Operation Move the F*ck Out

I’m not quite sure when it started.  Maybe when my grandparents moved in.  Maybe when my parents called a “family meeting” to lecture me about my dishwashing habits (or lack thereof).  Maybe when I took a look at my finances, discovered they weren’t as awful as I’d initially feared and realized that the possibility of home ownership was actually within my grasp.  Not right away.  But soon.

buying a home

I used to think that I’d just live with my parent s until I got married.  They’re pretty cool as far as parents go, and I love the neighborhood and I can’t afford anything nearly as nice on my own.  But this isn’t 1950.  And it doesn’t look like I’m going to get married any time soon.

So I’m moving out.

And by moving out, I mean buying a house.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited about anything.  Probably when I was moving to London for grad school.  I wake up thinking about it, I go to bed thinking about it and whenever I have an hour free, I’m on Trulia and Prudential cruising real estate listings.

I know it’s going to take time.  Especially as I’m teaching two college courses this fall in addition to a gazillion tap classes, producing a show in December and applying to go back to school for my PhD, but it’s fine.  I’ve always been good at multitasking, and no matter what TWD has to say on the subject, I will not get “too stressed out.”

(Okay, who are we kidding?  I will get stressed out.  I will probably have a meltdown.  Or two.  Or twenty two.  But that’s why God invented boyfriends. And box-o-sangria.)

As with everything I’ve ever set my mind to, I’m attacking Operation Move the F*ck Out with every file folder, sticky tab and highlighter I’ve got.  I’ve already printed three different maps of Philadelphia zip codes (which I intend to cross reference with Philadelphia homicide rates) and have narrowed my search to a mere 16 neighborhoods.  (Progress!)

I’m in the process of setting up a meeting with the mortgage folks at my bank and am putting myself on a strict No New Shoes austerity budget.  (Fortunately, I managed to snag a new pair of open toe, metallic ankle straps to wears to TWD’s co-worker’s wedding before said moratorium went into effect.)

Until recently, I was pretty sure that if I just saved enough money and watched enough HGTV, the rest would just fall into place.

Having just watched my parents go through nine months of hell, however, in purchasing and renovating a summer rental property on the Jersey shore, I’m beginning to think there might be more to it.

So, this is where you come in.  How do I get from no-new-shoes to official-home-owner without losing my mind?

20 Responses to “Operation Move the F*ck Out”

  1. sarahnsh

    I wish I had some advice for you but unfortunately I have no clue about home ownership, and I am married but me and my husband have always rented. When we seemed to find a really nice place we both liked we moved miles and miles away which we weren’t expecting to ever do. I find renting to be the safest thing right now, and a lot safer if you think you have that possibility of moving away since it can be very difficult to sell a home quickly (or sometimes at all.) With that being said I love that you are going at this with spreadsheets and being so super organized. I wish you the best of luck with your search and everything!

    • Kat Richter

      Thanks! I know that renting is definitely the less-scary option but I just can’t stomach the thought of “throwing away” money every month 😦

      • Jerseyite Lurker

        That may or may not really hold true in every case, the idea that renting as opposed to buying is throwing money away. It’s valid if you expect to be staying in the house for a very long time, or if you’re confident that the value will have gone up by the time you need to sell it. Otherwise, I’d say it’s a maybe. Side note: which field do you plan to get the PhD in? And are you planning to stay local to do that? Just curious.

  2. becky119

    There is a lot that goes into buying a home–especially the first time. You are definitely on the right track with talking with the bank so you can find out what your price range is beforehand. You don’t want to fall in love with a house just to find out that you can’t have it after all. After that, you want to find a realtor. From all I’ve ever heard/read about buying a house, the advantages FAR outweigh any expense. If you don’t have one, I have a recommendation–message me on facebook and let me know if you want the phone number.
    Good luck!! I haven’t lived with my folks for a long time now and we definitely get along a lot better because of it. There just is something about having your own space… (Plus I don’t have to share a room with my little sister anymore and that in itself was frustrating, of course I still share my room but this time it is by choice.) Happy house hunting!!

  3. Amanda

    The BF and I are in the process of buying our first home, and it’s been…interesting. I don’t know what the housing market is like in Phila, but here in Seattle it’s BRUTAL. We can’t afford much, and there isn’t a lot to choose from. We’ve offered three times so far and been outbid twice (we’re still waiting to hear on our third offer).

    The one thing we didn’t know about when we were saving for our down payment was we’d also need money for closing costs. Again, this might be a regional thing (Seattle’s a seller’s market right now) but most sellers won’t pay the closing costs anymore, so to roll them in to the cost of the loan, we have to offer about 3% more than our actual offer (so if we offer 230k, we need to offer 237k and specify they’re to pay our closing costs).

    The only other piece of advice I’d have is to pay attention to the windows. If they’re single pane, your heating bill could be pretty high come winter, and replacing them is expensive. We’ve had to pass on a few places because we don’t have the money to replace the windows any time soon.

    Good luck!

