The buyers asked to take possession on February 1st, but we were able to negotiate out to March 1. Over the next month and a half I will think about memories made here in this home and look forward to making new ones wherever we end up. My ten minute commute, proximity to international food on Lafayette Rd., and watching reality TV with Mandy are things I'll have to make the most of before we move!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Seven years ago Sky and I purchased our home on the Westside of Indianapolis. I was in my first year of teaching in Wayne Township and Sky had just returned to the States and worked in the business park by the 'old' airport. Having not been in the Indy area more than a few months, we weren't very familiar with amenities and personalities of different neighborhoods. We did know that we wanted to be close to work and live in Indianapolis, so it made since to look in Wayne Township.

It's hard to believe now, but when we searched we actually went to the grocery store and got booklets of homes for sale and looked at the classified section of the paper to find open houses. I remember purchasing a paper map in order to see where each of the listings was located. We didn't have a list of 'must haves', rather we worked more by location, square footage, floor plan and overall feel of the house and neighborhood. We found our home when we attended an open house for a different place in the same neighborhood, Parc Estates. We contacted the selling agent (for our home) whom we felt comfortable with right away. She ended up representing us in the sale as well, so we never signed with another agent.

We took possession of our house at the beginning of December, 2004. Since then we've learned a lot about ourselves as home owners. Yearly maintenance isn't something we diligently keep up with, but when something needs to be fixed, we are quick to find an economical, practical solution. Flower beds and patios can quickly turn to weeds in our yard, so a wooded lot that can be left mostly natural would be our best bet. White tile in the kitchen and entryway is not our friend; we don't clean floors often enough and white tile shows everything! We like to entertain, so having a comfortable space to entertain family and friends where they feel like they can make themselves at home is a must. These, among many other things, have influenced our search for a new home.

We plan to say in Indianapolis, moving to the north, central part of town. We love the established neighborhoods, amenities, and proximity to family and friends. It's farther from work for both of us, but that's ok. Completely detaching from work and having time to catch up on NPR on my commute are things I'm looking forward to. We will miss our Parc Estates neighbors as they have become our friends over the years. We also have a good friend who lives close to our current place, so moving farther away from her isn't going to be easy as we like to get together weekly to watch our favorite shows. However, we'll be closer to our favorite stores, city amenities, and most of our friends and family which will all be nice. The move is bitter-sweet, but I'm hoping, in the end, the sweet things will outweigh the bitter.

So, I plan to blog about our search for our new home and the process we go through to move into and create our home. We have already done some of the searching and planning, so those posts should be coming soon. It's good to be back :) I hope you stick around!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My favorite summer snack... chips and salsa.

Chips and salsa is especially fitting for summer because it requires no cooking, and if you're really creative, no dishes. Of course you eat the chips from the bag, no problem there. The creativity comes when eating the salsa out of the jar. There is an art form to this, that to this day I have not quite mastered. There are a few guidelines though that I have learned to follow.
1. Choose the size and shape of the chip carefully. Ideally it will be long enough to reach into the jar, but sturdy enough not to break inside the jar.
2. Tilt the jar just so. Not too far that the juices drip out, but far enough to give you room to leverage the salsa out of the jar.
3a. Utensils can be used only when there is less than 1/2 inch of salsa left in the bottom. Spooning the salsa out onto the chip is acceptable. OR 3b. Leave the end of the salsa in the jar for someone else to deal with! --Ha, my mom hated when we did that!

When I eat this snack I am always reminded of the hot summer days my sister and I used to spend together sitting by the pool in our backyard. My sister was, and probably still is, an expert chips and salsa eater. I owe everything I know to her :) We weren't able to cook, and really weren't on a regular schedule for eating. So, when we would feel like a snack we would go inside and fix ourselves food. Chips and salsa, in most cases, was our 'food' of choice. (We also had Ramen Noodles, but that's another story.) We would argue over who took the most salsa, and many times the jar of salsa wouldn't last more than a day, maybe two. We would usually eat in the sun on the deck of the pool, deciding what to do next. How much time did we have before our parents would get home? What chores did we still need to do before then? We had a lot of fun during the summer together!

Chips and salsa is a good snack year-round, don't get me wrong, but eating it during the summer just feels right! What's your favorite summertime snack?