    • Kat Richter

      Yes, I am well aware of the nightmare of closing costs… hadn’t thought about windows though– thanks! I know I won’t be able to afford much either, but that’s okay. Something is better than nothing! Good luck with your own search!

  4. Katie @ Domestiphobia.net

    So here’s the truth: I hate owning a house. Yep. I said it. I hate it. I cannot wait to be a renter again. Homes are money pits and stress inducers and overall, I’m pretty sure the whole idea that homeownership is the greatest thing in the world and you’re just throwing your money away when you rent is a load of b.s. invented by brokers. Sure, there’s a sense of pride and blah blah blah, but in the end, I miss just calling someone when something goes wrong and not having to pay for it. On the flip side, the things I’ll miss when we’re renters again are: no one telling us what to do/what kind of pets we can have/etc., and the security of knowing that someone’s not going to tell me I have 30 days to move out. But honestly, that’s it. My vote is for renting. 🙂

  5. meridith

    Yay for moving out and yay for buying a house! It’s an entirely new world (and adventure). Just a note from the lending side of things, sometimes what the lending agent says you can afford and what you can actually afford month to month-wise are two different things. Credit may get you approved for a mortgage payment that is slightly out of reach. Sounds like you’re totally on top of that side of things though. Good luck!

  6. Laurie

    I know how exciting shopping for your first home can be! Go for it! Each purchase leads to the next, and there is no investment like real estate. On the other hand, there are hidden expenses with a house. When you purchase an apt. there is a monthly maintenance fee. There are monthly maintenance fees with a home too, but no will tell you about them. You have no idea just how soon or often the hot water heater will need to be replaced, the furnace repaired, the lawn maintained, the gutters cleaned, the roof fixed – and I haven’t even gotten to the kitchen appliances, or the interior furnishings. Ask the current or former owner for a year or two of heating bills before you buy and make sure the house is properly insulated. An engineer’s report may help you to bargain. You might get the owner to replace or repair items that the engineer’s report points out. Check out the financing process (harder than it ever used to be) and find out what you can afford.

    As for the search, choose your neighborhood first. Make sure you have a good commute to work and shopping. Then make yourself a wish list. What do you want most in your home? A sunny kitchen? A large bedroom? A backyard? A huge bathtub? Make the wish list and prioritize. This will make the search much easier. If the top item on your list isn’t there, move on. If the bottom items are there but not the top ones, move on. When you find the place of your dreams, it will probably have at least the top few items on your list.

    Good luck!

  7. Fiercely Yours

    Easy solution– come to the hood! All you need to do is learn how to smell the carpets and walls for meth lab residue. However, rehabbed labs are like winning the lotto and you can still buy all the shoes you want!

  8. Grey Goose, Dirty

    Good for you Kat! Sorry, but there’s always stress involved. If it were easy, everyone would do it. 😉 I own many properties and each and every one of them I had 2nd thoughts about. Trust your gut and absolutely get a home inspection done! You’ve gotten some good advice above, so all I can say is try to have fun and not put too much pressure on yourself! Oh, and DON’T look at houses over your price range! I guarantee that you’ll fall in love and then none of the others will live up to the one you can’t afford (darn champagne taste on a beer budget). Good luck!!! Very exciting.

  9. Landlord

    Fun, fun, fun…the search and finding is fun, the paperwork and bureaucracy is AWFUL (and yes, Laurie, it has become insane!), and YES, it is one of those top 10/5 life time stressors (whichever survey you read) but it is worthwhile. You know we’ll be with you whatever you decide, remember this is a STARTER home and buy with your head and not necessarily your heart. And most of all, wait until after the show to get serious…as this will consume you in ways you can’t imagine. But when you first walk in the door after closing and the initial, OMG moment, you will be “home” 😉

  10. Whitney Wyatt

    Hey Congratulations!

    That is a great, and terrifying, idea. Buying a house is always a nerve-wracking and trying ordeal, loaded with conflicting emotions. Buying a first house is all that on steroids!

    I am a contractor, and I frequently go out with friends and acquaintances to look at prospective purchases. Everybody knows that you have to sort out your finances, but a lot of times they don’t give a lot of thought toward the condition of the property. Either that, or they are totally freaked out by Everything that shows up on the report (OMG! there’s a broken window!?!?!)

    Once you get serious about a house, and you go through the inspection period, get reports, etc. you will have a small book about all the things that are wrong (a really boring and poorly written book.) Most buyers don’t have the experience to put any of this info into perspective.

    That’s what I often do. Walk through the house with the buyer, go through the reports, tell them what is important and what isn’t, tell them rough ideas of what repairs for things might run, etc. etc. This is often a real stress-reliever for them, although sometimes not, like when I tell them that although the house is “Super Cute” like the realtor said, it is also hanging onto the side of the hill with 2 old rusty bolts and they need to put in a new foundation, etc.

    See if you can find a good contractor, maybe through your parents, or a realtor, or maybe you know one? Whatever, you need someone that you trust to tell you the truth when you really get interested in a place. That will help a lot to ease some of the stress, and believe me, there is going to be a lot of stress!

    Good Luck!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: